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A Christmas fairy tale: the workplace edition

December 24th. 8:55 am. Coffee in hand. Just like every weekday morning for the past five years, you’re about to walk into your office. But you hear some strange music. Where’s that coming from?

Christina Pavlou
Christina Pavlou

An experienced recruiter and HR professional who has transferred her expertise to insightful content to support others in HR.

Holiday characters in the workplace

You hear a voice that you can’t quite recognize: “Oh no, not that song again!”

Curious, you open the door and everything looks so different.

Normally, you’d pass quickly by the desk of your office manager, Kate, and mumble, “Good morning”. But instead of Kate, there’s someone crying. You can’t tell who he is, he’s hiding his face with his hands, while tears are running down his cheeks.

“What are you doing here? What’s going on? Where’s Kate?” you ask.

The strange man lifts his eyes and that’s when you notice his surprisingly red nose.

That’s weird, you think, it’s not even that cold in the office.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you over there,” the red-nosed man says and sweeps the tears away. “Good morning. We have some new colleagues, I’m new, too. I feel a little lost and nobody wants to help me, but I’ll figure it out. Anyway, I’m Rudolph, I’ll be your office manager. And that woman over there? She’s our new HR manager.”

You look to where Rudolph is pointing – there’s only an empty desk. “No, I don’t see anyone.”

“Right, you can’t see her all the time, but you’ll meet her at some point. Her name is Sally and she’s really busy right now, because, you know, the HR department is a real nightmare before Christmas.”

Rudolph looks so weird and disoriented, you realize he can’t be much of a help. You go to your desk hoping that Harry and Mia, your partners, will be able to explain what’s going on. But they’re nowhere to be found.

There’s only a man listening to a Christmas song on the radio and singing along loudly – and a bit mockingly – “Christmas is all around me”. That’s the voice you heard as you were stepping into the office!

Closed laptop, legs on the desk and a loose graphic t-shirt; that’s not something you expect to find in a corporate setting.

“Finally, a new face!” the wannabe singer interrupts your thoughts. “Hey, I’m Billy, Billy Mack. I’ve been working in this field for 25 years, how about you? Actually, let’s have a chat over a round of ping pong, shall we?”

“Well, I just got here, so….”

Billy interrupts. “Oh no, don’t tell me you’re as grumpy as that other kid over there.”


“His name is Grinch,” Billy says, and points to a man at the other side of the room. “He hasn’t stopped complaining since the moment he walked into the office. He doesn’t like the open-space plan, he detests the green-colored walls and don’t even ask him about the coffee.”

“Right… How about this one who keeps running from desk to desk? Do you know who he is? He looks so scared.”

“No, I don’t and I don’t care,” Billy says, as he turns the volume up on his radio.

You decide to find out on your own, but as you approach him, he’s looking at you very suspiciously.

“You look like you need some help,” you say, trying to be friendly.

“Actually, I do, thank you!” he replies, relieved. “Sally the HR lady told me she’d get me the onboarding papers, but she must have completely forgotten about me. I’ve been sitting at my desk all alone for an entire hour, before I started to look around to see what I can do on my own. My name is Kevin, by the way, and I’m an intern.”

Right before you introduce yourself to Kevin, the door next to you opens. A man with furled eyebrows and an intense stare walks out of the meeting room carrying tons of papers and dragging his feet toward the center of the common area. The scowl on his face and his hunched-over posture make you think he must have been in that room for decades.

“That’s Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, he’s auditing our finances,” Kevin whispers to you.

Mr. Scrooge’s voice sounds like he’s been fighting a hacking cough for many months. “I’ve noticed that you’re spending way too much money on your processes, particularly in hiring. You need to reduce your costs by 88% at minimum,” he rasps to the entire office. “We’ll stay here all night to rebuild your systems. We can’t waste any more time – or money.” Mr. Scrooge’s announcement makes everyone in the office worried.

“But, it’s Christmas Eve,” Kevin says, “we all want to be with our families on this day.”
Mr. Scrooge doesn’t reply but his furrowed eyebrows betray his disagreement.

“Mr. Scrooge is right, we can’t pretend this is a dollhouse anymore; we need to improve the way we work if we want to succeed,” says someone across the room. And that’s when you notice Sally. “But first, we must hire new employees. Especially now, that our competitors are getting more aggressive, like Joe Fox, for example, who poached almost all of our staff.”

Finally, now you know what happened to your colleagues!

“Who’s that?” you ask Sally.

“F-O-X. Fox. Joe is the CEO of the new firm that opened around the corner,” Sally explains. “Apparently, he used some kind of app to look up employees who work for our company, found their contact details and reached out with a generous job offer.”

“So what are we supposed to do now?” Grinch asks. “I don’t want to stay here all day and all night!”

Sally tries to explain that if we stop complaining and sit down to research new tools for hiring employees, we’ll be able to find a workable solution and make it home in time for Christmas.

She has a point but no one seems to listen to her. Billy is whining about “those millennials who ruin everything with their fancy tech”. Mr. Scrooge is shouting that he won’t give “a penny for a tool he can’t use”. Kevin has already started building something on his own. And Grinch absolutely hates the idea of trying something new: “Spreadsheets are a nightmare but we’ve used them in the past, we’re using them now, and we’ll use them in the future, too!”

“No, we don’t have to!” Rudolph speaks up. “All this time you’ve been arguing, I searched my computer and found an app. Probably someone from HR installed it before they moved to Joe Fox’s company. Here, let me guide you through this app to show you how it works!”

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We all gather around Rudolph’s desk, he clicks on a few buttons and, our faces get brighter with what we see on his screen. It’s a list of names and each of them is marked as naughty or nice.

“That’s amazing!” Sally is excited. “These are all great employees that we can hire immediately! Well… at least the nice ones!”

“How about a few naughty ones, too, though?” Grinch disagrees again, but this time he can’t hide his satisfaction. “We could use a diversity boost here!”

“I’ll be responsible for the onboarding process,” Kevin is excited, too. “I’ve learned every hidden corner of this office, I can show everyone around.”

“OK, but leave the team building activities to me,” Billy steps in. “We can try karaoke, have a few drinks, go dancing, or…”

“Don’t go overboard!” Mr. Scrooge stops him. “I know we just saved a lot of money, but it’s not like Santa is here, right?”

Drin, drin!

A sudden noise makes everyone jump to their feet. What’s that ring? The doorbell? A phone? The alarm clock? Ah, yes! It’s the alarm clock! You quickly grab it from your bedside table. Oh no, it’s 9:15 already, I overslept.

It was all a dream, you realize. But, you still can’t get Rudolph’s app out of your mind. How useful would it be if you could have something like that in real life, too?

As you pull on your clothes and run out the door, you make a mental note to look up that workable solution. See what we did there?

– The end –

Starring in order of appearance:
Christmas characters in the workplace - Rudolph Rudolph – the happy-go-lucky office manager
Christmas characters in the workplace - Sally Sally – the invisible HR manager
Christmas characters in the workplace - Billy Mack Billy Mack – the “work hard, play harder” employee
Christmas characters in the workplace - Grinch Grinch – the “always-so-grumpy” colleague
Christmas characters in the workplace - Kevin Kevin – the jack-of-all-trades intern
Christmas characters in the workplace - Ebenezer Scrooge Ebenezer Scrooge – the penny-pincher finance manager
Christmas characters in the workplace - Jow Foz Joe Fox – the predator competitor

For more festive content, read our list of 5 holiday gifts for recruiters and our pick of 5 New Year’s resolutions for recruiters.

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