Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Klondike Power

Having been a consultant for many years now, I am only too familiar with employee-only benefits. In my experience it has ranged from a bigger cubicle, better phone equipment, VPN access, fun team events to free Tampax in the ladies' room. I've huddled with two other consultants in a third of a cubicle even as the employee luxuriated in her space three times as large. I am sure the folks over in HR have good reason for treating hired help the way they do but sometimes things get taken to ludicrous lengths or at least that's what I used to think. I stand corrected.

At a client's site recently a batch of cards were handed out to employees entitling them one free ice-cream every week. Come Monday afternoon, the employees among us would troop out to the ice-cream truck and return to the war room to join the consultants. At a buck a pop how hard could it be to extend the courtesy to everyone I wondered. There is possibly nothing quite as uncomfortable and embarrassing to have a room full of adults in a meeting with a select few tucking into their Klondike bars as the rest struggle to maintain studied indifference. I surmised that HR was carrying out an experiment on Pavlovian response.

On Monday, I had unwittingly wandered over to where the ice-cream truck was at the appointed hour and my co-worker asked me pointing to his card "Did you filch one of these ? Ice-cream is not for everyone" I was too dumb-founded to articulate any response - I had no idea he felt so passionately about his privilege. If HR needed any proof of correlation between improved employee morale and free ice-cream on Mondays, they would have to look no further.


ggop said...

Ugh. How cheap of the company and how mean of your co worker! Is there a difference between contractors in hardware industry and consultants in the software industry? Or is it company culture? Or is it the East Coast? ;-) (kidding!)

Many contractors I know are incorporated. We also have contractors here on temporary assignments from Indian companies. They do get excluded from employee only events like picnics and can't use the fitness center, but they are free to partake of any free food. (No ice cream trucks here, its M-Th dinner at 6pm)

As always, great post.

Heartcrossings said...

I guess there is something about selectively free ice-cream - my co-worker had temporarily retrogressed to being a kindergartener :)