Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol cemented many of the Christmas traditions we now take for granted, and it has remained one of the most popular Christmas stories for over 150 years. It is a short story, but full of memorable characters who have entered the public consciousness indelibly. So much of the story revolves around workplaces and the clash between the desire for profit and the need to care and protect workers, that we thought it would be fun to give you the opportunity to see which of the characters you feel closest to in workplace outlook and attitude!
The ultimate bad boss, Scrooge is in no way looking or hoping for redemption for much of the story. His sole desire is money, yet he doesn’t even enjoy the fruits of his work, living in a dark, cold home all alone, allowing himself only soup and bread and a single coal on the fire for a Christmas Eve meal. He treats his staff with cruelty and contempt, with no regard for a living wage, rejects charity and any sense of responsibility for the poor and suffering (“Then they’d better die and decrease the surplus population.”)
Scrooge is only saved from damnation by the intervention of a ghostly HR trio. You might be seen as a Scrooge if you allow your co-workers to see you as selfish, profit-obsessed, uncaring and disinterested in their lives and problems.
The archetype of the loyal worker, Bob puts up with all his employer’s miserly, wicked ways, always doing his best to put in a good day’s work and never bad-mouthing the boss even in the privacy of his home. In Scrooge’s eyes, Bob has nothing and is a failure – living a life of servitude and poverty, unable to afford to even provide adequate healthcare for his disabled son. Yet Bob’s life is full of love and the basic happiness of family that money cannot buy. If you are a Bob, your traits are loyalty, hard work, belief in a better future, respect for hierarchy, kindness and optimism.
Fred (Scrooge’s nephew)
If Scrooge represents the dark midnight of human emotions, Fred is the joyful dawn. Despite several personal tragedies in his own life, and despite choosing a job that will never make him a rich man like his uncle, Fred remains unrelentingly cheerful and his life is full of love. He never gives up on Scrooge, gently teasing him towards what he hopes will be a better life, and ever-hopeful that Scrooge will come to his own Christmas party and visit the family he has neglected for years. Scrooge cannot understand Fred’s constant cheer – “What right have you to be happy? you’re poor enough!” but Fred masterfully counters this with “what right have you to be so miserable? You’re rich enough!” thus showing the reader that money and happiness are not linked. If your attitude at work is one of supportive care for your co-workers, cheerful morale-boosting chats and a can-do attitude, you are a Fred!
As Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley matched Ebenezer in every way in his lifetime – greed, avarice, disdain for those worse off than himself, disinterest in family and love. Now dead seven years, his haunting visitation of Scrooge on Christmas Eve comes as a warning from beyond the grave. Marley is bound by chains and tortured in hell by memories of his life and choices. He therefore comes as a stark message to Scrooge to change his ways before it is too late. His voice is one of personal experience, and he has valuable knowledge to pass on. Perhaps you feel a bit of a Marley at work? Experienced, seasoned, unimpressed by flash-in-the-pan ideas you have seen fail in the past. Slightly cynical, but hopeful that your voice of reason will help the business avoid mistakes, you are an essential counterpoint to youthful enthusiasm.
Fezziwig (Scrooge’s boss in his youth)
Fezziwig is used by Dickens as an example of what a great boss should be – caring, aware that a happy workforce is the most loyal and productive. He leads from the front and he leads with joy, whether it is in throwing himself into the first Christmas party dance despite his age and infirmity, or in introducing Scrooge to his future fiancée, showing his understanding that Ebenezer needs love in his life more than he needs money. Scrooge laughed at his boss’s generous ways in his youth, but when confronted by memories of Fezziwig’s work Christmas party by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge can’t help feeling fond and perhaps even admiring of his first boss’s attitude. Are you a Fezziwig boss? Is the happiness of your workers worth as much to you as your bottom line? Do you like to spread happiness and positivity in the workforce? Well done – you’re a Fezzywig.
Who were you?
We hope you enjoyed reading up and reminding yourself of the characters in this fabulous story of Christmas redemption. We also hope that as well as recognising yourself on one or more characters, you might notice some character traits you would like to aspire to in 2022. As always, if you are looking for professional development or advice on how to improve your staff relations, we have a number of resources on our website or will welcome your contact.
Merry Christmas, and as Tiny Tim would say, “God Bless us, Everyone!”