There’s a story about the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) enforcement inspector who comes to a ranch to check on the working conditions. He walks up to the rancher and says, “I need to talk to your staff.”

The rancher replies, “There’s only one fellow who works on the ranch. He’s on duty seven days a week, is up at dawn and out in the field until dusk, gets paid mostly in room and board, doesn’t get any sick leave, and rarely takes a vacation.”

The L&I inspector gets all excited, thinking he’s uncovered a serious case of workplace rights violations, and says, “That’s the one I want to talk to, I must interview that poor exploited worker.”

“You’re talking to him,” replies the rancher.

Last week’s article ended with a well-intentioned pledge to set aside a half day to focus on creating a job for a hired hand. Unfortunately, the four hours set aside for job creation were eaten up by:

  • A software troubleshooting session and upgrade download, taking an entire afternoon and part of an evening.
  • A nasty head cold slowing down productivity.
  • Two goats deciding the grass was greener outside the pen than in, had to be herded back into the buck pen and the fence fixed. Three times.

All unplanned, just the typical challenges of running a no payroll small business. There is no IT Department, there is no sick leave and no back up, and until the Director of Human Resources (i.e. me) can get through this job creation task there is no hired hand to help chase down errant goats and fix fences.

The other day, my neighbor stopped his tractor while I was helping my husband load up animals, first time we’d had an opportunity to talk in months. He said his wife was asking him why he seemed to be in the field all the time, more than when they first started farming 30 years ago. He said he thought about it, and realized they always used to have a hired hand around the place, but he hasn’t been able to do that for awhile. He said nowadays a hired hand takes almost as much time to hire and manage as if you just did the work yourself.

I hope he’s not right. I’ll have a chat with the Director of HR and see if she can get her act together before next week’s article is due, even if it means squeezing a few more hours into the work day.

 

For previous stories in the series, see the links below:

Week1:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-in-the-beginning-the-owner-created-jobs/

Week 2:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-2-there-is-a-purgatory-for-job-creators/

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[photo credit: InfoMofo]