Chicken, chicken, who’s got the chicken?

“Excuse me, do you have a second?”

I look up to find my second shift bindery supervisor staring sheepishly at me. “Of course,” I say, ever trying to please.

“Well,” he says, “what is our policy on bringing animals to work?” He asks this with a straight face, and I know I am new at this HR thingy, but really, I don’t have time for this!!

“Why?” I ask, assuming he is maybe just trying to start a conversation or perhaps wondering if we can have a “bring your dog to work day.”

“Well, what I mean is, ah, I have someone in manufacturing who has brought their chicken with them to work.”

Having been in the HR Department all of two weeks, I know people are going to try me to see what I am made of, and I appreciate the originality, but seriously, there’s payroll to do. Surely he is just trying to get my goat (or is that chicken?).

“You’re pulling my leg, right?” (Why would a chicken come to work?)

“I swear, come see for yourself.”

So I get up, trudge out to the bindery and guess what...there, like some dinosaur from a forgotten time, sits a chicken, tied to the end of the bindery line. And mama, she ain’t happy!!

In speaking with the employee, through a translator, ‘cause she doesn’t speak much English (and I don’t speak chicken), I learned that someone had dropped the chicken off at work, the employee had no transportation until after her shift and, well, let’s just come right out and say it...the chicken was doomed for the pot! So, rather than the employee lose a day’s pay and disrupt production, we put the chicken in a box and she kept me company in my office for the remainder of the shift. If you think you are having a rough day at work concentrating, try doing it with a chicken in the room!!

I was thinking about that chicken the other day while going over the employee handbook. Do I put something in the handbook about no chickens at work? No, of course not, however, company management needs to understand that employee handbooks should never be just something you throw at new employees, or “thou shall not” missives when things go wrong (or when someone brings a chicken to work). They need to be looked at on an annual basis, not only to address legal requirements, but also to better reflect the changes that have occurred in the company culture over the past year. If you haven’t already placed this review on your calendar for next year, make a plan to do so in the near future. And it is always helpful to have someone non-management read it as well. They may see things you may not have thought about.

We here at OMS would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your handbook with you. And, if you don’t have a need to get on it. It won’t stop the chicken from showing up, but at least you can be better prepared if it does. And, I don’t mean with a stew pot!!

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