With over 800 posts in the archives, I know some of you have missed some good stuff over the years. I’m going to test out publishing some of these regularly to breathe some new life into the content and give you guys a chance to check them out. Enjoy!

We’ve all seen them. They drag their crusty, misshapen forms around, spreading despair and agony in their wake. No, I’m not talking about trolls, I’m talking about HR people! We’ve all worked with them before, but some might look at you and think that you fit the bill. Here are a handful of signs you might be turning into one of them!

  1. You secretly cheer when it’s time to put an employee on a performance improvement plan
  2. You have immense pride in the fact that your department has resisted that newfangled “Human Resources” title and still proclaims itself “Personnel”
  3. You love creating new policies
  4. When an interviewee asks you why you like working there, you give them a blank stare
  5. In order to save money on healthcare benefits you tell your employees to Google their symptoms Continue reading

When I started this blog, I tried to regularly thread in some HR humor to make things more lively. In anticipation of the fifth anniversary of upstartHR’s beginning, I am sharing this humorous top ten list. Enjoy!

  1. Cancel the monthly birthday celebration. We paid attention to them last year, right?
  2. Make sure your supervisors are treating people at the bare minimum threshold of the law and not a bit better. Anything above that is wasted effort.
  3. Forget about that whole “engagement” mess. Nobody ever really enjoys their work or puts in extra effort.
  4. Test employees for their weaknesses and make them spend time training on those areas. Forget about their strengths and only focus on the things they’re not good at.
  5. Create a new policy requiring everyone to notify their boss when they have to visit the restroom. This will finally allow us to account for EVERY minute they are in the building during the work day.
  6. Cancel all of the employee perks. They’re getting paid–why should they expect more?
  7. Make all official communications go out via email and don’t let any staff talk with management about issues or problems. We’re here to tell THEM how things are, not the other way around.
  8. Cancel direct deposit and make everyone start picking up their checks from payroll. The walk to the payroll building will replace our wellness initiative.
  9. We need to manage risk more actively. Effective immediately we will force any new ideas for “innovation” to go through a seventeen step approval process to only allow the safest and least risky ideas to be implemented. Oh, and cancel any bonuses for approved ideas–we need people submitting them for our benefit, not theirs.
  10. We’re going to replace our health insurance plan with Google–by our records people are already job searching there during the work day, so we might as well give them a second reason to visit.

HR humor courtesy of Dilbert!

HR Humor Dilbert comic strip

Courtesy of Dilbert.com

 

Warning: This post is supposed to be humorous. If you are not experienced with humor, you might not get it. If that is the case, here’s the IRS website. Feel free to read some of that really exciting stuff over there. Why humor? Because we’re HR professionals, darn it. If we don’t get some measure of humor our souls wither and die.

Today I’ll tell the story of when I accidentally insulted someone during new hire orientation.

And not just any someone.

This guy’s dream (as he’d already told me several times) was to own his own firearms and hand-to-hand combat training business, so he was a pretty tough dude.

So, I’d been recruiting this guy for a few weeks, but we hadn’t been able to talk very much since he was overseas at the time. He was taking a remote position with us, and the group he was working with was actually in town on the day he started, so he came to the home office for his new hire orientation. Simple enough, right?

Well, we are sitting in the orientation session and I pause to talk about the different pieces of the company and what all we do. I mentioned a recent proposal we had submitted to do some work for the government, and his temper went from zero to sixty in a heartbeat. He was on his feet, pacing back and forth, and growling about how dumb the decision was. I’ve never actually seen someone “gnashing their teeth,” but I’m willing to bet that was about as close as you can get.

They make you take psychology classes in college when you get an HR degree. You also take things like communications, public speaking, etc. Basically, you should know how to talk to someone. Heh. At the time that was the furthest thing from my mind.

This guy is a trained killer, and I just made him angry. If he smashes the computer and chairs, I’m the next biggest thing in the room for him to take his frustrations out on. Unless he used the computer and chairs to smash me. That seems pretty efficient, and I haven’t seen anything inefficient about the guy since I met him. Crap.I’d rather go out in a blaze of glory. Beaten to death with a faux leather office chair was not in my top five ways to die. 

Agh. Why didn’t I sit closer to the door? I could at least get it halfway open before he snaps my neck like a twig. I wonder if I could distract him. Too bad I don’t have a red cape to wave in his face or something. Or a bazooka. That would probably be intimidating, except for the fact that I have no idea how to use one. Sigh. College was such a poor way to spend my time. 

At this point he’s started to calm down a little after circling the room a few times. I’d like to say it was at that point that I took control of the situation and moved on with the orientation.

But I didn’t.

Wow. His hands look really big. I wonder if he could wrap them all the way around my neck. I wonder where he’d hide the body. It’s a small room. But he’s probably inventive. He could stuff me in the ceiling tiles and be out of the building before anyone realized I was missing. Why didn’t I take the extra optional life insurance package? Darn. Wait a minute, what if I play dead? Will he still attack? Oh, wait, that’s for bears, not people. Stupid Discovery Channel. Why don’t you tell us how to survive people? I have yet to see a bear from three feet away, but I’ve been that close to plenty of crazy people… Wait a minute, he’s looking at me again.

By this point he was sitting in his chair, staring at me as if I was the one who had nearly just blew his top. I stumbled and stuttered through the rest of the slides, made an excuse to leave the room, and breathed deeply of the fresh air that filled my lungs.

I had survived.

I’d like to say there’s a grandiose lesson here, but I can’t think of one. Just make sure you sit near the door if you are ever alone in a room with a former special-forces-trained-killer and there’s a chance you could make them angry at you.

Anyone else have a crazy new hire orientation story?

funny cubicle humorCube-dwellers are made fun of on a daily basis in many forms of media. And while I love reading “Dilbert” cartoons, some of the situations hit pretty close to home. If you\’ve never experienced the glorious experience of cramming yourself into a tiny space filled with office supplies and a back-breaking chair, then you are totally missing out on the fun. (Okay, maybe I\’m lying.) Read on to see a few things that I have learned from living in a cubicle.

  • Sickness-It may completely defy the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, but a sneeze from twenty feet away can instantly give three people the flu. I have no idea how it works, but it’s universal!
  • Laziness-To me, laziness is spending Saturday afternoon laying on the couch watching TV. I am such an amateur. There are people that I have “worked” with before who never actually did anything work related after walking through the doors.
  • Sucking up-I am pretty much always cordial with my supervisors. Keeping that open, candid relationship healthy is a great way to have work you enjoy. While I think I\’m plenty friendly there are others that would happily staple their own forehead to stay on their boss’ good side. I just want to say to them, “Come on people, it’s your boss, not your spouse.” :-)
  • Weirdness-I have photos and other things decorating my space, and it helps me to feel more relaxed at work. I once worked with a person with a little dog that bobbed his head all day long. No, it\’s not a bobble head doll. It has a little light sensor that helps the pooch to shake his head at you like he knows something you did wrong…

So, while you may think that it is boring wherever you happen to be, there are always things going on that can turn that around in a hurry. So, if anyone in your workplace is carrying a disease, brown nosing the boss, or freaking you the heck out with weird desk ornamentation, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a comment below with your own funny office story.

A special bonus

And now, a funny short clip from Office Space, one of the best movies to illustrate office life at its nitty gritty core. Email subscribers need to click through to see the video.

bad mannersI was flipping through an HR newsletter that our VP shares with the department, and one interesting piece caught my eye. The article talked about swearing at work, other “bad manners” offenses, and it cited a study by TheLadders.com.

The top five reasons for termination due to office etiquette offenses:

  • Bad language (38%)
  • Excessive workplace gossip (36%)
  • Drinking on the job (35%)
  • Leaving office without saying so (33%)
  • Too many personal calls (28%)

    Hold up a second… Am I the only one that sees #3 sticking out like a sore thumb? I think drinking on the job goes beyond bad manners and into “Hey, I’m an idiot. Please terminate me!” territory. The other items are (unfortunately) all too common for most of us. I’ve written before about office gossip, and I completely agree that it’s a toxic problem for most companies, but it really surprised me to see swearing at the top of this list.

    Sometimes we can laugh, though

    I wrote a funny top ten list of office etiquette violations a while back. Check it out and feel free to share it with your friends and coworkers. :-)

    So, you’ve seen my thoughts (both serious and not). What’s your biggest problem with office etiquette?

    I can say from experience. That's going to hurt!

    In my relatively few free hours, I have a side job as a wrestling referee. I’ve been doing it since I started college, and it has been an interesting experience for me. Among other things, it has prepared me for the life of an HR professional. Don’t believe me? Here are 10 ways refereeing is like HR. Continue reading

    I\’ve mentioned it before, but I grew up working in a small business that my parents owned. When I heard about the HR Happy Hour last week, I figured I could get some juicy stories to share. Well, I was partially correct in that regard. See, the hiring manager takes everyone who passes the interview and makes them do a dry run of the job duties. That\’s also known as a realistic job preview. With a machine shop where they make precision parts around dangerous equipment, it\’s very important that the person be familiar with the basics of the job.

    If the candidate does well enough, they can start the new gig as soon as they are able. If they don\’t make it that far, then they are never hired. With those reasonable hurdles to employment, it severely cuts down on the number of wild and crazy stories about employees. But it didn\’t diminish the number completely (amen to that!). Here are some of the employee horror stories highlights.

    Snagger

    Snagger got his position through a program with a local community college so he could get some work experience during school. Snagger started to work, and things started turning up missing. One day, the supervisor glanced in Snagger\’s toolbox, and he saw that one of the stolen items was in the box. Snagger told him it was a gift from his dad. Later that day, the supervisor called the guy\’s dad to check, and the dad said it wasn\’t from him.

    So the supervisor plans a sting operation. He\’s going to catch him red-handed. He called the liaison with the college, told him to keep it quiet, and warned him that he was going to catch the guy. The darn professor called Snagger into his office to talk about the theft, spoiling the sting operation and ruining any chance of recovering the stolen items. Then, to top it all off, Snagger\’s dad called to accuse the supervisor of spreading rumors about his son. Gotta love supportive parents.

    Squeegee

    Squeegee needed a break. He just needed a little chance, and he would be the best employee ever. Yeah, right. The guy started to work and started being late. Squeegee told his supervisor that he didn\’t have a car, so he was riding with a friend.

    The supervisor, with his golden heart shining, offered to extend a loan to cover a cheap car for Squeegee to get to/from work easier. All Squeegee had to do was bring in the title and pay it off a little each week.

    I bet you can see where this is going.

    Squeegee kept “forgetting” to bring the title, and he finally screamed, “It\’s my car” and left, taking the car (which was an atrocious choice, by the way) with him to wherever he ended up.

    But the story doesn\’t end there. Squeegee\’s mom called the supervisor. He had been stealing from her at home, and she wanted the car situation to be rectified, so she told him where the car was hidden. The supervisor worked with the car lot manager to get the vehicle back, and the money was divvied up at the end of the transaction with each getting back whatever they could.

    Shifty

    Shifty was a pretty good worker. He did his job well, and he even stayed late to pick up the slack whenever he could. He could have stayed there for a lot longer if a customer hadn\’t called the owner one day to let him know that Shifty was going through the Rolodex every night, calling the customers to try to underbid his own employer. Shifty? More like Scummy, if you ask me.

    Okay, those are just a few of the employee horror stories I\’ve seen over the years. Do you have any you can share? Feel free to change the names or post anonymously!