HR: The Smell Police


Dear Laurie,

I received this brief email minutes ago from an employee in our accounting department:

Is there any possible way you can send something out, i know i asked you about this before. someone has sprayed three different sprays within the past hour and it is killing a few of us over here that have breathing issues.

I work for a construction company with 400 EE’s and I deal with everything from labor union contracts, recruitment for positions companywide, and insurance issues. Occasionally (When I say occasionally, I mean a few times a day) I am asked to resolve employee issues such as the one above. I recruit engineers, estimators, and draftsman to work on complex high rise structures in NYC. I’ve redeveloped the manner in which we hire engineers out of college instead of field employees, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few years, but I am reduced to being the smell police.

I have not answered the employee’s email and I will address her issues as I always do these issues. I tell employees I am not the smell police, I am not here to fight their battles for them (even if I feel the other employee is wrong), I am not a referee. Sorry, I was venting. My question to you is to question everyone on the ridiculous issues they may have been asked to settle lately? And I hate hearing the words, “That’s not my job,” but I heard myself saying them out loud in my office when that email came across my desk!



Can anyone relate to Dan? Have you settled scores between smelly employees, lately? Give him some love. Console him. Offer him some advice. I want to tell him to be a plumber. You earn more money than HR pros — and at least you know where you stand on the food chain.

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