Brainfood: Look after the pennies - Personal hang-ups

British bank HSBC hit the headlines last year for the wrong reasons when it ordered head office employees to pay for personal phone calls. Branded penny-pinching by staff and unions, this unwise drive for cost efficiency came at the expense of employee goodwill. It had been a longstanding but forgotten policy, and former chief executive Sir Keith Whitson chose to remind workers of it by firing off a memo shortly before his retirement.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'Unfortunately there is evidence that some staff are using telephones for lengthy and costly personal calls that are beyond what is reasonable,' it read. Each department was issued with a breakdown of their calls to isolate the worst culprits, who would be asked to reimburse the bank, preferably by cheque. It's good to talk - unless you work for HSBC, that is.

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