Pettiness

Trash Can Troubles

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-106Gwen, the HR manager, arrives at work in a really bad mood. She’s running twenty minutes late after sitting in traffic on the giant parking lot otherwise laughingly referred to as an interstate highway.

By the time she walks in the door at work, she’s seriously thinking of slugging the first person who gets on her nerves. She faces a gauntlet of raised eyebrows as people look at their watches. Only Ellen is stupid enough to make a sarcastic crack about Gwen’s tardiness.

Gwen dumps her purse, her carry-all, and keys on her desk and heads for the coffee pot. Her day slides downhill again. Someone set the empty coffee pot on the burner without starting a new pot brewing. As she fills the coffee maker, she decides it’s time that the owner, Tim, joins the modern era. She will buy a single cup coffee maker with the company credit card and tell Tim the purchase is for HR supplies.

alexa-mazzarello-457546-unsplashGwen mellows slightly after she has a cup of coffee. Back at her desk, she cranks up her laptop and begins reading her emails. The first one is from Laurie, whining again about needing a window view as an accommodation for her unspecified medical condition. Gwen sighs. The company works from a converted warehouse. No one has a window view, not even Tim. Gwen marks Laurie’s email for later in the day and opens the next email.

unnamed-16It involves the Case of the Traveling Trash Can. For weeks, every female employee has been fixated on the mystery of the moving bathroom trash can. The consensus is that the trashcan should be set close to the toilet. But someone is moving the can closer to the sink.

The trash can turmoil is beginning to put a serious dent in productivity as the women eye each other suspiciously. Last week, Gwen found Anita loitering near the bathroom, trying to spot the evildoer moving the trashcan. Gwen is exasperated with all of them and the trash can.

What are Gwen’s options?

  1. unnamed-108She can nail the trashcan to the floor with a 10-penny nail so that it never moves again.
  2. She can view the whole mystery as beneath the dignity of an HR manager’s job.
  3. She can buy a second trash can for the women’s bathroom so that only the cleanup crew is inconvenienced by having to empty an extra trash can.

In the actual situation, Gwen bought a second trash can for the bathroom. When employment laws and company policies can’t fix an HR problem, a little old-fashioned common sense will get the job done.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Whose Side Are You On?

Another update from the Jungle…

Harriet is having a tough time adjusting to her new job. The work isn’t that difficult because it’s similar to work she did at her last employer.  Her problem is that she’s walked into a war zone.

A few weeks into the job she was engulfed in a nasty argument about donuts.  She innocently agreed that cream-filled donuts are good. The cake donut supporters glared at her as Nan pointed out the extra calories in the cream. Harriet replied that she didn’t eat donuts and so she really wasn’t qualified to say which is better. But the damage was done. Half of her co-workers hated her.

Last week she sat quietly ignoring a heated discussion about whether cats or dogs are better pets.  Dorothy insisted her prize Persians are the best pets ever and handed out slips of paper with information about the Facebook page she created for them.

Wayne sneered at her Persians and whipped out his phone’s photos of his two Doberman Pinschers. Then he outed Harriet as a dog owner and demanded that she agree with him that dogs are superior.  Harriet smiled nervously as the cat people sneered at her for owning a Yorkie (“toy dog”).

The battles go on and on.  Half the office wants to order pepperoni pizza while the other half wants cheese pizzas.  At the monthly office birthday party, Dorothy and Rhonda throw a fit because they wanted a vanilla cake, not a chocolate cake.

Harriet’s fed up with all the petty bickering. She now eats lunch alone and huddles at her desk with earplugs to shut out the din around her.

Julie, the company owner is also fed up with the petty bickering. She orders June, the HR rep, to fix it. June sighs and wonders how she can possibly fix it when no one can explain why the office is so divided.

What options are available to June?

  1. She can create an HR policy ordering everyone to get along or they’ll be fired.
  2. She can divide the employees into teams and have them compete on “Family Feud”.
  3. She can institute a social event at which employees must learn something new about an employee with an opposing viewpoint in the hopes they’ll find some common ground.

The workplace is a microcosm of the larger community. As workers spend more time outside of work living near and talking to like-minded people, the social divisions may seep into the workplace. Employers can reduce these distractions by keeping employees focused on the business goals that ensure everyone remains employed.

If your company struggles with HR issues, CCRA can help you create HR policies appropriate for your company size, and serve as a resource to your staff as new policies are implemented.

Until next week,

—Norma

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