Here Kitty, Kitty....
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
You will think I am making this up. I assure you, this really happened to a client of ours. A client who happily gave permission to tell this story.
Nothing particularly wild or crazy happens - don’t get your hopes up - but it does tell of an interesting little event and a growing mindset amongst many employers these days. Employers who fear getting involved with trivial, incidental staff issues through an abject terror of being swamped in procedure and paperwork.
Names have been changed, by the way.
It all starts with a cat. Or rather, the noises a cat makes.
Meow. At first, you thought one of your employees had developed a strange new tic. Meow. That nagging meowing sound that you keep hearing was, you assumed, emanating from Darren in accounting. You always suspected he was on the edge of snapping. There was a look in his eyes that you always found a bit chilling.
Meow. There it is again, and it is beginning to get on your nerves. He has finally broken. Years of incessant bean-counting have finally pushed him over the edge and right here, right now, he has snapped. One bean too many. You always knew it would happen.
Meow. Goodness me…He is getting louder.
You feel like you should help, in some way. Without an HR team in place, after all, this kind of thing falls firmly within your remit: payroll, onboarding, terminations, meowing Darren’s. You know, the standard stuff. This is, like it or not, your responsibility.
But you are apprehensive about approaching him. Not through fear, because the truth is you are quite fond of cats and have no problem going over to hang out with the office man-feline for a while. You could happily take a ball of string over and waste a good hour with your new buddy, Darren the cat. But from an HR perspective, there must be some kind of procedure for this. You are not sure exactly what that is, and the thought of potential bureaucracy makes you nervous.
You waste two hours of your day, nervously pacing behind your desk and making calls, formulating an approach to this quite fragile situation. A phone call to the mental health department bore no fruit. In their opinion, a meowing accountant was not sufficient cause for alarm. No need for the men in white coats, just yet. “Maybe it’s just his way of dealing with pressure”, they say. “By having a good old meow, and anyway, trust us: we have seen far worse.”
What could possibly be worse than a meowing accountant called Darren in the office? A barking software engineer called Colin? An American? The thought sends a shiver down your spine, which you must shake quickly – because you need to deal with this situation. You have already wasted enough time.
Then, a development. After Darren has left the office for lunch, you hear it again. Meow. It wasn’t Darren, after all. Peeking through the door, you take a better look, and spot the culprit.
It was Julia.
Thankfully, Julia is fine and making perfectly normal human noises, as she sits there typing up a marketing brief. You notice, however, that just underneath the keyboard, resting quite happily on Julia’s lap, is an actual cat. One of those weird skinny things which resemble a bat slash alien thing. Doobie, is it? No, Dobby. They are called Dobby cats and apparently, cost a fortune.
So, Julia brought a weirdo cat into the office. You ponder it for a while and conclude that you have a problem with that. If the cat was useful for something – a spot of filing maybe or was handy (pawsy?) with an excel spreadsheet, you might embrace a mixed human/feline workplace. You would probably be ok with the situation if it was a cuddly, fluffy, cartoonish thing - and not something that reminds you of your ex-mother-in-law.
But as far as you can determine, it just sits there looking needy, annoying everyone with its constant meowing. The cat needs to go. Not in the Mafiosi sleeps with the fish’s way, of course, I just mean the cat needs to leave the office.
Years ago, before a workplace filled with rules and regulations, the solution would have been quite simple; dropkick the whiney little thing out of the window, continue with your day and forget all about your ex-wife's evil mother. But this is 2022. What if this is some kind of support cat? Maybe the cat has workplace rights, in some way? The world has gone bonkers, and nothing would surprise you: including a cat with some form of workplace power.
That might sound over the top, but you have assumed all HR duties since launching this business and the experience has taught you one thing - there is a form for everything when it comes to HR. Maybe there is a form for this? Or an official procedure to follow?
You google it but find nothing. You call a friend who knows about cats, but they have no idea. Before you know it, two more hours have passed while you mess around figuring out what to do about Julia’s cat. That’s three hours you could have spent chasing new business but didn’t.
It transpires there really wasn’t any need to worry quite so much. Julia’s cat had jumped into her car this morning and made itself comfy in the backseat, only Julia didn’t notice. Not until she arrived at work. She could have driven back home but decided instead to bring it in with her. Not an ideal situation, granted – but there really was no need to waste four hours of your day fretting about all of this.
The fact is, it was an HR issue. You didn’t deal with it quickly because you are weary of HR these days. It has become such a time-consuming endeavor. On the other hand, building an efficient HR team will cost fortunes, and as a section of the business that does not produce direct, measurable profits, you are reticent to invest.
But effective HR really does bring in measurable profits. With the right people managing your employees, they will become more efficient and productive. You will have more time to chase new business, take care of much valued customers, and drive the business forward.
As you look back on the previous month’s efforts with a sigh, you contemplate the wasted hours spent messing around with employee-related stuff. Four hours fretting over a cat. Six hours messing around with payroll owing to tax issues that arose. You loathe compiling data – it’s a tedious, monotonous task – but you have wasted 12 hours this month trying to figure out the timesheet automation software.
The list goes on, and you know these HR efforts are only going to grow more intense, as your company gets bigger. The solution is really quite simple. What you need is fractional HR support. And it will surprise you - I mean it honestly will surprise you - what an incredible difference just a small drop of outside HR assistance will make for your business.
Even just a few hours per week will produce a much improved, efficient, working environment, and that is where we step
in, as fractional HR support, ready to assist with HR, when you need a little extra help.
We can be of service for just a few hours each week, or several hours per day, depending on the level of support required. Either way, we are known for providing robust HR reinforcement without you barely realizing we are even there. We are good at that - aiming to provide dramatic improvements, without causing much of a fuss in the process.
We are always here for a chat so if you need immediate assistance, get in touch. No pressure - happy to have a chat and see if we can help. We usually can.
And we love cats. Just saying… In case you have any mooching around over there:)