On Tuesday, The New York Times published an article – complete with advice – about the office fridge. Give employees only a specific amount of space in the refrigerator, ban certain foods, if an employee violates the rules, take fridge privileges away. Seriously, this was the advice listed in the article. Don’t we have bigger things to worry about?
Yes. Yes, we do. We’ve got a national harassment issue. We have new laws. We have super low unemployment so recruiting is tough. Technology driving head-long into our work lives. Employees are facing more challenges both at work and at home affecting their abilities to get their jobs done. All of these issues are more important than the office refrigerator.
Not gonna lie, the focus on the fridge irks me. We have bigger fish to fry. Yet, it is human nature to find the “easier” issue that can be solved. Fixing the fridge shows immediate results, whereas growing a positive culture takes significantly more time and isn’t easily measured. I get it.
The same is true with Mitchell Hamline’s HR Compliance Certificate Program. I’m honored to be an adjunct professor in the program and one of the authors of the case study used in the program. My teaching partner, Ali McGinty, and I added a kegerator to our fictional workplace that is rife with compliance issues. The workplace has no affirmative action program despite having a large Department of Defense contract, potential wage disparities, misclassification issues, recruitment issues, employment agreement issues, outsourcing problems, etc. Yet, so many of students jump on the kegerator as the first problem they would solve. I’m taking aback each time. It surprises me as I assume that employers hire who they think are responsible adults, yet we want to remove alcohol every time we see it. But when I look at all the other issues plaguing our fictional software company, I see that kegerator is easy and immediate.
I’ve got a challenge for you. Write down the issues you want to tackle. Ask some managers and some employees about what they think you should focus on. Consider each issue carefully. What will take you more time? What will take more effort or resources? How will you know if issues have been resolved? Once you have a list, ask your leadership where they want you to spend your time. Then, prioritize the list. Here are some priorities I recommend – priorities more important than the fridge:
- Renewing a commitment to effective training on the perils of harassment and discrimination
- Revising employee handbooks that reflect new laws
- Training managers on basic management skills like having difficult conversations with employees
- Implementing effective performance management systems
HR guru (and my friend), Kelly Marinelli, recently tweeted that audacity is her word for 2018. YES! We need to have the audacity to take on the biggest challenges facing our organizations. That probably does not include the office fridge.
Photo by Squared.one on Unsplash