Guru

This
week’s guru column

Radio
tagging keeps track of your dinner

Unfortunately,
it’s not just the Victorians who didn’t trust their workers (see
cartoon). Guru has heard some disturbing stories from across the pond. An
increasing number of US employers are making their workers wear electronic
tags, similar to those used to track criminals released on parole.

The
devices are designed to boost productivity, and casino owners and restaurant
chains have proved to be the most enthusiastic proponents of this
"progressive" management technique.  

Guru
can’t decide which is more scary, this or watching George W Bush gyrate his
hips with Ricky Martin? Answers on a postcard to…

Yomping
your way to team building

It
makes modern day employers in the UK look like soft touches. That is unless
your name is Bruce Thew and you’re the managing director of Centrefile.

He
has taken team bonding events to a new level. He recently arranged for 30
executives to go on an army management training course. Nothing new in that, I
hear you say. Think again.

The
managers spent 24 hours on the Yorkshire Moors, without so much as a tent or a
tin opener. They slept rough, fired guns and I dare say even considered eating
worms to tame their hunger.  

The
exercise has been designed to "push people to the limit" and teach
anger management and people management skills. I hope it worked because 30
tooled-up, wet, cold and hungry managers could do a lot of damage.

About
putting the HR in hurricane

Guru’s
award for boardroom bravery surely goes to a well-known HR practitioner in the
IT industry, who used his skills as a mariner to save a conference from a
tornado.

"I
was at a conference held in a hotel by the sea in Florida," he told Guru.
"After dinner when everybody was about to go outside I felt the pressure
drop very suddenly and asked the concierge to call the coastguard.
He thought I was mad, but I insisted and the coastguard said there was a
tornado forming out to sea."

No
sooner had the concierge made his call than the HR director spied the tornado
hurtling towards the hotel and told disbelieving delegates to get on the floor.

Just
in time, everybody hit the deck as glass went flying and the whirlwind trashed
the hotel. An excellent example of an HR director offering timely vital
strategic guidance.

Insight
into life in the 1850s office

As
we all know, what goes around comes around. Adam Baker, HR manager at the Horse
Race Totalisator (the Tote) has unearthed an employer’s notice dated 1852,
which tackles "new" working practices.

Sensibly,
the communication starts with the statement, "Godliness, cleanliness and
punctuality are the necessities of a good business," and goes on to outline
the newly reduced working hours ñ 7am to 6pm.

When
it comes to the facilities no expense has been spared. A stove will be provided
for the clerks, but they must bring 4lb of coal each day during cold weather.
Also, calls of nature are permitted and "clerical staff may use the garden
below the second gate". Although, of course, no talking is allowed during
business hours.

In
view of all the recent employment legislation, Adam is considering recommending
the notice’s concluding point to the Tote’s board. "The owners recognise
the generosity of the new labour laws but will expect a great rise in output of
work to compensate for these near-utopian conditions." Amen.

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