Monday, November 13, 2006

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – That’s What Work Means To Me

As you may remember, I wrote a week or so ago about my caring employer’s tips on how to avoid getting sick. Unfortunately, they didn’t tip me off on how to avoid getting sick of work, only getting sick at work. Oh well, they’ve moved on (although it’s obvious I haven’t) and are now concerned about me and my coworkers having a respectful, discrimination and insult free workplace. Woo Hoo! As all my coworkers know, we never have enough work to do and thus are always gathering in small groups to figure out how to make our workplace friendlier.

Truth be told, we’re a pretty rough and sarcastic group and nothing is free from harassment or teasing. If you don’t believe me, read any of my ‘Things I Learned This Week’ stories. I just finished the online ‘Respect’ course and let’s say it’s a good thing our HR folks don’t spend much time in our field office. I was going to get major kudos for actually taking notes, until I responded, “Oh man, oh man, oh man, this is great blogging material. I can’t wait to get home!” Unfortunately, whether it was because I became distracted by my copious note taking, or because I am often inappropriate at my workplace, I got every question wrong. Let’s just say every answer was to consult with someone in HR if you have a problem with a coworker. And I mean every answer (you’d think I would have caught on after the 10th question).

However, from pain comes wisdom because I ended up learning a few things. I didn’t know that we should go to our HR department for our workplace respect concerns, I just thought I was supposed to keep it bottled inside until I have a breakdown or do the exact opposite and tell all of my coworkers through a detailed and personal email while cc’ing everyone I can think of. Nope! I didn’t realize that nicknames were not appropriate in the workplace either. It’s a shame too, because we have developed so many of them. We have names like Super Sensitive Guy, The New Guy, Natural Gas Powered Car Guy, Go Fly A Kit Guy, Smokey, etc. Besides, all of our real names are posted outside of our cubicles, so it’s not like there’s any confusion as to who is who. The way I see it, the nicknames just break up the day-to-day monotony of it all.

Then I continued with the course only to discover that teasing, tickling and pinching are considered out of line. Really? Since when has tickling every hurt anyone, especially when we’re all together, like in a staff meeting? Supposedly saying things like babe, chick and hunk are now out of the question too. The online course didn’t specifically mention dude, super babe, moron or jackass so they are presumably still in play. Unless those are considered nicknames and fall under the no nickname rule? I’m not sure; maybe I’ll try them out tomorrow and see how it goes. I was #!@$#!@ shocked and appalled to learn that profanity is not encouraged, well actually kinda forbidden, in the workplace. That could be a problem since I have yet to hear anyone in my office utter “Golly Gee Willickers” or “Dang Gummit” when they become frustrated.

For me personally, there was one item in the course that will lead to a complete philosophical change. My employer has advised that the determination of whether or not a joke is funny should be made by the person receiving the joke and not by the person telling it. Well that’s just not fair! We can’t help it if there are people in our office or who may come into our office who don’t possess the genetic coding required to have a sense of humor. If someone tells a joke in an office and no one laughs, is it still funny? Heck yeah, that’s why someone told it in the first place! Will we have to begin every joke we tell from now on with a disclaimer revealing the punch line so that the joke’s recipient can determine whether it’s funny before we tell it? I don’t know, but since I have a question about it, I’ve already learned (10 times to be exact) that I’ll have to go consult someone in HR.

Well, there’s the low down on my employer’s online ‘Respect in the Workplace’ course. That’s 12 minutes and 43 seconds I’ll never get back. I couldn’t help but think of Michael Scott on NBC’s “The Office” while taking this course. When we all have our required meeting to discuss the course’s content (and presumably make fun of the course itself while tickling and teasing each other), hopefully an episode of “The Office” will be required viewing as a how-not-to-do video. We have a motto in our office: Think about what Michael Scott would do and then do the exact opposite.

The best part of all of this though was the fact that I did not see the word ‘blog’ anywhere throughout the course. That means my employer values me enough to give me goofy ideas on how to avoid getting sick, how not to offend those I work with and what to do to make a respectful office environment AND I get to blog about it. Boy this company sure is great! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go ask 1970s Sport Coat Guy a quick question.


Lizza said...

They should get Ned Flanders to run a seminar about your company's respect at the workplace policy. You know, in France they've fired workers for blogging about work. The bloggers weren't revealing any company secrets nor did they disclose any real names.

Josie said...

I work with a doctor who "flashes" me with his white coat every time he walks past me. I laugh every time. It's probably politically incorrect, but it's always funny.

Don't you find life is getting too darned serious? I mean, really...


mist1 said...

I'm dating the Super Sensitive guy and don't know how to break it off. Does he ever talk about me at work? Can you dump him for me? Be gentle with him.

abbagirl74 said...

Although I don't work in an office, I can sympathize. I do, however, love The Office and I think that Michael Scott is a god and completely misunderstood.

uh, yeah

Anyway, I find it humorous that you must go to HR for everything. We tell all of our associates that they have to go to their managers.

What's the etiquette for gift giving?

Odat said...

michael, you do take chances don't you? lol...I don't work in HR but do work in the department it comes to AFTER HR (and that ain't good). I can't tell you where cause then I'd have to kill you ...or fire It's too bad that some don't have a sense of humor, but unfortunately there are these laws out there...and well, people sue for such silly stuff.

Michael C said...

Lizza: I know I probably shouldn't be posting it, but I just couldn't resist writing about such a 'target-rich' situation ;-)

Josie: Yes, I agree that life is getting way too serious. We should all laugh at each other more...uh, I mean laugh more ;-)

Mist: I'll let SS Guy down easy. Mullet Dude was asking about you though.

AbbaGirl: Yes, Michael Scott is an office God. Most of my office thinks so! With all the new workplace rules, I'm not even sure gifts are acceptable anymore.

Odat: Don't you agree it was worth the chance? So I guess I never want to end up in your office, do I? And what a shame, you seemed like so much fun ;-)

ShadowFalcon said...

Sometime offending your co-workers is all you have to get you through the day...

Lee said...

Man, your workplace sounds like a blast. I guess they wouldn't be into Laughter Clubs then?

Violet said...

At one place I worked the guys did stupid stuff like fart in the lift, try to look under my skirt at after-work drinks and call each other poofters just for the hell of it. And a course like that wouldn't have changed 'em one bit.