Go on, give little Derek a hug. Photo: Shutterstock

Wednesday 11th May 2016

Wombat cuddling

More weird HR tales from across the globe

Tasmanian tourist board recruits Chief Wombat Cuddler

It’s not often that competence in cuddling, snuggling and cooing is central to a job specification, but these are the skills that tourism officials in Tasmania have been looking for in applicants to the newly created role of Chief Wombat Cuddler.

According to the Daily Mail, the main responsibility of the new CWC will be to take care of an orphaned baby wombat named Derek, who became an internet sensation when a short clip of him running along a beach on Flinders Island went viral earlier this year.

On the plus side, the role includes flights to Australia for two adults, accommodation, car hire and unlimited cuddle time. On the downside, the long-term prospects of the job are not so great: it only lasts four days and three nights.

While this could be construed as a shameless marketing exercise by Tourism Tasmania, callously exploiting a cute furry animal to boost visitor numbers to the region, HRville’s opinion is: Awwwww.

Although applications for the role have now closed, you can happily still see Derek in action here. The name of the successful candidate will be announced on the same page from 3 May.

Toilet paper, doggie day spas and taxidermy: America’s strangest expenses claims

You can’t work in HR for too long without coming across some dodgy expenses claims, but some of those made by American employees take the definition of ‘dodgy’ to another level, according to new research.

In addition to the examples listed in the headline, the most outrageous claims cited by chief financial officers in a survey by Robert Half Management Resources include:

  • A new car
  • A flat-screen TV
  • Holidays
  • Loans
  • Rent
  • A 10-cent parking meter charge
  • Dance classes
  • A side of beef
  • A welder

Dodgy claims also appear to be on the rise: 23 per cent of CFOs said they had seen an increase in the number of inappropriate claims submitted over the past three years, while only 11 per cent had seen a decline.

Yo! Give me a job: Frenchman wins role with rap video CV

Video CVs can be a useful tool for jobseekers wishing to stand out from the crowd, but one aspiring architect took this idea and ran with it when he posted a rap video to YouTube in an attempt to bag a job with a top Danish firm.

French graduate Étienne Duval, made the short film to grab the attention of maverick Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, owner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). So far, it has racked up more than 190,000 views on YouTube, and more to the point it worked: he got the job.

Duval: Yo is most definitely more

Entitled ‘Yo is More’ – a play on Ingels’ renowned design philosophy of ‘Yes is More’ – the video includes a photoshopped image of Ingels wearing a sideways baseball cap and gold chain, accompanied by the line: ‘I want to meet Bjarke and his hip-hop ego’. It also features animated images of other famous architects Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor and Jean Nouvel nodding along to the refrain.

Ingels told Dezeen that he was “honestly impressed with the ingenuity, skill, talent, self-irony and balls” Duval had demonstrated with the video, adding: “Is it a new paradigm for architectural job applications? Probably not. But it sure did make my day when I first played it.”

French and Americans share positive attitudes to work

While culturally the French and Americans may seem poles apart, workers from these two nations have strikingly similar attitudes to work.

The 2016 Global Attitudes Towards Work Report from insight platform Qualtrics analysed answers from more than 6,000 respondents in 14 countries on topics ranging from job satisfaction, work-life balance and productivity to motivation, punctuality and attire.

The survey found remarkable commonalities in the responses of French and American workers across multiple categories. For starters, workers in the US and France report the greatest satisfaction with their work/life balance – 68 per cent in France and 67.5 per cent in the US. And both also report the greatest overall job satisfaction, together with the Germans: 64 per cent of workers in these three countries say they are extremely or moderately satisfied with their jobs.

At the other end of the spectrum, Greek workers are the least happy with their work-life balance, while the Poles are the least satisfied overall, with only 43 per cent claiming to be extremely or moderately satisfied.

When it comes to productivity, Germans top the poll, while the Greeks score themselves poorly and the Italians score themselves worst of all. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Greeks and Italians also spend the most time on personal social media use during the working day.

The top motivating factor for workers everywhere was the ability to support themselves and their families, with enjoyment coming second in most countries. Other key factors specific to individual nations were healthcare benefits (the US), feeling like a productive member of society (the Netherlands), saving for retirement (Spain) and being with other people (Sweden).

Somewhat stereotypically, the Germans, together with the Swedes, place the most importance on punctuality, while the French prioritise “dressing formally at work” far more than any other nation, with more than 55 per cent feeling this is extremely or very important. In contrast, the Swedes and the Greeks are the least likely to bother making an effort with their working wardrobe.

About the author

Rhianon Howells

The former editor of a leading trade magazine, Rhianon Howells has extensive experience of writing for both business and consumer titles, including The Guardian. In addition to writing about HR, she specialises in health, fitness, leisure and hospitality.