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A cold day in Hell

From the diary of Phelan Tweed, Manager of People and Persecutions, Hell Inc

I didn’t think this would ever happen at Hell Inc. The fiery furnace is on the blink and with temperatures plummeting like the souls of devious scam callers through our gates the situation has become more and more alarming. We often talk about the day Hell freezes over. We may just have arrived at that unfortunate juncture.

Brian Bentham, the local representative for the UDP (Union of dead people) paid me a visit despite my email informing him that the engineers had been called. Here was a man with the face of a fairly disgruntled tortoise who had somehow found himself front and centre of an issue that neither of us felt would ever occur. His green roll neck sweater was not helping the situation either. Normally I am only honoured with a personal visit from our union friends in emergencies. One could typically anticipate a long-winded email, peppered with micro aggressions and blind copied into the world and his wife for good measure. Such is the way that the UDP conduct their business. Brian was highly vexed at the cost of no longer living crisis and how it affected his membership, not to mention it was getting rather chilly down here.

‘My members are not happy’ he railed, slamming his fist on the desk and disturbing my overfilled latte. They are not satisfied at all, and my members would like to know what you, being the representative of people in this business are going to do about it’

I found his lack of respect for my coffee break irritating but nonetheless in the interest of partnership working I allowed this indiscretion. The veins in his temples were pulsing and I began to speculate that the rupture of one of these vessels was likely the very cause of him arriving in Hell in the first place.

‘Take this one member of mine, he continued, waggling his podgy digit in my face. This member of mine can’t even afford to keep warm in his hovel of an evening, let alone feed his family. My member is shivering in his shack Mr Tweed.

‘Please would you refrain from describing your union colleagues as ‘Members’ I insisted. It conjures up a highly uncomfortable image in my head’. I think it was the unfortunate combination of the roll neck and his wrinkly bald head.

‘Be that as it may, what action are you going to take?’

By this point I am afraid I was beginning to lose my interest in the conversation and played the card that only a business as unique as ours can. ‘I’m sure they will survive Mr Bentham’ I said failing to hide a smirk. After all, we are here forever. ‘Perhaps we could offer some wellbeing support, how about a free yoga lesson?’ This didn’t go down well. His wrinkly face had turned bright red, he looked like he might actually explode. Although it did give him a rather festive look.

‘I am filing a grievance he yelled, you haven’t heard the last of this’ He stormed out of the office. I have sent him a roll up yoga mat and some candles in the post to cheer him up. I hope this won’t aggravate the silly fool too much. You see, as I have mentioned before, people round here tend to revert to type, they don’t understand or know that they are really dead, and that they are here forever. There is no point in trying to rock the boat or get into arguments with your colleagues about things. The things that affect you on Earth bear no meaning here. Oh it might look like Earth but it is Hell, it is designed to irritate you much as life would have done in the past.  It is about time you got used to it. Time for another coffee I shouldn’t wonder. It was getting rather chilly.

dark humour, human resources, writing

A creeping sickness

I had been looking over the latest absence figures recently and was shocked to see the percentages have shot up in the past few weeks. I had been trying to put this on Mr B’s radar for a while now. It was so strange how seasonal flu could spread through an organisation so quickly when the World Cup was on. It was almost as if the two things were linked together in some way. Mr B often discussed his love of the beautiful game, but only in the context of those sneaky players who managed to cheat their way into winning. Obviously I can’t prove anything but Mr B often chuckles to himself whenever anyone talks about ‘The hand of God’ moment. ‘Yeah, sure’ he said last time it was brought up, ‘Like he had something to do with it’.

So we were getting into a bit of a crisis really, the little worker imps were running riot without someone to whip them into shape. Wrath from the seven deadly sins department refused to participate in any of the heavy flaying activity. ‘Not with my back, he had said at his last wellbeing review meeting, ‘I could do myself a permanent injury’. He seemed to much prefer his time with his feet up in the back office sending passive aggressive tweets to the IT department. Any lighter duties and he may as well not have bothered to come in at all.

After last week when we banned the Four Horsemen from making any more travel claims I had thought they may have fallen into line a bit more. They were having none of it. I visited their office yesterday to share some good news about the discounted gym membership offer. They were playing ‘who can throw the work experience kid the furthest down the office’. Let me tell you it was really impressively far. I decided that if they were capable of so much exertion they really didn’t need or deserve the gym offer so I chose not to tell them about it. I had to spend the day taking statements from people while their four haunting mugs taunted me through the glass office door. ‘Bring it on!’ they were shouting. whilst slapping post it notes to the window with some very choice imagery on it. I had to return the poor work experience kid to Eton with his tailcoat in tatters. It was reputational damage all round. When Mr B finds out I doubt he will be happy. I was quite proud of the report I did though, the devil is in the detail so they say.

We normally manage absence pretty tightly round here but it seems the whole carrot vs red hot poker in the backside, or reward vs punishment approach as you may know it has become skewed somewhere along the line. There appears to be a general malaise about the place that I can’t quite put my finger on. In other news though I think I may have worked out who the mystery biscuit thief is. I can’t prove anything just yet but Greed from the SDD department (Seven deadly sins in case you have to ask) had crumbs all down his jacket the other day and he looked really sheepish when he saw me, hastily clawing the remains of a bourbon from his scruffy beard and pretending to look busy. They were good biscuits as well. Such is the work of a HR Manager in Hell. Perhaps we need a culture change. Should we be less People and more persecutions from now on?. I will put it to Mr B that we revise the policy. Maybe I could put our apprentice onto the task. Come to think of it, I wonder what happened to Alan? I haven’t seen him for a few days. Oh well, I’m sure he will turn up soon, unless he is as sick as the rest of them.

Till next time, I will see you in Hell

Phelan Tweed

dark humour, fiction, Hell, human resources, people, writing

Better the devil you know

The diary of Phelan Tweed, HR Manager in Hell

Mr B can be a hard taskmaster. Today he advised me that last night two of the horsemen of the apocalypse had lost their steeds on a drunken work night out in Blackpool, Hell on earth you might say. He was in a right mood. You should have heard the language, obviously it’s not for inclusion here but let’s just say it was like an industrial revolution. As you may already be aware, because it was ‘work related’ it’s hard for us to argue ‘what happens in Blackpool, stays in Blackpool’ however much we would wish for it. He does seem pretty angry most of the time these days, I mean, more than usual.

He was really ranting on. ‘We can’t call it the four horsemen department if two of them haven’t got horses, and you know what Famine’s like, with his two hour lunch breaks, he probably ate it’ I tried to calm him down a bit but it wasn’t working. ‘Do you want me to carry out an investigation’ I asked. It is preferable to me if we at least try and follow the procedure in these cases but I was unsure of the grounds for disciplinary. Was it a breach of the alcohol policy or misuse of office equipment? It was a quandary. ‘No he sighed, just try and locate the horrible beasts and if you can’t, just order a new one with the transport team. But you can tell them from me they can’t claim any expenses this month and neither can the rest of them’. Well, I thought, that’s going to go down like a lead balloon later, if one thing was certain on the expenses list each month, it was Death and taxis.

dark humour, diary, fiction, Hell, human resources

Hell is other People

Phelan Tweeds diary in HR Hell

Let me begin, like so many meetings have before this, with a completely unnecessary round of introductions. My name is Phelan Tweed, People and Persecutions Manager at Hell Inc. I am in charge of the hiring and…. firing, amongst my other duties. I frankly won’t listen to your names or job titles, unless there’s something in it for me. Honesty is very important here.

You may have heard people in your company say they have been around forever. Well, in fact I actually have. I was here at the beginning when Mr B. set up the company, back in the days before there was light. Recruitment back then was difficult let me tell you, what with there only being two people in the world but we managed. We have some excellent head hunters, and you know what those snakes are like.

In our most recent board meeting we discussed how it might be about time we gave something back to the community. We agreed that as long as it didn’t cost anything and didn’t involve any extra work for the board it was an excellent suggestion. I suggested the idea of a newsletter sharing all our tried and tested approaches to managing people. We know there may be some companies out there who already implement some of our cultural policies, kudos to you trailblazers. For the rest of you, I hope these insights will inspire you and we can take steps together towards complete world domination, or at least a sensible absence policy.

See you in Hell next time.

Phelan Tweed