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Dancing, Singing, Company Tattoos—2013 Had It All
SHRM Online’s year-end review of unusual work-related stories

By Kathy Gurchiek  12/31/2013
 
Job applicants made to dance—for a nondancing job. A grocery sacker serenading shoppers. An employee getting a tattoo of the company logo to snare a raise.

You couldn’t make these incidents up. OK, you could, but they’d be mistaken for old episodes of “The Office” or “Seinfeld,” instead of real stories of things gone awry in the workplace.

Take, for instance, the U.S. developer who secretly outsourced his coding job to a freelancer in China. The developer then spent work time updating his Facebook page and watching cat videos, Money.MSN reported.

The outsourced work was clean, turned in on time and earned the employee—a family man in his 40s earning six figures—quarterly reviews naming him best developer in the building. The scheme worked like a charm until the company, noticing his virtual private network was being accessed from China, investigated.

The former employee probably has a lot of time now to watch cat videos.

Fingertip of the Iceberg

A physician in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Brazil (near Sao Paulo), used fake silicon fingers to punch in up to six absent co-workers at an emergency clinic where they were employed. A biometric scan of employees’ hands records attendance, The Telegraph reported in March. Eleven doctors and 20 nurses were involved in the ploy, according to the newspaper.

In a related investigation into ghost workers in the same town, “as many as 300 civil servants … claimed their pay packets but never showed up to work.”

Gotta Dance!

A recent university graduate, hoping to snag a job as an assistant salesman at an electronics superstore in Cardiff, Wales, must have thought he’d stumbled into a segment of “Dancing With the Stars” when he was asked, as part of the group interview, to make up a dance to “Around the World” by the band Daft Punk.

A store spokesman later apologized, said the company was investigating employees who were involved in the questionable recruitment session and invited those job applicants back for another interview, the BBC reported. The new grad declined.

‘I Quit’ Video

An employee of a Taiwan company that produces animated news videos told her boss “I quit” in a video in which she danced to Kayne West’s song “Gone” while listing her grievances via captions. Her departure wasn’t a total surprise; before releasing the video, the young woman called her boss with the news that she was leaving.

But her former employer got the last word with a video of its own. In it, employees dance around the office and rooftop pool to “Gone.” Captions give shout-outs to the company, such as the tongue-in-cheek boast that “We work for an awesome company based on dance skills,” the BBC reported.

The video ends with workers gyrating atop their desks and the announcement “We’re HIRING!”

Ink-Stained Wretches?

Employees at Rapid Realty in New York City were offered a 15 percent pay increase if they got the company logo tattooed anywhere on their body, Time.com reported. The company would foot the bill for the procedure, which could cost as much as $300. One worker said in a video shot at a tattoo parlor that he didn’t see himself leaving the company anytime soon and the visual reminder would help motivate him.

Desperate Measures

A man who was laid off from his job at a discount store in northern England decided to rob the store to make his wife think he was still employed. A few weeks after losing his job, he returned to his former worksite, where he disguised his voice as he forced a colleague at knifepoint to open the safe, AOL Jobs.com reported.

The man walked away with the equivalent of $14,150, some of which he gave to his wife, telling her it was back pay that he was owed. Eventually, he was caught and sentenced to four years in prison.

Share and Share Alike

Ten thousand staffers at Lenovo Group Ltd.—known for its acquisition of Hewlett-Packard Co. and the ThinkPad laptop brand—are getting a windfall of about $300 each, according to a September Bloomberg news article.

The money comes from Lenovo Group CEO and Chairman Yang Yuanqing, who is sharing at least $3 million of his $3.25 million bonus with all his employees in China and 19 other countries, including the U.S.

Bloomberg quoted a company memo to employees that explained that the CEO “believes that he has the responsibility as an owner of the company, and the opportunity as our leader, to ensure all of our employees understand the impact they have on building Lenovo.”

Singing Sacker

A sacker at a Kansas-area grocery has been serenading shoppers at the cash register for four years.

“You are so beautiful to me,” he croons to one gray-haired woman, and sometimes he dances with customers, as a KMBC 9 News report showed.

“I love this country,” the Israeli immigrant and U.S. citizen said. “I love my job.”

And his happiness doesn’t even involve sharing in a $3 million bonus.

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor for HR News.

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