Township super to employees: No small talk on the job

Posted at 9:27 PM, Sep 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-24 21:27:09-04

Genesee County, MI (WNEM) — You’ve probably engaged in personal conversations at work around the water cooler about all sorts of idle chit chat, but one local township office wants to eliminate that chatter for good.

A new policy would mean Flushing Township employees can only talk business during business hours.

Now, some employees have come forward to say that this is a violation of their most basic right.

Julia Morford spoke with TV5 about the proposed speech restrictions at Flushing Township Hall. Morford is the township clerk, and under the new rules, she and others can only talk business while they’re on the clock. Supervisor Rian Birchmeier put the new policy in place in late July. Morford doesn’t think it’s necessary.

“I don’t agree with it,” said Morford. “There’s times when we want to talk about crafts or family or things like that. And as long as the employees get their work done, that’s the main thing.”

Morford also believes the new rules hurt morale in the workplace. “It does make it kind of stressful,” she stated.

TV5 reached out to Birchmeier with questions about what can and can’t be said in the workplace. He refused our request for an interview, and says he has no comment on the issue.

Some residents say the new policy is full of hot air.

Talk about the “no talk” policy is a hot topic around town. Resident David Battles doesn’t agree with it.

“He’s a rat hiding behind a barn door. That’s basically what it is,” said Battles. “Anytime you allow somebody to dictate what you can talk about, you’re giving up some freedom. And I just don’t think that’s right.”

But township resident Adam Jones said he likes the policy. “Business is business,” said Jones, who went on to say that it’s his tax dollars at work. “They shouldn’t be in there talking about what they saw on TV last night,” Jones went on. “They should be in there fixing the problems we have in our community.”

In the end, Morford knows that work comes first and that talk must come later, but to her it’s all about finding a happy medium. “You have to have a high morale in the office,” said Morford. “And you can’t do that when you restrict the employees.”