Two rather vulgar webcomics, no doubt prompted by some recent political indiscretions, have got me thinking about photocopiers. A friend who has a loose connection to the photocopier industry recent told me that the most common cause of photocopier damage is “copying of the buttocks.”
I called Xerox to get independent confirmation (I actually did this: It took all of my composure to convince them that it wasn’t a prank call), and they told me that they don’t track that information. A few online sources report that 23% of repairs are a result of the practice, but those websites aren’t reputable by any measure.
If we accept that the oft-repeated joke of bottom copying at least has some basis in reality, and that the typical photocopier can’t support the weight of a human being, then the logical conclusion is that photocopiers are occasionally damaged by the Xeroxing of derrières. With the cost of standard office photocopiers running into the thousands, this can be a significant financial drain.
For an HR intervention before your team damages your IT infrastructure, you should consider why these behaviours might take place, and great things you can to mitigate them.
Recognize good work. Clever people find clever ways to be recognized. If Mike isn’t getting kudos for his awesome performance, at some point he’s going to redirect his energy into something that’ll get people talking about him.
Give direction. Help people set goals, and follow-up on their progress. While no one likes the stress of a big workload, knowing that there’s always something to do can be motivating. Effective companies don’t underestimate the ability of their staff to get things done.
Offer distractions. People who work too hard for too long stop being productive. Pranks are a way to blow off steam. If you can redirect negative energy into ping-pong, charity, or Nerf guns, your photocopier just might last a few more years.