Organizational Culture

HR Professionals Share the Most Unusual Accommodations They’ve Ever Made


Working in HR means wearing many hats: HR professionals are responsible for coordinating operations, recruiting, interviewing, employee training, and more. As a result, the job is rarely, if ever, boring. Many of us have had unusual coworkers, but very few get a better glimpse at them than the hard-working members of the HR department.

From settling strange disputes to making unusual accommodations, HR professionals often have fascinating stories to tell. Here’s a list of some of the strangest employee accommodations ever made. These stories are all user submitted and the original submissions can be found here.

Stay Away From Register 1

One HR Professional had this to say: “Retail has some, uh… special HR challenges.” For instance:

“My favorite [accommodation] might be the cashier who wanted to never be assigned to register 1, only the other registers. Her reasoning was that register 1 was against the wall and had only one way in and out, while the other registers were more open. This was important, you see, because there was a clerk in [another department] that was trying to murder her. She was okay with showing up to work, mind you, just so long as she had a fighting chance to escape when the murder attempt happened.”

Fluorescent Light Trouble

Photophobia, or issues with light, is not an uncommon problem. For instance, some people can see florescent lights cycling on and off, which can cause ocular migraines and incredible discomfort. Sometimes, the accommodation might be as simple as wearing prescription sunglasses. But working in HR gives us the chance to be creative. Check out what one HR Professional said about accommodating photophobia:

“A co-worker in a cube farm in a call center had issues with the fluorescent lights, so he was allowed to put up a giant beach umbrella in his cube.”

Honestly, that sounds amazing. Imagine feeling like you’re at the beach while you’re at work. Or would that ruin the beach? Either way, we’d love to see more in-office beach umbrellas!

A Worthy Accommodation

In the age of cubicles, having your own office means a quiet room to yourself, a private place to think, and a place to get away. As a result, competition for an open office is often intense. Some people take the competition to another level, saying anything they can think of to give them a competitive edge. Just check out this story, which was submitted by a disability manager:

“Here’s one that gave the office a chuckle a few years back. This guy worked in an office with an open floor plan and after a medical leave, he requested his own office because he suffered from excessive flatulence.”

If this is true, give that guy an office. Even if you have suspicions, for the sake of your employees, give him the benefit of the doubt!

Whatever You Say

Sometimes, the only consistent thing about your workforce is that they’re inconsistent. That said, there’s something a little extra inconsistent about this story:

“I had an employee tell me over the phone that she is completely unable to use telephones. When I pointed out the obvious, that she was clearly on the phone right then, she said, ‘Well, I only picked up the phone because I thought you were someone else.”

Where do we even start with this one? What accommodations can possibly be made here?

As you can see, Human Resources is full of unique challenges that leave us questioning our sanity. Of course, the rewards that come with developing employees, creating positive company culture, and mediating employee conflicts makes it all worth it. But sometimes, it can be good to take a step back and be thankful for the employees you work with, and maybe those you don’t…

If you’re constantly finding yourself in situations wondering what to say, this podcast on mastering difficult conversations may have some good tips for you!

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.