Employees

The Thief of Ideas

Another update from the Jungle…..

Helen sat in her boss’ office stoically waiting for him to wind down from his latest temper tantrum.  As she waited, she reflected on the fact that Henry wasn’t such a bad boss when he was in his right mind.

Unfortunately, Henry was frequently not in his right mind.  He ran his company as if he was the dictator of a tiny oppressed country, but few of his employees were willing to be oppressed.  They complained incessantly to Helen, the HR manager.  She was hired because Henry knew he had a problem even if he wouldn’t admit that he caused the problem.

It’s the only company Helen’s ever worked for that required her to sign an employment contract agreeing to stay for at least one year in exchange for a giant bonus.  Before the ink dried on her signature, Helen realized it would be difficult to earn that bonus. 

She has been trying to fix employee morale. Her first suggestion, a tuition reimbursement plan, caused Henry to erupt like a Yellowstone geyser.  Why should he pay for his employees to get educated? He had built the company with hard work (and unacknowledged luck) and his employees should be willing to work as hard as him. 

A day later, Henry told Helen that he wanted her to create a program to reimburse tuition because he had big expansion plans and he needed his staff to keep up. But he insisted that employees must agree to stay until they had worked sufficient hours to generate profits equivalent to the reimbursed amount. He wanted to recoup his investment.  Henry’s switcheroo left Helen feeling dazed and confused. 

That’s how it’s gone for six months.  Helen proposes an idea; Henry shoots it down. More often than not, a few days later he adopts her idea after adding his unique twist.  Helen feels exhausted trying to manage him while maintaining her own sanity.  She is beginning to wonder if the big bonus is worth putting up with Henry’s negative energy field.

What options are available to Helen?

  1. She can occasionally demonstrate her softball batting skills by wapping Henry with her laptop when he gets too obnoxious.   
  2. She can do as little as possible for the next six months, collect her bonus and then wave goodbye to Henry.     
  3. She can use his contrariness to her advantage, suggesting changes in a way that allows Henry to believe the changes are his idea.

Bullies like Henry refuse to accept any idea unless they are convinced the idea was originally their own. Handling these types of co-workers and supervisors requires emotional maturity and the strength to refuse to be bullied.

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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Heck, No, You Can’t Go!

Another update from the Jungle…..

Fred was looking forward to a brilliant career. He’s young, educated and ambitious. His ambition has already helped him overcome the handicap of his parents naming him Rolex Fredericksburg, in honor of the city where he was conceived and his father’s favorite watch brand.  He graduated from college with honors and immediately landed a great job.

Of course, his brilliant career depends on getting past the Condor-sized buzzard he works for.  Randall seemed like a nice guy when Fred interviewed with him.  Randall rambled on at length about the training opportunities offered by the organization and how the organization believes in promoting from within. He bragged about his subordinates who have gone on to amazing careers.

Fred saw his brilliant future shimmering before him and immediately accepted Randall’s job offer.  He volunteered for special projects to gain experience and applied for every training course he could find.  Randall was overjoyed to have such an ambitious young man working for him and shoveled more projects on to Fred. 

Last week, Fred found another opportunity for advancement.  Of course, it would mean a temporary reassignment for two years to a distant office, but the additional experience and skills could ignite the trajectory of Fred’s career.  This morning, Fred meets with Randall to present his proposal.

Fred says he’ll return after two years and he’ll lead workshops to train others on what he learns during the two year reassignment. Randall stares blankly at him, then at the one page proposal. No, he says, evading Fred’s eyes, he can’t sign off on the proposal. Fred is much too valuable to the team to be lost for two years. Besides, there’s no guarantee, aside from Fred’s promise, that he will return to Randall’s department.

Fred glares stonily at Randall. His honesty and integrity are being questioned by the idiot who hired him less than a year ago.  His initial impulse is to jump up, run around the corner of the desk, and knock Randall into orbit.  Instead he excuses himself and walks out.

What options are available to Fred?

  1. He can slap the taste out of Randall’s mouth and tell HR he was temporarily insane with disappointment.
  2. He can begin a surreptitious campaign to push Randall into early retirement in order to clear the hurdle in his career path.
  3. He can quit at the first opportunity and pursue a brilliant career elsewhere.

In today’s tight labor market, employers who fail or refuse to invest in the development of their employees are likely to lose their best people to competitors who are willing to make the investment.   

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’ve Got My Eye on You

 Another update from the Jungle…..

Jayne accepted the first job offer after college because she was worried about making her student loan payments. She also wanted to prove to her parents that she could take care of herself.  In hindsight, Jayne wondered if living at home was really so bad because her new employer is insane.unnamed-5

During the endless rounds of interviews employees gushed about the joys of working for the company and its founder, Wesley, but Jayne was an English minor in college and she can read subtext. She quickly picked up on the jokes about timed bathroom breaks and monitored phone calls.

One young woman sheepishly admitted that she was busted for her negative comments on her personal Facebook page.  All the employees in that interview session laughed when Jayne said that she had heard that employees couldn’t be forced to provide access to their personal social media accounts to their employers. They assured Jayne that it was no big deal.unnamed-1

Jayne was young and desperate so she took the job despite feeling uncomfortable.  At orientation, she was required to sign a confidentiality agreement that allows the company to search her personal belongings at any time to ensure that confidential information is not stolen.     

Jayne’s discomfort zoomed into paranoia after she updated her LinkedIn profile with a description of her new job.  The next day, Rhoda, the HR Director, told Jayne that she had violated the company’s social media policy which covers postings on LinkedIn.

unnamedThe policy requires employees to include a statement that Wesley is a brilliant and inspiring boss and the employee is privileged to work for and learn from him.   Rhoda also told Jayne to change her head shot because it didn’t show her as a happy, loyal employee.  Jayne asked how she could show loyalty in a photograph. Rhoda shrugged. Jayne returned to her cubicle, a blob of raging paranoia.

What options are available to Jayne?

  1. She can stroll around the office humming the lyrics of a Buffalo Springfield song, “paranoia strikes deep/into your life it will creep”.
  2. She can embrace her paranoia and flit around the office in a Star Trek uniform talking to her co-workers about Klingons.
  3. She can hide in her cubicle pretending to work while she searches for a new job.

Most employers have social media policies setting parameters on what employees canunnamed-4 post and reserving the right to monitor employees’ social media for violations of the policy.  However, the more restrictive and intrusive these policies are the more likely that they will be found to have violated federal and state 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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Exit Strategy

Another update from the Jungle…..

Millie is employed because her mom is friends with Janice, owner of the company.  Millie’s mom begged Janice to hire Millie and promised that Janice wouldn’t regret it. Janice agrees.

Millie learns of her new job when her mom tells her, that starting bright and early the following Monday, she will be working for Janice, but Millie doesn’t want a job. She wants to be an actress beloved by millions.

Late Monday morning, Millie floats into the office to find her new co-workers hard at work.  Janice takes Millie on a quick tour of the office, introducing her to everyone and explains basics, like the schedule and benefits. 

Millie perks up when she hears about the benefits. She says she needs to leave early the next day to go to an audition. She enthusiastically describes the play and how she expects this show will be her big break into professional acting.  She asks if she can give a provisional resignation now in case she has to pack for Broadway on short notice.

Recovering her composure, Janice explains that until the big break arrives, Millie may want to learn a few things about her current job.  Millie is uninterested in the job, but she soon realizes that Janice’s company can teach her plenty of new stuff that she can use to advance her career in the theatre.

A few weeks later, a couple of Millie’s co-workers discreetly approach Janice. They have been following Millie’s social media posts so that they can keep up with her acting career. They believe Millie is contacting prospects and clients of Janice’s company to invite them to support her career. 

Janice drops everything to take a quick spin through various social media platforms looking at Millie’s posts.  What she sees convinces Janice that it’s time to dump Millie at the curb.  In her haste to fire Millie, Janice forgets to protect her company’s data.

Within days, Janice realizes that Millie is still accessing her company’s systems.  Millie’s social media shows that she is using Janice’s documents and processes to build a rival business while waiting for her big break in the theatre.

What steps should Janice take next to protect her company?

  1. She can become Millie’s patron, underwriting her acting career as a way to obtain some return on her investment in Millie.
  2. She can call Millie’s mom to complain that Millie is a rotten kid.
  3. She can create a checklist of all company systems that need to be updated to terminate Millie’s access.

 Most employers have well-developed on-boarding processes, but pay less attention to their termination process.  A termination process can protect company resources from misuse by former 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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Check Out Time

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-230Bettysue loves the holiday season but this year she’s frustrated. Her children are grown and have other plans so they won’t be coming home. Her husband just says, “sure, honey, whatever” when she asks his opinion. Her husband has long-since concluded that the secret to their marriage is to keep his mouth shut, stock up on suitable beverages, and hide in his man-cave until after the Super Bowl game.

So Bettysue spends her working hours plotting how best to spread holiday cheer. This year, she decided that her workplace should have a multicultural party. She’s not deterred by the fact that the workforce has little religious or cultural diversity.

Her boss, Deena, has long-since concluded that letting Bettysue decorate the office is the most profitable use of Bettysue’s time since she clearly doesn’t have her mind on work. A couple of years ago, Deena insisted that Bettysue ought to actually do her job despite the seasonal slush. The results were so awful that Deena had to meet with her mental health counselor every day in the following January. Deena now sees the holiday excesses as a cost of doing business.

unnamed-227Bettysue’s coworkers have enthusiastically joined in because decorating beats working any day of the week. Now miniature menorahs, fake Yule logs, and a plastic Christmas tree create a fire hazard in the elevator lobby. A Kwanzaa fruit broom serves as a seasonal centerpiece in the middle of the conference room table.

Multicolored tinsel adorns every doorway and most cubicle entrances. A sprig of mistletoe was tacked over the breakroom door until Arlene, the HR director, yanked it down, muttering about sexual harassment.

unnamed-233However, most of Bettysue’s time at work is devoted to buying things online. Her Amazon Prime deliveries now exceed regular business deliveries to her employer. FedEx, UPS, and the post office have offered to set up a mini hub at the building to handle the volume of deliveries.

What should the company do next year?

  1. They could have a daily party since none of their employees are working anyway.
  2. They could shut down for two weeks in late December since no one is working.
  3. They could pay a bonus to volunteers who agree to provide minimal customer service while the office shuts down during the seasonal distractions.

Many non-retail companies either shut down at the end of December for two weeks or allow most employees to use vacation/PTO during that time. Employers believe this policy improves morale and productivity in the first quarter of the 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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Let’s Do It Again Next Year!

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-222Craig decided he couldn’t face another office party with the same old cheese log and Ritz crackers and Dirty Santa game. So he told Helen, the HR manager, that he made an executive decision as the company owner to try a different sort of party. Craig has decided everyone will enjoy a tour of the local micro-distilleries.

Privately, he plans to use the tour to finish his holiday shopping. He can sample the local whiskeys and buy a few bottles for clients and vendors and maybe even a few family members. He ignores Helen’s objections about potential liability and begins Googling local tour bus companies. Employees cheer when they hear of his plan. For the first time ever, every employee shows up early to board the bus.

unnamed-221At the first distillery, AJ disappears. Helen eventually finds him out back of the building sharing a hand-rolled cigarette with a distillery employee. AJ says the employee is his cousin. Helen drags him back to the tour to sample the whiskey. Craig buys four bottles.

At the second distillery, Craig buys another dozen bottles. AJ and Carla buy a case a piece and stagger to the bus to stash their purchases. At the third tour stop, everyone heads straight to the tasting room, ignoring the tour guide. AJ, Carla, and Craig huddle close to the server begging for seconds. Craig buys another case. The bus storage areas are filling up.

unnamed-223Helen makes an executive decision to cancel the remainder of the tour. She herds everyone back to the bus. Lenny is singing obscene sea shanties. Helen makes a mental note to ask IT to audit his internet activity so she can find out what Lenny’s really been doing at work. Helen spends the return trip calling spouses, Uber and Lyft to arrange rides for everyone.  

The bus finally rocks to a halt in the office parking lot, spilling Lenny down the aisle, still singing. AJ staggers up the aisle cradling a half-empty bottle where he misjudges the last step and sprawls on the ground. He doesn’t spill a drop.

What should Helen do next?

  1. She can blackmail Craig to give her a couple bottles of whiskey in exchange for ensuring their insurance carrier never hears of this party.
  2. She can research what it would cost to have the holiday party in Las Vegas next year.
  3. She can suggest a drink limit for next year’s party.

Office parties come with risks, including worker injuries and host liability for alcohol-related accidents. As with so many risks in life, moderation and common sense are the best guides.

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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Nightmare at the Office

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-196Once upon a time, an inexperienced HR Manager named Katie suggested to the company owner Phil that they have a Halloween party. Phil remembered past office parties and hesitated to risk the company’s liability insurance premiums on another such event. It’ll boost morale, assured Katie, and so, Phil said yes.

Katie immediately sent an email to all employees about the festive event. Five minutes later, Misty pops into Katie’s office to ask if she and her fellow white witches can set up a cauldron in the parking lot for a cleansing ceremony. They want to appease the spirits of the universe and ensure a profitable year for the company. Katie gapes at her; she didn’t even know there were white witches on the staff.

unnamed-197Katie says she’ll think about it and shoos Misty away. Katie slumps at her desk wondering whether the EEOC considers white witches a protected religious group. While she’s cogitating on religious freedom in the workplace, Wade shows up. He says office parties are stupid and he won’t participate. If the company wants to boost his morale, he’d prefer cash.

Having spread his brand of cheer, he wanders away to urge other to boycott Katie’s “dumb party.”

Katie is discouraged until she talks to Alan and Ray. They want to know if there is a prize for best costume. Katie thinks that’s a swell idea and says yes. Chortling wildly, Alan and Ray thank her. Too late, Katie remembers that chaos follows them and wishes she had said no. And so begins the scariest night of Katie’s life.

unnamed-19Ray shows up at the party dressed as an Aztec sacrificial victim with a fake heart poking out of his chest, dripping fake blood. Ray doesn’t understand why Moises, a Mexican-American, thinks the costume is culturally insensitive. Katie dashes toward them intent on preventing a fight but rocks to a halt when she catches sight of Alan. Alan had arrived wrapped in a blanket, wearing an Indian war bonnet with psychedelic pink feathers.

Suddenly, he drops the blanket to reveal he’s wearing only a leather thong.

unnamed-200Before Katie can indulge in hysterics, she discovers that AJ, the scary guy from IT, has a fetish for knives and marijuana-laced brownies. Since marijuana is now legal in some states, “What’s the big deal?” says AJ, snatching the tray from Katie before she can dispose of the brownies.

As Katie drives home, she vows never again to suggest boosting morale with a party.

As your workplace celebrates Halloween, be assured that nothing like this could ever happen at your company. Happy Halloween!

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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Hands Off!

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-151Cecily is a senior level executive at her company. Of course, she has paid a price while clawing her way to the top; her first husband left their marriage in exchange for a sizable chunk of Cecily’s retirement account.

Cecily decided to lose a few other things after her divorce. She shed twenty pounds and hired a personal trainer named Rory. Soon they were whipping up more than weight training. The more buff Cecily felt, the more she doted on Rory.

unnamed-152She reasoned that if men could have trophy wives, then she could have a trophy husband. Cecily was overjoyed that Rory accepted her marriage proposal. Of course, marriage to a much younger man comes with a price too. Cecily spends every spare minute at the gym trying to keep her girlish figure so that she remains physically attractive to Rory.

Her workout schedule leaves her irritable. She’s also insanely jealous of Rory. All these symptoms are duly noted by Danielle, who has been scheming to replace Cecily since joining the company. Danielle flirts with Rory every time he visits the office.  

Yesterday, Rory stopped by the office to drop off Cecily’s cell phone and reading glasses she had left at home. As he walked away from Cecily’s office, Danielle suddenly popped up at his elbow taking deep breaths to show off her best feature.

unnamed-147Cecily came out of her office to confirm she would be able to have a romantic dinner with Rory that evening. She saw Danielle oozing around Rory, white teeth flashing in a seductive smile. With a jealous shriek, Cecily leaped for Danielle’s throat. The women crashed against the wall and rolled into the elevator lobby, a writhing mass of biting, kicking and hair pulling.

The women were pried apart by Rory with a little help from Walter. Walter is the owner and he’s flabbergasted to see his Chief Human Resources Officer rolling around the lobby floor with one of the rising young executives. He needs to do something fast.

unnamed-154What are Walter’s options?

  1. He can encourage Cecily to join the women’s division of the ultimate fighter competitions.
  2. He can fire Cecily and Danielle for setting such an atrocious example while violating dozens of HR policies.
  3. He can give them a second chance in recognition of the cost of replacing them but require them to undergo counseling.

In the actual situation, the HR officer did not fight the provocative co-worker but she limited her husband’s visits to the office. HR employees who violate HR policies should be treated the same as other employees when deciding on disciplinary action.

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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Trash Can Troubles

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-106Gwen, the HR manager, arrives at work in a really bad mood. She’s running twenty minutes late after sitting in traffic on the giant parking lot otherwise laughingly referred to as an interstate highway.

By the time she walks in the door at work, she’s seriously thinking of slugging the first person who gets on her nerves. She faces a gauntlet of raised eyebrows as people look at their watches. Only Ellen is stupid enough to make a sarcastic crack about Gwen’s tardiness.

Gwen dumps her purse, her carry-all, and keys on her desk and heads for the coffee pot. Her day slides downhill again. Someone set the empty coffee pot on the burner without starting a new pot brewing. As she fills the coffee maker, she decides it’s time that the owner, Tim, joins the modern era. She will buy a single cup coffee maker with the company credit card and tell Tim the purchase is for HR supplies.

alexa-mazzarello-457546-unsplashGwen mellows slightly after she has a cup of coffee. Back at her desk, she cranks up her laptop and begins reading her emails. The first one is from Laurie, whining again about needing a window view as an accommodation for her unspecified medical condition. Gwen sighs. The company works from a converted warehouse. No one has a window view, not even Tim. Gwen marks Laurie’s email for later in the day and opens the next email.

unnamed-16It involves the Case of the Traveling Trash Can. For weeks, every female employee has been fixated on the mystery of the moving bathroom trash can. The consensus is that the trashcan should be set close to the toilet. But someone is moving the can closer to the sink.

The trash can turmoil is beginning to put a serious dent in productivity as the women eye each other suspiciously. Last week, Gwen found Anita loitering near the bathroom, trying to spot the evildoer moving the trashcan. Gwen is exasperated with all of them and the trash can.

What are Gwen’s options?

  1. unnamed-108She can nail the trashcan to the floor with a 10-penny nail so that it never moves again.
  2. She can view the whole mystery as beneath the dignity of an HR manager’s job.
  3. She can buy a second trash can for the women’s bathroom so that only the cleanup crew is inconvenienced by having to empty an extra trash can.

In the actual situation, Gwen bought a second trash can for the bathroom. When employment laws and company policies can’t fix an HR problem, a little old-fashioned common sense will get the job done.

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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Employee of The Month

Another update from the jungle…

Ella returned to work after the Labor Day holiday smugly satisfied that her diabolical plan to help her co-workers was on track. As the HR manager, she had always supported management decisions no matter how cuckoo. But her loyalty to the company shriveled with the return of Frank.

unnamed-87Frank was brought out of retirement to fix the most troubled division of the company. He told Ella and his subordinates that he had six months to improve the bottom line. His grim expression inspired fear and loathing among his subordinates. Sure enough, within a week, Ella was processing termination paperwork so fast her laptop crashed from overuse.

Pam was fired for insubordination which was easy to believe because she argued constantly. Her last manager claimed Pam would argue about whether the sun rose in the east. Ted was fired for chronically showing up late.

unnamed-89Then Frank went gunning for Anna for incompetence even though her last performance review said she practically walked on water. He accused April of winking sarcastically during a staff meeting. When Ella pointed out the lack of documentation or witnesses to back up these reasons, Frank replied that HR managers can be fired for insubordination just like any other employee.

unnamed-86That’s when Ella conceived her fiendishly clever plan. She began meeting surreptitiously with selected employees in Frank’s division to confirm their suspicions that Frank was out to get them. She promised to help them by editing their resumes and coaching them on their interviewing skills. (She keeps up with the latest HR industry trends by attending lots of SHRM seminars.)

Before long, she was processing resignations as Frank’s subordinates bailed out for greener pastures. She asked tech for a new laptop.

unnamed-90
Now she’s sitting in her office editing another resume when Frank and his boss barge in to accuse her of disloyalty to the company. Ella realizes that some fink must have spilled the beans about her activities.

How should Ella respond?

1. She can reply that as the HR manager and a female over 40, she’d welcome the opportunity to talk to the EEOC about any threats to her job.

2. She can thank them for stopping by as she wants to give them her resignation so that she can open a job placement consulting business.

3. She can point out that Frank’s division will soon be the most profitable in the company as employees leave voluntarily.

In the actual situation, Ella was a supervisor who achieved 100% turnover as her subordinates moved on to other jobs where they felt more valued as employees.

unnamed-84

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