10 Tales from the Front
Michelle Florkowski, HR consultant at ThinkHR, handles human resources on-site for a regional chain of mattress stores, where she shakes her head in disbelief on a regular basis. She shares 10 of the “What in the world were you thinking?” moments she has experienced.
- You snooze you lose. On several occasions we have had to write people up for spending the night in the stores on the display mattresses. Of course, they choose to sleep on the $15,000 models. One employee who was caught asleep in the morning even armed the store alarm before he turned in for the night.
- Sun’s out, guns out. One guy brought his new gun into work to show off to his co-workers, passing around his specialized, extra-deadly ammunition. He wasn’t threatening anyone; he just wanted to show it around because he was enamored by it and figured everyone else would be, too. He didn’t have any concept that bringing his gun to work might make others uncomfortable.
- It’s 4:20 somewhere. We have had people come into the HR area and smoke marijuana right outside of the office, then pop in to pick up their paychecks reeking of pot. While marijuana is now legal in our state, these are often employees we know will be reporting to work shortly, and that is clearly not allowed.
- I’ll take mine well done. We had an employee who needed to eat a high protein diet on a specific schedule due to a health issue. He asked if he could bring in an electric tabletop grill to cook meat during his shift. We allowed the accommodation but told him he had to use it in the back room on his break. A district manager came in to the store and found him grilling meat at the front desk while talking to a customer.
- Potty train your pet, please. We had an employee who insisted that she was traumatized by a co-worker and wanted to bring in her emotional support animal. It was a dog who was not housebroken. We tried to explain to her that we weren’t opposed to the emotional support animal, but we couldn’t have a dog peeing all over the store and the merchandise, so she would have to put it in a crate. She got extremely upset with us.
- What scan gun? In our warehouse, we have had employees accidentally drop the scan gun and think they are going to get in trouble for breaking it, so they try to keep it a secret. One guy dropped his scan gun off the forklift and it shattered, but instead of telling us, he hid it and then threw it away.
- Look out behind you! In our warehouse, we run into issues with the forklifts on a regular basis. One guy was driving in reverse, goofing off on the forklift, and he ran into a support pole. While he didn’t damage the pole that much, the security video showed the forklift almost tipping over and him leaping away from it. He claimed he wasn’t going that fast, but the security video showed otherwise. The forklift bounced about 10 feet!
- Mom said so. We had one young employee who came up with excuses to leave early every day, right from his start date. It turned out that his mother wanted him home at a certain time, so we asked if she had a disability or another reason for needing him home. Nope — he just had to leave work early to finish his chores and have dinner with the family.
- Not how quitting time works. We have had employees come in to open the store for the day, then take their stuff, arm the alarm, lock the door, and shove their key underneath the door. They just quit without telling anyone. We don’t find out until a customer calls to ask why the store isn’t open or the person working a later shift arrives to find no one there. Sometimes we will find a termination notice in the store, sometimes we don’t.
- He’s bothering me! We get a lot of highly competitive salespeople who will find interesting ways to put others off their game. Some of it is intentional, and some is unintentional. This can cause a lot of complaints about disputes between salespeople. A recent one was because one person would click the computer mouse as a fidgety nervous habit and the other person was really bothered by it. We had to separate them because they would fight about it.