With these chocolates you’re not spoiling us

l Some companies know how to spoil their employees. Counter staff at Lloyds TSB got all excited when they were promised prizes as part of a new scheme to get customers to take up new accounts, loans and credit cards.

But before they could say, “Will it be 1,000 air miles towards my summer holiday?”, mangled chocolate bars started turning up in the internal mail. One member of staff said: “I received a Twix bar – all squashed and flattened – attached to a letter. It wasn’t even the usual-sized Twix, just a single one.”

This only goes to prove that what managers think will be a staff perk can become a source of annoyance.

Surely Lloyds TSB should have realised by now that if you’re going to spoil your staff (or even the ambassador) with delicacies then it has to be Guru’s chocolate of choice – Fererro Rocher, of course.

Losing HR is not good party trick

l Just as Guru was starting to take Iain Duncan Smith seriously, he makes a classic mistake. With the coffers of Conservative Central Office not exactly overflowing, IDS has taken cost-cutting steps.

A begging letter sent out to party members – explaining that 1,000 leaflets cost £35 – has been followed by the departure of key staff. The personnel manager and a senior librarian are among those who have left – HR will now be handled by the director of operations.

Guru would have hoped that the personnel manager’s name had been on a different list. Without wishing to rubbish librarians, HR could play a vital role in fostering the changes needed to make the party credible.

Sven habits seem highly effective

l It seems we can’t get enough of Sven Goran Eriksson. Our footballing svengali has been in serious demand after his whirlwind start as England manager.

The world loves a winner and, after England’s humbling of Paraguay, Sven has launched his own CD, a range of suits and even given a lecture to the Institute of Directors.

He explained to esteemed members how important it is to have inspirational leadership. Guru didn’t realise this also meant getting splashed across the tabloids for (alleged) sexual shenanigans. Could it be a subtle leadership ploy? There is little doubt that his ‘association’ with Ulrika will win him kudos on the terraces, but will it help bring home the ultimate trophy? Guru doubts it.

Budget could cause robotic takeover

l Manufacturers are up in arms about the Budget. Just as they were starting to recover from the effects of a strong pound and the economic downturn, along comes the Chancellor and ups National Insurance contributions.

It will impose a £4bn burden on business and many hard-pressed manufacturers are worried it will cost jobs – unless productivity can be increased. Others, however, are already exploring alternative routes to productivity. Figures compiled by the University of Warwick show that 1,941 new robots were installed in 2001, the largest number in any one year. The overall tally in the UK is now 13,500.

Robots are starting to dominate the production lines of the automotive and food and drink industries, but Guru could think of more than one employer that would like to introduce them into their HR teams if they thought it would cut costs.

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