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No Human Resources? How to Deal with Office Offenses

All offices offer a different culture making what is and is not acceptable to wear, say and do sometimes difficult to discern. However, some office offenses are too much to handle and should be avoided across the board. Perhaps you may even need the help of human resources. So what can you do? How can you deal with those tricky office problems?

The easiest solution is to consult a human resources professional within your company about the office offenses. HR professionals will act as mediators in office situations as well as invoke any code of conduct or employee handbook. However, not all companies employ a dedicated human resources team, hiring an outside consultant to handle difficult situations. The outside consultant may not be clearly communicated to employees. Even if you do know who the designated person is, or how to contact him/her, the lack of physical presence in the office may make it seem as though you cannot reach out and get help.

Furthermore, some companies use employees hired for other positions to serve as their HR person when office offenses arise. Though many of these employees are highly competent and skilled, they are not adequately trained for their expanded roles as human resources. Their varied roles may make it difficult to approach them about a sensitive subject when you have to.

Dedicated HR professionals are an asset to any company, but just in case your company can’t employ one, doesn’t have a human resources department, or you don’t feel the issue is big enough to warrant an additional person being involved, here are a couple tips to keep in mind.

Be proactive, not reactive.
Letting a problem fester is the most likely way to blow up at an inopportune moment. Approach your coworker about the problem in a friendly manner.

Drop a hint.
Sometimes the offender may not even be aware their behavior is causing a problem for those around them. If it’s an embarrassing issue, or a delicate subject, find a way to carefully and indirectly mention that you are not a fan of said behavior. Bringing it to human resources or your designated HR professionals may make them very uncomfortable.

Ignore it.
I don’t mean to condone inappropriate behavior, but if someone’s quirk is preventing you from getting work done, try simply ignoring it. If a coworker blasts music, using headphones everyday may alert him/her to a problem, or at the very least your own musical taste will help you focus on your work over your coworker’s music.

For major grievances, it’s best to go to your designated HR professionals. If the matter is big enough there may be legal ramifications, so it best to leave it up to the human resources department. In the meantime, do feel you might be the offensive party on occasion? offers a list of the most common gripes from coworkers giving you the ability to proactively check yourself and correct yourself. Just in case.

How do you best handle office offenses? Have you even been the offensive coworker? Does your company not have designated hr professionals to handle these situations? Let us know in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by WM.Li

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.

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