Red Hot Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Employee Files

October 27th, 2014

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One of the first things we do when beginning an HR Audit for one of our clients is request to see a sampling of their employees’ files.  Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of things stuffed between the covers:  Pictures of an employee’s family taken at the company picnic, handwritten notes complaining about the obnoxious co-worker in the next cubicle, drug test results, and EOBs from a pregnant staff member’s last pre-natal visit.  Performance Reviews, undated and unsigned, are commonly crammed in between the I-9 form and requests for time off (again, either not dated or for leave that was denied ten years ago).  There are stringent guidelines for what goes into an employee file—and what should stay out!  Are your employee files in compliance?

Whether a business has one employee or 250 employees, business owners need to be concerned with the creation and maintenance of employee personnel files.  What types of information goes into an employee file? What doesn’t?

The first thing to remember is that you should only keep documents in an employee’s file that the employee is fully aware of; they have the right to access their file.  If it doesn’t apply to this rule, it probably has no business being there!

Items that can be considered as needed for employment-related decisions include an up to date record of the employee’s personal information.  It is important to keep these records current.  We advise our clients to remind their employees on a consistent basis to keep them informed if there are any changes in their address, phone number, or other personal information.  In addition to the employee’s current personal information, other documents which should normally be in the file include the employment application, current job description, performance evaluations, employment status change forms, compensation information, job related test results, benefit plan elections (but no health records), attendance and leave records and disciplinary actions.

However, not all documents related to employees should go into the main personnel files.  What needs to be filed elsewhere?  Because of federal and state guidelines concerning the confidentiality of health information, remember that all medical and other health related documents must be kept in a separate file.  I-9 immigration forms and EEOC information must also be kept separately in their own files away from the employee personnel records.  Also, garnishment information should be kept with your payroll records, not in employee files.  Please see our checklist on page three for further details of what items not to include in an employee’s record.

Employee files should be kept in a secure area where only those supervisors and managers who have a real ‘need to know’ are provided access.  Confidentiality should never be taken lightly, and it is vital to keep employee information in a safe place.

Many states have laws that dictate what access the employee can have to their files and for how long after their employ they can request copies of its contents.  Federal law provides employees the legal right to review records concerning employees’ exposure to toxic substances and any related medical records.

 

Typical items included in an Employee Personnel File:

Employee Personal Data Information including address, phone number, emergency information, date of birth, and social security number

Employment Application and resume

Academic Transcripts (if applicable)

Job-related test results

Benefit Plan elections

Time records

Attendance/leave records

Compensation information

Authorization for payroll deductions/withholding

Signed Job description(s)

Individual employment contract(s)

Acknowledgement and waiver forms

Education and training class records

License information if applicable to job

Signed Performance Evaluations

Awards and honors

Disciplinary actions or complaints

 

Items to keep separately, each in their own file:

Medical records

Drug and/or alcohol testing

FMLA notices

Accommodation requests

Workers’ compensation forms, reports, correspondence, and documents

Investigation notes files

I-9 forms

EEOC records

OSHA health and safety records

Exit interview information

Garnishment and child support payment information

Texting

October 22nd, 2014

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One of our HR Coaches came to our weekly staff meeting last week wondering how she was going to make it through the next two years.  Like many on our staff, she has teenagers.  And, like many parents of high school students, communication has taken on a whole new challenge with the arrival of text messaging.  We knew that she and her husband had taken their son and his best friend to a new restaurant as a special treat the night before our meeting.  He’d finished summer school with great grades and was headed to camp with his friend early the next morning.  She was looking forward to a night of great food and good conversation.  As she reported to us at the meeting, the food was great.  The conversation, however, wasn’t quite what she’d planned on.  Her teenager spent the entire meal bent over his cell phone, sending and receiving text messages…most from his friend who was sitting right next to him!

After consoling her that things would improve (though maybe not for a few more years), we discussed ways that text messaging has affected not only our home life, but our work life as well.  Texting, blogging, and personal websites have all become accepted forms of communication with the younger generation and companies must decide how these communications are going to be integrated into the workplace.  We’ve put some of our thoughts from our staff meeting discussion on page two.

There can be no denying that personal and business lives are blurring.  Multi-tasking is taking on a whole new meaning with the intrusion of text messaging, blogging, and personal emails entering the workplace.  These new ways of communicating are creating confidentiality as well as “off work time” concerns.

Both text and instant messaging often use abbreviations or ‘texting shorthand’ to communicate to the recipient.  Because of the short, abbreviated message, communications can be misunderstood—sometimes with dire consequences.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on such a case this summer.  An employee was discharged for improper use of text messaging that was perceived by the recipient as being anti-gay harassment.  After a lengthy trial and appeals process, the court found for the employer because they had a policy in place on the use and mis-use of such messaging and they were within their rights to fire him.

Obviously, sending personal messages through cell phones or computers during business hours means employees are probably not focusing on their work.  Countless studies have been conducted detailing how much time is lost everyday Loss of productivity aside, text messaging also can create a safety hazard.  Many states are passing laws prohibiting text messaging and/or cell phone use while driving.  More and more companies have included rules for cell phones and text messaging in their safety policy.

People are using websites such as “Facebook” for professional as well as personal connections.  If you have knowledge of an individual’s blog or “Facebook” account, you need to be cautious about using your knowledge and information obtained from these sources when making employment or workplace related decisions.  California, New York and Colorado all have laws pertaining to discrimination due to the use of information about an employee’s legal off-work activities when making workplace decisions.

Also, video resumes are looming just around the corner.  Many larger corporations already report receiving an increasing number of video resumes.  If your business moves in this direction, proceed with caution.  In addition to not being able to require video resumes from all candidates, you need to be especially careful to objectively document why you may not have selected an individual for an interview or a position.

In addition to discrimination concerns, technological advances have opened the door to confidentiality matters.  Blogs may provide opportunity for your employees to discuss their workdays in their on-line journals while also, knowingly or unknowingly, disclosing confidential information about your business.    While an increasing number of employees may have a blog, many employers do not have a “cyber-policy” outlining confidentiality issues.  A recommended cyber-policy should have clear rules about infringing on the privacy rights of the company’s other employees, customers and clients.  It should also address the company’s right to control communication about the business and any trademark issues.  If not already covered under an existing e-mail/internet policy, understandable rules about accessing blogging sites should also be addressed.  Additionally, the consequences of violating the policy should be clearly defined.

Wellness Programs

October 7th, 2014

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With 2015 right around the corner, many people are starting to consider their New Year’s resolutions…getting more sleep, exercising more, eating healthier, reading more, spending more time with the in-laws (???), etc.  While there are some resolutions you as a business owner cannot help with, there are some that you can.   Improved wellness is often one of the number one resolutions for the New Year.  Companies can help their employees reach their health-related goals by instituting wellness programs.

The Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services in previous years issued proposed amendments to regulations regarding nondiscriminatory wellness programs that will impact group health coverage. Those proposed regulations provided clarification to regulations and helped employers provide more incentives to employees hoping to improve and maintain their wellbeing.  The final regulations went into effect January 2014 along with many other provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Knowing many employers were eager to offer, or at least begin looking at the opportunity to offer, some type of wellness program to employees, we wanted to offer some approaches for creating a successful wellness program which can improve both the Company’s and employees’ “bottom” lines.

 

1. Create an overall business-wide culture that promotes health and wellbeing. At times, this may seem “easier said than done”.  Be patient and do not give up on your employees.  A healthier culture may not happen overnight. 

2. Confirm company policies and other programs which enrich employee health and productivity.  They should support the company’s wellness goals.  Some policies and programs to review are: smoking, drug testing/drug-free workplace, and leave plans including vacation and sick or PTO.

3. Offer motivating incentives to employees so they are excited to adopt healthier behavior.  When determining rewards, you may want to survey your employees to find out what types of rewards would motivate them. Also, you may want to refresh the incentive offerings on an ongoing basis in order to keep the program appealing to employees.  Furthermore, consider both financial and non-financial rewards.

4. Do not make rewards too hard to earn.  Make wellness goals achievable.  Even small changes can reap huge health benefits over time. 

5. Create a wellness program which offers opportunities for customization to fit employee needs. Maybe someone does not need to lose weight, but experiences lots of stress.  The program should embrace a holistic approach and offer options covering not just physical health, but mental, social and emotional health as well.

While considering these suggestions, please remember the wellness program must follow the current applicable regulations in effect as of 2014.  However, we do hope some of these ideas may make it easier for you to establish wellness programs which address your specific company needs.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 866.599.1RED.

Extending the Job Offer

October 6th, 2014

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As an employer, deciding whom to hire can be a tough decision. Not only do you expect the person to be qualified, but you also want him/her to be a good fit for your company’s culture. Once you have decided the best fit for your company, you must extend a job offer for acceptance. While extending a job offer can be a joy-filled task, careful consideration must be given to the process in which an offer is extended and the specific terms that are offered. A little planning can minimize the chance of creating any unintended employment contracts.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind the next time you extend a job offer:

• Be prompt—give the candidate a call and extend your offer over the phone. This conversation can touch on the employment basics. If your offer is accepted, a follow-up acceptance letter can provide more detail on the specific terms/conditions of the offer.

• If the candidate doesn’t give you an answer immediately, give the candidate a deadline for responding. Depending on the level of the job, anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days can be a reasonable time period.

• Pay attention to the details of the offer letter and don’t make promises that you cannot or do not intend to keep. Compensation should be given as an hourly rate or a biweekly or monthly salary. Annual compensation should not be stated in the offer letter as it may imply that you intend for the candidate to be with the company for one year and that you intend to pay them the annual salary, regardless of any extenuating circumstances that may arise.

• Be prepared to negotiate if needed. You may have three great candidates and if one doesn’t accept, one of the others might. But, if the candidate is worth fighting for and he/she wants to negotiate, be prepared. Research beforehand to determine what the major factors for acceptance are for that particular candidate. Maybe those factors are relocation assistance, helping his/her spouse obtain employment, more money or more paid time off. Regardless, always maintain sight of what is appropriate for your business.

Next time you have the opportunity to welcome a new employee, implementing these tips into your hiring process will make the experience an enjoyable one—for you AND your new hire!

Salary Compensation for non-exempt Employees

October 1st, 2014

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While in a meeting last week, our client brought up a question regarding salary compensation for one of his non-exempt positions.  He had originally hired an employee to work for him on a temporary, trial basis so he could determine whether or not the individual was capable of performing the job.  While the individual was classified as a temporary employee, our client paid her $11.00 per hour.  He eventually decided that the individual was capable of performing the functions of the position and offered her a permanent position, which pays a monthly salary of $2,000.  However, our client stated that by definition, the position is a non-exempt (paid hourly) position.

Several weeks ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, the employee left work early in the afternoon.  It was the first of the month, and there was a lot of work she had not yet completed for the monthly reports that were due on the second.  She also did not show up to work the following Thursday and, although she claims to have called in to report her absence, our client was unable to find any record proving that she did.

While the employee was out of the office on Thursday, our client had to access her email inbox as he needed some valuable information for a project he was working on.  While viewing her email inbox, he found some valuable information he wasn’t even looking for.  He learned that the employee had been applying for other jobs, using company equipment and time to do so.

When she came to work on Friday, our client terminated her employment.  The employee was paid for the 6 hours she worked on the 1st in addition to her time worked between the 15th and 31st of the previous month.  Upon arriving home, the employee called our client stating that she should be paid for the entire first pay period of the current month since she was a salaried employee and not just the 6 hours she actually worked on the 1st.

Our client was not sure how to respond and asked for our clarification on what payment the employee truly was entitled to as a non-exempt, salaried employee.

Under federal law, when it comes to paying a non-exempt employee, employers must ensure that the employee is paid for all time worked, including time and one-half for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, regardless of whether the employee is paid a salary or an hourly wage rate.

In this case, if our client had not been paying the employee overtime on all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, he may have inadvertently made her an exempt employee.  This is why we always caution our clients to pay non-exempt employees on an hourly basis instead of on a salary basis.

The law does not require employers to pay any non-exempt employee for time that he/she did not work. However, if the employee is exempt, she should be paid for a full 8 hours on the 1st instead of just the 6).  While our client had not been specifically tracking the employee’s hours worked per week, he was certain she has never been entitled to overtime as she worked approximately 6 hours per day, 5 days per week.

Our client confirmed that the terminated employee was indeed paid for all hours she worked, specifically the 6 hours that she worked on the 1st.  So, unless the employee had any accrued but unused paid time off for which she should have been paid for or if she is in fact exempt, we told our client that he does not owe the terminated employee any additional funds.

We also suggested before a replacement is hired, the position be moved to hourly pay and not salaried so there would be no confusion about the non-exempt status of the job.

 

Terminations & Employee Loyalties

September 24th, 2014

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It is never easy to terminate an employee.  No matter how egregious their actions might be, firing someone is by far one of the hardest jobs of management.  You hired them with the best intentions.  You saw something in them that made you want to take the chance and offer them the job.  You wanted them to succeed.  They have not.  You must now admit defeat – not only to yourself and that employee, but to the rest of your employees as well.

It isn’t too hard to announce that Susie, who never was popular with the employees and was the center of many complaints, has left the company.  It is much harder when the employee in question, let’s call him Joe, was extremely popular with his coworkers.  What can you say to justify your decision?  Shouldn’t you be able to let them know the facts behind your decision to terminate Joe?  Why do you have to come out as the bad guy when it was Joe who was hurting the company?

Because you are the boss.

At red, we often must counsel our clients to take a deep breath (and often more than just one) when we discuss a potential termination with them.  The “Joe” employee is always the hardest.  Often, poorly performing employees don’t show their colors in front of their peers.  It might be that Joe is able to hide his substandard performance from everyone in the department because his job is hard to monitor by anyone at his level.  It could be Joe is involved in something that is in violation of federal or state laws.  Often, the “Joe” is someone who is very good at buttering up to his peers, shifting most of his work to them; he might think he is being a great delegator but in reality he is a terrible employee.

When the decision is made to say good-bye to Joe, the employer is also faced with how to tell the rest of the employees that Joe is no longer part of the company.  If Joe has been an extremely poor employee – whether he broke law, didn’t live up to expectations, or was a poor influence on others – it is a real challenge on what you can say and what you need to keep confidential.

It is always the best advice to ‘take the high road’ and not say a word.  You are the boss, your employees trust you to make decisions based on what is best for the company…at least they should.

And that is one of the hardest parts of being the boss.  Popular Joe – fired.  Boss – not so popular any more.  No matter if the reasons were very serious or if Joe was a negative force in the workplace, employees will always question why a popular guy like Joe is let go.  In the best possible worlds, employees know that the manager makes these type of decisions based on hard facts and long nights of deep thought.  Sadly, such a perfect world doesn’t exist.

The watercooler will be buzzing – until you, the boss, walk in.  Morale might take a real dip for a while.  After all, if you let Joe go ‘who knows who will be next?’  Sometimes, loyalty to the terminated employee trumps loyalty to the employer and others might choose to follow Joe out the door.  It is a very human response to want to call an employee meeting, lay out your case and let them know exactly what Joe did (or didn’t do) that forced your hand.  DON’T DO IT!

Instead, remember that one of management’s first priorities is to protect the reputation of the company and all who work within its walls.  This means that you should have a policy in place that clearly states what happens at termination and that the privacy of the individual is to be respected at all times.  Therefore, reasons for termination will be strictly confidential unless there are legal reasons where other communications might be necessary.  It also means that when Joe’s leaving is announced, management is very careful to say that “while Joe is no longer part of our company, we all wish him well in his future endeavors.”  Finally, it is extremely important that management commit to much more face time with Joe’s work group for the following few weeks to reassure them that the company supports them and is focused on their success.

If the work team wants to meet Joe after work to commiserate, you should not say anything (even though you will probably be hurt by their perceived ‘disloyalty’).  Remember, most friendships forged in the workplace have a way of dying out once that person is no longer part of the work team.  One or two venting parties shouldn’t be enough to worsen morale if you have taken the steps to keep it confidential and professional at work and have made extra effort in being physically present for your employees.

If you have a history of being a respectful and caring manager, Joe’s leaving should only be a brief bump in the road.  No termination is easy, but often they are necessary.  It’s hard and it’s emotional.

However, we are always amazed at how quickly employees can adjust to a “world without Joe” if the employer follows these steps and keeps his team focused on creating an even better workplace in the future.

EPLI for Employers

September 22nd, 2014

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Suzie worked for Dr. Jones for twelve years.  Dr. Jones thought the world of her.  Suzie was never sick and always volunteered to work late when a patient situation demanded it.  She brought treats to the staff meetings and, most importantly, she never rocked the boat.  Dr. Jones often wished he had ten Suzies working for him.  Not anymore.

The position for head assistant came open nine months ago.  Suzie, because of her length of service and impeccable work record, believed she was a shoe-in for the job.  She was so busy planning what she would do with her pay increase she barely heard the doctor when he announced that Megan, someone he had just hired last year, was getting the promotion. Megan???  How could that be?  Granted, she had more credentials than Suzie and had more experience in management, but how could a thirty year old girl get the job over a much more mature woman like Suzie?  Suzie was angry, very angry.

It didn’t take long for the whole staff to understand just how upset she was.  She began coming to work late and calling in sick.  She was abrupt and rude with the patients, so much so that Dr. Jones was getting calls from several of them complaining about her behavior.  He tried to reason with her, but Suzie was convinced that Megan got the job because she was younger and prettier than her.  She wouldn’t listen to any of the factors that came into his decision because she knew she was right.  Over the course of the next few weeks, her attitude became so poisonous that the doctor finally had to have a serious talk with her.  She could either go back to being the Suzie he knew or she would have to find a job elsewhere.

The next day, Suzie left a voicemail saying she could no longer work with Dr. Jones and his staff.  While they all missed the ‘old Suzie’ they were all relieved that she had made the choice to move on.  In just five short weeks, however, this relief turned to disbelief when Dr. Jones received a certified letter stating that he was being sued for age discrimination.  Having never been sued before, Dr. Jones was at a loss as to what he needed to do.  Thankfully, his next patient, Sam Smith (who was also his Property and Casualty insurance broker) reminded him that at last year’s renewal he was finally able to talk the good doctor into an Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy.  For years, Dr. Jones had refused to consider the coverage, feeling it was too much money for a practice with only ten employees.  He understood the need for Malpractice insurance, but not EPLI.  His employees were good people, they would never sue him.

Thankfully, he finally listened to Sam.  While such situations are never easy, at least Sam had provided him with a safety net.   Dr. Jones was lucky.  Many small and mid-sized business owners would not be as lucky, however, if this were to happen to them.  While a majority of large businesses have EPLI, smaller companies often do not.  Citing the same reasons as Dr. Jones did for many years, they feel it is too expensive or their exposure to such employee risks is minimal.

In fact, smaller companies (those with 15 – 250 employees) are sued by employees more frequently than larger organizations.  Experts cite the lack of a Human Resources professional on staff in smaller companies, along with little attention paid to risk management or training and the more ‘trusting’ culture usually found in small businesses.  The vast majority of federal and state employment laws and regulations apply to companies with as few as ten employees and, like the IRS, the government doesn’t care if the employer was aware of the law or not – if they are found out of compliance, they will face the consequences.

In 2009, federal age discrimination suits resulted in $72.1 million in fines; in 2012, the fines amounted to over $91 million.  Federal lawsuits for disability discrimination, under the Americans with Disabilities as Amended Act (ADAAA), awarded $67.8 million in 2009; in 2012, they were $103.4 million.  The numbers of complaints continue to raise exponentially, as do the monetary awards when these suits go to court.  Employees can file charges with no cost to themselves and, if the matter does get all the way to court, employees win the lawsuit over 70% of the time.  Juries usually side with employees, not employers, no matter how strong the employer’s case may be. As Baby Boomers enter their sixties and seventies, age discrimination suits will continue to multiply.  With the complexities of the ADAAA requirements along with the expanding definition of who is protected under anti-discrimination laws, the employer is more exposed to employment lawsuits and fines than ever before.  An EPLI policy, together with professional HR advice and support and a strong risk management program, can better protect employers and their companies.

The chance of being sued by a disgruntled employee is 1000% higher than a fire.  A fire can set a company back and cause some pain for the short term, but thankfully most have adequate coverage to get the business back on its feet quickly.  However, if there is not an adequate EPLI policy in place, an employment lawsuit can bankrupt not only the business but the individual owners and directors as well.  EPLI policies vary in cost and coverage, so even if you currently have a policy in place we urge you to contact your insurance broker to review the policy and assure that it covers your future and current needs.  If you don’t have EPLI, today is the day to make that important phone call.

On page four, we have a sample of the questions you will be asked when filling out an application for EPLI.

 

As part of the enrollment process to obtain Employment Practices Liability Insurance, the employer is asked to complete a checklist identifying the HR policies and procedures currently in place.  Along with answering questions such as the number of last year’s terminations, the total employee count, and the breakdown of those making under and over $50,000 per year, the employer must also complete the questions below.  The more YES boxes checked, the lesser the exposure to employee suits and government fines, which can lower the premium.  What is your risk score?

1. Is Human Resources personnel consulted prior to terminations?   Yes____   No___

2. Does the employer have written guidelines, policies, or procedures related to the following:

  • Employment at will    Yes____   No___
  • Discrimination    Yes____   No___
  • Sexual and other workplace harassment   Yes____   No___
  • Equal Employment Opportunity    Yes____   No___
  • Disabled Employees and Reasonable Accommodations   Yes____   No___
  • Reporting and Investigating and Resolving Employee Complaints    Yes____   No___

3. Are employees required to acknowledge receipt of the above guidelines, policies and procedures   Yes____   No___

4. Has employment counsel reviewed the above guidelines, policies and procedures    Yes____   No___

5. Does the employer

  • Utilize employment applications   Yes____   No___
  • Document employee performance   Yes____   No___
  • Conduct human resources training for management employees   Yes____   No___

3. Does the employer have written policies outlining employee conduct when dealing with customers, clients, or other third parties?   Yes____   No___

4. Does the employer conduct pre-employment criminal and credit background checks?   Yes____   No___

If you need assistance in changing your NO answers to YES, please give us a call.  We’d love to help you improve your score!

 

 

Terminating Older Workers

September 15th, 2014

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As a small business owner, you may have employees who have been working for you since you first opened your doors – employees who have been loyal and worked long and hard to help your company get where it is today.  While there are many employers who recognize the various advantages of retaining older workers in their organizations and the many older workers who are very effective, there are times when these employees are no longer meeting the requirements of their job.  Yet there is always the concern that in doing so, you may be opening your company up to an age discrimination claim.

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), employers with 20 or more employees, (including state & local governments, labor organizations, and employment agencies) cannot discriminate against workers and job applicants who are at least forty years of age or older when it comes to employment decisions in such areas as hiring, compensation/benefits, promotion and discharge. Certain states have also passed their own age discrimination laws which may impose a different cutoff age and/or cover more workers.  That said, whenever an employee is not meeting the performance expectations of their job, he/she can be let go, and regardless of whether or not they belong to a protected class of workers, as long as you have the necessary documentation in place.

Should you find yourself needing to let an older worker go, it may be helpful for you to review the following activities which should be enforced in any fair and equitable workplace:

  • Accurate and up-to-date job descriptions should be created and maintained for all positions within your company. Ideally the job descriptions should be reviewed and signed annually by all employees.
  • Your employee handbook should contain a policy against discrimination which should not only define the different types of forbidden discrimination but also inform employees who they should report their discrimination complaints to and how those complaints will be handled. Ideally, the employee handbook should be reviewed and signed annually by all employees.
  • Annual performance reviews should be conducted on all employees.  We recommend supervisors track employee performance throughout the year in a Critical Incident Log so when the time comes to complete the reviews; they have a resource to refer to so as to ensure the review is comprehensive and objective.  Employees and supervisors alike should sign any performance documentation that is shared and the documentation should be filed in the employee’s personnel file
  • Any supervisor who believes that a worker’s productivity has been declining should keep very detailed records about the issues.  If any coaching or verbal warnings occur, the supervisor should document the incident (s) and share them with the employee.  The supervisor should obtain the employee’s signature as proof that the information has been shared with the employee.
  • Make sure any feedback that is given is job-related and does not mention age or any other protected characteristic as a potential reason for the poor performance.
  • If your organization has a detailed disciplinary process in place, ensure that you follow it before proceeding with a termination.  If an employee was to bring an age discrimination claim against your company, you will want to prove that the individual, regardless of his/her age or any other protected characteristic, was treated the same as all other employees.
  • If an individual belongs to a protected class and you are unsure if you have adequate documentation on file, we would encourage you to run the case by a lawyer who specializes in employment law before proceeding with a  termination.

 

Safety in the workplace

September 8th, 2014

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Everyone recognizes the importance of a safe workplace.  At the same time, many are aware of the associated costs which are necessary to maintain the welfare of employees and the work environment.   However, your company’s safety budget does not need to be compromised in order to maintain a safe work environment. 

Remember…lower accident rates, fewer attendance issues, and lower workers’ compensation costs may outweigh investments made in your safety programs.  Plus, many low cost/no cost safety tools are available.  Here are some recommendations that may be effective for your workplace and employees:

  • When formal, outside training is needed, send only one person from your workplace to save on registration costs.  Unless individual certification is necessary, i.e. CPR cards, send someone from the group who would be capable of returning and training the others.  Ensure the individual is aware he/she will be responsible for training the others.
  • Use experienced employees as trainers.  Most safety topics are repetitive and covered on a regular basis.  Instead of hiring an outside trainer, use an employee who has mastered a topic and can train others. The individual will most likely appreciate the experience gained and the opportunity to have more responsibility.  The individual will most likely appreciate the experience gained and the opportunity to have more responsibility.
  • Revisit your hiring process.  We have many clients who have reduced their accident rate just by having a more systematic hiring process.  Of course, we all know there are many other reasons to check references and have pre-employment drug screening.  However, these steps may also assist you in making better hiring decisions which could lead to a safer workplace.
  • Consider web-based training.  You may be able to utilize webinars for training at a much lower cost than having to bring a trainer in house, or sending an employee to a seminar/class.
  • Make use of community resources.  For example, you may consider your community’s health department or your local fire department.  Many times the fire department will offer fire extinguisher training, and the local Red Cross may have first aid training.
  • Access the federal OSHA and your state’s own safety websites.   Training materials and resources are often times available on a variety of topics.
  • Contact your workers’ compensation carrier.  Many programs have in-house experts who may be able to offer training assistance.

While building an effective safety program may take some time and energy, as these examples illustrate, the program does not have to cost a company a considerable amount of money to be effective.

Where Did You Go Wrong?

August 13th, 2014

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You’ve made a list of what you need to make you happy; you’ve met many who might meet at least some of your expectations.  After a few dates, you narrow your choices.  Finally, after spending time getting to know each other—asking questions and meeting the family—you pop the question.  You’re elated when the answer is “Yes!”

After a few weeks the euphoria goes away; and, by the second month you both recognize it just won’t work. You call it off.

Divorces are expensive…just like turnover.

No one likes to admit it wasn’t a good fit, whether we’re talking personal relationships or employer-employee relationships.  What can you do next time to increase the odds for a happily ever after?

No one likes to admit they made a mistake.  When the employee leaves in the first year of employment, many factors need to be considered before placing blame.

According to a survey reported on by the Society for Human Resources Management, unrealistic job expectations about the job and/or the organization is a major reason why as many as one-quarter of new hires leave within their first year of employment with a company.  These results represent a broad cross-section of industries.

Among the 2,046 responses received, the reasons given for new hires leaving were:

· Unrealistic expectations of the job and organization – 47.9%

· Failure to grasp how things get done around the organization – 38.7%

· Poor communications with supervisor – 33.1%

· Failure to develop a sense of belonging and purpose – 26.4%

· Inadequate technical skills – 22.7%

· Not understanding the link between the job and organizational goals – 20.9%

· Failure to connect with “key” employees – 17.8%

· Inability to quickly establish trust and credibility – 12.9%

· Poor people skills – 12.9%

From these results, it appears that many employers may not be sharing enough information, or possibly not the most realistic information, during the hiring and orientation processes.  Therefore, it may be difficult for either the supervisor or the new employee to determine if the job is a good fit.  The employee may begin their new job already at a disadvantage and may not get a chance to succeed.

In the effort to recruit the best employees, many businesses may not realize that the “full story” about the company and/or the job is not being presented to, or possibly not being fully comprehended by, the candidate. Supervisors need to be aware of providing accurate, complete information to candidate during the interview process, and carrying that forward to the new hire orientation once a new employee is hired.

If you need any assistance in reviewing your hiring and orientation processes to ensure they are accurately relaying information about your company, give Red a call!  As one of our value-added services, we’ll work with you to review your hiring and orientation processes to be certain the most beneficial , as well as realistic, information about your business is being given.

A realistic job preview in the beginning can save a lot of headaches and heartaches down the road!