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In the Trash Heap For HR

Over the May long weekend, I read magazines. That’s right, I put down my scholarly articles and business material, and I pursued some light reading involving sex, Hollywood, home decoration and fashion.

It was refreshing. It gave me all sorts of ideas, some of which even applied to HR.

I really like doing crafts. I will never win awards for the quality of the crafts I produce, and I accept that. More than anything, working on crafts is a process for me.

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on crafts and so over the years I have come to enjoy the act of exploring trash heaps to find some of the components for my projects.

One of the things I love about holidays in Toronto is the trash at the curb on the following garbage day. Since the size and weight limits are lifted, all sorts of things get tossed, and many people take advantage of a long weekend by either doing a home improvement project or doing some housecleaning. In one of the magazines I was reading, they had a project for making a wall-mounted jewellery box out of a drawer. The project requires finding an old drawer, along with paint for whitewashing, cup hooks and lining fabric. On garbage day, I set out looking for things for my project and miraculously found the perfect drawer within four blocks of my house. It was just sitting there, as if it were waiting for me to take it home. . .

If you are in HR, you should consider searching the trash heaps and doing crafts for the following reasons:

  1. It’s free. In our work, there are always pressures to be frugal. One of my colleagues calls coming up with a low-cost solution being “cheap and cheerful”. You may get great ideas for things you can do to liven up your workplace simply by learning how to keep an eye out for nuggets of gold among the clutter.
  2. You never know where ideas for repurposing might come from. Over the 4th of July weekend each year, our family enters a float in a pontoon parade. One year, we made an alligator using leftover plumbing pipe from a bathroom renovation and green Christmas lights (and the eyes were made out of old Folgers coffee cans). Who knows, maybe the act of repurposing in crafts will give you some great idea for repurposing poorly used space or services in your office.
  3. You get to play with tools. Our family likes doing stained glass projects at the cottage, and this means I get to work with all sort of cutters and sanders. Certainly, in job analysis projects, it is helpful if you understand the equipment used at your plant, and it helps to create clarity in role descriptions if you can articulate process steps well. Using equipment and following directions in a craft project is a way of orienting yourself to processes.
  4. Crafts typically don’t take long to complete. Sometimes we all just need a little creative inspiration. Crafts are great for this because you can get results quickly, and it is possible to finish and get back to other things, with new ideas in hand.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to do crafts is that they are great to do with someone else. In fact, it has become a tradition for me to do crafts with my mother. This works out much better because we contribute to projects in different ways. Often, I have ideas, and she knows how to execute and get a certain level of quality that I can’t get. She has more patience than I do. But best, working together means the output is so much better than if it were just me working on it alone.

Another long holiday weekend is just a few weeks away. What craft project will you take on?


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