'Clock out if you want to talk about the weather or your babies' angry council tells 'timewasting' employeesBy Paul Sims
Last updated at 1:14 AM on 29th January 2011
Just be careful if you plan to discuss this story with colleagues when you go back to work on Monday.
For it seems that in some offices, the Government’s austerity measures are leading to other cutbacks...on chit-chat.
Council bosses have sent a draconian email to benefits department staff banning gossip.
The reason? Workers must increase efficiency because of the ‘current economic climate’ and proposed cuts to local government spending.
The strict message to 31 workers at Carlisle city council also bans looking at photographs and trawling the internet.
Forbidden topics of conversation include holidays, babies and pets.
The email, sent earlier this month by team leaders David Blake and Neil Dewar, reads: ‘In order to ensure maximum output is produced, the working ethos within the office will need to change.
‘Staff should be aware of the reason they are here, which is to work and not to treat the office as a day-to-day holiday camp.
‘It is not a requirement for you not to talk to your fellow colleagues but you should ensure that non-work conversations are kept to a minimum.
‘Staff should log into systems first thing and not “catch up on the gossip”. Smokers are required to clock out when they want a cigarette.
‘Surely it is not unreasonable to expect you to clock out if you want to have a ten-minute conversation with a colleague about the weather?
‘The way we have worked previously cannot be sustained in the current economic climate and we must all change our ways.’
THE EMAIL SENT TO EMPLOYEES
'Staff should be aware of the reason why they are here, which is to work and not to treat the office as a day-to-day holiday camp.
'It is not a requirement for you not to talk to your fellow colleagues but you should ensure that non-work conversations are kept to a minimum.'
The e-mail lists examples of 'non-work' subjects, including 'conversations about holidays, babies and pets.'
The e-mail also warns against social-networking, sport or fashion websites, looking at photographs and posting adverts on for-sale or wanted websites.
'Staff should log into systems first thing and not "catch up on gossip".'
'Smokers are required to clock-out when they want a cigarette. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect you to clock-out if you wish to have a 10-minute conversation with a colleague about the weather?
'The way we have worked previously cannot be sustained in the current economic climate and we must all change our ways.'
Union leaders yesterday branded the email a disgrace.
Ged Caig, of the GMB, said: ‘It’s unbelievable. Morale is already rock bottom because of the threat of redundancy. For managers to issue this is disgraceful. The workforce feel threatened enough. The city council prides itself on being a good employer but this isn’t the action of a good employer.’
Last night, senior officials at the council distanced themselves from the directive and said the authority planned to ‘learn lessons’ from the fall-out.
Dr Jason Gooding, Carlisle city council’s deputy chief executive, said: ‘On this occasion the approach to managing staff has fallen a little short of the high standards the council has rightly come to expect of its team leaders and managers.
‘Discussions on performance
and capability should generally be conducted face-to-face with the relevant members of staff – not through general email communication.
‘We will be working with managers and staff to ensure positive lessons are learned following this experience. This is an isolated incident and does not reflect the management style we are working hard to develop.’
A team meeting for benefits staff has been arranged for next month to discuss their grievances over the email.
It is understood that the managers involved will not face disciplinary action.
The message, which was sent at 9.49am on January 6, was entitled ‘working practices’.
It listed ‘examples of where people need to look at how they work’, including ‘conversations with staff from other departments who come to see you regarding non-work- related issues, congregating around a PC to look at photos/Facebook entry/fashion/sport, standing in the corridor/in the office/kitchen for ten minutes for a general chit-chat’.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1351337/Clock-want-talk-weather-babies-angry-council-tells-timewasting-employees.html#ixzz1CTU4plep