Monday, October 6, 2008

Employee Challenges

Yesterday morning, we lost our replacement night guard. He handed his gate key to the day guard coming on duty and said he wasn’t coming back. Hallelujah! This is one of the best things that’s happened to us all week! Why? Because it saved me the really unpleasant task of sacking him.

Basically, we were not happy with this man. We inherited him from the previous employer in our housing unit, but found him less than a model employee. He was consistently late for work, always with some excuse or other. Numerous times I’ve had to speak to him about taking longer than permitted meal breaks, and about staying at our house when we were gone rather than sitting and chatting with friends at a nearby snack bar (some guard, eh?). He was once caught with a key trying to get into our place while we were away (he’d worked as a cook for the previous tenant; fortunately we’d had the lock changed!). And he has “lost” money we once gave him to pay a bill.

However, we didn’t have the heart to send him away and deprive him of the income he was able to earn by working for us two nights a week either. Like most Burkinabè, he’s working two jobs and trying to make ends meet.

But his departure process began a couple of weeks ago when he presented us with a request for a 50,000 FCFA loan (this is about $120 or over a month’s wages for a full-time guard). In light of upcoming school expenses for children, this was not an unusual request. On the other hand, at his current level of part-time employment with us, chances are that he’d likely never be able to pay it back. His other employer (a restaurant where he works as a cook) had refused to loan him any money.

Feeling badly for him, we finally decided to lend him 20,000 of the 50,000 FCFA he’d asked for. Most Burkinabè would have been very happy with that, and he agreed to take it and pay back 1,000/wk. But when I went into the house to get the money, and came back out to give it to him, he said sullenly, “You know what? Forget it. It’s not worth taking just 20,000. I don’t want it.”

After much thinking about the whole thing, I finally decided that this guy needed to take his loose work habits and lousy attitude elsewhere. And the sooner, the better! I’d had enough of him. But I still wasn’t looking forward to telling him to leave… Thank goodness he beat me to it!

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