Author Topic: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This  (Read 5827 times)

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BeagleMommy

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I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« on: May 03, 2013, 03:57:32 PM »
I've posted before about the one person in my office who has hoarding tendencies.  Many of us have had to go to the director, or he's brought it up to her himself, about the mess and odor coming from her office.  She'll clean up (somewhat) and sooner or later it reverts to the same mess.  Unfortunately, the mess does not affect her job performance so we can't get HR involved.  Apparently you're allowed to be completely slovenly and it can't be mentioned on your performance review.  Even housekeeping refuses to touch anything in her office.

Her office has a sour smell.  It's nauseating if you have to spend any time in her office.  The big problem now is that the odor is starting to cling to her clothing.  Whenever she walks by I get a whiff of that sour smell.  I'm not sure if this is something I can bring up to the director or not.  Help!

TurtleDove

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 03:58:45 PM »
I would take it to HR because it is affecting YOUR job performance.

MrTango

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 04:05:16 PM »
Even if it's not affecting her job performance, it's creating a work environment that is detrimental to your and your co-workers health and sense of well-being.

Even if your director doesn't feel that he can bring it to HR, you can certainly do so yourself.

Tabby Uprising

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 04:05:55 PM »
Granted not all HR departments are the same, but as a former HR-er I can say this is absolutely an issue I could address.  It's awkward, but we're trained to be tactful  :D   or should be.  When hygiene issues permeate the work environment HR can step in and delicately handle it with the employee. 

wheeitsme

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2013, 07:04:27 PM »
Do you have an EH&S (Environmental, Health, & Safety) office or officer at your company?  That might be the people to speak to.

Firecat

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 10:18:41 PM »
I'd be concerned that there may be mold or bacteria in her office that could be causing the smell, that could make others in the office ill. Further, do you have clients or others who come to your offices? It could be very bad if someone like that became ill due to exposure to something in this person's office space.

I think that I would consider going to HR and expressing these concerns. If you have a corporate attorney, you might also consider asking him/her if there could be a liability issue for the company - but ONLY if you can bring it up in the context of customers/clients/vendors.

Phoebe

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 11:06:11 PM »
Granted not all HR departments are the same, but as a former HR-er I can say this is absolutely an issue I could address.  It's awkward, but we're trained to be tactful  :D   or should be.  When hygiene issues permeate the work environment HR can step in and delicately handle it with the employee.

I'm curious, Tabby.  Would you mind sharing a tactful way to address this sort of thing?  I ask because years ago in my office (where the HR was half a state away) something very similar came up.  Rather than getting HR involved, the Regional Director told my coworker's immediate supervisor (not known for her tact) to handle it.  It did NOT go well at all.  Making it even worse, her supervisor was also her neighbor. 

sparksals

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 11:43:50 PM »
Do you have an Occupational Health and Safety Dept?   This type of thing would fit.   I dont believe this is an HR issue because the state of her office is affecting the entire workplace and health of employees.   

There could very well be mould in the office.  I cannot believe her boss allowed this to get so out of hand. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 08:31:12 AM »
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.

camlan

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2013, 10:39:31 AM »
The thing is, office supplies and paper don't smell, however much you hoard them. Not in an office setting with decent climate control. She's got something in her office that's organic and rotting. Or there's a leak in her office and water is getting on some paper or something and making it rot.

Either way, I think there is cause for getting someone, HR or otherwise, involved here. It's not normal for offices to smell. There's something wrong. It needs to be fixed.

If her office was just messy and packed with "stuff," I'm not sure you would have grounds to do anything. But the smell indicates that there's a problem.
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*inviteseller

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2013, 11:10:56 AM »
Hoarders do not notice the messes and smells (my former neighbor was a lovely lady, but she just had to be removed from her house and it was condemned ..it took a professional crew to get it inhabitable again) so having someone talk to her is not going to work.  The company is going to have to step in and take drastic measures to get it cleaned up.  I would talk to your supervisor, either by yourself, or as a group if others are complaining, and explain the health hazard that it is.  There is probably a copious amount of mold growing in there which is extremely bad for breathing.  If that doesn't work, keep going up the chain of command.  Again, telling her to do it herself will not work.  I bet her house is just the same, thus the fact that she smells too.   

dirtyweasel

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2013, 03:46:27 PM »
The thing is, office supplies and paper don't smell, however much you hoard them. Not in an office setting with decent climate control. She's got something in her office that's organic and rotting. Or there's a leak in her office and water is getting on some paper or something and making it rot.

Either way, I think there is cause for getting someone, HR or otherwise, involved here. It's not normal for offices to smell. There's something wrong. It needs to be fixed.

If her office was just messy and packed with "stuff," I'm not sure you would have grounds to do anything. But the smell indicates that there's a problem.

POD.  Honestly, I'd be worried about the stench and mess attracting vermin like cockroaches and rodents.  That might be enough to have HR talk to your coworker.



Amara

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 06:22:07 PM »
In addition to the mold and smell problems, any place packed with stuff, especially paper and files, is a serious fire hazard.

Zilla

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 06:54:29 PM »
I  would approach hr  as well.   What is she hoarding?

Twik

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Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 07:08:35 PM »
If I were not above a small untruth, I might tell someone I wasn't sure, but I thought I saw a mouse run into Hoarder's office. That might result in a move by Maintenance to get things under control.
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