Entering the 21st century via the medium of workplace wellbeing is certainly a painful business. Oh for the days when I could just behave like a normal OH person, conducting civilised back-to-work interviews, or trying to make sense of GP sicknotes! In the past few months, everything has changed, and it seems we’re now here to get the entire workforce to adopt a macrobiotic diet, take up yoga, and feng shui their desks. All the brainchild of HR supremo Martin Tallow, of course.
His Wotcha Wellness programme was bad enough. Lunch-time jogging isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, and several people were later absent with random sprains and strains – some of them genuine. Now we have the latest fad: ‘Nine2Five Nirvana’ is a new consultancy he is bringing in to transform us all into happy, smiling people on a permanent basis.
So here I am, waiting for the presentation to begin. Needless to say, I have a heavy cold. Working my way through a battered box of tissues, I’m practically exploding with the effort of trying not to sneeze all over my colleagues, who are all slumped around me in various states of non-engagement.
The Nine2Five Nirvana team waltz in, led by Martin in one of his funny little Chairman Mao jackets, followed by two others: a man in a Hawaiian shirt, and a woman in a pink jumpsuit. They march towards the assembled workforce, smiling scarily.
The woman seizes my hand. “I’m Marcie,” she announces. “When was the last time you were truly happy?” I stare at her. “I have no idea,” I say, finally. “How about you?”
Marcie looks smug. “I am totally happy, all of the time,” she says. “Because I work for the best employer in the world”.
She hands me a questionnaire. “Fill this in – it’s the first step to creating the workplace of your dreams.” I scan the page, which is full of enquiries about my beliefs, birth sign and bowel movements. The first question reads: “Who do you consider to be the world’s most inspirational human being?”
That one at least is easy. It’s got to be Victor Meldrew.
To be continued…