This week’s guru

Virgin on the ridiculous

An employment tribunal has found in favour of an opera company, which chose
not to have an eight-month pregnant soprano in the role of a teenage virgin.

The tribunal decided that it was a genuine occupational requirement to not
look eight months pregnant to play the role.

Guru assumed this was a victory for common sense, but according to Jonathan
Chamberlain, partner at law firm Wragge and Co, the decision was not so

"In this age of enlightened outlooks on discrimination and with
integrated casting, where the audience is often asked to suspend their
disbelief, the claim may not be so outrageous," he said.

"Would the owners of a nightclub who required waitresses to wear
revealing uniforms have a genuine occupational requirement that a waitress not
appear pregnant or be discriminating on the ground of pregnancy?"

Delia-like effort gets you the job

Innovative German businesses believe
they have found the ultimate test of assessing how potential recruits work
under pressure – put them in a kitchen and ask them to cook a risotto.

Dresdner Bank recently selected three new staff after seeing
how eight shortlisted candidates interacted when they cooked a meal together.

Recruitment firm Talent Networks has even built a ‘recruitment
kitchen’ at its Frankfurt headquarters.

The firm uses conventional selection tests to choose the top 10
applicants who are then invited to put their skills to test in the kitchen.

HR managers in the client companies attend each session.
"There is no better place to test executive skills than in the
kitchen," said a Talent Network manager.

Heavy petting encourages workers to pull fingers out

Apparently the key to improving
productivity is not improved training and development and state-of-the-art
technology, but nice office decoration and the purchase of a workplace pet.

Research by Office Angels finds that the office environment has
a direct impact on performance.

The study reveals that staff think having a pet parrot or
hamster at work would make them happier and more efficient.

More than four out of five of the 1,500 workers questioned
believe the atmosphere in their office would also be improved with more natural
light and better decoration.

Guru will be suggesting that the TUC and the CBI teams working
together to find ways to boost the UK’s poor productivity simply contact Carol
Smillie and the Changing Rooms team.

Cut corners with Mickey Mouse

Guru was horrified to learn that
business expense fraud costs UK organisations £831m every year.

Research by Fish4jobs finds that expenses fraud and small-scale
pilfering is rife in offices up and down the country. The study reveals a case
where an employee took all his dry cleaning on an office trip so he could
charge it to his employer.

One senior buyer took his children to Disneyland at his
company’s expense and a business consultant extended his stay at London’s Savoy
on the company credit card.

Guru is quite sensitive about the issue – the MD compared his
most recent expense claim to the GDP of a small African nation – but you can’t
cut corners with out-of-hours networking.

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