Coughing and No Hand Washing!

Question:

Wow. I don’t think we work in a toxic place, but my seatmates cough incessantly. One or the other always has a cold, or an allergy. Sometimes it’s so bad I can’t hear to talk on the phone. And hand washing??? Forget it! I feel like I’ve over-dosed myself on hand sanitizer just to use a mutual keyboard. The cacophony is making me insane! Help.

Signed,

Sick Environment

Answer:

Dear Sick Environment:

Unfortunately our coworkers do get ill from time to time and contagious illnesses certainly present a big problem in the workplace. To correct this health related situation will require a team effort! Everyone must be aware of their surroundings and their coworker’s best interest.

Ask for a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your concerns and ask for his/her input in correcting or decreases the problem. Try to involve several workers, using a team approach. Come up with suggestions in which all workers agree to do their part. By doing so, you will create a healthier, happier workplace. Best of luck. Gerald Allen, Guest Respondent with HR experience Your concerns spring from both self-interest and WEGO mindedness.

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Dear Rumored To Be Fired:

Question:

Today I came down with a case of the flu. When I called work my GM informed me that I need a doctor’s excuse to remain employed. I was very surprised because I don’t miss much work, not nearly as much as some of my co-workers. I do not have any health insurance so it is hard for me to afford doctor visits. Is it the employer’s responsibility to pay for doctor’s visits when they require an excuse? If it is, is there a place online that I can prove it to them? I live in the state of Wisconsin if it matters. Thanks for any help.

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30-Old Co-worker Hits On H.S.-Age

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about old 30 year man soliciting dates of underage employees:

I just turned 18 this year. I am a full time high school student and have a part-time job at a retailer. I am considered the “baby” of the company because I get very excited and I love exuding enthusiasm to customers. I love people; however, my company has recently hired this one male worker who is much older, at least 30 years old, compared to the many high school and college student workers, 16-22. He’s very out of place with his formal dress compared to the typical shirt and jeans the rest of us wear. I’ve been hearing rumors of dishonesty and just a feel of desperation from this worker.

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What Topics Should A Workgroup Avoid?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about topics that provoke debate:

I have a large group of women working in a small area. They are constantly bringing up topics that create a debate. What are some major topics that I should have them avoid?

Signed, Taboo Talk

Dear Taboo Talk:

Here’s a question we have not received before. Its answer can range from none to specifics. Possibly, the answer is to suggest that vigorous and even acrimonious debate helps this work group’s day go faster. You seem to assume that to tell someone not to think or talk about something can work, as if to say, “Don’t allow the words Ape or Chicken come to your mind during the next five minutes” can prevent that. This is to suggest that possibly a proactive approach would be to suggest some topics that would so interest this group of women-that they would find some topics invigorating and fun–rather than to order them to avoid debatable topics that might provoke alienation. One of our guest respondents sent the additional advice below.

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Losing Sleep & Coming To Work Is A Chore!

Question:

Thanks so much for your website. It’s helpful to see that I am not alone in having difficulty at work. Recently, I read the posting “Loner at Work Has Us Concerned” and I really appreciated your response. I am the “loner” at my own workplace. I don’t socialize that much at work as I have a very full life outside of the day job. I have a big family (though I don’t have children myself) and other commitments which I love and so really have no room nor interest in going out for lunch with the crew or the Friday night drinking and parties, etc. I have gone out with them a couple of times, but don’t really like it much. My lunch hour is the time I like to use for errands, sitting in the sun, planning or going for a walk. I don’t need to share much about myself and so I don’t. I realize that I am not in an ideal environment, but I am willing to do the work that I was hired for.

In the last month, however, going to work has been a chore. I have been losing sleep. I have been having trouble getting to work on time and was absent for a few days, enough for people to notice. My mind goes in circles about small conversations I have at work. I have been feeling depressed and it seems to get worse everyday. I do work in a poorly lit windowless basement 7.5 hours a day so that doesn’t help. I feel I am on the verge of being fired. I know this is a lot. Any suggestions?

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Are There Best Practices For Same Work Stations?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about workspace:

Do you have any best practices on sharing workspace? The situation is in a call center were we would have one person using a cube during a day shift and one person using the same cube during a night shift. There would never be a time when both were on shift together. Any feedback?

Signed, Best???

Dear Best???:

Have you considered convening a representative committee of employees or cluster group to brainstorm the dos and don’ts that may sharing the same space from shift to shift best for each other? That would generate rules and practices that are psychologically owned by the users. It might also generate ideas for making the overall environment more effective and pleasant. Will you send us what you come up with? We can then pass it on. Working together is an on-going interdependent process that at its best I call WEGO.

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How Do I Shut Up A Loud Co-worker?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about loud coworker:

I’m looking for advice on handling a distracting coworker. I’m a consultant, not an employee, so my complaint options seem somewhat limited. I work in Information Technology, in a high-walled cubicle environment. We cannot see our coworkers, but can hear them if the volume is loud enough. There is a really loud guy here, and he becomes louder when he gets on the phone, which is frequently. He spends 1 – 3 hours a day on the phone conducting personal business, much of which is extremely personal. He also will visit the woman in the cube behind mine daily, usually for 20 – 30 minutes, again discussing topics of an intense personal nature. I’m unwillingly informed on his every health detail, his kid’s problems with the Social Services department, sexual functionality issues, the nature and times of his fiancée’s menstrual cycle – the list is endless.

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How Can I Get My Boss To Honor Religous Absence?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about release for religious holidays: My manager signed off on this. When I called in to inform I was in a musical play this Easter, HR manager said I should show up for work.

I participate in a musical for my church every Easter and Christmas. Because of this I filled out an availability form with my employer, indicating that I could not work before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. My department manager signed off on it and it was entered into my file.

This Easter on the instructions of my Human Resource Manager I called in two hours early and informed my store manager that I planned to take the day off When asked why, I told him honestly that it was Easter Sunday and explained about the Musical.

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Can I Stop Verbal Abuse By A Brother?

Question:

I’ve been reading about verbal abuse and so many times it applies mostly to romantic or parental abuse, but there is another form of abuse that is forgotten, and that is when a sister is verbally abused by a brother. Unfortunately, this abuse conditions her for future abuse. I have been helping a friend who runs a not-for-profit organization. While I knew he had some emotional issues, they were not causing any problems at the time. I have since been able to get for him a huge amount of publicity for his cause – and now things have changed. He has become argumentative, critical, hangs up on me, or answers the phone but does not speak. Could you please include some help for those who volunteer so they don’t have to be on this merry go round too. Thank you.

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Evaluation–All As and One B

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a difficult coworker.                                         :

I was recently given my evaluation where I received all A’s except for 1 B. (A being the highest and D the lowest). My work product and performance are excellent according to the attorney I work for. The problem was the B where there is this one coworker on our team that I don’t get along with because she refuses to be trained (although everyone else has) and asks me to do the things that she refuses to be trained on. She always does this via email and has gone to my immediate supervisor to say that I am unapproachable. Any advice?

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