Why have a system when chaos will suffice?

I’m shirking today; in fact I’ve not achieved a lot all week, still wresting my mindset from holiday mode back into work, despite having loads to sort. I managed to get out of a meeting this morning by sitting in on a medical student’s fourth year conference thing, which is just as well, as I’ve nowt to show but holiday/wedding photos. Moreover, I’m spending more time on NN than I can legitimise. However, it’s been fun this week… and merriment was also had here in Scumsville a few days ago, when the following appeared in our Inboxes.

Now, I don’t know whether this system is original, or is borrowed from elsewhere (does it apply at your place of work?), but it strikes me as an example of what happens when too many people in a department somewhere are patronisingly job-labelled ‘managers’ and, in the jostle for credit, have to come up with more ideas than are, shall we say, necessary. Anyway, I’ve copied it here, along with the responses that it provoked (with sender and addressee details removed, as I haven’t asked them). I hope it gets your weekend off to a good start, and feel free to air your views.

Subject: RE: New Absence Reporting System
Sent: 13 May 2008 13:06

Hi everyone

As you may be aware, we have a new system for reporting absence due to sickness. There are now more categories of sickness, I have listed them here for your information:

1. Cancer
2. Back and Neck Problems
3. Musculo-Skeletal
4. Stress, Depression, Anxiety & Related
5. Infections including Colds and Flu
6. Neurological
7. Genito-Urinary
8. Pregnancy or related
9. Stomach, Liver, Kidney and Digestive
10. Heart and Blood Pressure, Circulation
11. Chest and Respiratory System
12. Eye, Ear, Nose and Mouth/Dental
13. Work Related Illness Issue
14. Hospital/Doctor/Dentist Appointment

This system is live, so from now on, if you are calling to report your absence from work due to sickness it would be helpful if you could let your line manager know which category your sickness falls into and also a date of when you are likely to return to work. Obviously you might not always know when you’ll be well enough to return to work, so don’t worry too much if you can’t give this information when you call.

If you need any further information regarding this, feel free to contact me.

Many thanks

I was checking the date on this; thought it must be April 1st, right?
Can I vouch ‘Indolence’ as a category?
If I ever catch something that comes under # 7, I won’t report it to anybody.
And was this idea developed by someone who needs to be filed under # 6?

Indolence would come under #13 I think!

I think I best leave work now then – touch of #7 itch!

That’s nothing. I tripped over an eski, fell downstairs, banged my head, knocked my two front teeth loose, had to go to the doc who asked about the lump on my ****, and now I can’t breathe and my blood pressure’s gone through the roof …. which number should I choose?

Treat yourself, list the lot and shout ‘House’!

A friend of mine met this girl one time and she was clearly #6 – after spending sometime with her, he had severe problems with his #2 – So he went to #14 – was told he had #7, which made him #4 – Called this girl and told her about the #7 – She said that’s nothing I am #8 – He is now #6 – but still has #7……….

I’ve just realised that it must be that the sickness category list has somehow merged files with the research and clinical division lists, no?
And looking at it again… it reads as a summary of a pretty average fallout from a particularly good weekend.

Thank you for brightening my day!
(a recovering #4)

3 responses to “Why have a system when chaos will suffice?

  1. This is as fine an example of the lengths that management (and, in particular, HR) will go to justify their own existence as anything I’ve seen. Seriously, one might ask whether managers are legitimately entitled to have such detailed, personal knowledge of one’s ailments. Had I been diagnosed with #1 (let alone #7) I’d have hoped that my employers would allow me to tell them such things when it was convenient for me, and not according to their schedule, and certainly not according to the numbered list drawn up by some HR droid. I wouldn’t be surprised if thre’s not some human rights issue here. You work for people under contract – they don’t own your body.

  2. Right on! After the initial jaw-dropping incredulity at the demise of that polite protocol we’re all taught about not enquiring after people’s reasons for seeing a doctor, I was on that pivot between steaming nostrils and laughter. Having just returned from a good holiday, I’m glad I was sanguine enough to tip towards the latter.

  3. Steel swoops in with a “back to work again shocker” (with # 15: couldn’t be arsed working until now) to say thanks to all, sundry and Cornish Cromer Pastie makers but couldn’t pick any protocol to whinge about at present.


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