Human Resource Management is No Laughing Matter

Office Etiquette Tips from Experienced HR Managers

human resources manager

By Jacqui Tom

Learn how experienced human resource management professionals deal with everyday office situations, such as speaking with an employee who wears too much perfume, or working with someone who could use a little attitude adjustment. While some of these may seem humorous, HR takes these types of situations very seriously to ensure everyone is getting along in the office and working together to be as productive as possible.

My co-worker wears too much perfume

Whether you are dealing with perfume, cologne, a lunch-time runner or a smoker, scent issues are particularly sensitive problems because you are dealing with personal habits. Human resource management professionals say it is always best to talk directly with employees about this kind of problem instead of talking about it behind their backs. Keep the conversation objective and use a tone that does not embarrass the employee; always have the discussion in private and keep it confidential. Don't be afraid to ask your supervisor to step in. It is part of a supervisor's job to handle these types of situations.

My co-worker frequently takes long, animated personal calls

With workweeks often stretching far past 40 hours, it's inevitable that personal lives will creep into the workplace, but excessive talking not only lowers the productivity of the worker taking the call but everyone else within earshot. HR professionals agree that a gentle reminder to make personal calls on personal time is the first step in resolving this problem. If the situation persists or the problem is widespread among several employees, a company-wide policy limiting the use of cell phones or discouraging personal phone calls on company phones may be needed.

My co-worker solicits me to buy products he sells on the side

Aside from people peddling Girl Scout cookies and school fundraiser tickets, performing personal business on company time and property can be considered a very serious offense, especially if the activity interferes with the work the employee is being paid by the company to do. Human resource management professionals recommend reporting the activity to a supervisor. An investigation should be conducted to determine if the allegation is true and measure the extent of the situation. Disciplinary action, such as worker termination, may be necessary.

My co-worker could really use an attitude adjustment

Often times, people don't realize the affect they have on others. While it may be tempting to try to keep this person isolated from you and the rest of your team, experience has shown that a negative attitude can still have real impacts on an entire team's productivity and morale. The best approach, according to human resource management professionals, is to be proactive. Sit down and talk with an unhappy employee to pinpoint on- and off-the-job issues that may be causing problems. Once you've identified the issues, work with the employee to create a plan, offering support and suggestions. And be sure to follow up by monitoring progress.

Source: Karen Tom, HR Manager with 30 years experience