Archive for November, 2014

How to handle a workplace stalker

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

by Caitlin Nobes

Workplace romance is a common headache for HR, especially when it ends badly. However, what about when feelings are unrequited, sometimes with extreme results?

A recent US case shows just how bad it can get. A New York judge has extended a cease and desist order and restraining order against Ling Chan, an oversight examiner at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fell for co-worker Dan Small. In 2011 Small turned down her romantic advances, which resulted in constant emails, social media requests and small gifts.

Unfortunately Chan refused to take no for an answer and the situation escalated. She continued to ask Small out, while harassing co-workers for his mobile number and details of his relationship status.

Small asked someone in the HR department for help. The HR rep talked to Chan about her unacceptable behaviour, but her response was to ask him if he could pass on a love letter to Small. Eventually Chan was fired and attempted to file a claim against the HR department and her boss.

Since then Chan has applied 574 times to 82 different positions at FINRA, using a number of aliases. John Braut, an HR manager at FIRA, was harassed by Chan by being signed up to a number of adult magazines using his work email. According to court documents, Chan then slandered him and made threats online.

While this is an extreme example, workplace stalking is not uncommon. According to the experts at Stalking Risk Profile it can have negative outcomes including increased sick leave, decrease productivity and deteriorating job performance. The affects can also extend to coworkers, family members and other third parties. So what can HR do about it?

HR Takeaways

Safe environment:
It is up to the employer to create an environment where victims feel safe to report stalking behaviour. “Central to this is making it clear that stalking victims are not to blame for their predicament, even if the victim was previously in a relationship with the stalker,” psychologist Dr Rachel MacKenzie. “Employers should also ensure that other employees are made aware of stalking situations when they have a role in managing the risks.”

Educate management and employees about bullying and stalking behaviours and what they need to do if such a situation arises. “It is crucial that employees do not feel that they will be judged as overreacting if they report something that they think might be trivial,” MacKenzie said. “It is better to praise the individual for being alert, rather than try to repair the damage that may arise if incidents are not reported.”

Develop and enforce strong policies on what constitutes inappropriate contact and harassment at work, either by clients or co-workers. Detail the process for dealing with aggressive or agitated individuals and for reporting complaints, suspicious behaviour and critical incidents.

Safety first:
Put safety procedures in place so the victim is safe coming to and from work, including a safe parking spot. If possible, allow the victim to work flexible hours so that they can vary the time that they arrive and leave work. Ensure that no one gives out any information about days or hours of work, phone numbers or other personal details.

Caitlin Nobes:

Caitlin Nobes

Responsibilities at KMI Publishing include writing news articles and features, assisting with editorial process and managing social media for HRM Online and HR Director Magazine.

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Body Odor, Bad Breath and Business

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Body Odor

Have you found yourself in an awkward position of having to tell someone his or her bad breath or body odor is no longer acceptable? Do others complain to you but they don’t have the nerve to broach the problem directly?

Try this approach and you will be pleasantly surprised how easily the issue can be addressed. Here are four ideas on how to approach this delicate situation. Do you have something to add?

  1. “I have something of a personal nature to discuss with you.  Is this a good time for you?”
  2. “Under most circumstances this wouldn’t be my business, but because we work in close quarters (work with the public, etc) I need your help. It seems that your body odor (or bad breath) has become an issue and others (clients, colleagues, customers) have complained. How can I help you address this because something needs to change?”
  3. “Under most circumstances this wouldn’t be my business, but because we work in close quarters (work with the public, etc) I need your help. It seems that your body odor has become an issue and others (clients, colleagues, customers) have complained. What do you think you can do to address this?” (Notice it is similar to #2 but with a twist at the end.)
  4. “There are some things even your best friend is too embarrassed to tell you, but I know I would want someone to tell me.  You have a body (or breath) odor and it needs to be addressed.  I’m bringing this up primarily for you because this can be an indicator that you have something medically going on that is not good.  What can I do to help?”
  5. “As an employee you are perceived AS the company and have a reflection on how people see our team. This isn’t an attempt to humiliate or intimidate you.   I’m simply asking you to address it and take care of it.  OK?”

Give them a deadline on when this needs to be resolved. Keep yourself open as a resource. Addressing issues in with your team, peers and superiors is your responsibility. Learning how to confidently address every issue through polished communication places you ahead of most other people. This important skill will spill over into your personal life too. Let me know what ideas you have!

Cheers, Marsha

p.s. Let me know if you need to further build your group by helping them improve communications, reduce conflict, polish platform skills, or listen more skillfully. The benefit is helping people embrace change, save time and build bottom line.

Marsha Petrie Sue
Professional Speaker, Executive Coach and Best Selling Author

Cell 602 418-1991 or Marcia

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