HR was better known to us as the ‘people’s people’. Nobody was better at using this term than they were themselves. They were the most lively and enthusiastic staff within our company. They would always send me on a course and recommended that I would follow lots of them. It didn’t matter whether it was an Excel-course that I didn’t need, just go! There was always something to learn or refresh, although HR did not apply that wisdom to themselves. Our human resource staff never followed a course, and to be honest, they didn’t need an Excel-course with their strong people skills. They were above the ‘ordinary’ employees, because they were one of the judges of our performance, they kept track of excessive sickness leave, and were responsible for hiring new people. Nevertheless, our HR employees really tried to fit in, and extraverts as they were, they quite succeeded. Susie-from-HR had the brilliant idea to casually walk by everyone at the office presenting sweets out of a box of Quality Street. A nice gesture, but what use was it that people just got one piece of candy only once? It raised questions, such as:
‘Do I only get one piece of candy one time because otherwise I will become too fat, get heart and vascular disease, and will have to take up more sick leave?’
My favorite HR employee was a man of around 60 who I called Gandalf the Wizard. He looked wise and he had come a long way. He always reminded me of the fact that his parents were of working class. In the meantime, he had climbed the career ladder, worked for this company for a long time, and decided to pursue a doctorate in law. We had a special bond, because we had a good connection during my job interview, and we both liked old motors and the music of Amy Winehouse.
They were creative people, the living treasures of HR. Once every two weeks they came up with a questionnaire, where it was expected that all employees would participate. This week, the following question was asked:
‘Which tea do you want to drink in the next quarter of the year?’ At this moment, earl grey, redbush and green tea were lying in the drawer. We could fill out different flavors on the questionnaire, including orange, cinnamon, jasmine, ginger and chamomile. Why we could not have more than three different tea flavors, was beyond me. Maybe HR was afraid that if we would get more flavors, then we would get stressed out because of choice overload, we would form a queue next to the coffee machine and would therefore spoil precious worktime. Another recent question was:
‘What kind of meal do you prepare after a long working day?’ What they wanted to do with this information was unclear, as the office never catered for evening meals, and in the canteen nothing ever changed. The majority of the responses (44%) replied that they sometimes ordered their dinner online because of a lack of time. It surprised me that so many colleagues voluntarily replied to these questionnaires. If everyone would just ignore these HR questionnaires, then maybe they would stop sending them. But people were benevolent, sometimes against their own best interests.