Month: November 2017

3 Revisions For Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Another update from the Jungle…..

It’s amazing how quickly our social expectations are evolving on the topic of sexual harassment. Not so long ago, off color comments, body groping and other objectionable behavior was tolerated, particularly when committed by powerful people. All that is changing and employers need to adapt. Here are three suggested revisions for employers reviewing their sexual harassment policy and training.

Managerial Support

Every employer I worked for insisted on annual sexual harassment training for the staff. But most managers never showed up for the training or left early. That’s unfortunate, since the most common form of sexual harassment is still male bosses harassing women subordinates.

But accusing the boss of inappropriate behavior is the fastest path to ruining a woman’s career. That’s why Harvey Weinstein wasn’t publicly accused of sexual harassment until after he lost his status as a Hollywood power broker. Employers can avoid a Weinstein moment by requiring managers to participate in training and to set the example on what behavior is acceptable.

Realistic Training

One employer I worked for used the same training video year after year until employees stood in front of the screen, miming the actors and repeating the dialogue. The scenarios were blindingly obvious, like the woman who gets fired after refusing to date her boss. Everyone got their ticket punched for the yearly training and no one learned anything.

Training materials must include realistic scenarios of everyday occurrences. Training must also acknowledge that deciding what is harassment can be subjective. I once worked with a man who always spoke in double entendres. Most the women in the office claimed that they were outraged, but they continued flirting with him. Was he harassing them or not? That’s a much more realistic scenario than the boss dating his secretary cliché.

Clear Complaint Process

Deciding whether to complain begins with actually reading the relevant section of the employee handbook. The relevant section is usually buried in a long paragraph at the end of the anti-harassment policy section of the handbook. It may not be clear whether the complaint process applies to other situations, including the separate sexual harassment policy.

Assuming the harassed employee decides to make a complaint, she (or he) will immediately have two fears. What if the process requires reporting to your supervisor and that’s the harasser? How does the person complaining avoid retaliation? To be effective, the complaint process should be easy to read, have alternative paths for reporting a complaint, and ensure confidentiality as much as possible.

Our society is evolving.  Employers need to move quickly to adapt.

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 Got To Be Perfect

Another update from the Jungle…..

It’s a week before Thanksgiving, and Abigail feels overwhelmed and deeply stressed. Between her job and her home life, the demands on her time make her want to run away to a Caribbean island and forget it all with lots of rum.

It all started when her brothers informed her that she would be happy to host the family gathering. As part of the festive occasion, their mother will be in residence for a week. Abigail loves her mom, but the thought of a week living in the same house makes her blood run cold. Mom will be offering “advice” on everything from how to arrange the Pilgrim centerpiece to the best way to carve the turkey.

To prepare for the arrival of Mom and the family, Abigail engages in a frenzy of cleaning each evening after work. She ropes in her husband to help her clean. He grumbles about the last time they hosted the family when his TV remote was broken and his man cave was invaded by munchkins who spilled Kool-Aid on the carpet.

Abigail reminds him that it was his side of the family last time and opens another bottle of red wine. She figures that at the rate of one room and a bottle or three of wine per night, everything will be ready by Thanksgiving.

At work, it’s hard to concentrate. The red wine is catching up with her. Today, she’s sitting in a staff meeting ignoring the reports of co-workers and waiting for it to end so she can get back to her to-do lists. Rick, her supervisor, finally wraps up the meeting by asking if there are any questions. People push their chairs back, ready to run.

Everyone is rising from their chairs when Myra says she has a quick question. Everyone settles back in their seats glaring at Myra. Myra wants to clarify her role in a project due in late January. Abigail is infuriated. That’s two whole months away, after the holidays. Abigail thinks about all the things she needs to get done before next Thursday. It’s all too much.

What are Abigail’s options?

  1. She can beat Myra senseless with the remaining cheese Danish.
  2. She can fall on the floor and roll around pretending to have a seizure in hopes that will end the meeting.
  3. She can take a deep breath and remember that perfection is unattainable and so stressing about the holidays is a waste of time.

We’ve all been there. Take a break from trying to achieve perfection and have a fun holiday.

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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3 HR Practices to Consider on Veteran’s Day

Another update from the Jungle…..

This Saturday, November 11th, we will celebrate Veteran’s Day. This national holiday originated after World War I to commemorate the war which officially ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Since then, the holiday has expanded to commemorate all military service personnel in our country’s history.

In recent years, the solemnity of the occasion has been obscured by a tendency to label every military person as a “hero.” But a “hero” is an idealization. So labeling all military personnel as “heroes” can make it more difficult for these individuals to admit they need help with mental health issues arising from their days in the service.

For almost two decades, our all-volunteer military has cycled repeatedly through war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as many other parts of the world. The length of the wars means that they have repeatedly switched between combat and peace time deployments. This cycle has greatly increased mental health strains on active duty individuals, veterans and their families. Those issues don’t go away when an individual leaves the military for civilian life.

Employers who hire veterans can ease the transition with these 3 HR practices.

  1. Support mental health programs for employees. Veterans (and other employees) often avoid treatment out of fear that they will be unfairly stigmatized as “crazy.” More employees will seek help if senior management actively supports use of an employee assistance program (EAP) and the mental health benefits covered in most health insurance policies.
  2. Ensure that anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-bullying policies are enforced with the goal of limiting the potential for workplace violence. Employees dealing with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may be more likely to react inappropriately when facing a perceived threat. (Not all veterans develop PTSD and not all PTSD sufferers are veterans. Domestic violence survivors and residents of high-crime neighborhoods often have PTSD.)
  3. Review how your company handles Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requests for accommodations.  Some employees may function better in a quiet, secluded corner rather than in crowded, noisy cubicles. Other employees may flourish if they can sometimes work remotely. A flexible approach is more likely to ensure your company keeps good employees, including veterans.

This Veteran’s Day, let’s honor our veterans by treating them like the veterans of former wars were treated: men and women who did their duty and then returned to peace-time employment. Help them transition to civilian employment with enlightened practices for handling mental health issues. It will be good for all 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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Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

 

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