The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for March 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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No, it’s not yet Christmas. And no, it’s not my birthday (but that’s in about three weeks, in case you were wondering) but it is one of my favourite celebrations ever – April’s Fool Day.

Now, if you haven’t gotten anything planned for Sunday, I reckon it’s still all right to pull off a prank at work on Monday (let’s keep the party going). But although all work and no play made Jack a dull boy, I would still be careful planning that next big prank.

There are a couple of points you need to think through before deciding what prank you’re going to pull. Is your company culture fun and open to a shenanigan every now and then, or is your boss someone who likens the office to a military boot camp? Also, make sure you choose your prankee carefully. And be sure to at least be clear on your company’s code of conduct. While some may be all right with you shrink-wrapping someone’s desk (been there, done that), others may not be too thrilled if you decide to hack into someone’s email or change their PC passwords.

While doing research for this post (and getting ideas for my prank next week. I’m thrown between putting sticky tape under everyone’s optical mouse or recording a kitten’s mew, hiding the recorder in a drawer, and setting the thing to loop all day long), I came across a pretty interesting article about how pulling a prank can display your strengths.

But just to be safe, here are a couple more things to take note of:

And if you’re on the management team, remember not to take things too seriously. Most pranks are going to either happen today on Friday or next Monday, and it’s never a bad idea to end or start a week with a couple of laughs.

As long as rules aren’t broken, dignities are left intact, and office property isn’t destroyed, there’s really no need to get uptight about April’s Fools Day.

You know what? I don’t think I’ll get up to mischief this year. Instead, I’m going to sit at my desk, smile sweetly at everyone, keep glancing at my watch and make everyone think I’m up to something. Maybe I’ll throw in a couple of warning comments like, “Hey, you haven’t already gone into the store room today, have you?” or “You might want to get that” every time a phone rings. I might even sit up a little straighter every time someone opens a cabinet or drawer.

It’d be fun watching them squirm.

Let me know if you’ve got any memorable office pranks to share and maybe it’ll help me start planning next year’s joke. It’s never too early. After all, I do want to show my bosses I’m committed to long-term projects (might help me score my next promotion). Have a good one everybody!

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

March 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

When Facebook isn’t your friend

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So, you’ve just scored the job interview of your dreams (or at least something close) and you’ve done your research on the company. Right about now, I’d bet you’re feeling pretty confident and prepared for any curveballs they may throw your way.

And then your interviewer asks: “Can you please log into Facebook right now so we can have a look around?”

This week, we ran a Bizarre HR about just that – companies that ask for Facebook logins to access potential employee’s profiles to gain a more, let’s call it “holistic”, understanding of the candidate.

I don’t know about you, but that’s sort of a deal breaker for me. Sure, there are a couple of things on Facebook I wouldn’t want my colleagues to find out about, but there has to be some kind of moral law (or actual law) against this. Right?

If you’ve been following The Snitch for a while now, you’d remember my attempt at staying off Facebook (obviously I went crawling back) so trust me when I say I understand the cheap thrill in venting about the co-worker who wouldn’t stop singing National Day songs in March, or how painful my last work trip was thanks to obnoxious cab drivers and inconsistent meeting times.

However, in the corporate world, a little discretion can never hurt. In the upcoming April magazine, editor Rebecca Lewis writes about the potentially disastrous effects a pissed off employee can have when they go on an online rampage.

Think about it. Here is someone with potentially sensitive information who believes they have been disengaged/insulted/mistreated (delete where appropriate) and has decided the best way to cool off is to broadcast their woes online.

Even something as simple as “Can’t people tell I’ve only got two hands?!” (I’ll admit I’ve tweeted that) can give the wrong impression. And this is if your profile is public.

Is anything even sacred anymore?

I’ve spoken to a couple of HR heads, and while most are against banning social media at work (“They’ll access it on their phones anyway,” one lamented), they do recognise the need to manage it.

With technology progressing faster than you can say Zuckerberg, and Gen Y’s who practically come out of the womb with an iPhone, there is no escaping the fact that social media is part of life.

While I am not a fan of potential bosses requesting access to my personal Facebook or Twitter pages (it would be timely to note I hardly ever accept friend or follower requests from colleagues), I do think HR has to determine how they intend to manage social media and its impact.

Let me know what you think and how your company manages social media both inside and outside the office.

PS: I just realised the irony of this post, considering I am the office snitch after all. C’est la vie!

Love them or risk them leaving… In style.

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Over the past few months, I’ve sat comfortably at my desk and watched with bemusement as the world tripped over itself trying to find new ways to quit – and leave a mark.

Let’s face it – the economy isn’t really rocking right now, so to quit a job in certain industries takes courage as it is. But when you top that up with an open letter published in the New York Times, jumping off a plane or getting a marching band playing your resignation, then you’ve got a winner – and the attention of the world.

Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs executive director, made headlines this week after publishing an opinion piece in The New York Times, declaring that after 12 years, he’s had it with Goldman Sachs’ “toxic” culture.

“To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way,” Smith wrote. “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.”

The piece, which was published the same day Smith handed in his resignation, revealed intimate details of what Smith claims happens in the corridors of one of the world’s easily recognisable investment banking and securities firm.

“It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail,” Smith said.

But while Smith’s dramatic – and extremely public – exit got heads turning, a personal favourite of mine is Steven Slater’s resignation. (Granted, when I said he jumped out of a plane, it was already safely on the runaway and not 30,000 feet in the air. Now, that would be something.)

In 2010, Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant, was so fed-up with his job that when a female passenger refused to stop unloading her carry-on luggage from the overhead compartment because the passengers haven’t been given the green light to do so, the luggage falling on his head was the last straw.

The passenger refused to apologise and instead hurled a couple of vulgarities at Slater, causing him to react accordingly. He promptly got on the plane’s public address system and said, “To the passenger who just called me a m*****f***er, f*** you. I’ve been in this business 28 years, and I’ve had it.”

He then grabbed a couple of beers off the aisle (you know he means business), released the emergency exit slide and made his unforgettable departure from the plane – and his career.

And who can forget Joey DeFrancesco, a Marriott Renaissance hotel employee, who was done with the “horrendous” working conditions that he ambushed his boss, announced, “Jared, I’m here to tell you I’m quitting,” and walked out of the hotel as the marching band started to play triumphantly behind him.

Oh, and did I mention the whole thing was caught on video and promptly uploaded onto YouTube, garnering over 3 million views at last count?

I call him the pied piper of disgruntled employees.

Which leads me to the point of all this. Employees these days need you to care – fair and simple. There aren’t really two ways about it, especially in current business climate where a bit of TLC can do a lot more than an extra couple hundred dollars of pay.

Speaking at the first Ogilvy Do debates in Singapore last night, So-Young Kang, founder and CEO of global leadership development and experience design firm Awaken Group, said the one thing missing from the workplace today is love.

But while I won’t go so far as to agree with her and urge you to give your employees a hug right now (you can if you want to), I will say that a bit of recognition and a lot of listening to make sure they’re happy and fulfilled is critical.

Businesses these days cannot afford to be focused on just the bottom line. With employees often more than eager to jump ship at the next best opportunity (fellow Gen Y-ers, I’m looking at you – but I’m generalising), leaders need to step up and make sure they’re not just bosses, but colleagues.

Many have waxed lyrical at the near-magical effect of employee recognition, but as a captive audience of the HR world, I have to admit I’ve seen it do wonders. So go ahead, ask about your employee’s day, take an extra minute to listen to them and find out what drives them in the morning and keeps them awake at night, and who knows what that emotional investment might bring you in terms of business results.

It’s worth a shot, and it’s definitely easier to manage than a public embarrassment should they pull a resignation stunt.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

March 16, 2012 at 11:30 am