Thursday, June 29, 2006

Harris Interactive - Scrooge meets David Brent?

When a headline screams out

‘Spirit of David Brent alive and well’

you know that you want to read the story, just in case there’s dancing involved.

However, the article was not about a paper firm in Slough. Instead it’s Harris Interactive: “the [turn on deep radio advert voice] 13th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world …” according to its website.

The firm is in the process of consolidating its three Manchester offices, with 10–15 employees losing their jobs as a result. In parallel with this rationalisation, the European president emailed line managers with a revised company policy on office-based leaving parties and email announcements.

The full text was leaked to the Guardian, but in essence, if you’re being made redundant, then

“office space must not be used during work hours for leaving events, and email is not to be used for mass communication of any leaving social event”.

(Leaving dos and broadcast emails are ok if you’re retiring, moving away because your spouse has got a job at the other end of the country or you’re a full-time graduate intern. Doesn't look like leaving to work for a competitor or just waking up one morning and deciding to stop working for HI counts!)

Seems that the timing of the memo ties in with the imminent demand for leaving parties. Great for an already battered staff morale I’m sure.

Now, all companies are within their rights to impose their own policies on staff, in line with what they think is best. But whereas disgruntled employees would have previously fumed, muttered and been a bit less productive for a few days, today's world allows them to express their dissatisfaction by contacting the national press.

I suspect that Harris Interactive will be in a slightly larger font on the blogosphere's tag cloud by the end of the day.

I've added a Technorati chart that should prove (or disprove) the hypothesis.


John Self said...

Clearly another in a long line of gratuitous uses of David Brent references by the media (see the long-running joke about pics of Brent in BBC News Online's Magazine Monitor) to generate reader interest in a story. In this case of course it's wholly inaccurate, as Brent would have positively encouraged the use of office space for leaving dos and other celebrations. The wholesale use of Brent as lazy journo shorthand for 'bad boss' is wrong too, as he'd be a great boss to work for: laugh at his jokes and you'll get away with murder.

Anyway, when I saw the start of this blog entry I thought it was a reference to yesterday's other David Brent namedrop in the media, when David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions called Blair "the David Brent of Downing Street - utterly redundant but still hanging around the office." Not bad.

Alan in Belfast said...

Famous last words - doesn't look like the story was picked up at all.

Alan in Belfast's predictive credibility takes a dive ...