Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Boss, I'm leaving oh.

As my previous post showed, I've been thinking of Ghana a lot. Apart from missing the good stuff, I can't help but think of the practical bits as well. These include possibly looking for a new home in the next few months, finding new househelp and how to settle a baby in Ghana in one of the hottest seasons.

Our previous househelp left without a word to us. After the first two days of absence we thought she may have matters regarding her recently deceased father to deal with and hadn't had time to come to work. After the next few days we began to worry as this sudden absence was very unusual for her. It was only after speaking to one of her acquaintances that we were told she had decided to leave because of medical problems.

Her way of leaving is very typical of staff in Ghana. I am not only speaking of househelp (although the best stories you'll hear are of the many dramatic tales told by home staff on their last day). In the law firm that I previously worked in, the accountant told our boss early Friday that "today will be my last day". A lawyer intern didn't show up on a Friday and the next Monday we were informed she'd headed to London and wouldn't be coming back. Actually, when I think of it, I was one of the only persons during my time there who gave the requested notice before leaving (yes, I've already patted myself on the back for good behaviour).

Why is it so difficult to give notice in Ghana? Could it be the backlash of a family-like setting in our work places? After all we go to the weddings of fellow staff members but are also expected to go to the funerals and memorial services of their relatives. Is it possible that once you've hosted your boss at a family funeral, it is too hard to look him/her in the eye and say "I've found a better paying job."?

Either way something must change as it is so impractical for the employer, so embarassing for the employee who'll have great difficulty facing the employer and other staff members again, but in our case it is also a bit tragic because had she just come to us, we'd have helped her with her medical treatment and we could've stuck to our agreement for her to leave work 1st August to go back to school at our expense.

Now, for the fear of a little embarassment, she'll have to seek treatment without any salary and I can only wonder what will happen to her education and future.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know how us Ghanaians can get- tell no one when you are going to abrochire or if you are looking for a better job, because some evil force may ruin it.

I think we are way too superstitious and we get too embarrassed about the silliest things!

Abena said...

*LOL* So true about fear of giving notice. Our house-help of 3 years "pulled a Craig David" on us a couple of months ago. One Friday night she says her brother is coming over to discuss something. When we asked, she insisted she had no idea what it was about.
Saturday morning her brother comes over and says the young lady would like to leave for a new job starting on Monday!!! My mother asked if she would not mind staying for longer since we had a family funeral the next weekend and we would all be travelling. She said she could not. That was that. Her new job involves being a nanny in the same neighbourhood and so she still passes outside our house occasionally. We always wave cheerfully but she seems to still have some guilt issues about leaving us in the lurch. *Life*

Kodjo Ghana said...

A valid observation indeed but I cannot help but wonder if there is a tit for tat going on here. The way some employers treat their employees (e.g., showing them no courtesies or abiding by some of these same employer-employee etiquette) leaves such a foul taste in the mouth that you begin to question how much you should fault the employees. After all, it may just be the employee's little way of telling the employer 'one up yours'.
Or in the case of househelps could it be family pressures which of course disregard the employment policies that cause this. A lot of hypotheses flying through my head
but I think you allude to a bigger point of employee-employer relations that needs fixing from both sides. I am curious to hear the side of employees/house-helps on this issue...

Maya Mame said...

Anon, so true, maybe that's what it is all about, if you tell someone that job opportunity may disappear! Hadn't thought of that.

Maya Mame said...

Abena, I can't help but laugh at the stories that are told, sometimes so ridiculous that the truth would surely be easier to tell.

I actually called back a young man who worked for me in a place I used to run, to ask him to explain himself and his reasons for leaving, simply so that he'd be able to walk past without feeling ashamed. He thanked me afterwards.

Maya Mame said...

You're right, Kodjo, it would be very interesting indeed to hear the other side of the story, I'm sure that'd give some insight and possibly sympathy. I definitely think you have a point about the family pressure that is often not spoken of.

I guess further research is needed...

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

About giving the required notice, I can vouch for you!

Maya Mame said...

Thanks Nana Yaw! :)

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