Maxwell Stephens

Workplace Horror Stories

Halloween is upon us, and who doesn’t like a good scare every now and again. We at Maxwell Stephens love a good scary story, but being specialist recruiters, we decided that instead of the same old ghost stories we’d look for some horror stories from the world of work. Bosses from hell, bat invasions, accidentally deleting websites, awkward interviews – there are untold horrors lurking in every workplace and here are some real-life examples:

That’s one way to motivate staff (to quit).

“A few years ago, I took a “Marketing” position in a UK-based company. After some very brief training, I realized that I had to carry a wooden sign in a supermarket every day, and stand there and promote various products. There was no specific time schedule; I could stay there as long as I wanted so long as I reached my sales goals.

At the end of the day, we would all gather at the company’s offices. Our manager would step in while the speakers played dance music at maximum volume, and then the show would begin. We would ring a bell and have a cheery round of applause for everyone who reached their goals. But, what about those who had almost reached them? We would form a circle and that person would stand in the middle and act like a chicken – because apparently they chickened out instead of hitting their targets. Oh, and if anyone’s phone rang in the middle of this “show”, they’d immediately have to do 10 push ups.”

Big Brother is watching, and soaking their feet!

“I worked at a company where they had cameras, mics and speakers installed all over the place, even in the kitchen. If you spent two extra minutes at lunch, the wife of the business owner was screaming at you through the speakers. She would also get her manicures and pedicures in the office and, afterwards, ask employees to empty the bucket she used to soak her feet in.”

Not the kind of update your website needs…

“I was hired as the marketing manager for a startup company and my boss asked me to update a few pages on the company website. I knew how to use our website editor so I was comfortable with the task at hand. I logged into the website editor and saw a notification that said New Plugins and Software are Now Available: Click Here to Update. Naturally I went ahead and clicked the button to update.

The page refreshed and I was unfortunately greeted with an error message instead of a newly updated website editor. I refreshed a few times and kept getting the error message. I tried to load the website in a new tab and it said that the URL did not exist. Yup, I deleted and took down the whole company website.”

Beware the bats!

“One evening I was getting ready to leave the office. As I went to open the door that leads down the stairs, a bat appears! I saw it swish by my head and quickly ran back into the office. I saw the bat waiting right next to the stairwell door. I ran as fast as I could and I tried to open it quickly. All of a sudden, it went straight for my head, missed and bounced off of the wall beside me. I swung open the stairwell door, only to see 2 more bats diving for the opening! Needless to say, I screamed like a maniac and ran back into the office suite and had to wait two hours for someone to remove the bats.”

The risks of getting too personal:

“When I was interviewing for my first managerial position, I was instructed to have a power point presentation about myself and my plans on how to grow the business ready to present. I knew the hiring managers that were going to be in the interview so I wanted to make it personal–trying to show that I would do my research on our customers to make a more strategic approach to our sales plan.

So I got some background info on the managers and included some of their likes and dislikes in my presentation. One of the managers was a huge dog lover and I snagged a picture of her dog from Facebook and included it in my slide.

Little did I know that her dog had passed two days before the interview. She saw that picture on my slide and immediately started crying hysterically. She then proceeded to run out of the room and that is when one of the other managers let me in on her dogs passing. Thankfully I still got the job but was THE most horrifying work experience I have ever had.”

Fancy Dress Fun

“I have a very fun-loving office. So for Halloween last year I dressed as Darth Vader and planned to enter my meetings with his theme music playing. So I went to our meeting room, threw open the door, and marched in with this loud dramatic music. Only to realize my meeting had been moved to another room and another department of very serious people I didn’t know were staring at me like I was insane.”

The most inconsiderate boss ever?

“Three weeks ago one of my coworkers lost a relative. She has been off work on bereavement and family leave. Our boss isn’t happy with her being off for so long. Since it is out of his control and he doesn’t get to approve or deny her leave in this case (the HR department is in charge of that) I have been doing my best to ignore him whenever he complains.

Last week my boss gave me an envelope with my coworker’s name on it and told me to leave it at the grave of my coworker’s relative. He said it was a condolence card at first, but I didn’t buy it because our work had already sent a card. When I asked him about it again, he said it was a note with some work-related items only she knows about and he needs answers ASAP and she won’t answer her (personal, not work) phone when he calls her. He gave me directions to the cemetery and everything.”

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