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Sounds Great, But Does it Make Any Sense?

One of my favourite songs is Big Log by Robert Plant. It has a haunting melody, accented by Plant’s unmistakable voice. The song exudes desire and loss and suggests pilgrimage.

Yet, why is this song called Big Log? It makes no sense to me. These two words appear nowhere in the song. Taken together, they are rough words with an entirely different visual, perhaps of fallen trees or betrayal.

That said, if you dig a little deeper into Plant, you’ll come to know that Plant was influenced by Tolkien and mysticism. In that realm, the term “Big Log” suggests a mythical, extended metaphor for a lost love. As the lyrics go,

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride, as the cities fly by
And the tail-lights dissolve, in the coming of night
And the questions in thousands take flight

Turning to HR, as this is an HR blog, I want you to think about HR practices that sound great but really don’t make any sense. The ones that are a metaphor for something else. Perhaps there is a lack of congruence between a policy or motivation for a policy, and the policy itself.

For me, attendance management policies come to mind first. We create them often because there is frustration about abuse of leave among employees, yet by the very fact that a sick day policy exists, more utilization arises. Or we create procedures requiring medical notes after a 2 or 3 day absences when we know full well that the medical system makes it difficult for an employee to properly comply with this policy. For some, the policy is a lame scare tactic to keep people from taking more days off than they should.

Why do we call it a Harassment Policy when our aim is a Harassment-Free workplace?

Why do we call it employment insurance when it is really for the unemployed?

Getting back to the theme of love and desire in Big Log, why do we create policies to discourage workplace romance when we know that dedicated working people spend a lot of time at work which limits their opportunity to meet someone outside of work, and when we know that satisfying relationships are a foundation of health?

As Robert Plant would say,

My love is exceedingly vivid
Red-eyed and fevered with the hum of the miles
Distance and longing, my thoughts do provide
Should I rest for a while at the side

Huh? Maybe I should just stick to the melody and enjoy that.

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