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Human resources management focuses on managing the people within the organization in order to ensure that they are able to meet the specific needs of the organization. It means that companies generally expect their human resources managers to ensure that they have the right people in the right job positions and do their best for the sake of the organization. There are situations where it may be challenging, considering a number of possible conflicts related to the human resources context. In the case of Fat Chance by Fryer & Kirbi Sid is a very productive employee with a weight problem. Sids health condition is the only obstacle to his promotion.

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The Problem

It may not be easy to admit but Sid Shawns weight is not the main problem in this case. The problem is that the work environment at NMO is not effectively diversified. Sid Shawns 400 pounds make him a target for discrimination despite his impressive capabilities in the sales and marketing department. His commitment to the job is mostly unrivaled and he takes pride in his work. The young man is not only effective in communication with people but also rather smart and tactical sales agent. The fact that people within the organization are having issues with his weight simply implies that they are not open-minded to diversity. In this case, Sid may be overweight but his presence affects the rest of the team in a number of ways. While on the plane, Bill noticed that people did not want to sit near Sid. It means that the greatest problem for Sid is that his presence makes some people uncomfortable. In addition, it may not be his problem but it affects his position as a sales person considering that some of the companys clients may not be willing to work with him. However, it should be taken into account that he has worked in the company for more than ten years and that his performance has always been estimated above average. From Bills perspective, the main problem is ascertaining whether Sids weight will affect his performance in the new position.

Causes of the Problem

When handling issues of organizational diversity, most organizations focus on ethnic diversity and address issues of cultural competence within the work place. However, most organizations are not ready to cope with the issue of weight and age among its employees. People continue to discriminate against overweight individuals owing to the general social constructions on the ideal body weight. The society has been very rigid and specific regarding a perfect body image and people generally look at overweight individuals as misfits within the society. With Sid being perceived as the misfit at NMO, it is understandable that Bill would have qualms about offering him the new position. However, it must be taken into account that the real problem that needs to be dealt with is in the organization and the society. Currently, the problem is that Sid is obese, and in some ways it may be a threat to his productivity within the organization in the long term (Fryer & Kirbi 2). However, the real cause of worry in this case is the employees perceptions at NMO towards overweight people. Bill, for example, has had numerous mean thoughts regarding Sid owing to his weight and eating habits. It means that rather than being valued as an individual within the organization, Sid is mainly looked at as an obese employee with an irregular appetite and a very heavy footstep in the office.

Possible Solutions

There is a number of solutions that can help NMO to deal with this problem. First, the company should consider applying diversity management in order to deal effectively with different types of people within the workforce. It can be argued that one of the reasons as to why Sid wanted a new position was because he was no longer comfortable working in his current position (Fryer & Kirbi 3). It could be because his workmates look at him as inferior or simply fail to embrace him as a capable colleague within the organization. In order to deal with this situation, the company would have to introduce diversity management focusing on weight differences where people need to appreciate their colleagues regardless of their body weight. They have to learn to look past ones weight and simply appreciate what the individual in question contributes to the team. Diversity management often involves training on perception and communication on the relevant grounds, which in this case is weight.

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A second approach would be to speak to Sid directly about his health condition. Obesity is a real health problem that affects not only individuals self-esteem but also his/her abilities in terms of physical indulgence and personal interactions owing to the fact that the society generally discriminates overweight individuals. It cannot be presumed that Sid is obese by choice. He may have an eating disorder and is simply physically inactive. All these can be changed with the right motivation and encouragement. It means that the organization could decide to encourage Sid and the rest of the employees to get physically fit as a way to keep them strong and capable. Fitness and health programs, like gym memberships as part of the medical cover, could be effective in this case. The idea is to deal with Sids situation in a way that ensures the organization will avoid any problems in the long term. Sid may be the only overweight employee in the company at the moment but he cannot be the only one who is physically inactive and at risk of cardiovascular complications and other lifestyle diseases. As a result, a holistic approach may thus be more effective.


This case presents a situation where the company is facing a very common and yet rarely addressed problem. Many companies have to deal with the problem of obesity and the ways to eliminate the risks associated with the condition without discriminating against the individual or risking the productivity of the organization in the long term. In this case, it is critical to note that the best solution is to acknowledge that the problem is not limited to the employee in question. It means that there is a need for a holistic approach towards the solution. The company in this case needs to combine both possible solutions in order to deal with the situation effectively. A diversity management program will ensure that the employees at the company no longer look at obese people as invalids or less valuable. They will be able to practice some sensitivity and embrace people like Sid seamlessly, valuing them for their abilities and contributions to the team. However, the company cannot ignore the risks brought about by being overweight. To deal with this, they would have to encourage employees to practice healthy living by being physically active and eating healthy foods.

Dealing with a health problem amongst the employees is often a confusing situation especially if it affects interpersonal relationships within the organization. The society may be constructed in a way that discriminates people with certain health conditions but a part of the HRs job is to ensure that the employees are comfortable within their work environment. It implies a need to ensure that all employees understand the value of the individual beyond their physical limitations. However, in this case eliminating discrimination is not enough considering that the health condition is a real threat that must be dealt with effectively through exercise and healthy eating habits. The HR team would thus have to engage the employees on the importance of being healthy, while also encouraging them to take up healthy lifestyles by offering gym memberships and healthy meals at the office.


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