I once worked with a small, growing business that had a couple of magnetic poetry kits on the refrigerator.Â Employees would make funny sentences on the refrigerator for all to enjoy.Â All was well and good until the company grew to a point that it needed a human resources manager.
Within a week of the new h.r. manager arriving, one word disappeared from the poetry set.Â It was the S-E-X word.Â This word never caused a problem with any of the employees.Â This particular group of employees was not known to be crude and I donâ€™t believe that word was ever even used in a sentence.Â Apparently, the new human resources manager was afraid that it might cause a problem or tension and thought it best to just discreetly toss the word.
Iâ€™m a little more laid back in my h.r. approach.Â I think there are very definitely business cultures where this particular word shouldnâ€™t be displayed in the break room, but there are instances where a itâ€™s not a big deal.Â The thing is, you have to know what your business culture is and what is or is not appropriate.Â This business was young, fun, and funky.Â It was a hip environment where even if the word was used it would have been funny, not insulting.Â Letâ€™s face it, it can be a pretty funny word.
The beauty of small business is you donâ€™t need to have office bureaucracy. Yes, you need to follow the law and certainly sexual harassment cannot be tolerated, but is the word â€œsexâ€ by itself harassment?Â I think not (feel free to disagree).Â Hereâ€™s how I would handle the situationâ€¦ If itâ€™s in keeping with the culture and I didnâ€™t think it would offend anyone, I would keep the word on the fridge.Â Of course, if someone complained, I would immediately remove the word.Â If someone dared to make an inappropriate statement with that, or any other word, then I would deal with it.
How would I deal with it?Â Straight up and matter of fact. Itâ€™s just like parenting kidsâ€¦ hereâ€™s what happened, it was wrong, hereâ€™s why itâ€™s wrong.Â Now I have to remove this word (or maybe put the whole poetry set on time out :)).Â I hope weâ€™ve learned our lesson here.Â You canâ€™t avoid every potential problem, so why not have some fun and embrace the opportunity to teach lessons when things go wrong?