Mailbag Question: Should Our Receptionist Hug Clients?

Mailbag Question: Should Our Receptionist Hug Clients?

So, yes, I’m the “World’s Foremost Expert on Workplace Hugging” so it seems appropriate that this week I would get the following question from a reader:

Dear World’s Foremost Expert on Workplace Hugging, 

My boss asked me to do something this week and before I did it I wanted to ask an expert, like yourself, and get some other opinions. The situation is our CEO has asked me to ‘tell’ our front desk receptionist that she will now be required to hug each client that comes into our office. Our CEO feels this will create a more welcoming and friendly environment for our clients. What are your thoughts on doing this?

Thinking this doesn’t right in Middle America! 

Yes, this was an actual exchange that I had this week! I made up the name, but everything else is as accurate as I can make and still protect the innocent!

So, in 2017, a CEO of an actual, successful company, wants “Mary” the Receptionist to start hugging every client that comes to the office. Wow. Right? Just, Wow!

Here’s my response:

Middle America,

First, being a hugger, I actually understand where your CEO is coming from. When I go into a business and I’m met with a friendly (natural, unforced) hug. I feel very welcome! When I’m down south, I seem to get more hugs than if I’m on either coast or in a big city. So, part of me actually understands the psychology behind this request.

That being said, I have one question for your CEO (and I encourage to ask this question): “If Mary leaves as your receptionist, and you hire “Mark” to replace her, will your CEO still want “Mark” to go and hug every client?” I’ll take make a ‘big’ assumption here and say, no, probably not!

This is a very quick and simple way to point out how harassing this action would be viewed by normal people. If you decide to go down this path of making hugging an actual work requirement, you will end up in a lawsuit at some point!

Okay, I’m a hugger, so let me tell you how you get most of what you want, without the lawsuit! Go hire a natural hugger to man your front desk and never discourage this behavior! You’ll get most of what you want, especially if your CEO and others mirror this hugging behavior to every client they meet in front of this person.

Good Luck,

Tim The World’s Foremost Expert in Workplace Hugging!

I love HR because of this very real, innocent question. You never actually know what the heck you’ll walk into each day, and there is no way of planning for the insane things that happen!

Have a great Friday HR Pros! You deserve it!