Did you know that there’s a “taxonomy of hugging”? No, me neither. But according to this Wall Street Journal video on hugging in the workplace, there’s an American lawyer who takes employees through what’s ok and what’s not ok in the world of workplace hugging. It’s pretty weird, to be honest.
But I think the key points are: not everyone likes to be hugged; and there is nothing wrong with a good old high 5 with your colleagues. I would also add: don’t be creepy. As general HR guidance, I’d say don’t hug someone at work unless you know them very well and know that they want to be hugged – and even then, don’t linger, or be creepy or handsy. Honestly, I’d actually prefer it if you just gave the other person an affectionate (and gentle) pat on the head instead. As long as the recipient is ok with head pats.
I still remember the time during the GFC when someone complained to me about the removal of the “good” biscuits from the kitchen. (The chocolate and cream-filled biscuits had been replaced by plain biscuits = human rights abuse.) And in a Braveheart-style speech, they said they could take the good biscuits, but they’ll NEVER TAKE OUR FRUIT BOXES. (I think we did, from memory.) And by doing so, we could maybe save some jobs, but more likely just send a strong message that times were tough and we all needed to try harder and do more with less. Then I had someone complain that they were worried about maintaining their three investment properties, so they really needed a pay rise. I remember having to grit my teeth so I didn’t yell, YOU ARE LUCKY TO HAVE A JOB. (Also, thank you for trying to make your problem my problem.)
Speaking of problems, this video is not a new one, but I saw it for the first time earlier this year and loved it. I would like to show it to all workplaces and high schools to get the message out there. Sometimes, the best HR advice I can really give is shut the full cup. (Also around the GFC time, I had a similar conversation with a senior lady who came to discuss her salary review concerns with me – she was significantly overpaid and underperforming, yet somehow convinced herself she was worth a lot more. My advice was, literally: DRY YOUR EYES, PRINCESS. But I delivered it in a super charming way, obvs, and she got the message.)
I’ve seen a lot of CVs during my career in HR. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re really bad, and sometimes they’re completely mystifying. I remember back in the day when we were reviewing applications for a graduate program, some of the kids used abbreviated words – as if they were sending us text messages, instead of trying to get a job at a leading global firm. And then there are the CVs that run for 10 pages – no one’s that impressive, honestly.
Our lovely friend JJ recently told me about a website called enhancv. At first, I thought she had messed up the spelling (because engineer), but then I had a look and realised it’s an actual thing. Apparently it’s the human-centric resume that actually works. It helps you build a CV that looks good, includes relevant info that makes sense, and doesn’t waffle on with the crazy. “HRs love it”, they say, and I think they might be right.
Their blog features CVs for celebrities, which made me laugh. That’s where I found this video of Elmo getting fired – a tragedy that they turned right around by helping Elmo with a CV, so the little fella can get straight back on his feet. Or hands.
I don’t really like talking on the phone. I like to be able to see people and gauge their reactions, rather than just listening to them agreeing or saying whatever it takes to end the call. I also like to make sure people are actually paying attention, and not distracted by a crossword or cat video or Jenga tower.
So it follows that a conference call at work is basically my worst nightmare. I know I’m not alone – with the dial-in requirements that always manage to confuse; the people forgetting to mute; the people forgetting to un-mute; the cross-talk; the awkward silences. It’s basically the worst idea ever. Which is why this video makes me laugh, but also makes my blood pressure rise as I watch it, as it’s spot on.
Even if times are tough, this song can be played to convince yourself (and all others) that EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. You won’t read about it in an HR text book, but I strongly suggest you consider using it as a motivational tool in your workplace.
I have been known to blast it on my laptop in an open plan office as a reminder to everyone that they should pipe down with their grievances and be grateful that they have a job. Because that’s just the kind of HR person I am. (I have tried to find a motivating song that references a global recession, but no luck so far.)
No, I would not like to imagine a world without HR, thanks all the same. What a ridiculous notion. I was almost too afraid to watch this You Tube video, in case it was just a series of people staring dreamily into the middle distance as they reflected on how much better their lives would be…
The song was dramatic, confusing and pretty OTT. But then it was followed by interviews with some seemingly credible CEOs. Spoiler alert: a world without HR is basically the WORST THING YOU COULD POSSIBLY EVER IMAGINE. Even worse than someone eating the last of the Nutella; or being short and stuck at armpit level on a crowded bus at the end of a summer day; or finding out you’re allergic to chocolate. EVEN WORSE.
Today’s work tip is about resigning. I know a bit about this topic, from both sides of the fence: having had quite a number of different jobs, and working in HR. My worst resignation was probably when I told one of the Partners of the firm that I was leaving, and he started to cry. Even worse, we were in a bar (probably not an ideal resignation site, now that I reflect on it), so it looked like I was a heartless girl breaking up with him over cocktails. Which I guess I was, except for the heartless part – although I was so happy to be leaving, I may have been grinning while he mopped at his teary face with tissues.
Interviewing for a new job is like dating (more on that in a future post), and resigning from your job is like breaking up with someone. One is full of excitement and promise; the other is awkward and can be a bit sad (especially if you’ve worked in a place for a while). So, if you’ve decided that it’s time to leave your job, and you’ve really thought about it properly, not just decided after a crappy day (or short series of crappy days), then our suggestion is that you tell the truth about it. And don’t tell everyone else before you tell your boss – it’s definitely not great for them to hear your news from the well-meaning barista in the local cafe.
And please don’t try a fake resignation, where you actually don’t want to leave, but just want to force your company into paying you more by competing with another opportunity that may or may not exist. You’re better than that, champ.
Many people get stressed about resigning – whether they’re not entirely sure it’s the right decision; or they’re worried about the reaction of their boss; or they feel guilty about ditching their colleagues and friends. The act of resigning is rarely as bad as you think it’ll be. Unless your boss is a Bad Manager – maybe they’ll take it personally and cut you off as soon as they know you’re going; or try a guilt trip to convince you to stay; or pretend they saw this coming; or criticise your decision / new employer / attitude / life. In such cases, you need to remember: it’s not you, it’s them.
Whatever happens, don’t lose your temper or make threats. And don’t start any fires or steal things before you leave. And resist the urge to have a few too many drinks at your farewell and start telling Brian in Accounts what you really think of him. And please don’t send a “Dear all” email – it might feel cathartic as you write it, but will undoubtedly seem like a very bad idea as soon as you hit send.
You might also find this video educational: basically, don’t be like Alice. Good luck out there, friends.
Please don’t be confused – this isn’t a post with suggestions of what to wear for Halloween. It’s actually about one of the most hated HR guidelines – the Dress Code. Believe me when I say that those things are as painful for us to write as they are for you to read.
I am not a fashionista, or stylist, or dictator, so I am generally uncomfortable with telling people what to wear. Maybe it’s a little easier now – back at the turn of the century, such lists had to include references to cargo pants and Juicy Couture tracksuits. And then we saw the launch of Casual Fridays – forever to be misunderstood by those in their late teens and early 20s, who seemed to forget that a day in the office stood between their arrival at the nightclub.
Now, the concept of “business casual” is confusing a new generation of employees. And good luck to those working in a startup or tech company, with their Star Wars t-shirts, ripped jeans and sneakers – may you never need to be constrained by wearing a belt, or combing your hair, or taking off your hoodie.
At Work Tips For Humans, we’re here to help. Our general advice on dress codes? Remember that you’re going to work. Sounds obvious, but it means that when you look in the mirror, you should probably see something different to what you see when you’re going to the shops, or the pool, or the gym. (Unless you work in those places, but even then, please double check yourself in the mirror.)
In an article on Monster entitled “What Not To Wear To Work“, Amanda Frank outlined a long list of things to avoid. I’m not sure about some of the items on the list, including, “heels that clank”, “jingly jewellery”, and “hood ornaments”. But “dresses without underwear” are also out, as are “dirty bra straps”, which sounds like pretty good life advice right there.
I think ladies can also look to almost everything worn by Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. And disregard it for work.
Men’s Journal featured an article called How to Look Like Don Draper: A Beginner’s Guide and since that gives me an excuse to include a photo of Jon Hamm, I am going to take it. I think the article is about grooming, or hair products, or something like that. Whatever, here’s the picture.
In my professional opinion, a big price tag doesn’t automatically make your outfit work-appropriate. Exhibit A: the finance analyst at a big corporate (admittedly, we had a very relaxed dress code) – I saw him lounging at his desk and said, “Ummm, Garry*, are you wearing a tracksuit?” His response, “yeah, but it’s Ralph Lauren”. In my caring way, I asked, “HAVE YOU GIVEN UP ON LIFE? YOU CAN’T WEAR A FREAKIN’ TRACKSUIT TO WORK, GARRY.” And then he explained that he was going to the gym at lunchtime anyway, so thought it was fine to be wearing a tracksuit. Yeah, well, I might be going to McDonald’s at lunchtime, but you don’t see me dressed in a curly red wig, yellow jumpsuit and giant red shoes, do you Garry? (I wish I thought to say this at the time, instead I think I just walked away in shock.)
And now, I think we have solved all of your workplace fashion issues. We can deal with grooming and hygiene in another post – there’s another source of delight for HR professionals! If you’re still not sure about dressing for success, maybe scrawl this mantra on your mirror as a reminder: Whoever you are, whatever you do, please dress so HR doesn’t come after you.
If there is a better philosopher than Dr Seuss, I’d be surprised. We were raised on his rhymes and tongue twisting tales, and I think the good doctor definitely helped to feed my imagination and love of clever words and general silliness.
I have too many favourites to mention, but Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been a long-time guide and source of inspiration. Over the years, I’ve bought copies to share with colleagues who need a bit of a kick, or I’ve given the books as farewell gifts when I’ve left jobs. (I know that’s not the way it’s traditionally done, but I guess I think I’m not going to be here anymore, so look to Dr Seuss for answers to your questions.)
It’s a gem, and I highly recommend it for your personal library, and also as a gift for nearly every occasion. I read about a primary school principal who gave a copy to each graduating student as a takeaway pep talk to help on their journey to and through high school. At work, it’s a fitting gift for the recently promoted, the newly hired, and even the newly fired (NB, not if they’re still in the angry / sad stages of the grieving process).
I’ve just re-read it now (there’s another advantage of Dr Seuss vs a traditional motivational book – Dr Seuss’ work is quick to read) and there are so many highlights, it’s tough to narrow it down. Every page is basically packing a wisdom punch. I’d go as far as saying it is the best work (and life) advice you’ll ever get.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
Amen to that.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
It’s an upbeat book about opportunity, sure, but it also provides reassurance for when things turn to crap, as they sometimes do.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And then, some hard data to back it all up [SPOILER ALERT]:
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)
So, if you’re looking for motivation, or if you have lots of questions buzzing around your head, or if you like funny rhyming words that don’t appear in a conventional dictionary, this book is for you. And that is a work tip for humans that I stand by, 100 per cent.