The dependable no show on Monday morning. The winner of the morning-after-the-Christmas-party talk. The naturalist whose body odor cannot possibly be good for the office environment. If you are a Human Resources Professional, you have seen it all, been asked it all, and inevitably had to dealt with it all.
As a background check provider, our team works closely with Human Resources Professionals on a daily basis. Sure, we have insanely awesome and knowledgeable Account Managers. We are accredited with the NAPBS and keep you FCRA compliant. But, when it comes to things like personality, daily habits, hygiene, and so forth, there are some things that the national criminal report database just does not capture; even if some of these behaviors should be considered a crime.
Here are the Top 5 super awkward issues Human Resources Professionals talk to us about
What the cod is that?! Holy spices, Batman! And other reactions to the break-room microwave.
Human Resources Professionals likely crossed their fingers when it seemed mercury levels were bringing the fish-eating frenzy to an end. Unfortunately for break-room microwaves everywhere, that did not happen. Not to mention that apart from smells, there are also things left behind, like explosive Hot Pocket™ debris, or an overflowing Cup-O-Noodles™ puddle. Whether it is spills, fish, garlic, or some other pungent lunchtime perfume, dealing with microwave etiquette is basically a preordained rite of passage for most Human Resources Professionals.
Common though it is, awkward it remains. There really is not an easy way to let someone know that their colleagues are bothered by their smells; even if it is not coming from their person. Not to mention that “Step 1” is always verifying the issue for yourself. The number one suggestion from Human Resources Professionals, when dealing with this issue, is making sure you are cognizant of the entire situation before you address it. It may be that someone just really enjoys the spicy garlic gyro from the Greek place down the street – every… single… day. It could, however, be a more sensitive situation than that if it involves an employee’s cultural customs, health needs, and so on.
Whatever variables are involved in your scenario, the most important thing to remember is discretion. It is never appropriate, even for Human Resources Professionals, to approach the involved employee in community spaces (like the break-room). Even if you happen to catch them stinky-handed.
Vintage or vagabond? The fine lines of fashion.
When Khloe Kardashian released her denim line, the term “ripped jeans” earned a whole new meaning. We asked questions like, “are those still pants?” Meanwhile, Human Resources Professionals braced themselves for casual Friday. It’s not just revealing clothing that causes dress code distress. Alas… “distress” … another word that blurs business casual dress lines.
As millennials started inhabiting the workplace so did other labels like, hipster, boss babe, brogrammer, nostalgic grunge, and so on. All of them come with their own unique style. Some of which are culturally, not company, appropriate. Fortunately, while telling someone that their mid is a little too drift, or that their vintage is a little more vagabond, is definitely awkward, it is one of the easier issues to address. Most companies have a dress code policy in place that references the obvious. If you do not have a dress code policy, do yourself a favor before you hire your next employee – write one.
Negative Nigel, Nellie, Nancy, and Ned.
It truly is a wonder how these employees managed to stay positive during their interview because you could swear you have never heard them utter anything optimistic – ever. Truth be told, it is tempting to leave these employees to stew in their own self-made pot o’ pessimism. Human Resources Professionals have to always be aware of bad apples who may spoil the bunch though. Whether they are negating new ideas, grumbling about policy, or just complaining about the company, it only takes one of these neg-fluencers to shatter office morale. The challenge is that you cannot really place policy on personality. Often times there is no wrong-doing other than their own discord.
Our take-away from Human Resources Professionals is this:
Number one, listen to their complaints. All Human Resources Professionals realize very early on that some people just need to be heard. You might be the only available ear in the employee’s life. Better you than their office-mate. Number two, listen only. Do not provide therapy. You most likely got into human resources because you care about and are good with people. It is easy to slip into advice giving but you must always remember that you are there for compliance, not counseling. Finally, number three, you can offer short-term advice that is focused on helping the employee head in the right direction.
Mismanaged by Management
You have a manger who keeps bringing employee issues to the table. After completing your due diligence to verify the problem you realize, uh-oh, the problem is not with the employees but with a failing management system. Now, you have to return to your colleague and explain that the problem they are experiencing has actually trickled down from the top. The tables turning undoubtedly make for an awkward report back. Human Resources Professionals suggest focusing on the fact that the employee, originally in question, is failing at work. Then, work with the manager who approached you to create a system for success that includes specific goals. Being able to facilitate this plan will position you to ensure that the process is positive, proactive, and of course compliant.
I know you already work here, but, you need to take a drug test.
Talk about awkward. Having to test an employee for suspected drug and/or alcohol abuse after they are already an active employee is never easy. The situation likely means that there has been noticeably questionable behavior. Verifying the issue is paramount in every situation but especially when an employee raises questions about another employee’s possible substance abuse. It is critical that you confirm this is a genuine concern and not an attempt to sabotage or otherwise single someone out.
Once you have confirmed that there is a cause for concern, you will hopefully have a written policy in place that sets the expectation for when an existing employee can be tested for drug and/or alcohol use. If you need to write a policy, here are a couple of things you want to make sure to include:
First, clearly outline under what circumstances an employee may be asked to complete a drug and/or alcohol screening. You will also want to explain how and when the test will be administered, as well as what will happen if the employee refuses to take the test. An employee delaying their test by even one or two days is, in most cases, considered refusal to take the test. That is why it is necessary to make timelines and procedures clear. Finally, should the employee fail the test, you need to have a clear plan of action outlining what happens next. Not all situations call for immediate termination. However, it is exponentially easier to make that determination before it becomes an issue.
What other awkward issues have you experienced dealing with as a Human Resources Professionals?
For further reading: TOP 5 EMBARRASSING BACKGROUND CHECKS FAUX PAS 2017Citations: Drug Test Your Workforce Lawfully, Effectively. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/drug-test-workforce-lawfully.aspx Are these the 12 types of millennials? Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/are-these-12-types-millennials-160688/