NEW YORK, N.Y. (SatireWire.com) - Frustrated by a tight labor market that has forced them to make unprecedented concessions to employees, several dozen American companies have instituted "employee-slapping" policies, allowing managers to slap workers pretty much whenever they damn well please.
Widely hailed by supervisors as a great equalizer, the random slapping of employees has, not surprisingly, come under fire from many lower-level workers. But even some senior-level managers have voiced complaints.
"I, for one, don't like it a bit," said Marcia Pepperstein, vice president of sales at Motorola. "I'm a vice president, and I get slapped. I think there should be a ceiling somewhere, just below me, so that I don't get slapped, but I still get to slap. That, to me, would be an acceptable system."
While employee-slapping programs are relatively new, their genesis can be found in the mid 1990s, when Internet companies raised the ante for hiring by offering stock options and unusual perks. As a result, employees gained more freedom and power, and despite recent woes among Internet companies, have been able to make ever greater demands on employers.
Employee-slapping, proponents argue, makes up for the lost sense of balance, with several managers reporting they can "feel the tension fly right off their fingertips." Some also contend the policy has reinvigorated a sense of ambition in the workforce, as climbing the corporate ladder to attain more money or power has been supplanted by a more intense, visceral desire.
"It's simple math," explained Jeffrey Baines, a senior marketing manager at United Parcel Service. "Right now, in my department, I've got six people under me. That's only six people I can slap. My boss, he has 96 people under him. I want his job."
There are, however, limits to ambition, warns Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers. "I've got 26,000 employees, and theoretically, I could slap every one of them, but whose got the time?" he said. "What I've learned, and this is a good lesson for prospective managers out there: delegate."
Most employee-slapping policies prohibit the slapping of anyone not full-time, although Goldman Sachs has reportedly violated this recently by allowing managers to slap temporary workers until they confess.
One violation companies have been cracking down on is what's known as the "slunch," or slap-punch. "My boss punched me once," recalled Baines. "She said it was a slap, but I felt knuckle. I couldn't shave for a week."
Baines filed a complaint with Human Resources department at UPS, and after getting slapped around a bit -- "on the organizational chart, they were two levels above me" -- his grievance was declared valid. Now his boss can only slap him in the presence of her superiors.
With the rapid pace of its adoption, employee-slapping is expected to quickly extend beyond the business world and reach into government. Already, federal officials and political party operatives are preparing.
"We've bought all our candidates mouthpieces," said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg. "And we've also told them to stop saying 'I work for the American people.'"
Copyright © 2002, SatireWire.
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Apr 15, 2002 16:01