Friday, November 20, 2009

Guess who got a cat?

I've always considered myself to be a dog person and never a real fan of cats, the idea of actually taking one as a pet never crossed my mind. Yet three weeks ago that is precisely what happened.
Before arriving at the Cats and Dogs home Tiiu and I had only two requirement in choosing the cat, the first was that it couldn't be white and the second was that it would somehow chose us and not the other way around. When we went into shelter there were twenty cats lounging around in a couple of rooms drinking and staring out of windows, a scene which somehow reminded me of a bunch of businessmen hanging around an airport.

There were cats of various shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Some sat up proudly demanding your attention, while others swarmed around my feet like Piranha. OK cats being compared to Piranha, now that is odd even by my standards, anyway you get the idea there were lots of cats...lots of them.....everywhere.
But that was also part of the problem, there were simply lots of cats and not one cat that somehow grabbed my attention and it seemed that we were about to leave empty handed, until a panther black cat did precisely that.
As I stood beside a window ledge where three cats seemed to be planning an escape as they stared outside, one of them stood up on its back legs and put his front paws on my shoulder.
This was it, this was the sign that we had been hoping for, yes this was the cat for us.
We told the caretaker that this was the cat for us .
She congratulated us on our choice.
The cat looked at me I looked at him and then he bit me.
Yep, that's right, the one and only cat in the entire world for me, took all of five seconds to bite me.

For the first twenty four hours in the apartment, he crept around the place diving into every bit of darkness that he could find. As the days and now weeks have gone by that scary cat has long since vanished and replaced by someone who struts around the place as if he owns it and we are his guests
Oh yes and his name.....its HAPPY

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Sick man of Europe

Stealing this historical reference from the old Ottoman Empire, I have been stuck in bed for the last couple of days, feeling very much like that proverbial sick man.
Having checked my symptoms online for Swine flu, I was relieved to discover that I only had five of the eight and belatedly agreed to leave work and head home before these five symptoms went looking for further victims.

This seemingly small matter raises a greater question.
Namely Sick pay.
In Estonia if you are out sick from work, you receive no pay whatsoever for three days and then on the forth day you receive a percentage of your wage as long as you get a doctor's note.
Now, I'm not seeking to condemn any particular nation’s treatment of its sick citizens, as most countries have similar policies and in these times of international crisis cut-backs appear to be a necessary evil.

What I am questioning is the real value of this law and the attitudes of and effects upon those runny nosed and coughing individuals, as well as their not so honest compatriots who take unofficial free days. According to a recent survey over here 50% more people are now less inclined to take time of work because they cant afford to miss a days pay.
So I guess we have a successful law?
People are no longer trying to pull a fast one and get a free day?
Companies, the economy and the country are saving money?
Well.....No....Not really.

Admittedly this looks like a successful law, but it isn't.
Employment law should be a dual approach of encouragement and personal responsibility, not just punishment . Employees should want to go to work and for right reasons, not out of fear that ultimately hurt their employer.
Perhaps it’s because I spent many years in Irish Catholic schools, but whatever the reason, I have discovered the answer and the correct approach to be taken and it’s "Guilt".
That's right, Guilt.
Make your employee feel guilty about missing work, make him feel responsible not only for his own performance but that of his team and colleagues.
Trust me on this, Guilt works, I've even used it myself

Luckily for me I have a job that I actually enjoy. I still get a kick out of it when the plan comes together and therefore my employer has achieved his target of a happy (at least relatively) employee.
I wanted to go into work today and felt guilty about not doing so. It would have been madness to do so as I continued to feel bloody awful, but the important thing here is that I wanted to. This desire was partially through a sense of guilt about letting the team down, but also out of a sense of professionalism that encourages me to do a good job.

But I digress somewhat. If the employee feels appreciated and enjoys their job they don't need draconian laws to keep them in place, as they will want to turn up and do the job. Yet with this current law you end up with people who are forced to go to work, spreading their germs on their way to and at work onto the rest of us, who in turn get sick. Our own performances will initially slip, and then we’re forced to take time off work, ultimately the companies productivity slips.
So explain to me again how these laws help the economy, the country and the employer?

So the next time that you are on an overcrowded bus and someone coughs in your general direction, polluting what little clean air that there was, tell them to do us all a favour and please go home.