Flashing the Babs
I read a news story the other day which slammed a London Council for spending £42,000 on celebrities to attend their staff awards events and other launches. The money had been spent over five years and the Council has apparently stopped doing that now they know that money is going to be a bit tight, but the article and many others referenceing it seem to not care, and have stuck the knife right in.
On the one hand I can see the basics of their thought processes. Councils in theory should do nothing that isn’t about helping its residents and ensuring they are supported as necessary. The money they spent on celbrities such as Shilpa Korsandi (about £8k) and Barbara Windsor (a whopping £13k alone) might have been spent providing a few more hours for a respite worker, or an extra day trip for some old people.
However, on the other hand I think this is a load of rubbish.
The papers seem to forget that the Council is made up of people. If you were to mix them up with others in a high street, odds are you wouldn’t recognise most of them, and the few you would pick out would only be giving the game away by sweeping up some rubbish or checking to see if lamp columns were working. These are people who want to do their bit for the communities they serve, but like any person need to feel a bit valued in their workplace.
I’ll no doubt hear a chorus of “they should be happy they have jobs at all”, or “they should stop wasting my taxes”. But who reading this hasn’t at some point wanted just that little bit of extra motivation, that incentive to encourage them to push a bit harder and jump a bit higher? Some incentives come in the manner of pay and bonuses, but that’s not going to work any more; most public sector workers don’t receive bonusses no matter how hard they work or what they acheive, and our pay has either been cut or frozen.
We used to get incentivised otherwise by job security or via good pension plans. Hang on though, almost 500,000 of us are going to be unemployed fairly soon, and our pension is about as secure as the investment I made in the bank of Zimbabwe a few years ago.
So what else is there to encourage us? Do we get lauded for our efforts, and rewarded with praise in the public eye? Do our government remind people regularly that they should feel lucky to have such a motivated and dedicated team of public servants who are quietly and conscienciously working hard to make all of their lives easier? Erm, no; we get told by the media and by government that we are all lazy, overpaid beuraucrats who are doing non-jobs not very well.
Okay, so £13,000 for the landlady of a fake pub to turn up and give a few awards out might sound like a lot, but I’ll bet that word of that spread around the Council and at least some of those who weren’t nominated for something that year worked even harder the next to strive for a nomination in order to be graced by the presence of another minor celebrity. Because it’s not the person themselves that is the motivation – it’s the fact that someone famous is there and they are being rewarded for a job exceptionally done.
In the finest words of the British Empire, it’s the principal of the thing. And I for one would like to see this and other creative ways for staff to be rewarded for their extra efforts, lest we lose the last batch of exceptional talent left in local government.