What Duck Dynasty Can Teach You About HR Training

ImageI admit it.  I watch (and love) the television show “Duck Dynasty.”  The show chronicles the Robertson Family of Louisiana and their family business of making and selling duck calls for hunters, among other things.  And, to those who poo-poo reality television, I don’t care if the whole thing is contrived, reduces my IQ, or otherwise are above it – the show is terrific.

But back to my point, a recent episode involved bringing in an HR consultant to conduct training for the “duck call room gang” (two brothers, an uncle, and two ever-tolerant employees) and the CEO (the third brother).  Upon the announcement of HR training on a Saturday, the uncle demands “double pay” and Godfrey (tolerant employee) demands biscuits.  In light of what actually transpired, contrived or not you-reality-TV-haters, it was better than double pay with biscuits.

Anyway, below are just three tips for HR trainers and professionals that immediately came to mind in light of this episode of Duck Dynasty:

  • HR Training on employees’ “off days” is a horrible idea.   If you want a hostile audience and an employer who ends up with increased overtime compensation expenses, hold your HR training on employees’ off-days.  Other unfortunate consequences may also involve the CEO and his uncle ending up handcuffed…together.
  • When the employees volunteer hemorrhoidal conditions and discuss related treatment, it may be a great time to talk about the ADA and FMLA.   The best HR trainers can take the craziest things a crowd offers them and turn it into a teachable moment.  However, I think this particular HR consultant chose wisely not to encourage “The Beards” by doing anything other than trying to get back to the video…
  • Bullying is context-specific; Professionalism is not.   Top notch HR professionals and workplace investigators understand that professionalism is a standard, but that bullying and harassment require a greater assessment of the context to determine whether “unprofessional conduct” also constitutes bullying or harassment.  When the HR consultant tells a brother that he’s bullying his uncle, his face says it all:  “I’m a bully? But, we’ve engaged in decades of this kind of verbal sparring?”  In short, banter vs. bullying is a fine line and calling someone out “in class” could result in the class ending with a flame thrower and a hack-saw.    


Oh, this list is truly just a sip from the uncle’s ever-present tea-cup on tips for HR training.  Please add in your training tips from this Duck Dynasty episode in the comments below, “Jack!”  

Jennifer Keaton, Esq. is a mediator and a workplace investigator with Workplace Investigations Group, a national panel of attorney-investigators.  When she is not watching “Duck Dynasty” or Miss Kay’s cooking videos, she serves as a hearing officer in employee grievance proceedings, offers HR training on various topics including harassment, and conducts third-party investigations of internal complaints of employee misconduct.  Contact Jennifer at jkeaton@onemediation.com.