The Cost of Fixing Things That Aren’t Broken

Many among me know that I crow that communities should fix their own problems without crying for “grants” from some supposedly benevolent federal government entity. But at times I must push people to not fix things, especially things that aren’t really a problem or things that can ultimately give birth to worse problems.

I wanted to share one of those problems with you.

Businesses rightfully have a desire to best their adversaries and make money for their stakeholders/powers that be. I understand that the smart will do their best to not spend money to begin with; cutting costs. But there is folly where people that run businesses fail to find the unmeasurable benefits of certain assets and they drink the proverbially “kool aid” of trimming margins.

I personally have seen this in a few businesses. Some analyst or consultant told them that they could trim some magical percentage or make them run “lean” by making certain departments heavy with “contractors” or some outsourced service. Many flapping heads have argued with me that a company should stick to their “core service” or “core functions”. I had seen this mentality work against a company.

I personally have seen the logistics functions outsourced to the detriment of the business. The “bodies” that were selected for the job had very little “native knowledge” of the job and the people around them. This was often by the fact that turnover and workplace cohesion wasn’t there. There were often just a series of people filling in and never mastering the job, not growing in their job to the point where they become a true part of the process.

A “friend” who is an analyst has actually fought against the outsourcing or contracting element. She blatantly has brought up that the lack of pride and “dead body syndrome” will eventually outweigh the benefits. (Please note: this was before “tha’ Rona” hit and many people are being given more reasons why they shouldn’t work a soulless job). She echoed my concerns that the “temps” or onsite contractors will just be filled with people that won’t stick around or as my former workplace had; addicts and losers looking for a week of pay.

My concerns were that a second class of employees were created. I saw this in the chemical processing world outside of what was legally required. I worked with one contract operator who was often badmouthed by our foreman. He was described as “just a contractor” more than once. I was happy when he was offered several interviews, considering he had the skills required to do the job. (His smart mouth got him turned down for the job and he found himself somewhere else). I made it known that it didn’t serve the smooth operations and long term industrial psychological health of the workplace.

I had seen it when I had to work with government engineers who worked with contractor technicians. Some of the engineers wish they could turn back the clock thirty years to when they had dedicated techs who followed project to project for decades. But the contractors now serve as a temporary ghosts, leaving for greener pastures when their educations improve or they start their own businesses. The government engineers are actually a minority and badmouth the majority that “work for them”. (Once again, noted that these weren’t temporary contracts for special one time skills). In the long run, the manning numbers and skill levels would be made if they would drop the contracting bunk, then pay people better benefits with a clear chain of command.

I have seen these examples in multiple workplaces. It wasn’t anything special but a long term punishment brought on by yutzes that wanted to make a name for themselves. It is one thing to honestly improve a process, but it is another to destroy the culture and psychology of a workplace years down the road, having everyone scratching their heads when no one wants to work/stick around.

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5 Responses to The Cost of Fixing Things That Aren’t Broken

  1. Pingback: The Cost of Fixing Things That Aren’t Broken — Mogadishu Matt | Vermont Folk Troth

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  3. Bunk Strutts says:

    I’ve been on the other side of the fence, working as a contractual employee, a temp. I’d go in, get acquainted and oriented, then sit down, shut up and crank out the work they hired me for. Making the homies look bad by out-performing them is not great for job security.


    • (1) I do not know why your comment wasn’t approved. I had to “groop” around to find it. Thank you for your comment as always.

      (2) I believe you. It really depends on where and what kind of work. I wasn’t a “craft/skilled” guy but a “technician”, which is another weird pile of rocks. There used to be dead weight in the government tech programs but the problem aged out when they did away with it. On the other side, when everyone was a contractor, we were moderately shorthanded. It is worse now now that they are regretting the congressional budget layoffs from 2011-2014. Couldn’t rehire them due to the companies being stupid and couldn’t be competitive enough to hire off the street. (I think I got blacklisted or their hiring authority is dumping my resume’, although I am a prior employee).

      I was a temp at a machine shop for a compressor manufacturer. They would hire a heartbeat, knowing that their low pay would only attract drug addicts and sex offenders. (Found needles in the restrooms and I saw people almost fall into running machines). Okay work with decent coworkers, but the company would lie to us. Kept folks around for two years and promised to hire people on, knowing that they were building a factory in Mexico that would do away with our facility. I left before the layoffs hit. Did the seasonal thing but those were largely good experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

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