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Where Is He?

Another update from the Jungle…

Dax is a quiet guy who does his job with a minimum of fuss or recognition. He’s so quiet that three years after joining the company, the owner asked if Dax was a new hire.

Dax keeps to himself. His only friend at work is Fred, the loudmouth in the next cubicle. Fred is like a TV set babbling in the background, ignored by everyone. Fred likes talking to Dax because Dax never challenges any of his braggadocio.

One day, Fred shows up at work and Dax isn’t there. After two days, Fred ambles down the hall to Megan, the HR rep, to ask if she knows where Dax has gone. Megan needs a moment to process Fred’s question because she’s cursing herself mentally for not hiding from Fred who irritates her.

Megan is so surprised at Fred’s concern for Dax that she decides to act immediately. She looks at her attendance records and sees that Dax should be at work. Megan knows that Dax and Fred’s supervisor is out of town on business and wouldn’t be aware that Dax is a no-show.

Megan’s heart races as she remembers the last time an employee fell off the radar. She asks Fred if he’s noticed any recent changes in Dax’s behavior. Fred isn’t sure. She calls Dax’s cell, but it goes to voicemail. Then Megan calls his emergency contact, his mom, who says she hasn’t heard from Dax in over a week.

Megan decides they should check Dax’s home. No one answers the doorbell. As Megan tries to peek through the curtains, an elderly neighbor shuffles on to his porch and says he’s part of the neighborhood watch and will call the cops if they don’t leave immediately. Eventually, the neighbor admits he hasn’t seen Dax for “awhile” but thinks that he likes hanging out at the zoo.

Megan and Fred head to the zoo. After wandering past lions, tigers and bears and screaming children, they find Dax slumped on a bench near the reptile house. He stares listlessly at them. It takes an hour of earnest conversation to convince Dax to call the EAP hotline to ask for a referral to a local counseling service.

Mental health issues are headline news these days. If you are interested in learning about tools to lead others to treatment or in helping to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, check out http://www.mhmarketing.org/. This year’s seminar is scheduled for July 26th and 27th, 2018 at Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve attended in the past, and it gets better every year. Thanks to Austin Harrison (Austin@mhmarketing.org) for founding this seminar.

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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That Should Have Been My Promotion

Another update from the Jungle…

Abigail is deeply depressed about her job. She was passed over for a promotion again. Her boss, Maryanne, thinks she’s just sulking. Of course, Maryanne is a busy manager and seldom wastes a moment thinking about Abigail.

Abigail doesn’t need much managerial oversight. She’s a self-starter who steadily slogs along to reach all her goals ahead of the deadline. She’s good at spotting potential problems and seems to effortlessly incorporate solutions into her pre-existing time table. Her diffident attitude disarms her more pompous co-workers who usually resist efforts at teamwork or productivity during working hours. As a result, Abigail can achieve fantastic results.

She would be a great manager if not for a single, glaring failure. She seems to lack confidence and belief in her own abilities. She annoys co-workers by vocally agonizing over major decisions and often second-guesses herself.

So when Maryanne was looking for someone to promote, she ignored Abigail and picked puffed up Paul, a shameless self-promoter. He likes being in charge because “supervising” means he does less actual work.

Co-workers secretly despise him because he has the ethics of a cornered rat. But they laugh at his jokes because they know he’s in tight with the senior managers. Besides, he’s funny when he imitates a co-worker’s personal habits. His most frequent target is Abigail.

Paul is smart enough to see Abigail’s abilities even if she’s riddled with doubts. He usually asks for Abigail when he’s put in charge of a project. She does the work; he takes the credit. Since he doesn’t want anyone to know who’s really running the show, he adopts a condescending attitude when talking to her.

He never hesitates to notify senior managers about his brilliant leadership capabilities. So when the promotion opened up, they suggested to Maryanne that Paul would be a good choice.

What options are available to Abigail?

  1. She can continue stewing about the injustice of the stupid management team for ignoring her skills.
  2. She can spray paint “loser” on Paul’s sporty new car when no one’s watching.
  3. She can seek professional help to overcome her habit of second-guessing her abilities, then get a new job where she will not be handicapped by previous performance evaluations.

Many low-key workers are passed over for promotions because of doubts about their abilities. HR can help by encouraging management to pay for professional coaches to help these workers develop the skills needed to be a successful manager. The company will benefit from having a wider, more diverse pool of potential candidates for promotions.

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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Oh, What I Have Suffered!

Another update from the Jungle…..

Pete is frustrated. His business has been tanking for the past month, and he’s having trouble coping with the mess. The mess began when Cheryl showed up to work with a fever and coughed and sneezed over everyone. She slumped at her desk complaining of aches and pains, but insisting that she couldn’t possibly have the flu because she’d gotten a flu shot.

During lunch, Amber went shopping for disinfectant. She returned with a giant shopping bag and set to work hosing down every surface in the office. The fumes aggravated Becky’s asthma, and she turned blue while searching for her inhaler.

Pete drove Becky to the doc-in-the-box clinic around the corner from the office. The nurse practitioner suggested that Becky should go to the emergency room. Pete dragged Becky back to his car and drove to the hospital. He called her husband to meet them at the emergency room.

Hours later, he returned to the office to find that all his employees had fled for the day. He left a voice-mail message for Cheryl, ordering her to stay away from the office until a doctor signed a note saying she was not contagious. But the damage was done.

The next day, Becky called in sick from her hospital bed where she was undergoing testing for pneumonia. Bob called to say he had whiplash from the violent sneezing fits that had kept him awake all night. Amber showed up but sat slumped at her desk, guzzling cough syrup like it was soda pop.

Within forty-eight hours, Pete’s entire staff was out sick with the flu. Pete huddled at his desk, sneezing and wheezing, and plotting revenge on Cheryl for making everyone sick. Eventually, his employees began straggling back into work in various stages of recovery.

What can Pete do to avoid a repeat next flu season?

  1. He can offer more paid leave so that his employees don’t show up sick.
  2. He can allow his employees to work from home so they won’t bring their germs to the office.
  3. He can shut down his business during flu season and go deep sea fishing until it’s healthy to come back to the office.

This year’s flu season is severe, affecting the bottom line of many businesses. Flu shots help but don’t guarantee that the inoculated person will avoid getting sick, since there are many different strains of flu. Flexible leave policies and work schedules can alleviate some of the disruptions caused by epidemics like the flu.

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 serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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You Make Me Sick!

Another update from the Jungle…..

Sue likes her job except at this time of year. First, she had to listen to coworkers talk about their snow and ice adventures. Now she’s listening to many of them cough, sneeze and wheeze all day. Flu season seems worse than last year based on the disgusting noises she’s hearing in cubicle world.

In the next cubicle is Patty who has the flu although she claims it’s just a head cold. Sue’s pretty sure that Patty showed up at work while she had a fever because three coworkers quickly succumbed to the crud after getting too close to Patty.

Now coworkers run away when Patty lurches into sight. Sue can’t escape because they share a cubicle wall. She wipes down her cubicle hourly but that’s not enough. Sue’s heard less gross noises from her cat, Pixel, when he’s coughing up a hair ball.

She complained to Meg, the HR rep, who stopped by to suggest that Patty might be better off at home in bed. Patty croaked that she didn’t want to waste all her PTO days because her husband has promised her a really nice vacation this year. If she uses all her PTO, she won’t have any days left for her vacation.

Meanwhile, their supervisor, Wesley, sits in his office up the hall doing whatever bosses do all day. He can close his door, thinks Sue resentfully, and tune out their suffering. Wesley is young, and he is fixated on not screwing up his future promotional chances. So he blindly enforces the rules on attendance arguing that he has no power to change them.

The company policy sets out a limited number of PTO days a year and doesn’t allow any carry-over. The owner discourages working remotely because he’s afraid staff will goof off. Sue and others grumble quietly because they doubt the company will revise its PTO policy.

What can Meg, the HR rep, do to help the grossed-out employees?

  1. She can set up a sterilization chamber at the entrance and require all workers to hose themselves with disinfectant before entering the office.
  2. She can ramp up recruitment efforts to replace employees who leave voluntarily for better benefits or involuntarily with the EMT’s.
  3. She can suggest that the company revise its PTO policy to allow extra days during seasonal events like flu season.

Employers face a dilemma. They need to balance productivity and staffing requirements against the losses caused by sick employees who show up to work. Adapting leave policies or allowing employees to work remotely are two 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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Want To Know What I Think?

Another update from the Jungle…

Sam always gets excited in January. Well, maybe not excited, but he briefly becomes animated and shakes off the fog in which he usually works. Sam gets excited about completing the annual employee satisfaction survey.

His company does their annual employee satisfaction survey in January. They used to do the survey in November but eventually concluded that the timing was awful. By November, employees had completed annual open enrollment in the group health plan and had received their annual performance reviews.

The survey became a forum for complaining bitterly about the rising cost of the health plan’s payroll deductions. Employees who didn’t receive pay raises complained bitterly of biased bosses, lousy working conditions and a lack of parking spaces. So the CEO made an executive decision to move the survey to January.

Sam doesn’t care when the employee satisfaction survey is administered because it’s all a game to him. Outwardly conforming, inside he’s a subversive weasel. He does an informal survey of his co-workers to find out what they are most disgruntled about and then advocates for what they hate in the survey.

Last year, Sam said that the CEO’s latest management fad initiative was the most brilliant change the company had ever tried. Sam’s co-workers hated the initiative which eventually flopped due to foot-dragging. The year before, Sam voted in favor of a company picnic knowing his co-workers weren’t enthusiastic and then was “sick” the day of the picnic.

Sam wasn’t always a devious weasel. Once upon a time, he was happy to give his honest opinion to anyone crazy enough to ask him. Then a former boss oh-so-coincidentally repeated verbatim all the unflattering survey comments during a staff meeting. Sam stopped believing that the survey is anonymous.

How should HR respond to employee distrust of the survey?

  1. HR can suggest that the company stop administering employee satisfaction surveys since the survey could make employees feel like lab rats in an experiment.
  2. HR can continue the status quo and set up a department-wide betting pool about the survey results.
  3. HR can suggest outsourcing the survey to a third party vendor so that no one at the company sees raw data and anonymity is preserved.

Employers are increasing the number of surveys administered each year in the hopes of improving employee engagement. While surveys can be helpful, it’s critical that employers promote trust between management and employees by (1) guaranteeing anonymity in the survey response and (2) making objective, positive changes based on the survey results.

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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Stop Him Before He Talks!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jack was an honors student in graduate school and he’s possibly the smartest person ever hired by his company. On paper he looks fantastic. That’s why his boss, Mitch, was so anxious to hire him. Acting in haste means that Mitch is now regretting at his leisure.

Jack is actually a pretty decent person, but he is a socially inept basket case. He misses every nuance of human behavior. By the time he understands a joke, everyone else has stopped laughing.

At his first staff meeting, Jack sits staring at his co-workers. At the second staff meeting, when Mitch calls on him, Jack describes a magazine article he is reading about a new management theory. Mitch’s jaw drops. His question was about the draft budget for the following year. Worse is to come.

Mitch’s staff is invited to join the semi-annual client appreciation event. Jack shows up early before the caterer has finished setting out the food and drinks. He explains that he wanted to be on time. He gobbles up food as if it’s his last meal for a week.

After banishing his hunger, Jack stands in a corner near the refreshments table and stares at everyone as they arrive, much as a zoo keeper might study an exotic animal. Anne, senior vice president of procurement for a key client, smiles at Jack while waiting for her drink and makes the mistake of engaging him in conversation.

Fifteen minutes later, Mitch spots Anne sidling away from Jack, her face frozen in a smile. He gallops across the room. Jack is describing the mating habits of sperm whales, based on a National Geographic show he’d watched last night on TV. Mitch is aghast. He kicks Jack in the shin and shoulders him aside, preparatory to ushering Anne away from the scene of the crime.

The next morning, Mitch invites Jack in for a quiet conversation on appropriate small talk during a client shindig.  Jack is hurt; he thought he was being friendly.  Mitch stares at him, helplessly.

What are Mitch’s options?

  1. He can join Jack’s co-workers in teasing Jack for his social awkwardness.
  2. He can build a reality show around Jack and sell the concept to a cable TV channel.
  3. He can try to teach basic social skills to Jack while limiting his contact with real people, like clients.

In the actual situation, the inept employee was a good employee in all other respects, so co-workers took turns looking after him at client events. Clients eventually grew used to the employee.

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 Morning After

Another update from the Jungle….

George rolls over and groans. It’s the morning after July 4th and he needs to go to work. George would love to call in sick, but he’s used all his accrued PTO.  As he shakily goes through his morning routine, he reflects on the long weekend that was.

George used his last PTO hours to take off Monday, knowing that he planned to have a good time over the weekend with his buddies. His memories of Friday night are fuzzy, involving a sports bar, overpriced drinks, and a contortionist from a circus or a zoo or something.  On Saturday his wife dragged him to a picnic with their church group. After gobbling down a couple of hot dogs and a bowl of potato salad, he joined his buddies for another evening of overpriced drinks.

Sunday he recuperated, sort of, staying in bed most of the day.  His wife was unhappy because he hadn’t managed to do any of the chores that he said he would. She walked around the house humming Highway 101’s hit “Whiskey, If You Were a Woman”.   George may be hung over, but he’s not stupid. It’s almost a relief to go to work today.

George staggers out the door and slides into his car. He makes it to the office safely, parks the car, and gathers his dignity for the stroll into the building. His co-workers smile at him and surreptitiously start a betting pool to guess when he’ll collapse face down on his cubicle’s desk.

Sally, his manager, notices his shaky hands clutching a mug of coffee in a death grip and frowns. She’s been worried for a long time about George.  He’s a likeable guy, hardworking and knowledgeable when he’s sober, but it’s obvious that he has a problem. Sally consults Connie, the HR manager, and they decide to call George in for a meeting.

What should they say to George?

  1. They could berate him for showing up too hung over to do his job and threaten to fire him.
  2. They could sanctimoniously point out the obvious, that he’s an alcoholic, and needs to change if he wants to keep his job.
  3. They could show concern by offering to help him get into a treatment plan to deal with his alcoholism before it costs him his job.

Holidays can be difficult for employees with addictions. Employers can help their employees, and the company’s bottom line, by offering an employee assistance program (EAP) and having an HR policy that encourages treatment first as an alternative to disciplinary proceedings.

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 Knife in the Back

Another update from the Jungle…

pic-5Bryan is a serial entrepreneur. Every time he gets a new idea, he starts a new company to exploit the idea. He’s successful at starting businesses, but he’s lousy at running them.

Bryan doesn’t like getting bogged down in the details. So he relies on lieutenants to keep him informed of how things are going at each company. Unfortunately, Bryan doesn’t seem to have noticed that one of his trusted lieutenants is deadlier than a rattlesnake.

pic-1Susan learns this the hard way when she begins working at one of his companies. Her first day on the job, she’s introduced to Elaine who is so friendly and helpful that Susan is duped into thinking she’s nice. But Elaine is a snake in the grass.

pic-2Elaine is an intolerable busybody. She stands near the elevator to track the time each employee shows up for work. She wanders the hallways, keeping tabs on what others are doing and saying. Then she passes every tidbit of information along to Bryan with a special Elaine twist.

Susan learns the truth when Bryan stops by for a quarterly meeting with the company’s management team, of which Susan is a junior member. Bryan marches into the conference room and sits opposite Elaine who is taking notes on pic-4the decisions he makes.

Bryan begins the meeting by chewing out Laura for falling sales in the past quarter. Laura replies that it is impossible to boost sales when her team is starved for resources. She produces a stack of receipts showing that her team has to pic-3buy their own office supplies since Elaine locked up the supply closet and hid the key.

Bryan impatiently tells Laura to stop blaming others for her own failings as a manager. Then he turns on Bob, the CFO, who didn’t have the financial reports ready for Bryan. Bob scowls but says nothing.

pic-6Susan knows that Bob was late with the financial reports because Elaine delayed helping him while she worked on other lower priority assignments. Susan looks at Elaine expecting her to defend Bob. Elaine smirks and remains silent.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can point out that Elaine sabotaged Bob but doubts that Bryan will believe her.
  2. She can thank her lucky stars that Elaine isn’t gunning for her.
  3. She can use her accrued vacation to begin hunting for a new job, preferably one without another Elaine.

pic-7In the actual situation, the junior manager soon found herself on the backstabber’s hit list and left the company as soon as possible.

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 Magic of the Season

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-3After the fiasco of their Thanksgiving dinner, Rudy and Trish decide they will skip a holiday party this year.  Even a warlock and a witch need a break.  Jerry, the werewolf next door, offers to host a holiday party, but they turn him down. Every surface in Jerry’s house is covered in dog hairs and Trish is a finicky witch who doesn’t like the way the dog hairs stick to her clothing.

Besides, there are rumors of an employee party at the big box store where Rudy, Trish and Jerry work.  Trish checks the bulletin board in the employee break room and sees the notice that the company isunnamed-20 hosting a Christmas party for employees.  Trish immediately complains to the HR manager that calling it a Christmas party interferes with her religious beliefs as a pagan. She threatens to take concerted action with the other witches to protect her workplace rights.

The HR manager cleverly deduces undercurrents of discontent and decides to take a survey of employees to ask who will attend the holiday party.  Most employees say they will attend if they are paid for their time and there is no gift exchange.  In a workplace full of witches, warlocks and a mischievous leprechaun, no gifting is a prudent choice so the HR manager agrees.

The HR manager reports the survey results to the ogre who owns the store and he agrees to pay the employees to attend the holiday party. Actually, what the ogre says is much pithier and an exact quote might give rise to an EEOC charge. The HR manager posts a signup sheet for the potluck lunch.

unnamed-19Trish brings sugar cookies shaped like pentagrams. She’s added a magic spell that increases the eater’s happiness. After eating a cookie, the HR manager smiles benevolently at her coworkers.

Ryan, the leprechaun, arrives late because it is normally his day off.  But he never misses an opportunity to get paid for not working.  He steps jauntily into the break room breathing Bushmills Irish Whiskey fumes on everyone and smiling bleaunnamed-17rily.  As he passes the buffet table, he snatches one of Trish’s cookies and gulps it down in two bites.

The magic spell synchronizes beautifully with his whiskey. Ryan begins high-stepping around the room, like an extra in Riverdance, listening to a tune only he could hear.  The HR manager joins him and soon everyone is hoofing it round the breakroom.

Everyone agrees it is the best office holiday party in years.

Happy Holidays!

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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