Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HR = Corporate Prostitutes

I have worked here for 2 years, 2 months and 9 days. Approximately.

This could easily turn into a tailspin post about how depressing this place is, how bored I am and how I can't wait to leave and tell everyone exactly how I feel. In fact, it very nearly did but I deleted all that because I didn't want to pollute the blogosphere with my negativity. How far I've come.

Instead, perhaps it would be fun to pass along some exciting office-y things that I have learned working here. This way, you too can benefit from all the time and effort I have spent here not killing people or burning the place down.

I don't know how many things I can creatively say that I have 'learned' here- I would argue that learned is a strong word and that I've mostly just existed here, getting my paycheque and praying for weekend. In this way its much like that time I was an au pair for a summer for impossibly spoiled children. Except that I get paid twice a month instead of once at the end. And the money is better. But not much.

Oh my god, I get paid almost the same as when I was an au pair. At least there was always liquor in the au pair house.

I'm going to need a minute to recover from this revelation.

OK. Things I Learned Working In A Soul-Crushing Cubicle

1. Keep Your Ears Open. It may seem tempting to drown out the drone of office inanity with your headphones, but if you do, you will miss all the important things that are going on around you. People in positions of power can't be bothered to lower their voices or have important, confidential conversations in rooms with doors, so you would be amazed at the things you can pick up. Of course for every important tidbit you hear there are twice as many useless things you learn (like that Veronica's dad made her chocolate covered strawberries this morning...WTF?), but I'd say its worth it in the end.

2. Tea Goes A Long Way. Tea (or coffee, pick your poison) is the single most important liquid you can ingest on a work day. Caffeine is the one thing that will keep you sane, awake and prevent you from engaging in any kind of murderous rampage, however tempting it may be. Especially on a Monday.

3. Work On Your Pokerface. I have gotten in a lot of trouble over the past 2 years because of a tendency to have my thoughts written all over my face. Apparently this offends the powers that be (John, who prefers plastering a sh*t eating grin on his face instead). Work on a neutral face (use a mirror if you have to) and wear it to work all day long. Inside you could be seething with frustration, or crying tears of desperation, but they will never know.

4. Bullsh*t Bingo. You would be amazed at how interesting meetings become when you play a rousing game of Bullsh*t Bingo with a trusted co-worker. Set up a Bingo card, agree on what constitutes a Bingo (straight line, black out etc) then fill in the grid with common office speak you know will come up. Words and phrases like "think outside the box", "strategies", and "effective communication" are always popular, but I encourage you to come up with terms that are most common in your own office. Extra points if you stand up in the meeting and cry "Bullsh*t" when you win.

5. Keep And Delete. The nature of working in an office today means that there is a lot of electronic communication flying around. Create a folder with all important communication so that you can hang onto those emails. I'm not talking about important ones about the work that you are doing, I'm talking about the ones that affect your job and you. Keep them as a record of what was said and what was promised so that you have something written down to back you up. The flip side is that email is an excellent way to keep up with your non-work friends. Just make sure that you delete all received and sent emails when you are done with them. Same goes for any in-office friendly communication.

6.Do Your Own Research. Don't wait to get screwed by Human Resources (they are in fact paid to screw you, like corporate prostitutes), do your own research and know where you stand in relation to benefits, vacation days and most importantly, raises. When you know it yourself,, your manager can't go above your head and f*ck you over.

7. Always Have Your Resume Ready To Go. If you work on your resume before its needed you will have the time to calmly and methodically go through your experience and tweak a resume to make it as strong as possible. By the time you need it (and you will) it will be ready to take you to your next (better) position. If you have to work on it when you are seeing red, its not going to do you any favours.

Although I think that I could come up with some more prickly wisdom for you, I would like you to come back and read something else I have written at some point in the near future. If you have any other advice to add, or something struck you and you would like to let me know, please do comment. Like any self respecting blogger I need your comments to validate me.


  1. I got into HR because of the word Human in its title. I like people. I quickly came to find out that HR doesn't look out for employees' best interests but the company's. I am no longer in HR.

  2. I once made the mistake of asking for an HR rep to sit in on a meeting with us so that I would have someone on my side.
    Turns out HR isn't on my side.

  3. I see the crack is working on making you more aware of the subtleties of office niceties. Good work!

  4. Lol. I've played BS Bingo (we call it "Buzzword Bingo") as well, and it is awesome!

    There's an app for it on the iPhone, btw. :o)