As the year begins, the Church of England announces that it will create an HR department for the first time in 475 years. Why now? The only plausible explanation is that the Church is looking to get the best staff due to the imminent threat of Armageddon. To find out more, Guru makes a freedom of information request to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, whom he imagines must be public servants of some sort.
With pensions schemes going down the pan and the government procrastinating about what to do, it looks like the Horseman charged with Famine is already doing some groundwork up at the Treasury.
The Accounting for People recommendations are largely ignored in the government guidelines for Operating and Financial Reviews (OFRs) in annual reports, and HR is left out in the cold. Guru takes the month off in protest, saying that he is quite able to sideline himself without any extra help from the government, thank you very much.
It’s only March, but the year has already proven too much for some HR folk. Research reveals the profession to be the group least able to deal with serious events such as a marriage break-up or a death in the family, with a quarter feeling suicidal as a result. Almost a third (30%) admit they’ve taken anti-depressants or sleeping pills, compared with the national average of 22%. To help balance these figures, Guru recommends wide-ranging job cuts as it makes him feel better and other people feel worse. Harsh, but fair.
The swanky Priory drug rehab clinic starts an advertising campaign to target London’s City workers who are in the grip of a cocaine epidemic. HR departments contacted by Personnel Today at various banks and other such businesses claim there really isn’t a problem. The power of denial is indeed strong. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, says Guru, who recommends the magazine is made smaller as it’s nigh on impossible to snort drugs with a rolled-up copy of the larger format. This duly happens later in the year.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) decides to rebrand itself as the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry. This is immediately changed back to DTI when staff are unable to pick up the phone without saying: “Hello, Department for Trade…no wait…what is it again? Hey Dave, what the hell are we called now?” For some reason, this doesn’t breed confidence in overseas investors.
It is another depressing month for HR. Separate pieces of research show that HR is the unhappiest profession in the UK and, at senior manager level, earns up to 50% less than other functions. Personnel Today declares the happiest worker in Europe is a male HR professional from Scandinavia aged 45-54 after (Swedish) massaging the figures. He changes his name by deed poll to Go/ro/. It doesn’t really help, but it is funny listening to others trying to work out how to say it.
According to research by Barclays, people called David and Susan are the highest earners. One has to wonder why they undertook this research unless there is some dastardly plan to assess mortgage lending based upon your name. Whatever the reason, Guru decides it’s time to change names again just to be safe. However, all these different monikers cause too many problems and he reverts to plain old Guru. And besides, he considers himself more of a Rachel than a Susan.
It’s well into the holiday period and Personnel Today managers send intrepid hack Michael Millar to Iraq to get a bit of a tan. He returns with many wild and wonderful stories – the oddest possibly being when the tannoy at RAF Brize Norton airport blithely announced to soldiers returning to the war zone that the RAF “hopes you have a nice flight”. In case you were wondering, Millar warns there’s very little duty free at Basra airport, so make sure you get any gifts before you return.
For the first time, the majority of universities report that more than half of their graduates are women. Moreover, women are getting more 2:1s and firsts than their male counterparts. Soon men will be reduced to nothing more than breeding machines for their female overlords (or should that be overladies)? This development worries Guru, as he hopes women will be able to appreciate him for his body as well as his brain.
If any more proof of the female species’ takeover was needed, former DTI chief Patricia Hewitt is found guilty of discriminating against a male applicant after she overrules advisers and appoints a woman instead of a better qualified man for an influential job. For some reason, Guru has real difficulties recruiting men who want to avoid being treated as mere sex objects.
John Hutton replaces David Blunkett as work and pensions secretary, making him the sixth person to hold the post since 1997. Is it time for Guru to lift his curse on the department? Nah! Only when micro-celebrity heiress Paris Hilton is chosen for the post will he call it quits. She’s good with money and can hopefully pass a bit of ‘the simple life’ on to us Brits.
HR departments everywhere prepare for the Christmas party onslaught by ensuring all staff know what constitutes sexual harassment and what doesn’t. Guru’s predictions for 2006? Peace will reign on Earth and secretary of state Hilton will sort out the pensions crisis quick smart. Then again, he’s been wrong before…