Do You Even Work in HR if You've Never ...?

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek March 15, 2019
Working in human resources is not for the faint of heart. Every day is filled with surprises—like the memorable discussion one HR professional had with an employee who fell down the stairs at home and, once at work, pulled down his pants to display the impressive bruise on his rear end.

And who has time for strategic planning and visionary leadership when you're busy rescuing baby raccoons from a dumpster because the mother raccoon is outside the bin harassing employees as they walk by?

HR professionals have heard and seen it all and been asked to handle tasks that are nowhere in their job descriptions.

SHRM Online collected the following responses from a SHRM Connect discussion board on the important question: Do you even work in HR if you have never … ?

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  • Had an employee ask you to investigate a co-worker who he or she thinks cheats on Words with Friends.
  • Told an employee that being asked to work late is not creating a "hostile work environment."
  • Been told you have a "heart of stone" because you informed a manager that part of his job includes coming to work.
  • Had an employee ask you to tell another worker that he's acting mean and needs to stop yelling at everyone.
  • Told an employee to stop whistling Christmas songs—in February.
  • Had a vice president of the company set the paper shredder on fire when his tie got stuck in it. 
  • Told an employee not to use a lighter to make s'mores at his desk.
  • Told an employee that you will not create a policy forbidding people from heating up "stinky food" in the breakroom.
  • Informed an employee that no, the company will not give him a raise to maintain his $15-martini lifestyle. 
  • Posted a sign next to the toaster instructing employees to wait until after their bread or bagel is toasted before they spread butter on it. It's a nuisance to continually replace toasters that have caught on fire, people!
  • Sent an e-mail to admonish employees not to take others' food from the shared refrigerator.
  • Been expected to hunt down and fire a lunch thief.
  • Said "good morning" to an employee as you entered the employee lounge and have him tell you, "I'm old-school, and I don't get this touchy-feely crap." 

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  • Told a manager, "No, you can't include weight-loss goals in your employees' performance reviews."
  • Told a manager, "Please don't say 'you sucked' in a performance review."
  • Told employees that they can't come to work stoned even though pot is legal.
  • Had a new employee get drunk from his or her own "orange juice" during orientation.
  • Told a couple of employees that rolling joints at their desks is against policy and not allowed, only to have them reply that it's not their marijuana.
  • Been subjected to—without asking—vivid, detailed descriptions of a worker's medical condition.
  • Told an employee "We need to discuss body-odor issues" or their flatulence.
  • Had a manager ask you to buy a "hygiene gift basket" for an employee … that you give to the employee.
  • Told your boss to stop flossing his teeth while conducting meetings.
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  • Told an employee that he can't use a traffic cone to save his parking spot while away at lunch nor yell at a co-worker's wife—who was bringing her husband lunch—for daring to move the cone so she could park.
  • Told an employee that money cannot be deducted from another employee's paycheck in payback for the previous evening's happy-hour bill.
  • Stopped a manager from using a forklift to trap an employee in his car during an argument over $20.
  • Ran to get the co-owner of the company to break up a fight on the warehouse floor while the scared plant manager hid in the corner.
  • Informed a manager he can't tell an employee to meet him outside to settle a score.
  • Dug through the garbage bin in the parking lot in search of keys from a terminated employee.
  • Had a manager tell you, "It's too bad you're in HR. I guess this means you'll be mad if I hit on you."
  • Been on a date and have the other person ask you to review his or her resume.
  • Had a plant manager say, "I don't care if it's illegal, this is my plant and I do what I want."
  • Called the police after the cleaning lady stripped down to her birthday suit.
  • Considered creating a training video on how acoustics work in your building because, ahem, everyone in the nearby conference room can hear everything said in the restroom.
  • Filed a workers' compensation claim after the door to the restroom stall broke and fell on an employee while the person was using the facility.
Given the crazy things HR sees and hears every day, one SHRM member on the thread pondered, "if you haven't thought at 10 a.m. about what size glass of wine you're going to have when you get home from work, are you really in HR?"

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