Sunday, May 16, 2010

Census Report: Management

Working for the Census is odd; the immediate supervisor above me is very supportive, but there's someone higher up in the system who's completely wrong and unreasonable.

When we got in to this, the demands were reasonable: work 20 hours a week minimum, and get to residences at a variety of times to maximize the likeliness of reaching a occupant of the house. This allows for a great degree of flexibility for employees, who may be working a second job, or have non-Census interests in their life.

More recently, the system has changed. A regional director has issued a directive that all employees must work every evening (including weekends) and must work in the morning every weekend as well. That's not a suggestion, it was attached to an attitude of trying to fire people, and it's implied that if you fail to keep up, you're out.

There are technical reasons that this is completely unreasonable, and actually makes it so that less work is done every day and every week. More importantly, this is a betrayal of the soldiers on the ground by the higher-ups. When someone gets a new job, there's a written and unwritten agreement between the employer and employee. It essentially says, "we've agreed that you'll do this work, and you'll get payed this much, and if something else needs to be done, we'll talk about it." Demanding that every employee change their schedule, regardless of performance, especially with the threat of being fired for anything but perfect compliance, is an offensive violation of that contract.

Since the time of the announcement, I've been informed that the demand to work every evening was created by someone without the authority to make that decision, and was just the idiotic result of a member of middle management jockeying for recognition. The fact that there's been no official retraction of that announcement to date means the Census Bureau is a lot less professional than I would have hoped.

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