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HR’s Longest Day

September 1, 1998
Related Topics: The HR Profession, Featured Article
Apparently, there’s no end to dumb, strange things that employees—and even CEOs—will do on the job. However much we might have hoped we had heard it all (and printed it) when we reported on "A Day in the Life of HR" in our June cover story, it turns out (sigh) we had only touched the tip of the iceberg.

"A Day in the Life of HR," you may recall, traced your days from the time you got up in the morning (very early) until you hit the pillow again at night. The report was based on almost 900 responses to a survey, mailed to selected subscribers and posted on Workforce Online.

The original survey included several open-ended questions that invited participants to name the dumbest questions ever asked by an employee and by the CEO, the weirdest question ever asked by an employee, and the worst crises ever faced first thing in the morning. Perhaps it’s a sad commentary on today’s workforce (and its leadership) that respondents had no trouble finding examples. We ran the best ones in the June feature, and also posted them online.

That might have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. Online, we invited those who hadn’t received the original survey to share their best stories. Many, many more were posted—most of them as memorable as the first batch. Here are just a few of our favorites:

The dumbest questions employees have asked:

  • I’m having trouble balancing my budget. Can you ask payroll to change the issuance of paychecks to once a week, instead of once every two weeks?
  • Can you e-mail the offer letter to me? I’ll make changes and e-mail it back to you.
  • If I quit and the new job doesn’t work out, can I come back?
  • The police are here with a search warrant. Do I have to let them in?

The weirdest questions employees have asked:

  • Can we bury my dead dog in the company freezer? My girlfriend is at a conference and I want her to be able to see it the way it was.
  • Since our "death-in-the-family" policy gives three days off for funeral arrangements and mourning, if my father, mother, sister and two brothers get killed in a car accident, do I get 15 days off?

HR’s worst morning crises:

  • I arrived at work at 8:00 a.m. on a Friday, only to learn that two females who work in the plant got into a fight after work. One of the females bit the other’s ear off!
  • An employee was arrested after setting six dumpsters on fire in various locations throughout the city and then attempting to run over a cop during the high-speed chase.
  • A schizophrenic forklift driver didn’t take his medication and decided to run over all the people he hated in the plant—supervisor first. Luckily, we have fast runners.

And, yes, the dumbest questions asked by CEOs:

  • Why do you have to be involved in all terminations? Why don’t you only involve yourself in the terminations that will cause problems later?
  • What’s the benefit of an EEO program? Why don’t we wait until we’re sued?

Don’t you love HR?

Workforce, September 1998, Vol. 77, No. 9, pp. 23-24.

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