Confessions of a benefits manager: Out with the old

It might be a bit late, but I am determined to put my new year’s plan in place: I am now ready to kick off Operation Tidy Up.

After last year’s annual cull, we are a much smaller department and have several spare desks nearby. Unfortunately, the extra spaces have become a dumping ground for anything people don’t know what to do with.

I am sick to death of looking at parts of a broken lamp, an ancient binding machine and a pile of unused posters. I remember that the binding machine was the bane of my life when I first came here. In those days, the monthly HR reports for the Higher Beings had to be spiral bound, and I would wear myself out trying to get this gadget to punch its way through 15 lots of 30-page reports.

I need to get it moved before someone gets the idea we should start using it again. I am not going to try to lift it, so I get that nice looking-guy from reception to help. He seems quite willing to put those lovely biceps to good work, and I am even more delighted to watch him flex them.

It is not often I get helped out around here, and I rather like it. As he goes back downstairs, I wish I had something else that needed lifting. Perhaps I can take him for a coffee to say thank-you.           

Objects of use

When de-cluttering, if you are not sure whether to keep something, ask yourself two questions: has it been useful in the last year, and does it lift your spirits when you look at it? On that basis, I would throw out my colleague Lazy Susan, but there is only so much you can do.

I am also sick of looking at the mess on her desk. I hope she is inspired by my activity to clean up a bit. Her area is covered in chocolate wrappers and dirty cups, not to mention some rather nasty screwed-up tissues.

It is amazing how many things we have stored on shelves; things that have certainly not been useful in the last year. There is a massive report on company cars in Poland. I look at it, undecided. It is almost too old to use, and we don’t even have an office there any more. I toss it, along with a pile of pension magazines dating back two years, and a prize I won for helping out with a charity event five years ago. It feels lighter around here already.

I am sure this must be good feng shui. Chi will be flowing freely and we will all suddenly feel more energetic and productive. Well, maybe productive would be a bit of a stretch for Lazy Susan. I’d just settle for awake. 

Susan does catch the spring-cleaning bug, though, and she empties her drawers of old copies of celebrity magazines, romantic novels of the more explicit sort, and a huge collection of catalogues. Another drawer reveals out-of-date crisp packets and a personal stash of biscuits. It’s a wonder she ever finds so much time to look at Facebook.

Outdated surveys

I have my own cache of shame: thick folders of long-abandoned projects, and outdated surveys are all tossed with abandon. Suddenly, I have space to fill. I might go and raid the stationary cupboard for some nice new files.

When I get back, Big Bad Boss has joined in the spring clean. Well, at least he has emptied a load of paper into the confidential shredding bin. Only it isn’t the confidential bin; it’s just a normal one. I have moved the one shaped like a post box for shredding next to my desk while I clear things out.

I don’t mention his mistake and, when he goes off to a meeting later on, I take a quick peek at the documents he has thrown out. It proves very interesting reading. I learn that one of the most recent Higher Beings to leave to ‘pursue their own interests’ was actually fired for inappropriate behaviour. I’d love to know exactly what behaviour, but that part is missing from the thread.

Personal finance consultation

Big Bad Boss has a very silly habit of printing his emails to read them, and the rest of his pile of shredding is quite revealing. There is a mail from Smarmy Consulting offering him a free personal finance consultation. A week later, it inexplicably got the job of helping us with special financial planning offered to board members. Why wasn’t I involved in that project?

I also see a copy of his expenses. Phew. You could support a family of five on his travel spend. I wouldn’t mind, but he begrudged me a few pounds to get a taxi back from a conference last week, and I was forced to struggle back on the tube carrying three bags. How mean.

He has also thrown away a free survey on staff pay offered by another consulting firm, which says I am 20% underpaid. I’ll hold on to that one ready for the next merit review.

It takes a couple of days to get sorted, but when it is done, we all feel much more motivated. Even Lazy Susan looks busy; she spends ages sending snaps to her friends showing how tidy her desk is. Big Bad Boss seems more chilled. He is practically chirpy when he calls me in about a new piece of work. The bad news is that it involves working out a detailed car plan for a new team in Poland.

I knew I should have kept that report.

Next time…Candid works on the pension newsletter.