Halloween allows adults a brief moment to venture outside of the norm and dress and act in ways that would be considered unacceptable the other 364 days of the year. Even in the workplace, companies might host a party, encourage costumes or conduct a Spookiest Cubicle contest. But it had me thinking that there are plenty of these “scary” behaviors practiced year round that usually go unnoticed. As anHRprofessional, these things tend to catch my attention and I catalogue them in my head. Sometimes they are brought forward when performance is under scrutiny or when other employees come forward with complaints. A goodHRprofessional will know when to use this catalogued information and when to just let it go as unique personal behavior.
Take for instance the time when several people mentioned to me that an employee routinely ate grasshoppers for lunch at her desk. Not completely unheard of (in fact I hear if you dip them in chocolate they’re not bad) but definitely not considered the normal office fare. But was this something I thought I needed to address with the employee who had worked in good standing for so many years? No I decided, it’s not like the insects were alive and hopping into others’ personal space creating a hostile work environment.
On the flip side, I did encounter an employee who routinely changed clothes in the restroom after working out. In his defense, there was no other place to go, however he could have used a stall but chose instead to use the roomier area near the sinks and out in the open which is why it was brought to my attention. This, I decided, was not acceptable and before I was able to have that discussion, he was caught working at his desk shirtless. Needless to say, this made it much easier for me to discern that his actions were not considered acceptable workplace behavior.
My point is simply that people are not all the same and sometimes bring to the office their quirks and behaviors that don’t always fall in line with the general public (even on Halloween). We see a lot of interesting situations inHRand part of our job is to make sure employees are safe and comfortable. We do this by assessing the situation and applying our knowledge of state and federal law and more often than not, our good old common sense.