The Standard Group has come face to face with a monster that largely afflicts public service entities: ghost workers. These are employees on the payroll who either do very little or nothing at all. Some may show up at the office few days in a month while others are only show up to cash their salaries at the bank.
Well, that spectre appears to have found its way into the private sector, more so in media where it is believed payroll vigilance should be at its best. According to a team established by Standard Group board of directors to develop a recovery roadmap, the company has been losing tens of millions of shillings every month through the payroll.
It is understood the company has a good number of non-working ‘staff’ comprising joyriders and dealmakers with internal connections who blow up to Ksh51 million monthly in salaries, or Ksh612 million in a year. This at a time when the company is neck-deep in the red and struggling to make every possible save.
The recovery team, led by board member Thomas Omondi, has been tasked with house cleaning at Standard group main office, city centre newsroom and bureaus countrywide. The team is said to have recommended the recent exit of Mr Orlando Lyomu as CEO and the appointment of Joe Munene, then broadcast MD, as acting chief executive.
The new Transformation Team says it may take 18 months for things to return to normal, hinged on what it describes as ‘workers’ input’. The irony is that the company has been losing much-needed talents, driving morale down, while the those ghosting around sit pretty and earn their salaries. The committee has not revealed names of the ghost workers yet but its expected to be earth-shaking since it might touch on the integrity of senior managers in HR and even management.
Standard Group human resources manager Joy Kaguri left last week under unclear circumstances. In an internal communication, Ms Kaguri bid goodbye to staff, saying she will ‘terribly miss’ them.
“Hello Team, wish to thank you all for the journey we have walked together as a network,” she wrote. “Leaving very proud that we have achieved much as individuals and as a team e.g. Queenter, Zubeida, Linda Bach, Evelyn Kwamboka, Lydia Nyawira and all those who have gotten various awards! Those on the mentorship program, wishing you every success! Counting on you to make a difference! Will terribly miss you all! Love you all and Long live Standard Group!”
Standard Group has always hard issues with its wage bill, which devours a huge chunk of its resources. Running products upon products, the company has been the jobseeker’s favourite, but the expansion has often returned to eat its babies. No wonder the company has an annual ritual of ridding its payroll of excess staff, yet that has not lifted it out of financial trouble.
Over the past one year, Standard Group has been struggling to pay employees with most salaries in arrears of over three months. With a loss of ksh1 billion for the year 2022, there is a short supply of optimists among Standard Group employees and shareholders of a quick turnaround. It may just need more trimming of staff to find its magical numbers, but analysts say if the issue of ghost workers is dealt with effectively the media house may actually hire more.