HR , Canteen and Queue

Once upon a time in some company, the CXOs of the company felt that if they stood in line with ordinary employees in queue for lunch in canteen, they lost valuable time.

They asked CHRO to come up with solutions, but before he could open his mouth, they gave him solution- create special time slot for us, in case employees protest tell them that this was done to improve efficiency as there was overcrowding.

CHRO was not trained to reason why…his job was to do or die.


Of course, employees did not like it; special treatment to CXOs was against so called values of organization. Too much of discontent is not good for organization, so CXOs decided to withdraw the special treatment given to them. They announced withdrawal in open house, took credit for it and blamed HR for lack to sensitivity towards employees.

Later this HR head came to me for coaching. I told him that overcrowding theory was bad excuse; he could have come up with better excuse !!!

Queue follows what is called as Poisson distribution; this is bit different from normal distribution/bell curve that HR uses in performance appraisal.

Let us take canteen case; the overcrowding theory was a flop. Firstly there was no significant rise in hiring, so hiring and attrition kept employee count constant. Secondly, probability of too many employees suddenly turning up during particular time span is quite low.

For ex. let us suppose that in normal case on average 5 employees per minute turn up at counter, so what is the probability of 10 employees turning up per minute. Using excel sheet, for Poisson distribution, output looks like this….

No. of employees per minute Probability
0 0.0067
1 0.0337
2 0.0842
3 0.1404
4 0.1755
5 0.1755
6 0.1462
7 0.1044
8 0.0653
9 0.0363
10 0.0181


The chart shows that chances of 10 people turning up were just 1.8%! The chart will also show that chances of 8 or more people turning up were less than 12%.





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