Warehouse Warning Because Of My National Origin?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a warning: I am working in a Warehouse. And one day I finished my work early and I tried to book half a day off. The team leader said okay. After 1 hour the team leader comes to tell me that I can’t go home cause I need to go to another building and work there when I had booked my half day already. Now they will give a warning but I don’t see it as fair.

I have colleagues that are taking sick days every week for 4-5 months and nothing happens to them. I am thinking it is because I am of a different nationality and it is easier to make me do something that others don’t want to do. Could you please advise if I should say something In my meeting or just agree with what they say.

Thank you, Signed–Expecting A Warning

Dear Expecting A Warning:

The situation you describe doesn’t seem to me as deserving a warning. If you are given one, you can ask for the reason why and then explain why you think it is fair or not. For this situation I don’t think it would be wise to argue you are being treated unfairly because you are different nationally. Also, I think it would be unwise to mention that your coworkers take off for sick leave frequently. That probably would annoy them. Your goal rather should be to be liked, not seen as different.

When you are with others and of a different national origin, it’s normal to interpret some of others’ actions and words negatively. That might seem the way it is, but for good working relationships with coworkers and a team lead, is it not best for you to assume whatever is said or done is motivated by good intentions? The one instance you describe certainly was motivated by your lead doing his job to keep you working and to get the work done. 

Warehouse work can be difficult and dangerous. Here are some thoughts to consider: 

  1. Stay alert for your own and others safety. Learn all the rules–the whys and needs important for physical safety and mental health. Noise can distract from staying alert to moving machines. All it takes is one misstep to injure you. One man I know crashed his head into a steel beam. He was out of work for months and still has problems.  
  2. Come to work each day eager to cooperate as a team member. Think join rather than judge. I coined a word “wego” to represent that kind of attitude. Smile, hum to yourself, listen more than talk, be interested, but not nosey in friendly brief conversations. Focus on being efficient and effective. 
  3. Team meeting as should be modeled on skull sessions of sport teams–efficiently reviewing what has been going well and what might be done to play the next game better. By example, you can help your team lead encourage all members to listen and take turns speaking and other times just to think about what can make warehouse work easier and pleasant.
  4. Greet your lead team with a happy hello and think of him or her as one whose job it is to help the team work together cooperatively at a reasonable pace. Leads want respect and to be seen as fair in making assignments. You are important and should be treated fairly. Talk to your lead informally if you see a pattern of unfairness. Don’t gossip with coworkers about it or him/her or others.  
  5. See your job as part of your life–to provide money for yourself and family and make your circle of the world better. Soak up all the information from your job possible–how to manage a warehouse is not just the job of those who own it. You as an employee have a stake in its success. Its success depends on you and your coworkers understanding how work can be done well. Your job today depends on what you want to do with your life. See is a one step in doing what you want to do in life. 

Let us know if these thoughts make sense to you.  Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.