Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It boggles the mind

After college, I worked at a Fortune 500 company.  Although it was not the most exciting job, I loved that the company rewarded employees who invented new ways of completing tasks. If the new method was more efficient or prone to less errors than the old method, then the company was saving money.  All employees who helped create the new method would receive a bonus or reward for doing so - in proportion to how much money the new method saved the company. Most of the meetings I attended focused on creating new, money-saving processes.  It was a thrilling experience.

In contrast, one of my relatives worked for a government-run company. During a visit to the office, I mentioned how much more efficient the department could be run by having things automated.  I was shocked when I was told that employees were discouraged to make their tasks more efficient.  What?!  Did I hear that correctly?  How can this be?  Doesn't the government want to save money? I was then reminded that the government allocates only so much money to each program.  If a program is running more efficiently (therefore saving money), then that program will be given less money the next quarter, and the saved money would go somewhere else. So, there is no benefit to saving money. No rewards. No bonuses. Instead, all the employee did was put not only their job but the entire program at risk of closure. Less money means lower salaries and an increase in layoffs. The irony being that the more inefficient the program, the more money they could convince the government to give them. And of course the money would come from the programs that managed to find ways to save money.

How totally ludicrous.

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