This week’s guru

Motivator? What a load of fertiliser

Does anyone remember when the DTI released a directive about its official
‘foliage strategy in the office’? (Guru, 16 September 2003).

Basically, it set down regulations as to the departmental stance on fauna
feng shui.

Rather than being a waste of public resources, plants are now an
internationally-recognised people motivator. Or so Plants for People, who’s
tagline is ‘the international initiative, spreading the knowledge of the
benefits of plants in a working environment’, would have you believe.

Research by the organisation shows that workers who sit at a computer for
more than four hours a day feel better and are more productive if they have a
plant on their desk.

Guru put this to the test and found it to be patent nonsense. After only one
morning, he was asked to remove the poisoned ivy that was decoratively adorning
his monitor, and then received several complaints that his Triffid was fighting
with his Venus Flytrap.

Town undesirables asked to relocate

Guru recently speculated on whether or not you could get in trouble for
discrimination if you insulted everyone.

This ongoing research is taking shape and, so far, the Scots have taken a
bashing for forming the entirety of the homeless population of England, the
Aussies for being downright lazy, and the Italians for being cowards.

At the rate of one nation a week, Guru aims to rile the entire planet.
No-one seems sure how many countries there are, but estimates range between 191
and 193, so this task could take a while.

This week, the focus is on eastern Europe, where a Romanian mayor is
offering to pay families of prostitutes and beggars to leave town.

Dorin Florea, mayor of Targu Mures, has offered about 50 families £300 each
to leave the town and go to work on the surrounding tundra, where "there
are hundreds of acres of land waiting to be toiled".

Guru wonders what industry will be left if this forced staff relocation
takes place. More-over, family businesses are few and far between these days.
Perhaps this just counts as outsourcing?

Well, so long as these itinerant families don’t come to the UK – imagine how
upset the Scots would be to have their monopoly challenged.

Be choosy about who you offend

People leave companies for a reason. In an ideal world, they’d all be going
on to better things, with the sobs of their colleagues ringing in their ears.
But let’s be realistic. People leave because there’s something not right about
what they do.

Often during Guru’s motivational speeches, delegates jump up and shout:
"I’ve had enough", and storm out. He can only presume he has
succeeded in empowering individuals to make a change in their lives.

But beware: someone else’s leaving do could be the prologue to your own if
you’re not careful. In the recent case of Duncan v AA Hutton, the unfortunate
Duncan wrote rude messages in the leaving card of a colleague. He was summarily
dismissed for being offensive, and an employment tribunal held that this was
not a breach of the law.

If you thought this was unfair, it wasn’t even the leaver who took offence,
but the remaining employees. Apparently, ‘abusive and sexual comment’ is good
grounds for dismissal, even if it is not directed at you.

This is outrageous – Guru has been trying to get fired for writing abusive
and sexual comments for ages. There’s just no justice in the world.

Absent HR not doing itself any favours

Personnel manager Elaine Armitstead has done HR no favours after changing
her name to Ms Elaine Neous. Not only does this confuse the hell out of people
leaving voice messages on her phone, but opens HR to even more jokes about the
nature of its work.

Neous said that people phone reception saying they want to speak to a real
person rather than a miscellaneous one. Ha-bloody-ha. Can you take a colleague
to an employment tribunal for infuriating you? Perhaps it comes under cruel and
unusual treatment.

HR just won’t help itself. When ‘one of Guru’s colleagues’ tried to call
their HR department – on 17 different numbers – there was no reply.
Admitted-ly, it was late, having just gone 4.30pm – way past HR’s bedtime.

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