The Weird Workplace

|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/12/2016
Credit: Mascha Tace (Shutterstock)


STRANGE LAKE, QUE. — Remote locations are always a challenge for employers when it comes to bringing in supplies and workers, but one Quebec company has come up with an unusual solution: Airships. Quest Rare Minerals has signed a memorandum of understanding to have Straightline Aviation operate a fleet of seven helium-filled airships at its mine in Strange Lake, according to the CBC. Originally, the company had planned to build a 168-kilometre road from the mine site, but since it would have cut across a caribou migration route, and it would have been costlier, the company went with the airships. The road would also cost about $350 million to build, along with regular maintenance, said Quest’s president Dirk Naumann, while the airships would cost about $85 million per year. Each one can carry more than 20 metric tons of ore, 19 passengers and cargo.


LONDON, U.K. — We’ve all done it — accidentally sent out an email. But when Roslyn Learmond did that, the ramifications were somewhat broad. A “test” message from the IT worker at the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) was mistakenly sent out to 1.2 million people, instead of local GP practices. The problem was compounded when confused workers hit “Reply All” asking to be taken off the mailing list — meaning about 186 million emails were ultimately sent out, according to the Daily Mail. On average, staff needed 45 minutes to clear their inbox. The mix-up led to dozens of social media posts from frustrated physicians, nurses and administration staff begging people to stop responding. “Roslyn Learmond… I think the test failed!” said @drjamiegreen. The NHS claimed the problem was “a fault with the system supplier.”


FORT WORTH, TEXAS — They might look sharp, but new uniforms for American Airlines staff have led to a few disgruntled staff members, according to the Los Angeles Times. A union for flight attendants said about 1,300 employees have complained about hives and headaches after wearing the uniforms, made by Twin Hill. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants also found the uniforms contained detectable levels of chemicals found in pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers. “We will continue to invest the resources necessary to get to the bottom of this and we fully expect the company and Twin Hill to do the same,” the union told members. The airline said the number of complaints represented only about one per cent of the 70,000 employees wearing the new outfits. “We want our employees to be happy with their new uniforms,” said spokesperson LaKesha Brown, adding employees have the option of wearing their old uniforms if they prefer.


HANZHONG, CHINA — Stress levels are always high for salespeople striving to meet their sales targets, but employees at one Chinese company face particular challenges. That’s because some of them were forced to eat live mealworms in front of their colleagues recently, according to the Daily Mail. Dressed in yellow uniforms, about 50 to 60 employees gathered at a public square where an apparent supervisor announced the names of those who failed to bring in enough clients. The man then used chop sticks to put live mealworms into glasses of liquor and ordered the salespeople to drink the mixture. “Other than worms, we have also eaten live squid and ants before,” said one employee. One businessman said the punishment was “a special form of encouragement” but, according to China’s employment contract law, employers are not allowed to humiliate and give corporate punishment to workers.


POTTERVILLE, MICH. — McDonald’s is a popular place for the Curtis family of Potterville, Mich. That’s because five family members work there — and they happen to be non-identical quintuplets. Leith, Logan and Lucas Curtis work in the kitchen, while Lauren is at the front counter and Linsey handles the lobby and dining area, according to the Associated Press. “Being a quintuplet, they know teamwork probably better than anyone else,’’ said boss Renee Draves. “To have quintuplets working collectively, all at the same time, I would go out on a limb and say we are the only McDonald’s that’s ever had quintuplets.’’ Plus, there’s a mathematical advantage, she said. “If I have a shift that I need covered, I can call their house and it’s a one-in-five shot that I’m going to get one of them in.”

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