Going gaga over Taylor Swift

Going gaga over Taylor Swift

(First of two parts)

Several young female trainees and junior managers went gaga over Taylor Swift,” writes P, the human resource head of a large retail company. “They skipped work for almost a week without informing us, and problems arose. Some said that they were sick, but other employees said that they were abroad.

“My boss wants to fire these employees, but one manager joked that his children also cut classes to see Swift’s concert. We don’t know what to do. My boss read your column (How family businesses and others spent Holy Week, March 28, 2024) where you reminded a student about her absences to watch Swift. My boss is glad that you reminded a student about her responsibilities. He told us that in the past, he wanted to leave work early to catch a Michael Jackson concert in Manila, but he refrained because he was needed in his post. He is very disappointed in our young employees.


“He told me to write you, even if we are no longer a small family business. We are now professionalized, and we give good pay and benefits. We thought we could trust our employees, so we are shocked at what they did. But they don’t think they did anything wrong. They don’t understand why we are upset. My boss wants to issue a company memo about their wrongdoing. What sanctions apply? Is this a generational thing? How do we prevent this from happening again?”


My reply

I am not a Swiftie, but I admire Taylor Swift. Her lyrics are meaningful, her tunes catchy, and her dedication to her craft exemplary. She overcame various challenges, often in the glare of the public eye. Many schools, including Harvard, offer courses on Swift. The University of the Philippines in Diliman just started one.

READ: UP Diliman opens Taylor Swift elective classes

Most Swifties are female, skewed toward Gen Z, who grew up with her music, so yes, there is a generational appeal. But many males and nonbinaries also adore her, as do people across generations worldwide.

Your boss might be a member of my generation (Gen X), because I remember also being tempted to watch Michael Jackson live when he performed here. But I decided that it was more comfortable to dance along with him on MTV in my room rather than jostling with crowds.

Now to your dilemma. In our university, the situation is simple. Those who cut class—for whatever reason—are responsible for what they miss, so the student I mentioned knows full well the consequences of her choices.

We teachers do not judge—and often do not ask about—the reasons behind absences, unless we are concerned about the student’s mental wellbeing.


Frankly, I am at a loss on how to advise you. But firing employees just for this reason is not wise (it may be challenged legally, so consult your company lawyer).

As for sanctions, look at your existing company rules. What does your employee handbook say about unexcused absences? It does not seem sensible to manufacture penalties just for this infraction.

Serious talk with errant employees

My best suggestion is for you and your boss to have a serious talk with each errant employee. The misdemeanor is not watching the concert, but forsaking duties without cause.

READ: What to say when employees err

In class, a student complained that she had to finish a project solo because her teammates flew out for the concert and left her alone. She gave her teammates a zero in peer grading, which made them mad at her because they wanted to get an A, which she said they don’t deserve. I said that she should have assigned them other tasks that they could have done even if they were abroad, or demanded that they finish the project together before they absconded.

Your employees should have informed you of what they intended to do. People usually resort to lying when they realize deep down that what they are doing is not right. You could have helped them find colleagues or other ways to shoulder tasks in their absence.

Issuing a memo on employee responsibility is a good idea. Next week, we look at what a US education superintendent had to say.

(To be continued)

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or the ebook at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected].

TAGS: All in the Family Business, Taylor Swift

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.