Taking a Break

I was out in the stores early this morning snapping up some after-Christmas sale items. In what appears to be a developing theme with me, I overheard another conversation with Human Resources implications in the store this morning. (Blog series, perhaps? See my other HR eavesdropping observation here.)


Employee: “Do I really need to take two breaks and a lunch today?  My shift is only seven hours.”

Floor Manager: “Yes.”

 Employee: “Really?  I don’t need all that time.  How about just the two breaks instead?”

 Floor Manager: “Yes, really.  I need you to take both breaks and the lunch. . .” He then went on to briefly explain his reasoning for scheduling her in this way.

 At this point, I started to move away from the conversation, fearing Security was probably looking askew at my lingering in the Misses fleece section.

 For just a moment, let’s imagine I was the Human Resources Manager for this store and wanted to use this situation for a coaching opportunity. (As a former Human Resources Generalist for a department store retailer, that’s not too much of a stretch.) Here’s what I would say to the players involved in this conversation. In writing, it’s kind of in stilted Corporate-Speak; in real life, it’d be more conversational

 To the Floor Manager: You are to be commended. Thank you for upholding your company’s staffing and HR policies.  From what I could hear, you did so with subtle authority and an appropriate amount of explanation….neither heavy-handing it or over-explaining.

 To the Employee: I admire your work ethic. Please know that there are reasons for the company’s retail floor scheduling. Sometimes these rules are based on labor laws, sometimes they’re based on company policy.  To be consistent, even if you don’t personally need that much time off the floor, we need you to take the breaks.

 How would they receive this coaching?  It’s hard to say.  When I had chats like this with Department Managers they were receptive, even if the feedback wasn’t as positive as the exchange shown above.  When working with employees, it depended on the maturity level of the employee— the more mature the employee, the less likely to get the dreaded eye-roll.

 So, to my Human Resources readers. . . how do you discuss these types of issues with your company’s employees?  How do you convince them to follow a company policy even if they don’t agree with it?

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