Me! Me! Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s Monday morning and Christine knows that sitting in rush hour traffic will be the high point of her day.  After that, she’ll suffer a fate almost like death as she sits through the monthly staff meeting. Ms. Piggy will be holding court as usual.

1Ms. Piggy is a co-worker who pretends to be a team player. Beneath the friendly smiles lurks a self-centered prima donna. She knows her life is so much more interesting than others. For the past six months, she’s been monopolizing the staff meetings with the same tale of a product vendor who can’t deliver the quality of work she demands.  

Initially, Christine and several other managers suggested ways for Ms. Piggy to solve her vendor problem. Ms. Piggy made it clear that their solutions would work fine for idiots like them, but not for her since her work is much more technically sensitive.  

Edward, the division head, doesn’t know how to handle Ms. Piggy.  He wasn’t promoted based on his people skills and he doesn’t want to get stuck in sticky people problems.   He would rather walk across hot coals barefoot or participate again in the pie eating contest at the company picnic.

Christine arrives at work and grabs a giant mug of coffee on her way to the conference room.  Edward 2slides into the chair at the head of the table and begins asking for updates. Everyone tenses as he reaches Ms. Piggy. Ms. Piggy begins her usual quick update with the usual digressions.  

Within a minute the energy level in the room plummets deeper than the Grand Canyon. The guy sitting next to Christine begins playing a game on his phone. Two managers begin reading their emails on their iPads.  Edward opens his mouth to cut off Ms. Piggy but she raises her voice and continues.  Christine slurps her coffee and tries to keep her head from exploding.

What options are available to Christine?

  1. She can fall to the floor pretending to have a seizure so that the meeting ends.
  2. She can leap to her feet shrieking “I can’t take it anymore. Shut up!”  
  3. She can suggest that they imitate business networking groups by timing responses so that the staff meetings finish on time and they avoid Ms. Piggy moments.     

The above scenario is a composite of too many meetings at too many companies.  HR can help managers avoid these ghastly events by training them how to give effective feedback to their subordinates on appropriate office behavior and by urging senior management to pay for coaching for managers who lack people skills.   

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Queen Bee

Another update from the Jungle….

Dan is a branch manager for his company and he’s coasting toward retirement.  He lost interest in his current career long ago after several major battles with his assistant. Her name is Adelaide and officially she’s the executive assistant, but unofficially she’s been running the branch office since Jimmy Carter’s administration.   

When Adelaide decides how things should be done, everyone agrees. If they don’t their careers take a nosedive, as Dan learned during his first year as branch manager. He came in full of ideas for improving efficiency but Adelaide decided the office was fine “as is”.  After months of battling, she won and Dan began planning his post-retirement career.

Dan’s boss i2sn’t happy and he’s trying to figure out how to increase profits in Dan’s office. He decides to test a new whiz-bang software program in Dan’s office to see if it helps the bottom line.  He notifies Dan that a vendor rep will arrive on Monday morning to train the staff on the new software. Dan passes the information to Adelaide.

Monday morning, the vendor rep shows up to begin the training. Adelaide sails into the conference room almost 30 minutes late and majestically informs the vendor rep to start over.

The vendor rep quickly recaps half of her scheduled 60-minute presentation. As she highlights each feature, she asks attendees to imagine how the feature can improve their efficiency.

The vendor rep soon notices that everyone is watching Adelaide. If she nods, the comments are positive. If she shakes her head, the others say they can’t use the software feature. It’s obvious that Adelaide would rather eat broken glass than adopt the new software. The vendor rep limps on to the end of her allotted time and wraps up the meeting. The vendor rep has promised to give a status report to Dan’s boss.

What kind of report could the vendor rep give to Dan’s boss?

  1. She could lie and say the training went well, knowing her company has a big contract at stake.
  2. She could say that Adelaide is determined to block the use of the new software.
  3. She could decide to not give any report since she plans to ditch the sales career in favor of ha3nging out at the airport with the Hari Krishnas.    

In the actual situation, the senior manager was angry that his pet project was shot down and he fired both the executive assistant and the branch manager.  Unfortunately, he failed to follow the company’s written HR policies when he fired them; but that’s a different story.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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It Rhymes With Witch

Another update from the Jungle….

Once upon a time in a town not so far away, there lived a nice woman named Alanis. She liked her job and was always willing to learn from more experienced co-workers. Her boss loved her too and wrote embarrassingly glowing performance reviews.

2But fairy tales aren’t the only places with evil beings. A wicked witch named Wanda also works in the office.  Wanda’s not qualified to do the job Alanis was hired for but that doesn’t stop her from trying to take over.  Wanda smiles in Alanis’ face even as she secretly sharpens her talons.

Wanda’s opportunity soon arrives.  At a staff meeting, their boss, Julia, announces that the company is rolling out a new service and asks Alanis to take the lead for their department. Wanda’s death-ray glare bores into Alanis’ skull across the conference room table. After the meeting, Wanda loudly announces in the break room that the new project is doomed because Alanis is unnamed (1)incompetent.

A week later, Alanis’ project notes mysteriously disappear from the system’s shared drive. Fortunately, she a printed copy first and is able to recreate her notes. She saves a copy of the new version on a thumb drive. Sure enough, the shared drive version disappears again.

At the next staff meeting, Julia asks why Alanis she doesn’t share information with the rest of the group. Alanis reports the mysterious deletions and asks that IT investigate the deletions. Julia looks at Wanda and then abruptly ends the meeting.

The next day, Julia calls Alanis to her office. Waiting in Julia’s office is Wanda. Julia says that she’s decided to appoint Wanda as co-chair of the project because it’s obviously too much for Alanis to do alone. Wanda smirks as she demands copies of all Alanis’ notes.

After that, Wanda changes the entire strategy so that their department misses deadlines set by Julia’s bosses. Wanda blames Alanis and complains about a lack of cooperation. Alanis is again called to Julia’s office where she is criticized for disloyalty and undermining the department. Julia says Alanis can resign or be fired.

What should Alanis do next?

  1. She can continue to protest her innocence knowing she won’t win since a weak manager is as dangerous as a witch.
  2. She can booby trap Wanda’s desk with eau de skunk.
  3. She can resign and consult a lawyer about suing for constructive termination.

In the actual situation, the targeted employee resigned. Any office can develop an infestation of wicked witches if management is weak.  Fumigate your workplace with effective HR policies.  3

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Paper Trails

Another update from the Jungle….


Stan’s been in business for five years. His employees are 20-somethings who like to work collaboratively and take lots of coffee breaks.  Stan doesn’t understand why they want to live on healthy junk like kale 4while slurping gallons of coffee, but they’re happy.  As long as the work is done and clients are happy, Stan is happy.  

He never paid much attention to labor laws. He pays each worker a fixed amount each week and they work at their own pace.  Ashley seems to get her best ideas at 2 a.m.  Ryan and Carson work best as a team but need supervision to stay on task. His employees work at home, in coffee shops, and occasionally even show up to work in the office.

unnamedThen he hears about the new overtime rules that are effective on December 1st.  Stan rapidly reviews his employees.  A quick estimate demonstrates that most of his workers earn below the new salary threshold. Stan’s bottom line can’t take across the board salary increases. Besides, many of his workers couldn’t meet the duties test to be exempt.

That means most of his employees will need to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Stan mentally reviews his staff. None of them has ever completed a time sheet. Stan calls an “all hands” meeting like he does when a client has a short deadline.

He explains to his employees that they need to begin keeping track of their time. He also says that any overtime must be pre-approved. His office manager demonstrates how to use the new time-tracking software. Everyone nods like they understand.

In the firs3t week, only two employees actually record their time each day. Ashley complains that she can’t remember to “clock in” when an idea strikes her at 2 in the morning. Ryan and Carson think they’re too valuable to the company to be penalized and they ignore the software completely.  After a few weeks, Stan is furious.

What should Stan do next?

  1. He can send a screeching email every Monday morning listing the offenders from the previous week.
  2. He can assign all the worst performers to the most annoying client where they will all flame out together.   
  3. He can follow a progressive discipline policy that inexorably clears out the people who can’t or won’t follow the rules.    

In the actual situation, the employer used a combination of the options outlined above to ensure compliance with the law. A few creative people were lost but the majority stayed and the company continued to grow successfully.    

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Falling to Pieces

Another update from the Jungle….

Patsy was named for Patsy Cline and she has a pretty good singing voice. So she moved to Nashville with visions of international fame dancing through the lyrics in her head.  She took the first job she could find while she pounded the pavement seeking a record contract.

4She never landed a record contract and her last three employment gigs were as abbreviated as her open mic gigs. But her luck is about to change. She just got a job with a regional company that is distantly connected to the music business. Sure it involves doing boring stuff that she did at several of her previous jobs but she enters the new employer’s offices with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  

After a day with HR, filling out paperwork and learning about all the things that can get her fired, Patsy’s enthusiasm wavers. But she arrives early the next day determined to do well. The HR rep shows her where the bathroom is located and guides to her a rabbit-hutch sized cubicle. Then the HR rep abandons her to go deal with an HR crisis.

Patsy leans around the cubicle corner to ask Doris for a little assistance. Doris is on the phone. Rebecca, on 1her other side, clues Patsy in to a few basic procedures, such as which database takes which customer information.  Patsy realizes from prior experiences that she’s just gone through “orientation” and she sets to work.

In the first week, almost all her work is rejected for a variety of reasons. Patsy tries to explain to co-workers that in her last job they did it this way. Her supervisor says in front of co-workers that she doesn’t care how the company’s main competitor does business.

Before her first paycheck, Patsy’s demoralized. As her probationary period ends, the HR rep tells Patsy that she’s being dropped because she “just doesn’t get it” and her co-workers think she’s whiny.  

What should Patsy do next?

  1. She can reach across the desk and slap the HR rep for not ensuring she received proper training.
  2. She can leave quietly and bad-mouth the company on her Facebook page.     
  3. She can find a friend like Merle Haggard’s “Leonard” to help her until her singing career takes off.    

The above scenario is a composite of many employers who expect to find ideal employees without investing in training. It’s a doomed process similar to seeking your life’s soulmate in a 2nd Avenue bar on Saturday night.2

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Casual Wear Starts Today!

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s hot and getting hotter as summer blasts into the area. Employees are grumpy and frumpy because they’re sweating even with the air conditioning going full blast. Justin almost strangles when his tie catches in a portable fan as he leans over a co-worker’s desk to flirt.  But help is on the way.

1Dolores, the HR rep, has a clever plan to help her co-workers. The company is run by conservative guys in suits who want everyone to be as uncomfortable they are.  But finally after years of negotiations, Dolores convinces the suits to allow casual wear during summer.

Dolores sends an email to her co-workers explaining the new policy. Privately, she congratulates herself on her negotiating skills. Alas, Dolores is a bit naïve about human nature even after years in the trenches of HR representation.

2The first day of the new policy, Betty shows up in a sun dress that gives a new meaning to “sheer”.  Dolores can’t help but notice when Betty crosses the room in front of the windows.  Dolores orders Betty to stay away from the windows for the rest of the day and to hide from the suits.  She makes a note in her special file that Betty could benefit from a long pointless training seminar at a great location like Buffalo in February or Houston in August.

The next day, Justin shows up in a golf shirt, plaid shorts and flip-flops. When Dolores says business casual does not mean flip-flops, he whips out her email and asks her to point to the part saying he can’t wear flip-flops. That afternoon Dolores adds another note in her special file to tell Justin’s boss that Justin is now ready to handle the most time consuming and difficult clients that can be found.

By the end of the first week, Dolores is depressed and disillusioned. The new casual wear policy could get her fired. She sits at home slumped in her favorite chair watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show as she ponders her next move.

What should Dolores do next?

  1. She can recommend that the casual wear policy be rescinded since few co-workers are showing any common sense.
  2. She can revise the policy to include an extensive and detailed list of what is “not appropriate”.   
  3. She can avoid making a decision by taking a long vacation in Antarctica to watch penguins waddle over the ice.    4

The above scenario is based on several actual incidents. In each case, the business casual policy was revised to add examples of acceptable attire.   

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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It Says So Right Here!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jane started her business after being downsized by her corporate employer.  She knew she wanted her business to be different from the bureaucracy of her Big Biz employer and vowed to avoid the burden of written policies.  

3But as she adds employees it becomes clear that a lack of written policies is bad for the bottom line. No written policies allow Evan to claim that he doesn’t know he is supposed to start work at 8:30 am. He thinks showing up by 10 am is okay as long as he gets his work done.  

4Jane decides she needs something in writing. She digs out an old copy of Big Biz’s employee handbook. She customizes it by changing the employer’s name, correcting a few typos, and changing the font.  Then she gives a copy to each employee and receives a signed acknowledgement from each employee.

None of the employees actually read the employee handbook, of course, until they need to. Evan reads the section on progressive discipline after Jane gives him a final written warning about his attendance.

1Meanwhile, Audrey discovers she’s pregnant. She hauls out her copy of the handbook, which is propping up a corner of her desk, and unfolds it to read the section on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). She tells Jane she wants to take FMLA leave to have her baby and asks for the leave request form.  

Jane doesn’t have any FMLA forms. Her internet search eventually leads her to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website where she learns the horrible truth about the FMLA. It applies to companies with more than 50 employees. Her Little Biz shop has 20 employees.  The news is so disturbing that she drinks half a bottle of wine while she thinks about her options.

What should Jane do next?

  1. She can collect every copy of the handbook and burn them in the parking lot knowing that most of her employees never read it.
  2. She can tell Audrey that the FMLA section of the handbook is a mistake because that law doesn’t apply to Jane’s business.
  3. She can grant FMLA leave to Audrey in accordance with the handbook policy. Then she can immediately revise the handbook to delete information about employment laws that don’t apply to her company.

The above scenario is a common problem for small business owners who lack familiarity with employment laws. The lack of familiarity can fix one problem while creating many more problems.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Low Hanging Fruit

Another update from the Jungle….

Jack owns a small business which provides him with a good living. He owns a big h2ouse with a giant mortgage and he drives an Escalade.  When he goes to the store, he parks in a handicap parking spot near the door so that everyone can see his ride.

Jack once worked for a major corporation where the HR director constantly nagged him about petty rules that he’d supposedly broken. After a few years of her nagging, Jack decided to be successful on his own.

Jack thinks his company runs smoother with fewer written rules so he doesn’t have any written HR policies. He also pays everyone a “salary” so he doesn’t have to track time and attendance.  But he docks the pay of employees who show up late or miss work. His CPA, Susie, wants him to create job descriptions to distinguish between non-exempt and exempt employees.   Jack tells her not to worry about it; he will tell her how much to pay each employee each pay period.

1

Last week, Susie attended a continuing education seminar which struck her with the force of a hurricane wind. She learned details of the new overtime rules. A presenter also said the Department of Labor (DOL) had stepped up enforcement actions against small employers. He used the phrase “low hanging fruit” so often that Susie temporarily gives up fresh fruit and vegetables.

Susie rushes home to prepare a summary of the new overtime rules and hand delivers it to Jack.  Jack thanks her and privately thinks that Susie’s becoming a nag like the old HR director and it may be time to fire her.

This morning Jack arrives at his office to find a polite young man waiting to talk to him. The stranger says he’s a DOL examiner and he wants to see time sheets, payroll records and job descriptions for Jack’s employees.

What should Jack do next?

  1. He can bluster at the DOL examiner to mind his own business.
  2. He can beg the DOL examiner to give him time to fix his many problems in hopes of lowering the penalties his company will ultimately owe.
  3. He can sneak out the back entrance, empty the corporate bank account and escape to a foreign country that has no diplomatic relations with the U.S.

In the actual situation, the employer woke up to his peril before the DOL examiner arrived on his doorstep. He had already implemented a plan to fix his HR problems which convinced the DOL examiner to show mercy when calculating the penalties.   

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Click here for a copy of my free Ebook 

The Original Dream Team

Another update from the Jungle….

Alexander Hamilton is big news these days thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. Miranda’s musical is an excellent introduction to a key member of the dream team that created our country. As July 4th approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on the dream team and on Hamilton.

4Hamilton epitomizes so much of what it means to be an American. He was an immigrant who spoke several languages. He arrived in New York with no money and no family or friends, but plenty of ambition. He worked odd jobs while obtaining a college degree from what is now Columbia University and eventually became a successful lawyer in New York City.

Hamilton is the only truly self-made man among the founders of the U.S. The other founders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and John Jay were all from established families in the upper social tier of society.

3These men (women were excluded) were the ultimate dream team, at least in hindsight. In real life, Hamilton was impetuous and impatient with people he thought mentally slower than himself. Adams was perpetually offended by anyone who disagreed with him. Jefferson rarely confronted anyone but egged on others to do the partisan sniping for him.

They held wildly different ideas about the type of government they wanted to create. They fought bitterly over state’s rights versus federal power and personal liberties versus state security. Rising above the often vicious disagreements was George Washington. He kept the team focused on their ultimate goal: to create a strong country that could take its place among other nations.

5They were a dream team because after all the disagreements they compromised, creating checks and balances to distribute power between the federal and state governments and to protect the rights of citizens from governmental intrusion. Today we still fight bitterly over these same issues. But thanks to the original dream team, we have a political framework, the Constitution, which allows us to disagree without ripping our country apart.

As you celebrate July 4th salute the dream team that created the U.S.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Fairness Doesn’t Matter

Another update from the Jungle….

Alyssa is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of her employer. She was hired because of the scope of her experience. Or so she was told.  It doesn’t take Alyssa too long to figure out that her prior experience is irrelevant, even a handicap.

Alyssa is1 assigned to work with the HR department because the other lawyers don’t want to. She inherits a file cabinet full of pending EEOC discrimination claims.  Another giant file cabinet contains investigation notes of employee theft cases. Apparently anything not too big or nailed down tight is carried off by employees.  

Alyssa sees immediately that the employee problems arise from the attitude of the 4management team. Most of the senior managers are related to the owner and take their cue from him. He brags of paying rock bottom wages while simultaneously complaining that he’s stuck with stupid employees who lack initiative.

Alyssa’s prior experience with corporate risk programs leads her to believe that the company needs more insurance to cover employee problems. She recommends an increase in their employment practices liability insurance coverage.  That’s when Alyssa’s own employment problems begin.

3Alyssa receives an email from Tess, the company owner’s daughter and newest senior executive.  Tess is a wicked witch who bullies subordinates with obscenity-laced tirades and hates anyone she suspects is more knowledgeable than her. Now Tess insists that she will make the final call on the new insurance limits.

Alyssa gives Tess a summary of the current insurance coverage, the recommended new limits, and the renewal deadline. Tess repeatedly asks for new quotes while ignoring the insurance broker’s and Alyssa’s reminders of the deadline for binding new coverage. Hours before the old coverage 6expires, Tess finally agrees to the new coverage limits.

The next day, Tess accuses Alyssa of endangering the company’s insurance program by deliberately delaying information from the insurance broker.  When Alyssa points out that the insurance broker copied both of them on all emails, Tess launches into her usual obscenity-laden meltdown.

What should Alyssa do next?

  1. She can continue arguing with Tess that the accusations are unfair and unjust but will never win the argument.
  2. She can walk away from Tess and immediately make a complaint to the HR department about the bullying incident.   
  3. She can accept that she was never the right fit for the company and move on to a new employer.    

In the actual situation, the accused employee used her employment law knowledge to negotiate a severance package and moved on to a happier workplace.   

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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You Want to Do What?

Another update from the Jungle….

Marcia is the HR manager for her company. She often feels that she’s in a never-ending battle to balance management and employee expectations. Managers think employees lack loyalty to the company. Employees think the company doesn’t care about them; their most recent proof is the giant increase in employee contributions for health insurance.

Marcia endures almost daily requests from managers begging her to find ways to build employee morale and loyalty. Occasionally managers come up with their own morale building ideas. Some of the kookiest ideas come from Roger, her least favorite manager.

June 16.1

Roger likes to search the internet for management techniques that he can implement with his subordinates. His bosses like his initiative because they aren’t directly affected by his actions. Roger’s bosses also don’t see him every day and so are unaware of his general obnoxiousness.

Roger’s subordinates, meanwhile, suffer through meetings where he drones on about the latest management theories while incessantly snapping his pen or drumming his fingers on the table, his coffee mug, or his chair arm. Roger also thinks he’s invisible when making bodily adjustments, something his female subordinates find particularly gross and disgusting.

June 16.2Roger’s latest internet research leads him to 360 performance reviews. He reads the reviews about building team spirit and ignores the commentary cautioning that corporate culture can affect the outcome. The next day he marches into Marcia’s office to demand 360 performance reviews for his people.

Marcia stares at Roger in blank amazement. He isn’t obviously insane so she decides to give to him exactly what he’s asked for. She can’t resist chortling privately as she hands out the forms to each employee.

June 16.3A couple of weeks later Marcia reads what Roger’s employees have to say about him. As expected, they’ve vented their frustrations about his annoying personal habits and being treated as lab rats for his management theories. The reviews are so brutal she feels sorry for him. She invites Roger to her office for a private chat.

What should Marcia say to him?

1. She can soften the blow to Roger’s ego by giving him an edited summary of what his employees think of him.

2. She can give him the unedited results and watch his ego deflate.

3. She can tell him that his brilliance is wasted at a branch location and encourage him to apply for a job at headquarters.

June 16The old adage to “be careful what you wish for” applies to business as well as individuals. HR policies are most successful when they are carefully considered before being implemented.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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The Peter Principle Strikes Again

Another update from the Jungle…

Addison is the HR manager for her company and she usually likes her job. Each day is different as co-workers find new and inventive ways to get themselves into difficulties.  

Addison has a double espresso each morning to fortify herself for the latest adventures. But Addison’s toughest employee sitjune 6-3uation doesn’t involve the usual employee misadventures. It involves Don, one of the division managers. Don is a nice, inoffensive guy who is liked by everyone. He is also destroying his division.

 

june 6-4

Don’s career started promisingly enough. He graduated from college with honors and immediately was hired by the company.  He’s technically proficient and his attention to detail is legendary. In fact, he often gets so wrapped up in the details that he forgets about deadlines.

A year ago, Don’s superiors looked for someone who could do the work, but never threaten their position in the company. They ignored Don’s immediate supervisor who pointed out that Don has the social skills of a person reared by wolves. Regardless, Don was promoted.

Immediately, the damage was obvious to anyone paying attention.june 6-6

In his first staff meeting, Don enthusiastically talked about a magazine article he’d read which described how blue whales communicate. His subordinates sat listening in stunned disbelief. After all, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss new sales metrics for their division.

Don’s first staff meeting turns out to be a high point on the road to destruction. The cleverest and most marketable employees are bailing out to join competitors. One woman is so affected by her experiences that she is now a novice Buddhist nun in Nepal.

Addison struggles to contain thejune 6-5 damage caused by Don’s incredibly inept leadership. She’s convinced that Don is aware of his shortcomings as a leader but he won’t admit it. She asks for a meeting with senior management.

What should Addison tell the senior managers?

  1. She can provide examples of Don’s ineffective leadership and suggest that he be replaced by someone with better “people” skills.
  2. She can request management training for Don to help him improve his leadership skills.  
  3. She can demand a pay raise and a bigger budget to hire replacements for the employees chased off by Don’s lousy management skills.    

june 6-2In the actual situation, senior management remained happy with the ineffective manager. He kept his job until he was undermined and then replaced by his most ambitious subordinate. He happily continued to work and was deeply relieved to no longer have supervisory responsibilities.

 

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

I’m Bored by My Job

Another update from the Jungle….

 

1Corrie is bored with her job. It hasn’t challenged her skills in years or put her in line for a promotion.  She’s tried to find other jobs but the truth is that she’s unlikely to get a big enough salary increase to offset the loss of her current benefits package.

 

 

5To pass the time and alleviate her boredom, she creates imaginary scenarios for her job.  When her boss gives her a new assignment, she pretends its part of a great military plan, like Operation Overlord.  She imagines herself working in a small office in London, helping plan the D-Day invasion.

 

2When she takes a business trip, she pretends she’s an agent dropped into occupied France to support the French Resistance. As she drives, she thinks of the highway patrol as roving bands of collaborators looking for Resistance workers they can arrest and interrogate. When she checks in to a hotel, she scouts the lobby for exits in case she needs to beat a quick retreat from a Gestapo raid.

It’s all rather harmless fun and it helps to pass the time in a job that has long since ceased to challenge her intellectually. Before she unleashed her imagination, Corrie struggled to find meaning in her job. She volunteered for extra assignments to broaden her skills and make new contacts.

4But Corrie stopped caring after the management team downsized the workforce. She’s survived several staff reductions since the first big cull of the herd by keeping her head down and her opinions to herself. She no longer volunteers for special projects but her past volunteerism means her boss considers her a “team player” and Corrie thinks that’s helped her keep her job.

Corrie’s low morale and disengagement is matched by most of her co-workers.  Management tries to raise morale with team building exercises, like the time they insisted everyone had to go play laser tag. (All the senior managers were “killed” within half an hour, boosting morale among all other workers.)

What could this company do differently to rebuild employee engagement?

  1. The company could do a one-off pay increase which would engage workers who are motivated by money.
  2. The company could allow 4 hours a pay period for each employee to work on a project that motivates the employee, such as volunteering for a non-profit.
  3. The company could create a cross-training program in which employees transfer temporarily to a different job or department to learn new skills.

The above scenario is based on actual job experiences. However, all identifying information has been removed to protect everyone involved. 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

Ebook Link

https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

 

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Music To My Ears

Another update from the Jungle…

espressoMae owns several coffee shops and has plans to add several more locations over the next year or two. She paid her way through college working in chain coffee shops. After graduation, she decided to stay in the city where she went to college rather than returning to her po-dunk hometown.

 

coffe shop

Mae found it much easier to create a business plan, obtain financing, and buy good coffee (and tea) than to deal with employees. In her early days, when she was desperate to keep the doors open, she hired several people who otherwise would never have gotten jobs.

 

She can handle tattoos, piercings, black leather and motorcycle boots. She can even live with the shaved heads and the orange or purple hair of some of her employees. After all, it’s a college town and she wants her coffee shops to be unique and cool.

coffe sign

Most of the customers are college kids or recent college graduates. They don’t care if the chairs are uncomfortable and the tables are rickety as long as the WiFi works and the espresso continues to flow. But Mae needs to attract more than just college kids who live on dark roast. She needs business people with actual disposable income who will buy overpriced muffins to eat while slurping their coffee.

cappuccino

With such a mixed group, it’s difficult to select background music. Her employees want to play rap or hip hop to attract the college crowd. Mae prefers easy listening to entice the business crowd. Her unwritten rule is that the music must be in the background, like white noise. But when she’s not around, her employees crank up the volume, driving away the business crowd.

This morning Mae stopped by her second shop location. As she opened the door a wall of sound hit her, blowing her hair back from its carefully arranged coiffure. Mae struggled up to the counter and screamed at her manager to “turn it down!” Her ears ringing, Mae walked into the cramped office and slumped in the uncomfortable chair behind the desk. She opened the music-sharing file on her smart phone and keyed up some Mozart. Then she thought about what she should do about the music.

What should Mae do next?

1. She can fire her manager for playing the music too loud, but that means hiring and training a replacement.
2. She can ban music in her coffee shops.
3. She can tweak her HR policies to more clearly define the volume that is appropriate for her shops and the consequences of violating the rules.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link
https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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Beating the Odds

Another update from the Jungle…

Imagine that you are invited to join a company where virtually all your colleagues are misfits.  Imagine also that the old boss is fired for exhibiting poor judgment and your new boss has been fired multiple times for poor results. When you are asked to join, the company has just escaped rock bottom and is expected to fail within the next year.

That’s the Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) story.

soccer field

LCFC spent most of the prior season in last place and barely escaped relegation (demotion) to the second tier of English football (what we call soccer). Then… their manager was fired.

In came Claudio Ranieri as the new manager. He had been fired by five of his last six teams due to poor results. He resigned from the sixth team. He was expected to lose games and get fired by Christmas. Analysts said the players weren’t good enough for the league because most of them had been dropped by more prestigious teams.  They entered the 2015 – 2016 season with a 5000 – 1 chance of winning the title.

impossible

But something truly magical happened. LCFC was top of the league by Christmas and never looked back. On May 2, they were confirmed as the champions two weeks before the season ended. How did they win the 2015 -2016 English Premier League title?

The Leicester players had been through so many hard times together that they were a tight-knit group. During games, every player knew that if he missed a tackle, a teammate would be there to cover for him. Half a dozen players could be counted on to score goals needed to win games.

Ranieri also created an environment that supported the players’ togetherness. During games, he encouraged his players to stay calm and focused.  He created incentives, such as promising them a pizza party if they kept a clean sheet, not allowing the other team to score. (They took over a local pizzeria for a day.) He sent them on a mini-vacation halfway through the season to keep them fresh.  It all worked.

What are the HR lessons from the Leicester City FC story?

  1. Money doesn’t guarantee results. Leicester’s starting squad cost about $30 million and they beat teams that spent over $100 million for their starting lineups.
  2. Team spirit matters. Each player could count on his teammates for help.
  3. The right manager is critical. Claudio Ranieri proved he has great people skills by getting the best from each player.

 

The Leicester City FC story is inspiring because it demonstrates what the right corporate culture can achieve for an employer.

 

 

kicking

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

 

 

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A Dim Bulb Burns Out

Another update from the Jungle…

Meet Tom. worker

Tom has worked tirelessly on a local factory manufacturing line for almost 30 years. He has rarely missed work and his work ethic is unbelievable.

There’s just one catch…

Tom is challenged when it comes to making sense out of everyday tasks. Although his IQ has never been measured, those who know him can tell that he struggles to understand new information. He often sits staring vacantly during his work breaks, unable to participate in any witty conversational banter, so he aimlessly watches the clock count down until his next shift. Tom has worked at the factory since he turned 18 and, through the years, has earned the right become a part of the company family. His supervisor and several co-workers look out for him on a daily basis. They try to protect him by intervening when younger workers try to make fun of him or call him names like “stupid.”

Now that Tom is almost 50, his learning disability has become visibly worse. He is often easily distracted and becomes completely inattentive while working on the line. This ends up compromising his ability to work on dangerous machines. (Especially after the day that he almost lost his finger!) His supervisor now assigns him to the dreary, boring, repetitive jobs on the safer equipment.

Eventually Tom’s supervisor decides to retire. He’d known Tom for the duration of 30 years at the factory and knew that under his watch, Tom would always have a job at the factory. On his last day, the supervisor warns his replacement that Tom needs to be handled with compassion and patience because of his slower disposition. The new supervisor, David, is a rising star at the company and laser-focused on increasing productivity and efficiency. He becomes instantly offended that his managerial skills are being questioned by the retiring “old geezer.” He dismisses the unsolicited suggestion with a disingenuous “Ok. Sure.”

factoryIn the days following, David is overwhelmed and irate with Tom’s slow pace and inability to concentrate on the line, so he begins to routinely shout at and berate Tom during his shift. David pushes Tom to move faster and to stay focused, which creates confusion and high levels of emotional distress for Tom. This erratic behavior becomes so frequent that David decides to notify Gloria, the company’s HR representative. David informs her that Tom needs to be terminated for poor work performance ASAP.

Early the next morning, before Gloria could call Tom into her office, he wandered away from the line and walked over to the field next to the factory’s parking lot. He stood in the rain, gazing up at the sky and proceeded to take off his clothes and lay down on the ground. David sees this and sends an employee to tell Gloria to call 911.

What should Gloria do next?

She should call the paramedics so that Tom can be taken to the hospital for evaluation?
She should tell David to stop bullying his subordinates?
She should review the company’s procedures for dealing with distraught workers?

stigmaIn the actual situation, the paramedics were notified, and they transported the employee to the hospital where he underwent a psychological evaluation. That diagnosis led to the employee being placed on permanent disability. As the stigma attached to mental health recedes, employees should be encouraged to seek assistance rather than suffering in denial.

Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor will expertly create and customize all necessary HR policies that are appropriate for the size and culture of your company. CCRA will then facilitate as a valuable resource to your staff during the policy’s implementation phase.

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I’m Not Crazy!

Mental Health1Andrea is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of a major company.  She’s never quite fit in with the rest of the department and tends to work alone rather than as part of a team.  She gets the assignments the other lawyers don’t want.

Over time, feeling isolated and unwanted, Andrea’s confidence drops and the quality of her work slides.  She thinks about calling the employee assistance program (EAP) but she’s paranoid that her boss will find out and it will be a mark against her.  So she slogs along feeling unwanted and unappreciated.

Her lowest point comes when an executive chews her out in front of the whole department accusing her of misreading a paragraph in a contract that he wants to cancel.  When Andrea protests that she wasn’t asked about how to cancel the contract, the executive says she’s incompetent and ought to be fired.

On the way home that day, Andrea buys supplies at a local craft store to build a piñata. That evening she creates the piñata and writes the executive’s name on it. Then she beats the piñata to a pulp with her tennis racket.  After that, she has a glass of wine and some dark chocolate.

Mental Health3But wine and chocolate can’t solve every problem. Andrea’s morale continues to disintegrate and she becomes deeply depressed. She begins seeing a psychologist for mental health counseling. The counseling sessions help her with personal problems even as her work situation deteriorates.

Eventually, she is fired from her job and she sues the company. The company argues that she was fired for incompetence due to emotional and mental instability. To prove it, they demand details of her sessions with the psychologist. The company argues that it has a right to this information because it paid the insurance premiums for the health plan that covered the psychologist’s sessions.

What should Andrea do next?

  1. She should make a bigger piñata of the executive and buy more wine and chocolate.
  2. She should accept that she’s not crazy; the company was the wrong employer.
  3. She should write an advice book about dealing with egotistical managers and start a new career as a business consultant.

Mental Health4The above scenario is loosely based on a California lawsuit about ten years ago where the company argued unsuccessfully that paying health insurance premiums meant it had a right to know the details of an employee’s mental health treatment. Unfortunately, arguments like the one raised by the California case make it difficult to convince employees to seek mental health treatment from an EAP or their health insurance plan.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Mentor, Schmentor

Mentor4Grace is an assistant manager for her company. She’s always looking for opportunities to improve her performance so that she can get promoted. She hears that Diane believes in mentoring young talent and asks for a transfer to Diane’s department.

At their first meeting, they set performance goals for Grace. Grace wants to take some management classes to prepare for promotion. She also wants more responsibility to prove that she can be a good manager.

Diane applauds her goals and immediately asks Grace to help train a new hire, David. Diane also encourages Grace to be “proactive” by volunteering for internal assignments as part of a strategy to get noticed by senior management.

So Grace volunteers to lead a team that will make recommendations for streamlining some of the company’s operating procedures. Her committee’s recommendations are forwarded by Diane to senior management. A month later, Grace reads an email from the company president that praises Diane for the committee’s recommendations.

Grace asks Diane why none of the committee members were mentioned in the president’s email and receives an evasive answer.  Grace concludes that she and her team will never be recognized. She decides to do all she can to help her committee members get recognized for their hard work. She’s already quietly mentoring three of them and helps two of them find places in departments away from Diane.

Mentor5She decides to not bail out herself because she believes she is in line for a promotion that is opening soon. The company has a policy that requires an employee to be in a position for at least a year before being eligible for promotion.

This morning Grace learns that David will get the promotion she wanted. She also learns that the company is supporting Diane’s nomination for an award based on her mentorship of younger women professionals.  Grace asks several female co-workers; no one knows who Diane is supposed to have mentored.

What should Grace do next?

  1. She can create a fake resume for David and send it to competitors in the hopes they will hire him, leaving her the promotion she deserves.
  2. She can accept that Diane’s nickname starts with a capital “B” and stop volunteering to do work for which Diane will steal the credit.
  3. She can recognize that her career advancement requires an internal transfer or a new employer.

The above scenario is a composite of the experiences of many women, and some men, professionals. Managers like “Diane” can tank morale faster than obviously rotten managers. A good HR program should include performance assessments that neutralize the toxic effect for a “Diane”.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Working with a Jerk

Jerk1Jenny is excited about her new job with an insurance company.  She isn’t excited about insurance, of course; no one is. She’s excited about being employed again. None of her previous jobs had lasted very long as her employers were acquired or downsized.

Jenny’s new boss, Dan, assigns her to work with a more experienced co-worker, Alan. Since Alan didn’t join them, Jenny trots down the hall to his office to introduce herself. Alan’s office is a mess with files stacked haphazardly on the desk and floor. It looks like a fire marshal’s exhibit of a fire hazard.

Jerk2Jenny says that Dan has asked her to work with Alan while she is in training. She asks how she can help him with some of the claims he is working on. Alan flips through several folders on his messy desk and says he’ll get back to her.

After a week of stalling, Alan agrees to take Jenny along to a meeting with an insured that has filed a claim. The insured company’s office is on the other side of town. During the meeting, Alan tells Jenny to wait while he goes down the hall to look at some sensitive documents. Jenny waits in the conference room talking to a representative of the insured.

Finally, she asks whether Alan has finished his review of the sensitive documents. She learns that he left twenty minutes ago. Jenny is stranded at the insured’s office late in the day as rush hour begins. She calls a cab to take her back to her office where she parked her car.

The next day Jenny tells Dan that she would like to work with a different co-worker. She doesn’t tell Dan all the details of the prior day’s meeting but says that the current arrangement isn’t working. Dan calls Alan to his office and asks how things are going with Jenny’s training. Alan acts surprised and says he thinks it’s going well.

What should Jenny do next?

  1. She can tell Dan what really happened but she’s the new kid on the block and there’s no guarantee he’d believe her.
  2. She can complain to the HR representative who is 800 miles away at the company HQ and has a history of deferring to local managers.
  3. She can bide her time learning as much as possible so that she can find a better job with nicer co-workers.

In the actual situation, “Jenny” chose the third option. She learned new skills that increased her marketability and eventually moved to a new employer with nicer co-workers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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Bored to Tears

Trng-2Celia is the HR manager for her company and she handles the internal training when the staff needs to be updated about new employment laws or regulations. She’s been very busy lately preparing to explain the proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on new overtime rules and the DOL’s new “economic reality” test for independent contractors.

Celia’s fascinated by the process of how these new rules are formulated. She wants to understand why the DOL perceives employment problems that need to be fixed. She thinks understanding this background will help her explain the new rules to her fellow employees. Celia creates a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes what she’s learned.

The big day arrives and her co-workers reluctantly gather in the training room. Celia begins her presentation with PowerPoint slides about the Fair Labor Standards Act which is the basis for the new guidance and rules. Then she talks about DOL’s reasons for changing the rules.

Trng-3After ten minutes, an employee asks how the new rules will affect his job. Celia tells him “we’ll get to that in a minute” and clicks through to the next slide. The third time she repeats that phrase, employees begin shifting in their chairs. Some employees surreptitiously check their devices for emails or the latest Candy Crush game.

At the half hour mark, Celia notices that the crowd has thinned. The smart employees grabbed seats near the back of the room so that they could escape. The sycophantic employees and those angling for promotions are hopelessly trapped near the front of the room and forced to continue listening to her presentation.

Celia limps through the rest of her presentation and asks if there are questions. People glare at each other to ensure no one is stupid enough to prolong the suffering by asking questions. Celia ends the training session and one person is trampled in the dash for the exits.

What could Celia do at her next training session to keep people engaged?

  1. She could use flashier PowerPoint slides to keep everyone’s attention.
  2. She could create handouts with key points for discussion and stop using PP slides.
  3. She could revise her presentation to explain how the new rules will specifically affect her co-workers’ jobs.

The above scenario is an only-slightly fictionalized account of dozens of in-house training sessions that I’ve experienced over the years.  No co-workers were ever trampled so there was nothing to break the monotony.  To avoid Celia’s fate at your company’s next training session, consider using the third option by making the information specific and relevant to the employees.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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I’m Independent Until I’m Not

Josh runs a localDriver1 courier service. He decides which jobs to accept and negotiates delivery fees with customers. When a customer calls, Josh looks at the roster of drivers and goes down the list until he finds a driver to handle the job.

His couriers are part-timers and include college students, stay at home moms, and a few Uber drivers. He treats everyone as an independent contractor because they use their own vehicles and set their own hours. All Josh requires is a clean driving record and proof of insurance.

Driver3Yesterday, Ron, a college student driver, was involved in a fender bender while making a delivery.  Ron is desperate to avoid telling his parents about the car. His parents bought the car for him as a reward for dropping his beer and pizza plan for college studies and getting serious about graduating.

Ron asks Josh to help pay for the repairs but Josh declines. He points out that Ron is an independent contractor, not an employee. Josh adds that it’s not his fault Ron was talking on his cell phone while driving and not paying attention to the traffic signals.

So Ron calls his mom to give her a hint that the car insurance premium may, possibly, kind of, increase due to unforeseen circumstances.  Like any experienced mother, Ron’s mom gets the real story within minutes. After she finishes explaining that idiots who can’t multitask shouldn’t try to drive and talk at the same time, she asks for more details about Josh’s courier business.

Driver2Ron’s mom works in HR for a major corporation and she’s just read about the U.S. Department of Labor’s new “economic realities” test. She thinks that Ron is actually an employee and not an independent contractor.

What should Ron’s mom do next?

  1. She can use her HR experience to compare Ron’s description of how the courier business is run to the DOL test and assess whether he’s an employee.
  2. She can ask one of the corporate attorneys at her company to give her an off-the-record assessment of the DOL test.
  3. She can contact Josh directly to argue that he should pay for the auto repairs because she believes her son is actually an employee of Josh’s business.

DOL released guidance on their new “economic realities” test about a year ago. This new test looks at whether a worker is economically dependent on the “employer”.  If yes, then the worker is an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Expect to hear much more about this test.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Masters of the Universe

Another update from the Jungle…

Masters1Jim and Tony run a venture capital fund that specializes in distressed assets. They buy companies, replace the management team, cut most of the employees to generate savings and make the company look profitable (on paper). Then they sell the company.

A business magazine features them in an article and uses the term masters of the universe. After the feature article, Jim and Tony decide to branch out from distressed assets and buy a company that has been successful without being spectacular.

Jim and Tony begin their ownership by holding a company-wide meeting with employees at which they talk about the company’s wonderful financial future. This sales pitch is interrupted by Linda who asks them to reconcile these comments with their established practice of boosting profits by firing most workers. Jim evades her question. So Larry asks pointblank how many jobs will be cut. Jim looks at Tony. Tony shrugs. The meeting ends abruptly.

Masters3After studying the company’s bottom line, Jim and Tony decide that the first employees to go are Linda and Larry. They tell Sandra, the HR rep, to prepare the paperwork. She cautions against firing two of the most respected workers. Jim looks at the org chart again and concludes they are peons.

On Friday, Linda and Larry are ushered out the door. Their first port of call is an employment law attorney where they discuss wrongful termination, retaliation, and age discrimination.  The attorney has a vision of becoming famous by taking down the masters of the universe. He agrees to represent Linda and Larry.

Master2Within weeks, a third of the workforce resigns following Linda and Larry out the door. Jim and Tony are initially relieved; they only had to fire two workers. But the remaining workforce is demoralized. Within six months, the company has lost several key clients and the bottom line is tanking. Jim and Tony call a meeting with Sandra to discuss staffing levels and the status of Linda’s and Larry’s lawsuit.

What should Sandra tell them?

  1. She can say that she warned them that firing Linda and Larry would have dire consequences.
  2. She can tell them that as masters of the universe, she expects them to solve their own problems.
  3. She can hand in her resignation, having already received several job offers.

The above scenario is exaggerated but may seem familiar to anyone who has experienced a change in ownership at an employer. Creating a plan with HR for handling inevitable layoffs can smooth the transition. It is also helpful to see employees as more than just a cost to the bottom line.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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I’m Not Offensive… You’re Overreacting.

Another update from the Jungle…

Ted-1Ted runs a company that provides website and social media support for small businesses. Ted grew up in the advertising business when it looked a bit like “Mad Men” and some of his habits are outdated. His most annoying habit is using nicknames.

Employees recognize Ted’s professional skills and ability to get customers to sign on the dotted line. Nicknames are part of the package when working for Ted. After all, every workplace has annoyances.

One employee is Italian-American and was nicknamed Guido because he looks like an extra in the Godfather movies.  Another employee is Mario, short for Mario Andretti, because he’s gotten some speeding tickets.  Blondie is an attractive woman who was hired long ago and keeps everyone on task.

Then there’s Tom, the first person Ted hired when he started the business. Tom is the only employee called by his real name and he’s so valuable to the team that Ted made him a partner in the business. Ted calls him Uncle Tom.

Ted-2Recently, Ted agreed with his team that they needed to give back to the community by offering an internship to local college students.  Judy is the first intern they hire. She’s a marketing major with an endless curiosity about all aspects of the business and a willingness to learn.  Ted calls her the Elephant’s Child, after another inquisitive youngster. Judy isn’t familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories and thinks Ted’s nickname is demeaning.

Two weeks into her internship, Judy hears Ted shout “Uncle Tom” and sees the only black employee heading for Ted’s office. She’s appalled. She tells Blondie that she can’t work for a racist like Ted and wants out of the internship immediately.

What should Blondie do next?

  1. She can tell Judy that real world workplaces don’t come with college “safe zones” to avoid offending people. Succeeding in business requires a thick skin.
  2. She can tell Judy that offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder and if Tom’s not protesting, then Judy shouldn’t either.
  3. She can tell Ted that he needs to join the 21st century and recognize that some of the things he learned “back in the day” are no longer acceptable.

The legal standard for deciding offensiveness is based on reasonableness. Would a reasonable person hearing a nickname, their own or a co-worker’s, be offended?  The answer depends on the specific situation. However, a nickname can be in poor taste even if it doesn’t rise to the level of violating any equal protection laws.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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If It’s Not In Writing…

Another update from the Jungle…

Auto-1Alan owns an auto repair shop and he seems to have a revolving door for employees. He knows that not everyone wants to be a grease monkey and finding employees is not easy.  In fact, he’s hired people who otherwise would never have experienced the joys of employment.  With so much turn over Alan never created written policies for his employees.

When Alan started his business, he was on the edge of town surrounded by fields. Sam and Zeke, a couple of good old boys wandered in from the fields where they were looking for their hunting dog and signed on to work for Alan. Sam and Zeke are good auto mechanics when they pay attention to the job.

Auto-4Alan lets them use some of his tools and equipment to build cars that they race on dirt tracks during the summer.  If they don’t wreck their dirt track car, they celebrate by getting drunk on Jack Daniels (black label only; green label is for sissies). When work is slow, Sam and Zeke also like to do a little target practice at the makeshift shooting range they created on the back part of Alan’s property.

Now the surrounding fields are mostly gone, replaced by a shopping center and McMansions for the urban sorts who want to experience suburban life. Alan’s property still backs up to fields but he’s worried about stray bullets. So he tells Sam and Zeke to dismantle the shooting range and keep their guns at home.  Several weeks pass and Sam and Zeke are still using the shooting range despite repeated verbal warnings of dire consequences.

Now Alan has a policeman in his office politely explaining that the neighborhood was recently annexed and is now within town limits. Town ordinances prohibit firing guns within town limits and violators can be arrested. As the property owner, Alan could be arrested.

What should Alan do next?

  1. He can blame Sam and Zeke and tell the police officer to arrest them.
  2. He can fire Sam and Zeke for ignoring his verbal warnings. Of course, Sam and Zeke have conveniently forgotten the verbal warnings (and they have guns).
  3. He can acknowledge that he needs to take a more organized approach to employee matters by creating written policies and documenting disciplinary actions.

The old adage “if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen” still holds true. Employers like Alan who fail to document employee actions, including verbal warnings, face a greater chance of being sued for wrongful termination if they fire an employee for disciplinary reasons.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link: https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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Too Many Hats

Hats(1)Another update from the Jungle…

Tina was the first employee at her company, hired a month after Drew, the owner, created the company.  Tina got the job because she was a friend of Drew’s and she was willing to work for an erratic paycheck.  Also, Tina had a liberal arts degree from a state university which turned out to be not much good when job hunting.

So Tina worked for Drew and was excited each time the company grew. In the early days, they shared ramen noodles for lunch and pooled their money to pay for coffee meetings with prospective clients.  Tina liked the sense of adventure and the fact that each day was different.

Over the next three years, Tina worked on everything from the sales brochures to updating the logo to handling disgruntled customers.  She handled administrative tasks such as ordering office supplies and equipment so that Drew could focus on the company’s strategy. She also helped Drew interview and hire new employees.

Each new employee was hired for a particular job, even though they lacked written job descriptions. Any job that didn’t fit into another employee’s skill set slid onto Tina’s desk.  She knew the history of the company, the way things has always been done, and she was willing to help solve problems faced by other employees.

Hats(2)Drew was happy to delegate employee issues to Tina. But Tina didn’t know anything about employment laws or human resources best practices. She Googled key terms periodically and filled out paperwork to the best of her ability. The company’s CPA was able to answer her questions related to payroll processing, but basically Tina was on her own.

Now Tina’s burnt out.  Although it’s a fine spring day, she’s slumped at her desk, exhausted and dispirited. It’s time to plan the monthly employee birthday party and she just can’t face it. Working for Drew isn’t fun anymore.

What options are available to Tina?

  1. She can continue doing all the tasks that none of her co-workers want to do until she becomes a bitter old woman.
  2. She can explain to Drew that it’s time to professionalize the back office so that the company can grow smoothly.
  3. She can quit and go sit on a beach in the Caribbean drinking rum and eating rum-soaked fruit.

In the actual situation, the company decided to hire a subject matter expert to help them create a formal structure for the administrative side of the business and to implement best practices. Then the subject matter expert helped train a new employee to handle administrative tasks.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link: https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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Chaos Kills Morale

Chaos

Another update from the Jungle…

Jason felt lucky when he was hired about six months ago by Buckeroo, Ltd., a company that makes camping gear for outdoor types. During the hiring process the sales pitch by the HR representative and his soon-to-be manager sounded wonderful.  Of course, anything would have sounded good to Jason who was unemployed for almost a year.

Jason came to work his first day anticipating a rosy future with a great job and a great boss. Two weeks later his great boss, David, left the company for another job.  One of Jason’s co-workers, Teresa, became his boss. Her promotion caused all but one of Jason’s co-workers to leave. The remaining co-worker reminded Jason of Dilbert’s Wally, a guy picking up a paycheck but not working.

A month into the new job, Jason went to see Martha, the HR rep, to ask what had happened to his paycheck.  Martha spun a confused tale about “glitches” caused when the company changed payroll service vendors.  By the end of her convoluted explanation, Jason felt relieved that he would actually be paid eventually.

In addition to his payroll problems, Jason is annoyed by a steady stream of requests to complete HR paperwork.  Martha repeatedly calls Jason to her office to complete forms that he is certain he already filled in during his orientation.  Jason isn’t the brightest guy but he’s beginning to wonder about Buckeroo’s organizational savvy.

Chaos 2Yesterday, Martha emailed Jason to remind him to complete the company’s required web-based training. Martha copied the email to Teresa and seemingly every member of senior management. Jason’s had enough.

He emails that he hasn’t done the training because he never received a password to access the on-line training. He hits “reply all”.   This morning, Teresa called Jason to her office to chew him out for “making her look bad” by copying her bosses on his email yesterday.  Jason stares at Teresa.

What should Jason do next?

  1. He can point out to Teresa that he didn’t create the email cc list and he won’t be blamed for failures beyond his control.
  2. He can tune out Teresa’s rant and mentally revise his resume so that he doesn’t lose any time in looking for another job.
  3. He can accept that the company lacks systems to operate efficiently which means employees will waste time repeating tasks.

In the actual situation, the company muddled along for years refusing to adopt systems or processes to improve efficiency.  The muddling caused high turnover and low employee morale.  Eventually, the company was bought by a competitor.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link: https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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The Micromanager

Another update from the jungle…

MicroMan 1Sarah joined the company as an experienced lateral hire.  She was attracted to the company after they offered her a chance to use her diverse experience. Sarah likes variety because she’s easily bored by routine. She bailed out of several previous jobs when they became boring.  Now she does all the special projects for her new employer and each day offers a new challenge. She likes everything about her job except her boss, Dean.

Dean is the second most dreaded type of boss: the micromanager.  The most dreadful managerial sort, of course, is the psycho boss.  Dean can’t just assign a project to Sarah. He spends half an hour explaining in detail how he would complete the project. Then he tells Sarah to use her own judgment.

Sarah has high personal standards which require her to thoroughly research an issue before making recommendations. She is also a perfectionist and agonizes over each memo and report to ensure that the information is accurate and the words are clear and concise.  Then Dean ruins it.MicroMan 2

As her boss, Dean wants to see Sarah’s written memos and reports before they are sent on to the senior management team. Sarah understands the need for quality control but he’s a micromanager and he can’t resist meddling.  His review of her first report for the higher ups resulted in a sea of red ink. Dean had revised the entire report.

Sarah stared at her destroyed sentences and asked Dean why he had changed it. He said he thought it read better with the changes. Sarah pointed out that all the changes were stylistic. Essentially, he had re-written her report to reflect his more verbose style of writing. Dean smiled and assured Sarah that things would change as he became familiar with the quality of her work.

Of course, nothing changes. As the months pass, Sarah’s frustration grows. She daydreams of beating Dean senseless with his own laptop computer or forcing him to listen to rap music.  She discreetly asks the HR director to transfer her to a different manager but is told such a move is impossible.

What options are available to Sarah?

  1. She can continue hoping that Dean’s management style will change.
  2. She can continue objecting to Dean’s management style, which is contributing to a perception that she’s bitchy and not a team player.
  3. She can do the minimum necessary to earn her paycheck while she looks for another employer.

In the actual situation, the subordinate eventually found a new employer where her new boss wasn’t a micromanager.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link: https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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Dis-Integration

Mentor

Another Update from the Jungle…

Several years ago Cindy suggested that her company should create a mentoring program to reduce employee churn.  As the HR manager, she was spending most of her time interviewing applicants or completing termination paperwork.  At first, selling the idea to the owners of the company wasn’t easy.

The owners thought a mentoring program was a waste of time. The company founder told her that employees should be happy to have a job and didn’t need “touchy-feely crap”.  Cindy countered with diagrams showing years of trashed productivity and reduced profits caused by the revolving door of new hires. So the founder grudgingly consented to a mentoring program.

Cindy’s next hurdle was finding mentors. No one volunteered when she posted a notice on the bulletin board in the break room.  Her blast email calling for volunteers was ignored, except for the idiot who hit “reply all” when he commented to a co-worker about snowballs and hell. The idiot doesn’t know it yet, but Cindy has decided he needs to volunteer for quality control visits to suppliers in McAllen, Texas in August and Buffalo, New York in January.

Mentor 2Cindy eventually found enough mentors to run a pilot program.  Now six months later she is meeting with the mentees to ask for their feedback on how the program can be made better. What she learns is illuminating but a bit unexpected.

Brian says his mentor took him to dinner at an establishment with pole dancers and cheap booze. Brian admits he doesn’t know much about the company but he now carries lots of dollar bills just in case. Susan’s mentor complained incessantly about the company leading Susan to discreetly search for a new job.

Daniel, on the other hand, is enthusiastic about his mentor. She introduced him to key employees in each department, meets with him regularly to answer his questions, and urges him to volunteer for new duties in order to broaden his experience.

What should Cindy do next?

  1. She can recognize that the corporate culture’s defeatist attitude needs to be fixed first.
  2. She can ask Daniel’s mentor to create a list of her successful mentoring techniques so that others can copy it and hope a successful mentoring program will fix other problems.
  3. She can give up trying to make the workplace better and streamline the firing and termination processes.

In the actual situation, the senior management team never saw the value in a mentoring program and failed to support the initiative. The company continued to experience over 40% turnover in personnel and low productivity and employee morale.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Ebook Link

https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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A Valentine for a Special Lady

Val day 1Nicole, the HR Manager, spent last year’s holiday season trying to boost the morale of her co-workers.  Unfortunately, the office parties flopped and morale is still lower than a snake’s belly. The festive season faded into the cold drudgery of first quarter and everyone is mad.

Employees are mad because they haven’t gotten pay raises. The president is mad about the misbehavior at the holiday parties. He’s also worried that a key customer is about to take its business to a competitor putting a dent in the bottom line. As a result, the president has vetoed all budget increases, including pay raises.

Nicole knows about the budget problem because the president told her when he cut the HR Department’s budget.  Then he ordered Nicole not to divulge this information to anyone because he’s afraid that if word leaks out, other customers will lose confidence in the company and take their business elsewhere. Not knowing why they didn’t get pay raises, the employees leaped to the conclusion that the president is a greedy jerk who doesn’t care about them.

Even Nicole is depressed. Her boyfriend dumped her on New Year’s Day, during a TV commercial break from the college football matches he was watching.  Her cat hates the new brand of cat food she bought and snubs Nicole when she comes home each day. If her life was set to music, it would be an award winning country music song.

Nicole wonders if she’d be happier with a new employer.  As she sits pondering this question, a delegation of employees appears in the door of her office. Keith, the leader of the delegation, says they’ve come to talk to her on behalf of all the employees. Nicole braces herself for the worst.

Val day 3Keith tells Nicole that her co-workers are aware of how hard she’s worked for them. They want to thank her for her efforts on their behalf. Later that day a dozen yellow roses are delivered to her office, a gift from her co-workers.

The president sees the roses on Nicole’s desk and worries that he could lose her. He offers her a few perks, including a designated parking spot, to convince her to stay. Okay, that part is fantasy. The president is so wrapped up in the financial strains he doesn’t notice the roses.

Nicole knows that HR is often a thankless job and it’s not the first time she’s questioned her choice of career. But once in a blue moon, she has a day like the day she received roses.

Val day 2

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

Ebook Link

https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

 

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Improving Morale with Beatings

MoraleAnother update from the Jungle….

Don started his tech company in the depths of the financial meltdown a few years ago. After years of struggling, he expanded his client base to the point that he now has employees instead of subbing out the work to independent contractors.

Don ought to feel happy, but he’s not.  His employees make him unhappy. He hired millennials expecting them to be energetic and creative and to keep his company on the cutting edge of technology.  Instead, they infuriate him with their attitude.

Greg and Sam blew a deadline because they went bar-hopping with college friends.  They had not wanted to work on the project but they were next up on the rotation for assignments. So Don ignored their lack of enthusiasm and told them to get busy.  Their final work product was so crappy that Don agreed not to charge the client.

Don was so angry he decided to take away a few perks. He folded up the ping pong table and shoved it inStartup, Business, People, Students the storeroom. Then he ordered Greg and Sam to report to the office every day so that he could keep a closer eye on them. Now they sulk at their desks, doing as little as possible, while surfing the web for other job opportunities.

Don is also annoyed with Beth. Beth wants to work on a fundraising campaign for her favorite non-profit (humane housing for pot-bellied pigs that have outgrown their cuteness) rather than working on client projects. Don likes bacon and ham and doesn’t see any point in coddling a former pet piggy. Besides, he hired Beth to work for his clients; not her favorite charity. He said no.

Morale is so low that even the free-beer-on-Friday promise hasn’t improved the general malaise afflicting the office.  It’s Friday evening. Don’s sitting at home drinking the single malt scotch he reserves for special occasions and wondering what he should do on Monday morning.

What options are available to Don?

  1. He can take away all the perks, including free beer, and enforce more discipline until employees crank out quality work and morale improves.
  2. He can fire his current employees and start over with a new batch of employees who accept his way of doing things.
  3. He can allow his employees more freedom to choose their assignments and set their own schedules as long as they meet project deadlines and submit quality work.

This story is a composite of several actual situations in which the small business owners still believed in face time and didn’t recognize that the newer generation of employees desire autonomy. No one likes to be micro managed, however, a worker still needs to serve the person who has employed them. They still need to earn their paycheck. The difficulty is always in finding a good balance.

 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Boxed in by Box 12 on the W-2

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamedMaryann handles payroll questions for her employer.  She and her coworkers have been scrambling for a couple of years to ensure they comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Last year was all about finding a software program that would allow the company to track the hours of its temporary employees.

This year, Maryann is looking at box 12 on the W-2. That’s the box where employers need to plug in the cost of the medical plan for the employee.  Filling in this information is mandatory only for employers who filed at least 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year, meaning in 2013.  Maryann’s company filed 170 W-2’s in 2013, so they aren’t required to complete box 12 for the 2014 tax year.

She knows that this January her company will issue 200 W-2’s covering the 2014 tax year.  She thinks that number will rise to 250 during 2015.  Maryann wants to get a head start on figuring out box 12 after some of the past fiascos in trying to comply with the ACA.

What should Maryann consider?

  1. Maryann knows that the “cost” or “value” of health coverage refers to the premium paid for medical coverage in the health plan, known as “major medical”. She needs to verify what other costs, such as FSA contributions and dental and vision premiums, may need to be included.
  2. Maryann can consult her company’s CPA firm for assistance on completing box 12.
  3. Maryann can do some research in the ACA section of the IRS website during her spare time.

Update:  According to the IRS website, no new guidance has been issued in the past year. As a result, reporting the cost of the employee medical plan in Box 12 is required only for employers who filed 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year.  Employers who filed less than 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year may voluntarily report the medical plan cost in Box 12.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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Good cover, lousy book

Another update from the Jungle….
NS12016-2Gene is the managing partner of a professional services firm and he’s extremely proud of the team that works with him.  He insists that they follow a reasonable work schedule leaving time for family.  He rewards every employee with a bonus when the firm hits revenue targets.

The result is high productivity and soaring morale. People want to work at his firm and Gene has the luxury of picking job candidates that best fit his philosophy. It was all smooth sailing until six months ago when he hired Avery.

Avery looked great on paper. His three page resume looked impressive, full of academic achievements, extensive industry experience, and a history of community involvement.  Avery showed up for the interview in an expensive suit, looking thoroughly professional. He was relaxed, articulate, and generated a good vibe when he met the whole team.  He seemed like a great fit for the firm and Gene hired him.

Within a week, Avery was a problem.  He told several senior partners that his old firm had a much better system for tracking client services.  Then he told the secretaries they were being unfairly exploited and should go on strike for higher wages.  After that he asked junior staff members why they worked so hard when there was no obvious path to promotions since all the senior partners were years from retirement.

Gene learned about the underbelly of discontent when a delegation of junior staff members cornered him to complain about Avery.  The youngest secretary said she didn’t appreciate being told that she ought to feel exploited. That was one of the milder comments.

Gene’s always been told not to judge a book by its cover.  But it’s obvious that underneath Avery’s polished façade lies a wealth of baggage picked up from the conditions he experienced with previous employers.

How should Gene handle this situation?

  1. He can fire Avery immediately since the state has “at will” employment. But with Avery’s baggage, a wrongful termination lawsuit seems inevitable.
  2. He could try to counsel Avery on his attitude but worries this will simply delay the inevitable outcome.
  3. He can tell Avery that the firm isn’t the right fit and offer Avery a generous severance package in exchange for leaving immediately.

In the actual situation, the firm chose the third option because the management team decided that a toxic personality was too big a risk to keep on the payroll and the severance package limited any possible wrongful termination claims.  Everyone lived happily ever after (except “Avery” who carried his baggage to the next employer’s office).

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

To download my free ebook, click here.

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Sharing Sharon

Another update from the Jungle….

Difficult co-workers and employee relations

Do you have employees “holding court”?

Sharon is a middling performer, not great but not so bad that her job’s on the chopping block. She’s willing to work with any team to which she is assigned and she can be depended on to slog through some of the more tedious work.

Unfortunately for her co-workers, Sharon believes in sharing the details of her life. Her co-workers call her “Sharing Sharon”, as well as a few other names not fit for print here. Sharon’s co-workers know all about her marital problems, her son’s attention deficit disorder, and her teenaged daughter’s complicated love life. They also know about her cat’s litterbox problems and suffered for a week while Sharon agonized over her decision to put down her aging, sick dog.

Sharon cares about more than just her family, of course. One week she insists people should do more to save furry baby animals before all non-human species become extinct. Another week she explains that she’s reducing her carbon imprint by avoiding plastic water bottles.

Sharing Sharon’s oversharing is beginning to affect operations. One worker twisted her ankle when several employees imitated the running of the bulls to clear the break room to avoid Sharon. Several co-workers told the HR manager, Pam that they would rather quit the company, losing their 401(k) match than be stuck on another team with Sharon.

Pam has tried several times to give Sharon a hint that her personal life is better shared on Facebook with personal friends than with co-workers.  Sharon just doesn’t get it. The breaking point feared by Pam has now happened. Sharon was busy oversharing in a team meeting and the team leader was finally goaded beyond endurance. He yelled at Sharon to “shut up, already!”

Now Sharon is sitting in Pam’s office, sobbing and begging for Pam’s help.

How should Pam handle this situation?

  1. She can privately thank the team leader with a bottle of Gentleman Jack for saying what all of Sharon’s co-workers wanted to say but were afraid to.
  2. She can sympathize with Sharon’s distress but remind her (again) that personal lives shouldn’t be brought into the workplace.
  3. She can counsel the team leader regarding the company’s anti-bullying policy which prohibits derogatory comments to co-workers, sympathize with his exhausted patience, and encourage him to find less brutal ways to make his point in future.

In the actual situation, the co-workers continued to cringe and hide until their “Sharing Sharon” accepted a job at a competitor.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

To download my free ebook, click here.

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Outside Employment

unnamedKelly is glad to be back at work after a couple of weeks of family togetherness at the holidays. A few more days of vacation and she’d be ready to disown her parents and her in-laws, write the kids out of the will and talk to a divorce lawyer about her husband’s fate. It’s good to be back in the office where her job as HR Director suddenly seems simple.

Of course, that happy mood wears off before her first cup of coffee is finished. She’s still sorting through her email in-box when the company president barges into her office. He’s called a meeting to discuss a problem employee.

Kelly refills her coffee mug, sighs, and trudges to the president’s corner office to join the chief information officer and the CFO. The CIO explains that a misdirected phone call to her key lieutenant uncovered proof that Dan is running a side business. Dan is an IT department employee.

The misdirected phone call is from an individual who says he outsourced his company’s IT department to Dan. A quick investigation reveals that Dan has a personal IT business complete with a website advertising the same services he does for his employer. Dan has helpfully listed his company-issued cell phone number as the contact number for his side business.

The company president wants to fire Dan immediately, preferably by firing squad in the parking lot. The CIO and CFO also want to fire Dan but are worried about delicate negotiations on an IT contract. Dan has a small, but critical part to play in those negotiations. If Dan is fired he might take revenge by trying to screw up those negotiations. The management team looks at Kelly for her recommendation.

unnamed-2

What’s best for the team?

What should Kelly recommend to the management team?

  1. She can agree with the company president that Dan should be fired immediately, but without the firing squad since that would create a mess in the parking lot, not to mention violating company employment policies.
  2. She can ask the CIO if there is a replacement for Dan so that he can be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the negotiations.
  3. She can suggest that they proceed as usual, keeping the matter confidential until after the IT contract negotiations conclude and then fire Dan.

In the actual situation, the company decided to go with the third option because there was no replacement option. Immediately after the IT contract negotiations ended, the employee was fired with a note that he would never be eligible for rehire.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Tis the Season

Another update from the Jungle….

christmasNicole, the HR manager, is making one more effort to boost morale among her fellow employees this year. So far her efforts have had mixed success, to put it mildly. After scantily dressed people at the Halloween party and a near race riot for Veteran’s Day, the Thanksgiving luncheon was a damp squib. But there’s still time to rescue morale with a Christmas party.

Actually, it won’t be a Christmas party because Nicole doesn’t wish to offend the religious sensibilities of any employee. It’s a holiday party. She buys generic party favors to decorate the break room. Then she asks management to pay for the party to show their appreciation for their employees. Management counters with the bill for the Thanksgiving luncheon and says the company president won’t pay another red cent. The president is upset after hearing a rumor that his company is running a prostitution ring based on leaked photos from the Halloween party.

So Nicole decides to have another potluck lunch. She posts a sign-up sheet on the refrigerator in the break room and waits for the inevitable disgruntlement to ooze through her office door. She doesn’t have to wait long.

Ruth darkens her doorway to object to the generic decorations. She insists the holiday is about the christmas1baby Jesus and offers to contribute her personal Nativity scene to make the scene more authentic. The Nativity scene involves burning candles to illuminate the manger. Nicole says no. The candles will likely set off the sprinkler system and besides the workforce includes observers of several faiths.

The day of the holiday party arrives and Nicole inspects the potluck which includes chicken burritos, no-meat chili, pecan pie, and snickerdoodle cookies. Then Nicole notices Steve sidling up to the buffet table with a couple of desserts and hurries over to inspect his contributions. His key lime pie looks delicious but the fumes indicate that it’s half rum. His other contribution is bourbon balls.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can confiscate Steve’s desserts and remind him of the company’s no-alcohol policy.
  2. She can pretend not to notice Steve’s contribution and allow the seasonal cheer to go on. After all, it would boost morale until the alcohol wore off.
  3. She can encourage the company president to indulge in dessert and, when he’s feeling mellow, hit him up for pay raises for the workforce.

Nicole’s year of trying to boost morale is winding to a close. Nicole plans to enjoy the remainder of the year in solitude and meditation while preparing for next year.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Back Stabber

Another update from the Jungle….

backstabMarcella was happy to find a friend like Barry when she joined her new employer. He seemed like such a nice guy, interested in mentoring younger co-workers like her. Barry was a big help to her as she navigated the internal politics of her new employer.

Gradually over the months, Marcella talked about her children and she even gave Barry a few details about her messy divorce.   A female co-worker warned Marcella that Barry’s nice guy image was barely skin deep. Marcella dismissed the comments as sour grapes because the co-worker had been bounced from Barry’s team due to poor performance.

Then Marcella disagrees with Barry about how to solve a problem on their team project. Barry first tries to shame Marcella
in front of the other team members by explaining that he has so much more experience than her, his solution is the best. When Marcella refuses to back down, the matter escalates to their boss who agrees with Marcella’s solution to the problem.

A week later, the boss stops by Marcella’s office to ask if everything is okay at home. He assures her backthat she can have time off to go to court to deal with her son’s drug problem. Marcella’s shocked; her son doesn’t have a drug problem. Other co-workers stop by during the next few days to offer support.

Marcella remembers confiding to Barry several months ago that she was worried about some of her son’s friends. During that conversation she also said she was happy that her son’s school invited a community outreach police officer to talk to the students about the consequences of drug use. Marcella thinks that Barry twisted this information because he is mad about losing their disagreement on the team project.

What should Marcella do next?

  1. She can confront Barry to ask if he is the source of the rumor and then emulate Dolly Parton in “9 to 5” (threatening to change him from a rooster to a hen).
  2. She can complain to an HR representative but she has no proof Barry started the rumor and it’s not clear that any employee policy has actually been violated.
  3. She can avoid Barry as much as possible and never confide personal information to him again.

In the actual situation, the backstabbing employee eventually alienated so many employees that he became completely isolated. When the company downsized, he was the only employee not invited to join co-workers as they found new employers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Promoted to Failure

Another update from the Jungle….

actionplanJulia, the HR manager, is watching her company’s diversity and inclusion program go hideously wrong. Julia pushed every level of management all the way to the C-suite, urging them to broaden the pool of employees eligible for promotion to management. What did all her effort get her? Margaret.

Margaret worked in operations for many years and understands the technical side of the job but her interpersonal skills are dismal. She’s whiny and needy and self-absorbed. Some of her shortcomings might have been fixed if the C-suite had accepted Julia’s recommendation to create a management training program.

Instead, Margaret was promoted to manager without training or a mentor to help her. Now she micromanages her subordinates and refuses to delegate any decision-making authority to them. But she’s afraid of being held responsible if something goes wrong so she fails to make any decisions.

When other department managers complain that their work is disrupted, Margaret blames her subordinates of incompetence. Her subordinates show up and don’t do their jobs since they know bossany actions they take are likely to be undermined by Margaret. Most of them are applying for transfers away from her.

The stress on Margaret is so intense that she suffers from migraines and works from home several days a week. When she does come into the office, she is so unpleasant that everyone avoids her.

The steady rumble of discontent is growing so loud that the C-suite is having trouble ignoring it. Julia is desperately searching for a solution to the whole mess but she’s run out of time. In today’s mail she receives an EEOC notice letter that a complaint of racial discrimination has been made against Margaret by Margaret’s secretary.

What should Julia do next?

  1. She can recommend that Margaret be appointed special liaison to the company’s suppliers with an immediate posting to, say, Shanghai or Taipei.
  2. She can investigate the charges and then artfully respond to the EEOC in a way that is slightly more flattering than the actual situation warrants.
  3. She can notify the C-Suite of the EEOC investigation and use this as an opportunity to convince the senior managers to approve a training program for new managers.

In the actual situation, the EEOC concluded there was no racial discrimination because the new manager treated all her subordinates like crap. The employer hailed this decision as a victory. The new manager was eventually reassigned during a departmental reorganization but the employer still doesn’t have a training program for new managers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

image053Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your holiday with friends and family.

The Jungle will return next week.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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What Are We Thankful For?

Another update from the Jungle….
image049Nicole, the HR manager, had a scary Halloween with underclad co-workers and a wild Veteran’s Day that ended with claims of discrimination. She is finding it increasingly difficult to boost morale among her fellow employees. She’s trying to boost morale because her co-workers are disenchanted after years of no pay raises and limited opportunities for promotions.

Her newest morale booster is a Thanksgiving lunch. She even convinces the company’s president to pay for the turkey and dressing. Now all she has to do is convince her co-workers to bring side dishes and prepare to have fun. She tapes a sign-up sheet to the refrigerator in the break room.

Before anyone can sign up, Steve stops by her office to demand beer with lunch. Nicole vetoes alcohol, as usual. She tells Steve that he seems unhappy and asks if he’d be happier working for another type of employer, such as a honkytonk or a house of ill repute in the Nevada desert.image051

Then Monica pops into Nicole’s office to announce that she has just become a vegan because living off animals is disgusting. Monica wants vegan-acceptable food at the Thanksgiving lunch. Nicole replies that Monica can bring a side dish that satisfies her new dietary requirements, as long as it’s not kale or cabbage or a similarly aromatic vegetable.

Next a delegation of employees crowds in to Nicole’s office. The Hispanics are still furious about the Veteran’s Day event when a co-worker suggested building a wall on the southern U.S. border. Now they complain that Thanksgiving completely ignores their cultural heritage. Sam Redhawk complains that Thanksgiving is racist for celebrating the extermination of Native American culture. The gist of the complaints is that they feel unappreciated and marginalized.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can tell her co-workers to shut up and be thankful they still have jobs.
  2. She can strive to make Thanksgiving lunch a celebration of multi-cultural America, encouraging everyone to bring a side dish that represents their cultural origins.
  3. She can tell the president there are serious morale issues that can’t be fixed with food and that he should watch “Mutiny on The Bounty” if he wants to preview the end of the story.

If you’re an HR manager, you’ve probably had a year like Nicole’s year. The holiday season isn’t over yet so stay tuned for more adventures with Nicole.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Happy Veteran’s Day!

Another update from the Jungle….

veteransNicole, the HR manager, is planning another morale boosting event. Her first effort was the Halloween party a couple weeks ago which ended on a sour note when some of the costumes exceeded her expectations and the president’s tolerance.

Nicole is now working on her Veteran’s Day celebration. Ever the optimist, Nicole decides on a pot luck lunch with a patriotic theme. She announces that during the luncheon, they will honor employees who served in the military.

As usual, the whine of the day comes from Steve who says he’ll boycott the party if there’s no beer. Nicole says no alcohol will be served since everyone has to work after lunch. She’s beginning to wonder if Steve would be happier working for a different sort of employer.

On the morning of the party, Ruth stops by the break room to look at the decorations and fixates on the red paper poppies
that adorn the middle of each table. Ruth says that displaying red poppies encourages the use of
image048illegal drugs because everyone knows that heroin comes from poppies. Nicole retorts that everyone knows red poppies symbolize the military dead in World War I. Shaken but undeterred, Nicole finishes the decorations as people wander in for lunch.

Almost immediately, there’s a problem in the buffet line. The employees split into two (almost equal) camps arguing about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and whether the president should send troops to fight in Syria. Then someone says the U.S. needs stronger border controls to keep out illegals and terrorists. This provokes the Hispanic workers who angrily deny being “illegals”; the Muslims who say that they aren’t terrorists; and the Indians with H1B visas who work in the IT department and complain that they haven’t stolen jobs from Americans.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can forge ahead with the plan to honor the military veterans, although this now seems risky since half the employees appear to be in an anti-war camp.
  2. She can sneak out of the break room and hide in her office until after lunch.
  3. She can hold an impromptu educational discussion on the company’s anti-discrimination policies and appreciating diversity in the workforce.

Nicole’s first two attempts to boost morale on a limited budget haven’t gone as well as she would have liked but there’s still time before the holiday season ends. Stay tuned for more adventures with Nicole.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Did He Really Say That?

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (13)Erica is interviewing for a job as the HR manager for a small privately held company.  Erica heard about the job opening from a friend. She is looking for a change after growing bored with her current employer.

Erica is capped on pay and promotions with her current employer unless her boss dies or retires, neither of which seems likely.  Months ago, Erica suggested a special project working with IT to upgrade some of the creaking systems that slow down productivity and offered to lead the project task force. Her offer was rejected by her boss and her boss’s boss, leaving Erica with the impression that they weren’t serious about productivity gains or keeping her engaged as an employee.

So Erica decided to move on. She applied for the HR manager opening and was invited in for an interview. At the interview,
she waits in the shabby lobby for 20 minutes past the time her interview is scheduled to start. Finally,a man in his late 60’s steps in to the lobby to invite her to the conference room for the interview.

In the conference room, Erica blinks as she gets a closer look at her interviewer. He looks like an
image045extra from the Godfather movies with chunky gold rings on both hands and a large gold watch.  His shirt is open half-way down his chest displaying gold chain necklaces.  In a voice roughened by cigarettes and cheap whiskey, the man explains that he’s looking for an HR manager to keep the “government off his back”.

Erica asks if his company’s employment practices were audited by a government regulator but he brushes aside the question. He says that companies like his would be a lot more successful if the government would stop interfering and telling him how to run it.  Then he explains that he’s had trouble in the past hiring women because “they start with single coverage on the medical plan but next thing you know, they’re on the family plan”.

What should Erica do next?

  1. She can call him a dinosaur, list all the federal and state employment laws he’s violated during the interview and storm out of the room.
  2. She can expend a lot of effort trying to get the job since the company obviously needs all the HR help it can get.
  3. She can send the owner a bottle of cheap scotch after the interview to thank him for his time and pray that he doesn’t offer her the job.

In the actual situation, the interviewer never made a job offer. The interviewee continues to congratulate herself on one of the narrowest escapes of her professional career.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Halloween is a Scream

Another update from the Jungle….
image039Nicole is the HR manager for her company and she’s had a tough time for the past few years. Her company avoided layoffs but they haven’t given pay raises in years. Nicole tries to find other ways to boost employee morale.

This month’s morale booster is a Halloween party on the Friday closest to October 31st. Nicole emails employees encouraging them to come in their favorite costumes and compete for prizes. Poor Nicole! Even after years of experience in the HR world, she’s still a bit naïve.

Her email has barely hit the company’s intranet when Steve slouches in to her office to complain that he won’t attend the party if he has to wear a costume. He also demands that suitable adult beverages be served at the party. Nicole isn’t that naïve. She vetoes alcohol.

Then Ruth walks into her office to say that her church forbids Halloween parties because they encourage worship of the devil. She threatens to sue for religious discrimination if she’s forced to attend the party. Ruth also says that competing for prizes is gambling which is prohibited by her faith, state law, and the employee handbook.

After a quick review of company policy, Nicole concludes that prizes of nominal value won’t result in her arrest, so she forges
image042 ahead with her party plans. Friday arrives and Nicole decorates the break room with the help an elf, a 1930’s railroad hobo, and a clown. Then she rewards herself with a glass of (non-alcoholic) punch as she watches the employees file in for the party.

Suddenly, her glass of punch slips from her hand and she stifles a scream as she watches Tina sashay into the break room. Tina is wearing three-inch stiletto heels and a scanty outfit modeled on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can ask Steve to find the nearest liquor store and buy her a restorative drink to help her recover from the shock of seeing Tina.
  2. She can award Tina the prize for most innovative costume.
  3. She can escort Tina from the break room before the president sees his CIO decked out like a (high end) call girl.

Has your company ever held a holiday party that went awry? Stay tuned for more adventures as Nicole navigates through the holiday season this year.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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It’s Back Again!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (11)Michelle owns a small business of 35 employees that is slowly expanding. She’s ignored the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ever since she realized that her company was too small to be subject to the employer penalty. Besides, she has other concerns, such as finding new markets for her company so that it can continue to grow.

However, her employees like having benefits, including health coverage. Last year, Michelle encouraged her employees to obtain individual health policies because she couldn’t afford a group health plan. Now the issue has arisen again as the annual open enrollment period for the Exchange approaches on November 1st.

Michelle would like to offer a group health plan because she thinks it would be a nice perk for employees. But she’s heard other small business owners complain about increased premium costs.
image038She’s afraid she can’t afford a group plan this year either.

She does a quick survey of her employees. She learns that 15 of them have coverage through their spouses. One employee is an early retiree covered under a former employer’s plan. Another employee is eligible for Medicare. Part-time workers wouldn’t be eligible for coverage in an employer’s group health plan under the ACA rules.

That leaves a grand total of 12 employees who are interested in a group health plan. Of the 12 employees, several could qualify for a subsidy from the Exchange based on their income and family size.

What should Michelle do next?

  1. She can ignore the issue completely since her company is not subject to the employer penalty.
  2. She can ask her insurance agent to give her information on a group health plan option for the 12 employees who are interested in coverage.
  3. She can arrange for an insurance agent to come to her work place to help employees choose individual health policies, through the Exchange or outside the Exchange.

There are no easy solutions for small employers regarding health coverage. Small employers may find that not offering a group health plan actually helps their lower income employees to qualify for a subsidy through the Exchange. On the other hand, any employer offering a group health plan may use a business tax deduction to offset part of the cost of the plan. An experienced insurance agent or producer can help small employers assess their options.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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New Job; Old Baggage

Another update from the Jungle….
image029Betty started a new job about six months ago but already the old patterns are starting to repeat. Betty’s last job became so unbearable that she quit. Now she seems to be headed down the same path again.

At her last job, a clique of female co-workers proved that Heathers don’t get nicer as they grow up; they just get older. They made Betty miserable. They invited her to lunch during her first week on the job for the apparent purpose of mocking her interests and lifestyle. That was the beginning of a long campaign of passive aggressive behavior aimed at undermining Betty.

When Betty complained about misplaced files or sabotaged resources, her clueless boss labeled her a complainer. Betty didn’t want to be best friends with the clique but in a small office it meant she was isolated and alone. Betty’s confidence eroded and her performance suffered. When her performance review assessed her as “not a team player”, Betty took the hint
image031 and found her current job.

Unfortunately, the old baggage came with her. She knows some of her new co-workers think she’s a snob for declining lunch invitations and not participating in the monthly office birthday parties. But Betty’s cautious of getting to know her new co-workers because she’s afraid of meeting a new group of Heathers.

Today, an HR rep asked Betty to stop by. At their meeting, the HR rep asked Betty how she liked her office, her workload, and how she was getting along with her colleagues. Betty gave a non-committal answer. Then the HR rep asked Betty if she would like to participate in a new mentoring program which was created to help new employees integrate into the company.

What should Betty do next?

  1. She can decide based on her past experiences that she will “fail” at this job so she should quit now and join a commune in Alaska.
  2. She can start looking for another job hoping that things will be different next time.
  3. She can accept the invitation to join the mentoring program, increasing her chances of having a satisfying career with her current employer.

In the actual case, the first employer had no mentoring program because the owners were not convinced that touchy-feely programs contributed to the bottom line. Consequently, they experienced a high level of employee churn and were eventually acquired by a competitor.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Get Rid of Him!

Another update from the Jungle….
image024Doug is getting close to retirement age after a long, not very distinguished, career. He’s still the consummate professional but it’s obvious that all is not well with him. He is out sick at least one day a week and he doesn’t do much work on the days he is in the office.

Doug’s problems are becoming a headache for Suzy, the HR manager. Suzy likes Doug; he’s always polite and respectful which is not true of his pushy boss. The pushy boss has ordered her to find a reason to fire Doug. Suzy privately thinks the pushy boss wants to make his budget look better by dumping Doug for a less experienced and lower salaried employee.

Suzy begins discrete inquiries of Doug’s behavior and job performance. His friends tell Suzy that Doug suffers from anxiety
attacks and depression. Doug’s anxiety attacks worsened when he was moved into an office on the 15th floor with a wall of windows. Doug has a fear of heights.

Doug’s also having trouble remembering things. Yesterday, Suzy overheard a junior team member
image025talking to Doug about a client problem. When Doug said the problem sounded familiar, his junior replied, “It ought to; it’s your client”.

Today Suzy is meeting with Doug’s boss. She suggests that Doug should be moved to an interior office but the boss says no; senior people like Doug must have a window office. Next Suzy asks for examples of Doug’s work that show he can’t do his basic job description. The boss has none. In fact, Suzy already knows the boss gave Doug a tepid, but positive, performance review.

What should Suzy do next?

  1. She can tell the pushy boss that he’s a dingbat for trying to fire an older worker who is obviously still competent and who has not received a negative performance review.
  2. She can read up on the definition of “disability” in the Americans with Disabilities Act in case Doug decides to ask for an accommodation.
  3. She can verify that the company has employment practices liability insurance because her gut instinct is that Doug’s boss is about to demonstrate the need for such coverage.

In the actual case, the older worker eventually took early retirement based on health reasons and faded away without raising any of the legal issues that were available to him. The pushy boss was promoted which allowed him to be pushy to a greater number of people simultaneously.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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They Didn’t Like Her Looks

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (9)Alana walked into the break room to refill her coffee mug and stumbled into a raging war. A group of co-workers were arguing about the merits of the presidential candidates. Alana sidled toward the coffee maker regretting that she didn’t send her assistant to check if the coast was clear.

The political argument covered familiar ground. Several co-workers scoffed that Carly Fiorina is ugly and unattractive and so she shouldn’t be president. Another co-worker chimed in criticizing the physical appearance and business sense of Hilary Clinton. Both women were criticized for fashion faux pas.

Aside from a few cracks about Donald Trump’s hair, the male candidates were judged on their prior experience and ideas.
The argument focused on the conservative credentials of the male candidates but no one criticized their suits or their ties.

Alana grabbed her mug and trudged back to her office reflecting that some things never seem to change. The AP 2016 BUSH CLINTON FUNDRAISING A ELN USA NYwomen candidates are judged on their physical appearance and not their ideas or abilities. Alana thought about other women presidential candidates. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm’s campaign was dismissed with a smile. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro’s qualifications as a vice presidential candidate were buried under stories about her husband’s alleged Mafia connections. (He was Italian-American from New York and owned a construction business.)

Alana’s the HR director for her company and she conducts many interviews to screen job applicants. The interviews require her to judge job candidates based on appearance, how well they prepare for the interview and their prior work experience. Inevitably, some job candidates lose the chance to move to the next stage of the hiring process because they don’t look or act “right” in the initial interview.

Alana knows that rejecting a job candidate almost always involves her biases, good and bad. She also knows that there are many ways to explain why a candidate was rejected that appear neutral and unbiased.

What should Alana do next?

  1. She can resign her job and go live in a cave with no wi-fi until after the presidential election next November.
  2. She can create a new HR policy banning political discussions in the break room.
  3. She can accept the reality that we are judged on our appearance and recognize how her personal biases influence her hiring recommendations.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Slob Next Door

Another update from the Jungle….

image017

Judy was excited about her new job. She targeted the company for employment after reading the corporate social responsibility blurb on their company website. During the interviewing process, the HR people seemed impressed by her accomplishments and she was impressed by their description of the charitable causes supported by the company.

Judy moved into a cubicle with a window view (of the parking lot) and prepared to work for a company with a conscience. Judy set to work with energy and enthusiasm, sure that she had found the perfect employer. But, alas for Judy, the dream job quickly ended. A slob moved into the cubicle next to hers.

The slob’s cubicle overflowed with work papers, empty candy bar wrappers and gum wrappers. The slob guzzled caffeinated drinks all day and left the empty cans lying around his cubicle, creating a sticky mess that oozed into the corridor between rows of cubicles.image021

All those caffeinated drinks also made the slob twitchy. He thumped and bumped against the cubicle walls so that Judy sat in a mini earthquake zone. The slob listened to music on his iPhone but even with headphones, everyone in a ten-foot radius could clearly hear the music. The slob often cracked his gum in time to the music.

Judy made several attempts to politely ask the slob to turn down the volume on the iPhone, to not crack his gum, and to not hit the wall between their cubicles. Each time the slob apologized but promptly ignored her requests. Finally, Judy asked her boss to move her to a cubicle far away from the slob. Her boss told her to ask HR.

The HR rep said no other cubicles were available. She implied that Judy was not a team player after Judy pointed out that the slob was violating several HR policies on cubicle etiquette. Then the HR rep suggested that Judy should try to “work something out” with the slob. Judy left the HR meeting convinced that no one in authority cared about the slob next door.

What are Judy’s options?

  1. She can train the slob the same way she trained her dog, spraying him with water each time he engages in “bad” behavior.
  2. She can learn meditation techniques to help her deal calmly with the slob.
  3. She can ask whether she wants to work for a company that brags about corporate responsibility while allowing a slob to ignore company policy and annoy co-workers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I’m Not His Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image011Addison works for Rob, who has a consulting business. (We met Rob in last week’s post.) The work is sporadic and project-based but she likes it that way because she’s a free spirit. Addison worked for large corporations for many years and is happy to be on her own now.

She does project-based work for several businesses, including Rob’s, and also has a few clients of her own. She dislikes sales and prospecting for clients because she prefers to focus on the work. She likes working for Rob because he pays quickly and the projects allow her plenty of scope for imagination.

Today when she stopped by Rob’s office to discuss the next project, she found him in a strange mood and slightly hung over from overindulging in Gentleman Jack. Rob began talking about financial problems. At first Addison thought he was telling her that he was insolvent. Then she realized he was talking about some new policy of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
image015The DOL recently said that it would no longer use the “control” test to determine if a worker is an independent contractor (1099 worker) or an employee (W-2 worker). Instead, the DOL plans to use an “economic reality” test. This new test has a number of factors but can be summed up by saying that if a worker is economically dependent on the employer, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099.

Addison accepts Rob’s offer of a shot of Gentleman Jack, although she prefers Buffalo Trace, and they sit in a gloomy silence as they contemplate what the new test means for each of them. Addison dreads the idea that she could again be classified as a W-2 because she likes being free to work at her pace and only on things she enjoys doing.

What should Addison do next?

  1. She can explain to Rob that she has other clients in addition to the work she does for him and so she thinks that she truly is an independent contractor.
  2. She can incorporate her business now that she has the money to do so rather than continuing to operate as a d/b/a. Incorporating is additional proof that she is running her own business.
  3. She can wait to make any changes until she has more information.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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She’s Not My Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image008Rob has a small consulting business that does project-based work. That means Rob needs a flexible work force that can easily gear up when there are lots of clients, but can also gear down when projects are few.

Rob relies on a group of individuals that he classifies as independent contractors. For each project, Rob explains what the client wants, the deadlines that must be met, and the scope of work. The worker can accept or reject any project. Rob’s been happy with his flexible work force.

At a recent networking event, Rob heard that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has decided to ditch its old “control” test for deciding if a worker is an independent contractor (1099) or an employee (W-2). Instead the DOL will use an “economic reality” test. Rob does some quick research at www.dol.gov/whd and finds the document outlining this new test. What he reads makes him reach for a bottle of Gentleman Jack.

After a couple of stiff drinks, Rob thinks he understands the main points of this new test. The
image010economic reality test says that a worker who is economically dependent on an employer is an employee and not an independent contractor. Rob doesn’t know if his workers are economically dependent on him. He uses them part-time and always believed that they did work for other consulting businesses.

Rob sees that the new test has several factors. The factor that most worries Rob is the one that says if the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099 worker. Rob knows that his consulting business depends on completing projects for his clients which requires the use of skills that his independent contractors have.

After another shot of Gentleman Jack, Rob does some worst case scenario calculations of what will happen if his workers must be converted to W-2’s. He realizes immediately that it wouldn’t be financially possible to convert all of them to employees.

What are Rob’s options?

  1. He can choose a couple of the independent contractors that have the broadest range of skills and offer to convert them to W-2’s who work full-time for him. All the other workers would no longer be eligible to work on his company’s projects.
  2. He can talk to his CPA about cash flow and tax strategies for dealing with the new economic reality test.
  3. He can continue business as usual, including drinking more Gentleman Jack, while he waits to see what DOL will do.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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School Zones Made Me Late

Another update from the Jungle….
image001Jane is the HR manager for a company with about 200 employees. The company runs a lean operation which means that Jane is the sole HR person and handles pretty much every situation that arises. Jane likes the variety of issues that she faces because it keeps everything fresh and interesting.

A major problem for the company is time and attendance. The owner of the company is obsessive and compulsive about details and it drives him nuts to see a few employees chronically showing up late. He told Jane to fix the problem.

Jane reviewed the time and attendance policy which clearly states that chronic tardiness may subject an employee to progressive disciplinary action. The policy is included in the employee handbook. Jane checks the personnel files for each laggard employee and finds that each of them has signed the acknowledgement form. That means that each employee received a copy of the employee handbook and promptly tossed it aside without actually reading it.
image004This week, Jane began meeting individually with each employee who is chronically late. Jane tries not to yawn as she hears the usual excuses. One employee says she was stuck in traffic due to an accident. Another says his dog got out of the fenced-in backyard and he had to find the mutt and lock him in the garage before leaving for work.

Jane’s favorite excuse of the week is the employee who says she was late due to the school zones. The employee recently moved so that her children could attend a more highly rated school. This means the employee must now travel through three more school zones on her route to work. That caused her to be late.

What should Jane do next?

  1. She can explain to each employee that the excuse du jour doesn’t make up for chronic lateness. She can then move to the next step in progressive discipline.
  2. She can encourage each employee to make a greater effort to arrive on time and let them off with a verbal warning.
  3. She can ask herself why she never thought up so many creative reasons for being late to work.

Time and attendance issues are a perennial problem. Perhaps it’s time to think about the underlying reasons for tardiness. Employees who enjoy their work tend to show up on time.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle today.

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!