‘Grave’ Therapy

Over the years, I’ve had to do some pretty weird things for work, had to work for some  weird people.  And while I have sometimes felt that my job was hell, and that it would be the death of me, well, I never thought that it would lead me to an early grave.  Or an early casket.

Possibly among the things I’ve hated most have been those retreat-thingys organized by HR.

For the most part, I’ve gotten along with folks I worked with.  Still, I find HR retreats — with their artificial conviviality — uncomfortable.  And even I, who willingly tells my most embarrassing stories to the whole world, finds doing so in a closed room to folks I work with when I don’t choose the timing — awkward.  They always seem so false, so forced.  Perhaps because they are.

Work-Life Balance

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Never again will I complain though.  Because as bad as things seem, they can always be worse.  MUCH WORSE.

Today I found out just how much worse things could be.

Yup, I read on my new BBC App that some Korean companies are holding mass funerals.  For their employees.  For their LIVE employees.

According to the article as well as independent sources, the Korean suicide rate is quite high, because folks are seriously stressed out.  Of course that is a serious situation — so much is expected of employees that they just can’t take it.

So, to alleviate the stress, somebody came up with a colorful approach to stress reduction.  [Please don’t tell my boss.*]

Well, they hold a company retreat, of sorts, many companies worldwide do that too.

But this one has a twist.  Or maybe it’s just twisted.  Perhaps both.

You see, they have groups of employees all get together, and write farewell letters to their families.  As if they are about to kill themselves.  Then, while gathered in a room with the folks they work with, they stand next to empty coffins.

The participants at this session were sent by their employer, human resources firm Staffs. “Our company has always encouraged employees to change their old ways of thinking, but it was hard to bring about any real difference,” says its president, Park Chun-woong. “I thought going inside a coffin would be such a shocking experience it would completely reset their minds for a completely fresh start in their attitudes.”

Yes.  They get into the fucking coffins!

Let me reiterate:  You go to work one day, and head off for a company retreat, knowing that it will be an awkward, wasted day and that you are already way behind in your work.

Then they have you write a suicide note and put you into a coffin.


BBC Photo, I’m guessing. Because while it came from the article linked to above, there is no credit given. Perhaps the photographer did not want to disrespect the, umm, un-dead.

The idea is to make employees feel that their lives are worth living.  However, I think that if someone forced me into a coffin, I would be thinking long and hard about my career choice.

And about litigation.  I would definitely be thinking about suing the shit out of somebody.

So the next time you decide you hate your job, count yourself lucky.  Because things aren’t really all that bad unless they trade your cubicle for a pine box.


*My current boss would never do this.  She’s a doctor.  She tries to keep people OUT of coffins.  But there have been other bosses …




Filed under ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Bat-shit crazy, DON'T go back to your day job either, Huh?, Humiliation, Humor, Mental Health, Oh shit, Seriously funny, Seriously weird, Shit, Stupidity, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, Wild Beasts, WTF?

71 responses to “‘Grave’ Therapy

  1. I’ve never been on one of those company outings, but they have always sounds awful. But you are right, now as awful as this coffin thing. Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whatttt?!?! Omg that is so crazy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As an independent contractor I am just going to say, there have been a few companies I have worked for where this might have worked. The bosses I worked for were so bad, I think I would have enjoyed seeing them in early coffins getting their heads right. I would have been the first to slam the lids!

    But then, as a contractor I was often the target of their worst treatment cause they could.

    Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system. Why oh why, would anyone think this is a good idea? People simply get stupider the longer I live.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My first thought was “that is insane” but my second thought was “how many pretend death breaks I could work into an 8 hour day?”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s kind of heartwarming to know that American business managers don’t have all the really sucky employee morale ideas. 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am at a loss for words… for a change…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Note to self: don’t tell HR I want to be cremated…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yick. I’m glad I’m out of corporate world, Korean or otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. O.M.G. Can’t believe this is for real. Maybe that’s what Santa was doing on the ground over at my place – Big Lots lacks the corporate budget for this kind of deal so they just ask employees to lie in the parking lot and play dead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it horrible??? Can you imagine doing that with folks in YOUR office? O.M.G. is right! I even feel a little odd laughing at it because it is intended to decrease suicide. But perhaps if those employers maybe put less pressure on the folks?????? Perhaps? Maybe????? Oy vey!


  10. Makes those HR thingies sound like fun, doesn’t it? BTW I headed up an HR department. Never went to office holiday parties because I didn’t want to see anything I would be required (by law) to address (like execs with their tongues down some underling’s throat — yep, saw that. That was my last party.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did know you were in HR, Kate. You were queen!

      This event really does put the others to shame! I will never complain about another company retreat as long as I live. I think there is a place for some soul searching at work. A coffin is not that place, though, IMHO!

      How awful about that party — executives really do think they are a power unto themselves!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness. When all they have to do is not work their staff to death! Gah. I sure as hell wouldn’t get in one.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I like creepy….but only in fiction. That is insane.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Holly

    Try hating those HR retreat things when you WORK IN HR.

    I so need another job.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve often read about these kinds of retreats but thankfully I’ve never had to go to one. It appears to be a meme with no rational foundation, the notion that this stuff will improve morale. A day off would be better for the employees but the downside would be that they would have time to wonder if there isn’t a better job out there somewhere.

    When I retired from my second career I decided to try joining my wife in her long-time activities as a hospital volunteer. She has always thrived as a receptionist, meeting, greeting and delivering flowers and the like. She’s a people person. Me, not so much. They gave me make-work, like filing stuff nobody would ever want to see again. I think I lasted two days.

    There’s a nice deli that we often go to for lunch and, unlike most restaurants, the workers there seem satisfied and happy. Most unusual. The secret seems to be that they regularly rotate jobs. I see the same people at different times working at the ordering desk, in the kitchen, and delivering food to the tables. (There’s no tipping, it’s included in the price.) Variety and a sense of competence. You can’t beat it, especially not with coffins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My husband, an introvert, would rather die than go to one of those retreats! But this one? Oh Lord. You’d think he’d appreciate the quietness of the exercise!

      In my opinion, filing is hell. Pure hell. I was trained as a secretary and know all the various types of systems. But you still have to DO it. GAG! Folks are still looking for things I filed back when I worked as a secretary! So I don’t blame you — two days must have seemed like an eternity.

      Your deli must be operated by a very smart person (or persons). It’s best if everybody can do all the jobs, and it keeps life from being too tedious. In high school and thereafter, I worked in a memorable burger joint. I did virtually all the jobs there (not because of a brilliant owner, but because my brother also worked there and showed me how to do them). We had a blast.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. One of my old companies used to hold “team building” exercises, but they’d team us up with people we never worked with, and in some cases, had never met before. It was awkward, and I never saw the point in building comraderie with people who I never interacted with.

    Thankfully, they never gave us funerals though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is odd — what sort of work team is made up of folks who don’t work together?? Which really shows just how silly these retreats are. Most of them. I can see off-site meetings without phones or distractions so that folks can brainstorm on a project, but that’s fundamentally different.

      And an absence of coffins tends to make them so much more lively.


  16. That’s a funny way to get someone to appreciate life. Kind of a dose of backhand therapy, as in, here’s the back of my hand, bitches, now feel better about yourself. What a bunch of lazy bones the rest of the world is. No wonder Europe has been in a slow, downward spiral economically. They’re not making much of an effort as compared to those ambitious Koreans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can maybe see a therapist using it in private — to make someone really look at their life and see what’s important. But only up to a point. Getting into the coffin is a little too Harold and Maude for me!

      The Europeans do have a different take on life, certainly than we do and than the Asians do. When we were there the French unemployed struck for vacation pay once and Christmas bonuses another time…. (I am NOT making this up)


  17. I would definitely not feel comfortable! Hell, some office parties are bad enough!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. There are studies that indicate this coffin-method can be effective. I ran across it while doing research for a book.
    I agree with you, that I’d rather do this on my own volition . But I’ve been to some crap-awful retreats where crawling in a box and taking a two-hour snooze on company time would’ve been better than the karaoke-fest or stupid games we played. I’d probably use the letter-writing time to knock out my Christmas newsletter.
    Let’s hope this “de-stressing” doesn’t catch on here. Long-live useless HR retreats. Where would the hospitality industry be without them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see it being good therapy, as I said to Mark above, when it is on an individual — making someone appreciate who they are or what their life is. But if the whole reason they “need” to do this is because of work-related stress, well, I think there’s a more humane solution! Like stop expecting all of your employees to perform at 200%


  19. Weirdly enough, I would like writing my suicide note and getting in the coffin.
    But this is just because going to work every day with companies like this (so many companies are like this) just seems so much worse.
    “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
    Remeber that patriot dude said that before he was hung.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sooooo lucky to work in a small company where we don’t do weird things like expecting group graves! And I really can understand the therapy value of it as an individual thing. But with 40 others? Including the guy who eats smelly food across the cubicle and the woman who steals from the refrigerator? No thanks!


  20. Seriously, you can’t make this sh*t up. It’s a pretty sad statement of fact that Korean employees are so overly-stressed that suicide is an issue, but that upper management believes this “wake up call … by laying in a coffin” idea is the best approach they can come up with is just ludicrous. You find some of the most arcane things I’ve ever come across. Hey, SOMEONE has to keep us informed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, 99 ;). And I really couldn’t make this shit up. But I agree with you — a group grave would not make my current life seem any better if the job was sending me there!


  21. If I were an overworked Korean employee, and was asked to spend an hour in a coffin, I’m pretty sure I’d be thinking something like “wow, that’s actually pretty relaxing…” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Elyse, this is definitely in the “could be worse” column. You just wonder, who comes up with these things and does the company really pay them money to do this? Nuts. Just plain nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Glazed

    I think I know why their suicide rate is so high. The poor damn employees are required to participate in bullshit like this, by their meddlesome bosses. The least stressful kind of job is to go to work, just do your job, get paid, go home and forget about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Now, THAT’s what I need to do to get control at my office. Maybe drive home that whole, “You screw up, someone does” thing…


  25. And the employees just accept that? Bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Very creepy. Although picturing some of my co-workers might be stress-relieving.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I’m not familiar with Korean celebrations, but perhaps this is like the West’s April Fools’ Day joke? Otherwise, they’re all completely bloody bonkers, from the CEO down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not familiar with Korean celebrations, either. But I did talk about this with a Korean colleague of mine. She thought it was crazy. I’m sure she doesn’t speak for everybody, though. On the other hand, maybe she does!


  28. If they REALLY wanted to improve the moral at the office, they’d have the bosses climb into the box…and it would be shaped like (and used as) a urinal!

    But that’s just one bear’s opinion…

    Liked by 1 person

  29. That’s kind of the adult version of the Scared Straight programs they use to keep kids out of jail!

    Liked by 2 people

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