Small Business

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Another update from the Jungle….

Pam owns a small company and she’s preparing for her next round of job interviews. She feels like she spends a lot of time hiring new employees because she has a revolving door as employees bail out for bigger companies that offer more fringe benefits or higher pay.

She approaches the interviewing and hiring process with a mixture of dread and anticipation. She gets excited when she thinks she may actually find that perfect match of personality and skill set to fit her company. But more often her anticipation evaporates into dread or even fascinated horror.

One recent job applicant, Stuart, earnestly explained that he would not be able to provide identification if he’s hired because the CIA might find him and then his life would be in danger. Sam listed his probation officer as a character reference since that was the only person who saw him on a regular basis. Tamara said her mother was forcing her to look for a job and how long would the interview take anyway.

Pam went home that night to pour a stiff triple shot of single malt scotch. As she sipped her scotch, she thought that finding a good employee is as difficult as finding Prince Charming. No one ever looks as good in person as they do on paper.

The next day, Pam is back in the office shuffling through a new stack of resumes. She weeds out the ones with typos and scary details. Then she sets up a new batch of interviews. The first interviewee, Kim, has a nose ring but says “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” when responding to questions. Annie, the next contestant is covered in neck and arm tattoos and wears a metal-studded dog collar. Sam sits bolt upright and barely utters a complete sentence.

Pam is getting desperate. She needs employees to keep her business afloat.

What are Pam’s options?

  1. She can accept the fact that her employees won’t stay long and adapt her business model to reflect the reality of the revolving door.
  2. She can outsource much of the hiring process which will save her time. Of course, a staffing agency may not have any better luck than her at finding appropriate job applicants for her company.
  3. She can close her business and go work for a distillery since her single malt scotch is the only thing bringing her happiness at the moment.

The above examples of job applicants are taken from actual interviews, although names have been changed to protect the innocent, the scary, and the downright weird.

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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Hey, Y’all, I’d Like A Job

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s been a long day and Mary is catching up on her emails. As she deletes all the unsolicited introductions from sales people trying to sell her stuff she either doesn’t want or can’t afford, she wonders again if she was completely nuts to open her own business.

When she’s not avoiding obnoxious sales pitches, she’s dealing with job seekers. She can track the college graduation season simply by the number of unsolicited emails she receives. She rarely reads the attached resumes because of the first impressions created by the emails. The smart graduates use proper grammar and complete sentences in their emails. The smartest graduates actually look at her company website to see what kind of business she runs.

She sighs and clicks on the next email. Its contents strike her so forcibly that she takes a big swig of her single malt scotch. She glances out the window to see if it’s a full moon; it’s not. It’s also too early for the solar eclipse. No natural phenomenon explains the email she’s reading.

The email says, “Hey, y’all, I just graduated from college and I’d love to come work for you if you’ve got an opening. If you don’t have any jobs right now, please keep me in mind when you do. Thx, Candace.”

Mary’s received some strange introductions from job-seekers. She was once chased two city blocks until she realized the crazy man running after her wasn’t a stalker; he was trying to hand deliver his resume.  She’s had friends ask her to hire their college-aged children because some of those young people are otherwise unemployable.

Mary knows that millennials are much more informal than her generation of workers. But Candace’s email introduction surely takes the prize.  This clueless waif graduated from college without ever learning how to present herself to a potential employer.

What should Mary do next?

  1. She can hit delete and ignore Candace because it’s not her responsibility to teach millennials how to apply for a job.
  2. She can drink more scotch and save the email for the bad days when she needs a quick laugh.
  3. She can remember her own job-hunting mistakes and email Candace some kind advice on how the power of first impressions affects gainful employment.

Informality is preferable to the strict workplace hierarchies of the past that stifled innovation and creativity. However, informality should never cross the line into disrespect. HR can help by encouraging college placement offices to teach soon-to-be-graduates how to properly approach prospective 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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Wanna Know A Secret?

Another update from the Jungle….

Josh started his company with the help of several friends who are now enemies for life after a couple of business disagreements. After these mistakes, Josh intelligently concluded that his skill set didn’t include managing employees. So he hired Adele to handle employee problems.

Adele was wonderful. She created processes for hiring which allowed the company to hire better qualified people. She created work flows for tracking employee performance which improved the bottom line. Even her nifty termination process came in handy when employees began whizzing in, then back out, the door.

Josh noticed the company’s bottom line was sagging due to the high cost of employee turnover. When he asked Adele, she replied that employees were dissatisfied but couldn’t explain why. So he did what any concerned business owner does in such a situation. He hired a consultant to tell him what he already knew but didn’t want to believe.

Josh’s problem is Adele. She loves gossiping. Any confidential information she hears is liable to be repeated to other employees. She’s been feeding the feud between Chloe and Tammy by sympathetically listening to their grievances and then repeating their nastier comments.

She tells Chloe that Steve hates working with her after he complains that Chloe is always late to meetings. She tells Steve that Josh is planning to promote Sue to the job Steve wants because the company’s demographics will look better with a woman in management.

Josh is aware of Adele’s inability to keep secrets. After all, she’s repeated some of the juicier bits to him, like the rumor that Rob and Pam are having an affair. Actually, they both leave work at the same time because their daughters play on the same soccer team.

All the gossiping is causing widespread paranoia as everyone wonders what unfortunate “truth” will leak out on the office grapevine next. Josh is so shocked he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee in his lap. He feels betrayed by Adele because he was relying on her to take care of the people problems; not make them worse.

What are Josh’s options?

  1. He can give Adele a free trip into orbit without a rocket booster or parachute.
  2. He can accept the status quo because Adele updates him on what employees are saying about him and the company.
  3. He can reprimand Adele for gossiping but give her a second chance.

In the actual situation, the dysfunctional company simply muddled along from one crisis to the next until it was bought out 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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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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The Perfect Employee for the Job

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-23Alana always felt like a misfit, so when she started her own business, she decided to hire people like herself.  Alana’s company sells works of art ranging from paintings to furniture.  Oddballs seem to be more at home in the world of unique “art”.

Alana’s first hire was Suze, a part-time yoga instructor who also designs furniture. Suze’s stuff sells well enough to make up for her shortcomings as an employee. She refuses to answer the phone when trying a new contortionist stretch exercise.  She also hates talking about money to customers.unnamed-21

Trisha wears low-cut, sleeveless shirts to show off her extensive tattoos. Trisha is a painter. She refuses to talk to customers because she believes none of them truly appreciate her artistic vision.

Alana hired Evan and Elsie to actually sell stuff to customers.  Compared to Suze and Trisha they seem almost normal. Evan and Elsie grew up next door to each other in a typical American suburb. They had many youthful adventures, most of which are sealed in their juvenile records.  Evan and Elsie are living proof that screwing up doesn’t prevent gainful employment if you find a sufficiently gullible employer.

unnamed-18They instantly boosted sales due to their smooth handling of customers.  Art wasn’t the only thing they sold at Alana’s shop.  Evan and Elsie had a side business growing high quality marijuana.  To encourage sales, they invited customers to sample the good in the parking lot behind the shop.unnamed-19

Alana learned of their agricultural adventures when she noticed the parking was full but the store had no customers. She walked to the back of the store, through the storeroom and opened the back door. She almost fainted.

unnamed-22Shrieking like a banshee, she chased off the customers. Then she explained  to Evan and Elsie that de-criminalizing marijuana was not the same thing as legalizing it. She threatened
to fire them if they brought their wares to work again. And that’s when Alana began to think that establishing a few employee standards might be a good idea.

What are Alana’s options?

  1. She can fire the misfits and start over with “normal” people.
  2. She can drink an extra glass, or bottle, of wine and accept that she got the employees that she wished for.
  3. She can create a few basic HR policies on what she expects from her employees during their scheduled work hours.

The above scenario demonstrates what can happen when an employer fails to create realistic expectations for employees. A few basic HR policies can solve that problem.

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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Looking for Love!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed

  a womanscreen-shot-2016-09-16-at-2-08-32-pm named Trish was searching for true love. Like so many others, she found it at the office.  Her Prince Charming was John, Vin another division of the company.  John was also looking for true love having just wrapped up a nasty divorce with his former true love

unnamed-2Trish met John at the office Christmas Party and thought he was a jerk. She changed her mind at the summer picnic when she saw him playing with his kids and lobbing water balloons at other managers.  John looked like an Olympic athlete compared to some of the other managers.

So when John’s division needed a little extra help with a special project, Trish volunteered. By diligent effort, Trish made herself a star on John’s team and managed to catch his eye. A shared interest in the project led to a little flirting which led to long dinners and then to other extracurricular activities.

Alas, as with every fairy tale a curse fell upon the lovers.  John’s schedule kept him busy with out of town business trips and Trish began to feel neglected. John tired of her whining over the dinner wine about how his career meant more to him than she did, giving John nasty flashbacks to his ex-wife’s complaints.

unnamedAs in a fairytale, when a workplace romance fizzles people behave badly. John stopped responding to her emails and text messages. He also told Trish’s boss that Trish could never work in his division again because she was a lousy worker. Meanwhile, Trish’s performance nosedived as she realized her fairy tale was fizzling.

The final fizzle arrives when Trish hears through the grapevine that John is blacklisting her.  She’s convinced its retaliation for their affair. When her boss counsels her about her cratering performance, Trish remembers that he is John’s friend. Trish storms into Sue’s office to complain about sexual harassment and retaliation.

What options are available to Sue?

  1. She can slap the taste buds out of John’s mouth for being stupid since managers are expected to use their brains to make decisions at the office.
  2. She can recommend settling Trish’s claims to limit the damage caused by John’s violations of company policy.
  3. She can disguise the details and include them in her next popular bodice-ripper novel, which she hopes will earn her enough money to retire early.

unnamed-2In the actual situation, the manager was counseled for violating HR policies and wrecked his chances at a promotion.  The woman accepted a settlement of her claims and left the company still looking for true love.

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.

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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.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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