Dear Evil Skippy:
I manage a small professional office in Washington state. A licensed marijuana store opened a few doors down from our office. One of my employees is now demanding that she be able to work from home because the “criminal element” that has moved in makes her feel unsafe. I think my employee’s request is weird and unreasonable. How would you handle it?
It sounds as though your employee really needs to learn how to relax and stop being so tense. Gosh. I wonder what she might be able to use to chill for a bit?
— Evil Skippy
P.S. Your employee sounds like a no-fun buzz-kill. Consider letting her work from home just so you don’t have to be around her.
As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to address employee safety concerns in a thorough and professional manner. That means you need more information. Ask your employee right away if anything other than the fact that the store opened is making her feel unsafe. Press her for factual details as opposed to vague feelings. Be respectful and document whatever she says.
If there is no other factual reason for her fear other than the mere presence of Marijuana Mart, gently and respectfully inform her that the existence of a legally-licensed business does not constitute criminal activity or a reasonable basis for adjusting normal office procedures. Show her a dictionary if necessary and look up the words “crime” and “criminal”. Emphasize to your employee that you want to hear about any actual future (or past) events that feel threatening to her, but for now there are no actions that the company needs to take in the interest of safety and security. Treat her with kindness and respect – but if she keeps complaining about the same thing, tell her to stop talking and do her job if she wants to keep the job.
Readers – how would you handle this one if you were the boss?
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