No, this post is not a continuation of my popular Censored Part I and Censored Part II series. Nor is it a reference to the S&M party I was recently invited to (see next week’s “Tie Me Down” for details on that one). This post is about employee morale and the effect of corporate downsizing on employee morale.
I was working at the central office of a crown corporation when headquarters announced a major downsizing and imminent closure of the office within two years. To ease the transition, corporate also announced a voluntary buyout package and agreed to provide a three-month termination notice to those directly affected.
Employees to be terminated were called to HR on the last Friday of each month to receive their layoff notice. If you didn’t receive a meeting request from HR on the last Friday of the month, then you were safe for another month. Needless to say, morale at the office was low, nerves were frayed, and tempers were short. Employees dealt with the stress in various ways. I stopped wearing a tie.
The departmental dress code was built on the traditional business model. Men were expected to wear ties as a form of respect for their colleagues and clients. I was not feeling particularly respectful with the current corporate downsizing process and stopped wearing a tie to show my disapproval. My supervisor took offence to my tireless tie-less attire and constantly chided me for my lack of office etiquette. My insubordination was eventually challenged one day as I left for lunch. I was told to return to work wearing a tie or expect consequences.
I spent lunch at the local mall looking for a tie. I purchased a battery-operated bowtie with a set of blinking lights from a novelty store.
I soon found myself is my supervisor’s office discussing my new tie.
Supervisor: What is that you are wearing?
Me: It’s a tie. You instructed me not to return unless I had a tie, so here it is.
Supervisor: That is a joke tie, and wearing it is disrespectful.
Me: No, I am just following your direction. You told me to come back to work wearing a tie, and that is what I am doing.
Supervisor: That is not an appropriate tie.
Me: Oh, so you do not like this particular tie?
Supervisor: You cannot wear a tie like that in this office.
Me: Not a problem, I will take it off as long as you tell me it is OK not to wear a tie.
Supervisor: You still need to wear a tie, just not one like that.
Me: I am confused. A tie is a tie. You have the authority to instruct me to wear a tie, but you do not have the right to tell me the style of tie that I wear.
Supervisor: Take off that tie and get back to work.
I went back to work and never wore a tie to that office again. In retrospect, I realise that my supervisor was just doing his job and that I was a being a bit of a dick. That said, it’s hard to “stay low and keep moving” unless you untie yourself from the corporate noose.