Halloween horror stories

When the workplace gets scary

Oct 30, 2019 | Feature

The spookiest day of the year is upon us – but it’s not just ghosts and ghouls that can give you a fright. Sometimes, the most shocking stories can happen at work.

Here are a few scary stories of employees being viewed as commodities not assets, and how to stop them becoming a reality in your workplace.

Big brother is watching

We live in a world where traceability is normal. Between ‘find my friends’, CCTV and social media you can always see what people are up to. But when this level of surveillance creeps into the workplace, it becomes a little unnerving.

According to recent reports from Australia and New Zealand, Domino’s has started using ‘The Dom Pizza Tracker’ – essentially, in-store cameras and sensors that monitor internal quality standards. This is then tied into a ‘scorecard bonus system’ – which is where things get problematic. Having a machine not only monitor the employee’s actions, but reward or reprimand them accordingly, is a pretty scary eventuality. Although Domino’s has stressed that they won’t be using this system to punish underperforming employees, it feels like it still equates people to nothing more than cogs in a wheel.

Earlier this year, multiple British businesses were reported to be using Artificial Intelligence to monitor employees also, using specific systems to do so. Understandably, employers want to know how their resources are being used, but does the minutiae of how people approach their work really matter as long as it gets done? Monitoring systems that are too invasive strip any semblance of trust away from employees, running the risk of disengagement and even mental health issues.

Although there is a place for workplace monitoring, we would always suggest using internal communications to promote productivity, encouraging employees to be the best they can be, before looking into this option.

Everyone is welcome (except you) 

Discrimination has no place in any workplace, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop it from rearing its ugly head. One example of this is the treatment of many women on their return to work from maternity leave, and working mothers in general. From being forced to do a full-time job on part-time hours to not being put forward for promotions, 77% of working mums face negative or discriminatory treatment in the workplace according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Much of this is down to outdated views on how work ‘should be’. Working late every day isn’t sustainable and working mums, or any employee, shouldn’t be penalised for not doing this. Similarly, it’s a flexible working world, so if there’s no reason to be in the office, no one should be punished for asking to work from home. And yet, often they are, leading to the creation of multiple groups and campaigns – like pregnant then screwed who aim to support and protect mums returning to work, and flexappeal from Mother Pukka, who is working to change the conversation about flexible working.

Creating a culture where work-life balance is respected, flexibility is encouraged, and there is an appreciation for the skills that working mums and other employees can bring to work from their home life, should be an absolute priority for all businesses.

Sit down and shut up – onboarding issues

First impressions count, so a structured onboarding process is a given in most places, right? Wrong. It’s not unheard of for new starters to arrive at work to no desk or equipment, or to have to chase for information on what to do on day one. Those are just the ‘easy to sort’ issues, and this article tells the tale of some real shockers.

If a new starter feels like an inconvenience from the minute they arrive, it doesn’t give off great vibes about the company. The first few days in a new job are stressful enough, trying to learn the ropes and get to know your new, co-workers while trying not to get in anyone’s way.

Every company needs an agreed onboarding programme, tailored to their business needs. It will make all new starters feel welcomed, but will also make life easier for HR. Whether it’s a tour of the offices followed by reading business policies or a full-blown presentation and three-month plan – make sure everyone is on board when it comes to onboarding.

A few scary scenarios…

• Not having breakout areas for employees. It doesn’t have to be a canteen, but having somewhere for employees to be able to make a brew and take five is crucial to making people comfortable at work.

• No meeting spaces. We are big supporters of an open-plan office to encourage interaction at work, but private areas are necessary for people to discuss private and sensitive issues.

• Stress competitions. Some work cultures promote competitive stress, but in the long run employees will burn out and you’ll get less done. Remind people that they should be able to manage their work during their workday, with only the odd exception.

You may also like…

Musical firsts

At W&P we’re music mad and with Record Store Day having just passed us, we got the team thinking together to find out what the first album they ever bought was (and to expose everyone’s early music tastes) …

The power of women

March is Women’s History Month – a month dedicated to celebrating the role women have played in modern history. In the spirit of the month and celebrating why women are great, the W&P team wanted to share just some of the women that inspire us and have helped to shape us creatively…

A unified voice

On the face of it, entering awards can cost both time and money, so it’s easy to talk yourself out of it. But in reality, entering – and winning – awards is great for business on many levels. Here’s why it’s more than just an accolade. Measure for measure When you’re...

Press play on podcasts

Podcasts are so much more than true crime and comedy. They’re intimate, engaging and personal, which makes them great communication tools. At a time when connection and storytelling are more important than ever, a podcast could be a great way to evolve your internal communications and bring colleagues closer together.

Well, then

When Covid-19 hit the headlines last March, none of us knew what was coming. Fast forward to today – three lockdowns, 12 months and countless cancelled plans later – and here we all are; taking it one day at a time and doing what we can to make the best of an unprecedented (sorry) situation.

We see IC Amy Holmes

In the third instalment of our series, we caught up with Amy Holmes, Internal Communications and Engagement Consultant at Marshalls about how they’re paving the way for more diverse communications channels in the future.

Kimberley-Marie Sklinar

In the latest installment of our series, we caught up with Kimberley-Marie Sklinar, Internal Communications Partner at StepChange Debt Charity, on how virtual communications are shaping the future.

Cyber Security

With millions of people around the UK working from home it’s no surprise that we’ve been online more than normal. According to infosecurity magazine in April, there was an overall Internet usage increase of 17%. From Zoom calls for work to FaceTime with friends, people are getting better acquainted with the virtual world.

We see IC Allison Cary

In the second of our series, we caught up with Allison Cary, Internal Communications Lead at Voyage Care, about the ever-evolving role of internal communications in Social Care.

Tone of Voice

COVID-19 has highlighted many things. The British public love banana bread, toilet rolls don’t grow on trees, and how you say something is as important as what you’re saying.