Zombies and milk thieves: six quirky HR moments from 2016

From guidelines for a zombie apocalypse to a mansplaining hotline, here are some of the things HR departments got up to in 2016…

Zombies and milk thieves: six quirky HR moments from 2016

April 2016

Credit Suisse sticks to its traditional neutral roots

While Rolls Royce, BMW and BT were chided for crossing the employer-employee line by suggesting which way staff should vote in the EU referendum, Swiss HR professionals decided they weren’t going to let their staff get drawn into any of that nonsense. The country is famed for its neutrality after all. At Credit Suisse, an internal memo simply instructed staff not to attend or arrange any client events where Brexit might be discussed. It defined the campaigning period to be between 15th April and 22nd June and asked staff in Britain and abroad to “ensure that it [Credit Suisse] does not engage in activities that are intended to promote or bring about particular outcome in the referendum.”

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April 2016

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Coffee chain Café Nero this year proved there really is no such thing as a free lunch (not anymore, anyway), after deciding to strip staff of this much coveted perk to meet the higher wage bill caused by the introduction of the National Living Wage. Announced as part of a pay review, the firm said staff would no longer be entitled to a free panini while on shift. The payback, said Café Nero, would be the fact that all staff over 25 will see their pay rise by 50p per hour to £7.20. Still, some say it could have been a lot worse. Staff still get 65% off any food bought in-store, and they can drink as much tea and coffee as they like. So all is not lost…

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June 2016

Health and Safety – for the zombie apocalypse

Remember that time you read your company’s health and safety booklet? No, thought not… That’s exactly the response stationery supplier, Viking, didn’t want when it decided to update its workplace policies. So, how did it ensure their new pamphlet was actually read? By incorporating responses for some other useful events: like what to do when there’s an alien invasion, when evil robots want to enslave humanity, and when zombies want to eat your brain, obviously. These additional procedures were all illustrated using the same characters, and in the same style as more mundane health and safety issues, and were speckled throughout the staff booklets to make sure people got to the end. The result was massive engagement for what would otherwise be a rather boring read.

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July 2016

Milk thief reads a sour note

Sometimes you don’t need to rely on HR to intervene when it comes to investigating petty office thefts – some employees are perfectly able to look after themselves. One female worker, fed up of her milk being stolen from the communal fridge, put a label on the bottle ready for the burglar to read the next time they appeared. It said: Good morning. To whomever has been enjoying my coffee creamer all week... Surprise!!! You've been drinking my breast milk. Hope you've enjoyed – cheers! PS. It’s organic. So no worries.” We cannot confirm whether the burglar then put in a claim for bullying and/or stress in the workplace.

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November 2016

Hotline for the hot and bothered

Confidential employee assistance programmes – check. Legal advice services for employees – check. ‘Mansplaining’ hotline – eh? Don’t adjust your computers/tablets/smartphones, you did read this correctly. Swedish trade union Unionen – which represents 600,000 public sector workers – has set up a hotline for suppressed women to report ‘mansplaining’, where men explain ideas/concepts in a way that is deliberately patronising or condescending. The union claims the service will draw attention to the way men diminish women by making them feel less competent than they are. Unionen quotes an American Psychological Association study that claims men “tend to overestimate their intelligence to a much greater extent than women.”

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December 2016

Google bamboozles staff

As Google’s Pixel Smartphone is this Christmas’s must-have gadget, you can almost imagine the fervor among hard-working Google employees. Every year since 2011, the internet search engine giant’s Christmas tradition of giving staff a technology perk has kept everyone working like little elves. Back then, staff got a Galaxy Nexus each. In 2012, employees got the choice between a Nexus 7 tablet or Samsung Chromebook, and last year, they could choose between a Nexus 5 or 7. But hold on, someone hasn't been reading the script. Because this year, it seems, Santa won’t be dropping the Pixel into their in-trays. Oh no. According to Fortune magazine, Google’s parent company Alphabet will instead donate $30 million worth of Chromebooks, phones, and associated tech support to schools instead. It is the season to be charitable, after all. 

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Saturday 19 August 2017
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