Monday 4 June 2007

whatever you do, don't tell anyone....

I was quite surprised to receive some post in the office internal mail the other day. I get absolutely piles of email, but I get precious little in the way of old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness post. Anything that breaks the routine of another dull day in the office is to be embraced though, so I grabbed it and began to examine the envelope. It arrived in one of those funny little brightly coloured envelopes with lots of boxes all over it – the idea being that you can re-use the same envelope many times by simply crossing out your own details and by filling in the next recipient’s name and department in an empty box.

I looked a little blankly at the box showing my name and department, and wondered -- as you do when you get a piece of post you weren’t expecting and can’t instantly identify – what on earth it could be. They'd written my name out, and then used a highlighter pen over it. I wasn't sure why. Perhaps for emphasis?

I opened it up and saw, to my bemusement, that it appeared to be a letter from the Department of Social Security. I looked at it more closely. It turns out that the DSS had recently received a request for benefit from a certain Mr. B, but before they gave him any money, they wanted to confirm that what he was telling them was true: that he was indeed dismissed without being offered any alternative roles within the organisation. The letter was addressed to the human resources department. Would someone from the HR be so kind as to write back to them with the relevant information?

There was a covering note from HR.

“Could you please fill this out and send it back to the DSS. Thanks”

Mr. B was my boss. He was “asked to leave” because he was fairly useless (which was something the company should have known anyway, as they had already employed him in the same role once before, and he was hopeless at it then too... but luckily someone else had been daft enough to offer him a job and he had resigned. Quite why my lot subsequently re-employed him is something of a mystery to me... but what do I know, right?).

Anyway. Is it just me, or should HR have taken a bit more care over this?

Did it not occur to anyone in HR that this might be a bit of a sensitive issue and that they should perhaps take the time to find the right person to send it to instead of just sending it to someone with a similar sounding job title? Why had they just dumped it into the post anyway? The only reason I could think of for doing that was that they couldn't really be arsed with it and just wanted to get it off their desks as quickly as possible.

I’m not an expert by any means, but if HR don’t take the time to get things like this right, what do they do?

Yeah. I know. Stupid question.


  1. We had a woman in our place who'd been off sick with mental health problems. HR sent a letter to her via the office requesting she see occupational health for an assessment. Our receptionist opens all our mail, internal and external, before distributing it in the pigeon holes. And it wasn't long before everyone knew what my colleague's situation was - something she'd chosen to keep personal.

    HR in my place are proper bobbins. As they are in every company I've ever worked.

  2. HR deal with all the internal mail, obviously.

  3.! Something like that should be considered confidential and HR should have handled it directly, or sent it to someone who was a manager of said previous employee. I'm a bit speechless, actually.

  4. Um...they are too busy managing the precious human resources of your organization to be arsed with silly things like mail about former employees or wondering where they are sending it. :)

  5. what did you do with it?

    1) tell the dss that there was no such thing to get your him cut off?
    2) post it on the notice board, or
    3) send it back to HR explaining that you're not really the person for this

    I bet it was 3) (you are so righteous) and yes 2) would have been a bit mean, but wouldnt 1) have been fun!

    Have a great weekend btw mate.

  6. what did I do with it? Well, it might have been righteous of me, but I wheeled my chair over to the director's secretary and had a quiet word with her about it, and she passed it on to the person who would need to deal with it.

    I was appalled though.


  7. Thats a normal state of affairs for anyone who leaves a job -its called a JSA200, is the form, and its used to verify why they left the job.After all, anyone can walk into a jobcentre and say they got fired, and then its up to the DWP to find out what actually happened. Of course, every day that the form doesn't get sent back, is another day someone comes into a jobcentre kicking off at the staff because of something out of their control.


  8. Sounds like your HR is as useless as mine is... ;)

  9. Good old HR. I think it's called 'passing the buck'.

  10. I've worked in 4 companies in about 9 years and I don't think I've ever known a HR department that wasn't hovering above or below the incompetence borderline.

    I would say this incident is shocking but shockingly it's just typical.