More Of This, Please.
Fifteen years back, I was a top-level salesman for CenturyLink in Jefferson City, Missouri. The place was a churn center, as are most cll centers. The expectations were high and burnout was rampant, especially after CenturyLink bought out Embarq and did away with almost anything positive about the job. But the on-site managers did the best they could. They weren’t perfect, and it was an exceptionally flawed system, but they did the best they could with what they had.
One winter was so brutal that half the city shut down. Snow was so ridiculous we couldn’t even open our car doors. There was no ‘digging out’. We were literally snowed in.
CenturyLink was not a utility service back then. We sold phone, internet, and TV services. We also dealt with call-ins and tried to keep people from canceling our services while upgrading them to things they didn’t need. We were not, in any way, essential. And we were still quite expected to return to work.
CenturyLink was exploiting a loophole: road conditions were so disastrous that they couldn’t actually make anyone come to work, but if you showed up, you were required to stay. If you could not make it, under state law, the company couldn’t punish you. So the managers weren’t saying anything to anyone. Most of us felt compelled to come in. We didn’t have any PTO to fall back on. We had a habit of using it as soon as it became available.
One manager went another way. I will forever be grateful for this. This guy, I’ll call him Jason, snuck away from his coworkers and called every last one of us. He told us what the situation was, and advised us not to come in if we couldn’t. If he hadn’t, a lot of us might have been hurt or worse trying to navigate the aftermath of a blizzard.
As we begin exploring a post-work environment where people no longer settle for less than the bare minimum from their employers, this is the sort of behavior that we need more of. This is the sort of management that retains employees.
Thanks for reading.
Avery K. Tingle is a scifi/fantasy author currently residing in the Las Vegas area. Owned by two cats, he is passionate about social justice, Star Wars, and mental health. Connect to his award-winning writing and social media here.