The wizards who run Oklahoma's government are doing their best work to make sure state employees stay motivated… to look for another job.
Earlier this week, OMES – the omnibus agency that employs over 1,300 Oklahomans to manage and support the basic functions of our state government – announced an employee “Dress Like Your Boss” competition.
Employees are encouraged to send high-quality photos of themselves in the "best impersonation" of their boss's style to be displayed during the Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony on May 3rd. The only catch is the photos have to be appropriate and considerate.
It’s an idea that’s so poorly thought out and aggrandizing that only an out-of-touch boss could come up with it…
Okay, I probably shouldn’t be too critical here.
As a former corporate communications guy, I’ve been involved in the planning and promotion of a wide variety of cheesy employee recognition functions over the years, from the Midfirst Bank All-Star Bash to the DLO Employee Anniversary Luncheon to the famed Miss Night Trips Pageant, so I’ve heard my fair share of bad pitches to make these events a little more fun. Outside of giving employees an open bar, it’s a pretty hopeless endeavor.
With that being said, there are a couple of obvious issues here that the organizers of the event didn’t really think out.
1. Has anyone at OMES seen how their co-workers dress?
Let’s be honest – state employees aren’t exactly a bunch of Elton Johns and Carmen Mirandas when it comes to picking out work attire. What’s the fun in going to Kohl’s and buying a new Polo-style shirt and pair of Dockers so you can dress up like Excel coding wunderkind Zack Parker?
Also, I know bosses deserve praise and recognition too, but how does “Dressing Up Like Your Boss” help recognize employees? As if our state employees don’t suffer enough, now they have to go through the humiliating exercise of pretending to be their boss to score extra brownie points and climb up the state employment ladder.
2. What are you supposed to do if your boss is the opposite sex?
I don’t know if the people at OMES have been paying attention to the local news or not, but outside of banning “Some Like It Hot” from the OETA Movie Club, Oklahoma politicians have declared open war on any and all things involving transgendered Oklahomans and drag shows.
This can put our state employees in a precarious situation.
For example, do you think OMES Budget Analyst Chris Cremin wants to risk being deported from Oklahoma for dressing like OMES Budget Director Brandy Manek?
What could go wrong with that?
And it’s not just men dressing up as women that could be problematic. How is Digital Content Coordinator Miranda Gilbert supposed to impersonate her boss Caden Cleveland and not risk being fired on the spot?
Can you imagine the reaction if Miranda showed up to work looking like this?
That would probably result in lawmakers crafting emergency legislation to ban people from wearing clothes designed for the opposite sex! Kevin Stitt would then schedule a press conference announcing a full-scale investigation to see if OMES has kitty litter in agency bathrooms!
But, once again, as I said, I can’t be too critical here.
Outside of giving them raises and treating them better, there’s really not a lot you can do to make state employees feel recognized and valued. Since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I guess making them dress up as their bosses is the best thing we can do.