Have you ever had that one embarrassing moment at work that made you wish you never walked into the office that day? HR professionals interact with all types of employees on a day-to-day basis, so they are bound to deal with a handful of awkward moments throughout their career or more (if you're lucky).In honor of National Awkward Moments Day, we asked HR professionals to share some of the most awkward moments they've experienced in their workplace. We received a handful of stories everything ranging from Zoom fails, to party crashers, and uncomfortable conversations in the office. We picked out the top 5 stories and due to their extra awkward nature, we have left the names anonymous.
Check out these awkward HR moments:
5. "EX-tra Awkward"
“An employee’s ex decided to pay a visit to the workplace since the employee had preferred to not share her home address after they parted ways. Tears were shed, insults were hurled, things were thrown, a warning was issued, and the ex was banned from entering the building again.”
4. "Tupac and My Boss"
“I am a big fan of 90’s rap music. I was in my teens then, and so the lyrics just feel like home. Some days in HR are very relational and I have a lot of conversations with people, other days though are all about taxes, payroll, and spreadsheets. On those days, I plug in my headphones and turn on my 90’s playlist and get lost in a world where rap music and administrative work collide. Well, on a day like one of these, my all time favorite song came on, California Love. When that song comes, I stop everything I am doing and I groove. Often, I close my eyes. In the middle of the song, when I am deep into my mental break, full-on grooving in my chair, eyes closed, the owner of the law firm stops by my desk to introduce me to his newest client! (It’s a small firm, so this is normal procedure to give them a small tour and introductions). But because I was so into the music, it took him a couple times to say my name for me to open my eyes and see who was there. I was mortified, but luckily we all had a good laugh and I never forgot that client’s name!”
3. "Zoom Fails"
“I was conducting a back to work interview by Zoom with an employee who had been off sick for a couple of days. It was clear that the employee was still recovering as she needed to repeatedly blow / wipe her nose. Unfortunately, at one point, she accidentally smeared the, erm, contents of the tissue across her face; leaving me to find the gentlest way of suggesting that she perhaps ‘freshen up’ before we continued the interview. In the end, I suggested that we take a comfort break - and signalled the problem by touching my face a couple of times. Thankfully, she saw the funny side after the initial embarrassment.”
2. "Party Crasher"
“We celebrated our Christmas party last year exclusively for our employees. There were around 15-20 people in attendance, and we noticed an unfamiliar woman enjoying herself on the dance floor. No one knew her; when we asked who she was, she told us that one of the employees invited her in. She was half-drunk, and she couldn’t particularly identify the employee who allowed her in. When we asked her to leave, she tried to make a fuss and shouted that our party was no fun (using other choice words) and it was so boring anyway. No one was able to find out who the woman was, where she came from and how she was able to get into the venue. The vibe became a little more uncomfortable and awkward because what she said was half right. The party was indeed boring, and everything seemed unprepared. Maybe we should have thanked her for making the party a little interesting.”
1. "Uncomfortable Conversations"
“I can recall an incident where I had to speak with an employee regarding her hygiene. To be more direct, she had a case of body odor. I had employees complaining due to it getting increasingly worse during the summer months. After several complaints, I called her into my office and tried to be as delicate/respectful as possible. She then directly asked me if I had ever smelled her. I had to be completely honest and said yes. The whole situation was very awkward. Confronting employees about something so personal is never comfortable. However, it was such a growing/learning experience for me as an HR professional. Uncomfortable conversations come with the position, so the more comfortable you become in having those conversations, the easier your job will be.”
While it’s inevitable for HR leaders to avoid awkward situations, it’s also important to understand how to approach them properly. Check out SHRM’s article, “Conversations… How to Handle Those Awkward Situations” for tips on how to resolve these types of issues in your workplace.