A video has surfaced online showing staff at a Chinese bank being publicly spanked for poor performance during a training session, sparking outrage.
The video, first posted by the People's Daily, shows a trainer asking eight employees why they did not "exceed themselves" at training.
He then spanks them with what looks like a stick. Reports say he later also cut and shaved their hair.
Two executives at the bank have been suspended.
The incident took place at a training session for more than 200 employees at Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank in northern China on Saturday.
The trainer, Jiang Yang, has issued an apology, saying the spanking was "a training model I have tried for years" and had not been instigated by executives at the bank.
'Hair cutting punishment'
The video, which first surfaced on Monday, appears to have been taken by someone in the audience on a smartphone.
Mr Jiang is seen reprimanding eight bank employees on stage, asking them why they received the lowest scores in a training exercise.
The employees give answers including "I did not exceed myself", "I did not co-ordinate with my team" and "I lacked courage".
Mr Jiang then says "get your butts ready" and proceeds to spank them with what appears to be a thick piece of wood.
It shows at least four rounds of spanking, with one woman recoiling each time, apparently in pain.
At one point, that woman places her hands over her behind, but is told to "take your hand off".
The spanking was followed by a "hair cutting punishment", a statement (in Chinese) by the Changzhi local government said.
Chinese media reports said the men had their heads shaved, while the women had their hair cut.
'What sort of logic is this?'
According to the statement, the Shanxi Rural Credit Co-operatives Union, which regulates the bank, has set up a group to investigate the incident.
The bank's chairman and deputy governor had been suspended for "failing to strictly check the content of the course", the regulator said, while the bank would help the employees seek compensation from the training company.
Mr Jiang has issued a video apology, and said the spanking had "nothing to do" with the leaders at the bank. Such rumours "had severely harmed his clients and the leaders" at the bank, he added.
People online have been expressing outrage over the treatment of staff.
"Since when does beating employees become a way of raising performance?" one user asked on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog used in China.
Another user said he was dissatisfied because he felt Mr Jiang had focused on apologising to the banking executives.
"In his video apology, he kept emphasising that he had hurt the leadership at Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank! He spanked the employees, but apologised to the leadership? What sort of logic is this?"