No Such Thing as a Meaningless Job

A month or so ago one of my colleagues said that she thought the processing of VAT invoices was the most menial job in the office.  After making her see the bigger picture, however, she admitted that this basic job is actually the most important one, because we use this processed information for almost everything.

To explain this, we need to draw a picture of the whole process.  But believe me, although I tried my best, this picture is not complete.

Click to enlarge

Sometimes the person responsible for the capturing of source information might think:  “I have the most menial, meaningless job in the office – I only capture invoices.” Not true!  This “stupid” job affects not only the VAT, but also the general ledger, accounts payable or receivable and the bank account. The same goes for the person responsible for receiving the stock.  This affects the inventory level, the inventory value, the processing of finished goods, accounts payable and the bank account.  It may even cause down time if the incorrect products have been received or inventory levels are too low.

Then there’s the payroll officer, whose job it is to process the wages and make sure that his or her colleagues receive the right amount of remuneration.  But it doesn’t stop there.  It is also this person’s responsibility to make sure that the employer meets the statutory requirements in respect of PAYE, UIF and contributions to the Compensation Fund.  To ensure that labour relations stay positive, the payroll officer also needs to make sure that leave calculations and employer contributions are recorded accurately.

The receptionist, front office employees or switchboard operator is the face of your business and creates the first impression on which a potential client may base his decision to become your client (or not).

Imagine responding to a SARS request for relevant material, or preparing for a field audit, if you didn’t have a reliable, thorough colleague who made sure that all the filing was correct and up to date.  And don’t forget the person who brings you your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea while you are suffocating under a mountain of paperwork.

Yes, there are employees sitting in the glass office in the corner or on the top floor.  They use the information that you processed, prepared and provided to do the management account, budgets, forecasts, costings and financial statements.  This information is vital for the client and is used for many purposes:  to get a loan from the bank to purchases new machinery, to find a new investor, to calculate bonuses and salary increases to name a few.

It is said that a business works like a pyramid:  At the bottom are the employees, then the managers, the directors and finally the CEO.  The higher up on the pyramid, the higher the stress and risks.

But actually, it’s like a symphony orchestra.  The first violin may lead the orchestra, but the conductor is the one who “balances” the orchestra, and to do so he needs every single instrument to do its part.  From the huge tuba to the smallest triangle in the percussion section.

So next time the thought that you are only a number in ‘n cubical doing a stupid, meaningless job, think again…  Without you the orchestra will simply not sound the same.  Your part, big or small, is VERY important.

I hope that this article lands on every employee’s table, so that they can see that they play a role in the orchestra.

Petro van Deventer

Senior Manager

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