I recently heard that many organizations are removing waste baskets from individual work stations and offices and designating a common area for trash and it reminded me of the old Coasters song – Yakety Yak:
Take out the papers and the trash
Or you don’t get no spendin’ cash…
Yakety yak (don’t talk back).
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for recycling and reducing waste.
But it appears that many cost/efficiency experts are grabbing hold of the concept and touting this as a way to reduce corporate costs and increase efficiency of the cleaning staff. Here are some of the justifications for removing waste baskets:
- Cost savings since fewer plastic bags will be used
- Cleaning staff won’t have to go in and out of as many cubicles or offices, saving time and money
- People need more exercise anyway.
Really? Is it that hard to do the right thing – i.e., recycle without having the average worker feel like they’re part of yet another cost reduction and efficiency plan?
The reality is that reducing real corporate waste doesn’t start with waste baskets… it starts in the boardroom.
I wonder if these cost and efficiency experts thought about how much time people have spent yakety-yakking about their waste baskets being taken away. An old Bureau of Labor statistics study (1999) showed that productivity declined to about 2 hours a day due to “lack of communication, miscommunication or a ‘series of bad decisions.'” Somehow I think the BLS may be afraid to duplicate the study because productivity may be less and 15 minutes a day, thanks to social media and so many organizational leaders “making a series of bad decisions…”
We are in a time when the average CEO makes 300 times more than the workers, people are being asked to do more with less, pay raises are stagnant and benefit costs are increasing … and now they have to take out the papers and the trash… and by the way… don’t talk back!
How many billions of dollars have been spent by GM for recalls and settlements for faulty ignitions? Or by Volkswagen for falsifying emission standards?
How many golden parachute or severance packages worth millions have been offered to outgoing executives despite poor performance?
It’s not just executive waste – it happens throughout many organizations.
How many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in that next “shiny object” … pick one: a branding or marketing plan, IT or training solutions – that 18 months later are scrapped for something new?
Somehow, I think we’d all be better off if organizational leaders spent more time being good stewards of their resources and honoring their fiduciary responsibilities to the community and employees, eliminating income inequality and rewarding truly good performers – than focusing on who’s taking out the trash.
Yakety Yak – it’s time to speak up! Be the Change.
Marty Stanley, CSP, may have been a Vice President of Human Resources, but she probably was a “bad employee” because she spoke up and advocated effective long term, sustainable corporate policies and practices that were for the good of the whole. Today she’s a national speaker and consultant on personal and organizational change … and she takes out her own trash. firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com 816-695-5453
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Or order the book on How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom-Line World.
Great article Marty, not to mention, the cleaning staff get paid less than most of the other employees to transport that same trash!
Have a great day, was delightful to meet you at NSA.