Every month a couple of editor friends and I get together at a favorite diner in downtown Vancouver and trade stories of our family and working lives.
This morning one of my friends reported on what she's doing lately for a longtime client. She helps out with employee communications, and I was heartened to hear that she's working with the company to revamp its communication vehicles, including starting up a new quarterly employee publication.
"Wow. That's great!" I said. "It's so good to hear someone's paying attention to improving employee communications. So is it a magazine? A maga-paper?"
"No, it's being put out as a .pdf so they can tell managers to print and distribute it at the different work sites," she said, cringing.
"AAAARGH! WHAT A LOAD OF HORSE SHIT! I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS! YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THEY'RE GOING THROUGH ALL THE TROUBLE OF DEVELOPING A NEW PUBLICATION AND THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BOTHER TO HAVE IT PROPERLY PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED?" My rant went on for at least a couple of minutes along these lines. I have no objection to online tools. But they are part of a balanced mix -- a mix that still should include print -- at least in companies who have front line workers who don't have computers or who are over 25 years old.
"I know, I know. It's crazy," she replied, with more than a touch of resignation in her voice. "I'm just the contractor and I can't do anything about it. That's what they want to do."
This company has several different industrial work sites, and most employees don't have access to computers. Senior leaders think using online tools is modern and progressive. Plus they don't want to deal with the cost of printing and the trouble of distributing. So they leave it up to the line managers who, of course, care deeply about distributing information that comes from head office. Not!
My goodness, when will this madness end? I honestly can't believe how stupid big companies can be -- how they can consciously disenfranchise their own employees by not doing the simple, time-honoured task of printing an attractive, readable publication and putting it in everyone's hands.
I wish a pox on these companies. I hope they have the low morale, high attrition rates, nasty labour relations and poor productivity they deserve.