Month: March 2016

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.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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

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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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

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

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

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

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

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

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

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/