Anita’s phone rung. The caller? Her boss. What now? He wanted to know whether she had sent a proposal he had requested her before he had left for a meeting earlier in the day. Problem is, this was not the first time that her boss had called her after work hours. Worse still at night. “What A nita and her husband were relaxing on the couch after having dinner. Their two children had retired to bed. Time, 8.30pm. Then does he want this time,” her husband asked. After she explained, he became even more furious. “Can’t that wait until tomorrow? Are you sure that’s all what he wanted,” he enquired. Arguably, this was causing a strain in their relationship.
Many strive to give their best at work and hope to be rewarded for their efforts. But colleagues sometimes frustrate team work either in ignorance or defiance of corporate ethics and common etiquette. Superiors cross boundaries. Whether language, hygiene, inappropriate contact, or being used outside of your job description, correcting workmates is an awkward experience many avoid, opting to let it go. Margaret Wanjiku, a human resources manager, helps bypass predicaments encountered whilst on the clock.
Staff should not walk on eggshells fearing unfair or impromptu termination from work. The Employment Act of 2007 shield Kenyan workers from any abuse of their rights at the workplace. “A lot depends on the terms of contract signed, if any, upon employment. Labour laws guarantee workers’ rights, but people often sign punitive employment contracts out of ignorance or desperation,” says Wanjiku.
Code of ethics
What if your office bully rungs above you on the corporate ladder? Wanjiku insists offences should be reported immediately. “Violations to the national or corporate code of ethics should be reported to the human resources, regardless of the offenders rank. The HR responsibility is to ensure staff perform optimally by ensuring the work place is conducive,” she adds.
“A big hurdle is that people suffer abuse for long before coming forward. Staff irrationally fears filing a formal complaint assuming the HR will dispense termination instead of justice. Junior staffs mainly fear victimisation, with women and senior staff shying away from losing face if portrayed the victim. Verbal or written summon is delivered to the offender and if found guilty, a warning or sterner punishment is dispensed.
The complainant may only be required to come forward if the incident is unverifiable or the offender denies wrongdoing,” she adds.
Type of job There are jobs that would require someone to be on call such as those in the medical profession, security departments and journalism among others. Therefore, being called during odd hours can be understood.
Set boundaries As an employee, don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Restrict your contact with colleagues outside work.
Alternitively, use different phones or block work group contacts and notifications after work. “Functional working relationships require a delicate balance of warmth and distance.
You can be friends, but being overly familiar is a slippery slope best avoided,” Wanjiku advises. Office gossip is usually caused by employees whose relationship appears beyond professional.