HR policies

The Not-So-Little Prince

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-36Vicky is the HR person for her company because her business partners are guys who would rather face a starving lion bare-handed than deal with employees. Lately, she’s been seesawing between the urge to kill one of the younger workers or to knock his block off.

Gus is a 30-something millennial who thinks he is a prince who can set his own rules. So Gus ignores the rule that says he should show up on time to work everyday. He also ignores the one that says he should tell his supervisor if he leaves the office during the workday.

Vicky learns that Gus has continued to ignore her verbal warnings when she receives a phone call from Frank, the company founder. Frank is a brilliant man, but he refuses to learn how to use an electronic calendar, his email account, or the internet. When Frank started his career, people actually talked to each other. He sees no reason to change his unnamed-34work habits now.

Frank asks if she declared a work holiday without telling him because he’s alone in the office and needs help with the copier. Vicky is flummoxed. She runs through the list of all twenty employees while Frank breathes heavily down the phone line. Gus is missing.

The next day, Vicky calls Gus to her office. Gus arrives twenty minutes late and slouches into a chair. He takes a big gulp of his energy drink, bored and disinterested, and demands an explanation for being dragged away from his work.

unnamed-35Vicky stares at him through a red haze. The last time a young male addressed her in such a surly tone, he got whapped up-side the head and lost his driving privileges for a month. But her son was sixteen at the time, not a 30-something! With superhuman strength, Vicky restrains herself.

She explains to the oblivious Gus that their small staff requires collaboration, and that means notifying others when he leaves the office. Gus drains his energy drink and tosses the container in the trash, splashing Vicky’s foot. He suggests that Frank should be given an iPad with everyone’s calendar loaded on it. Then he would know where all his staff is at any time. Vicky feels the red haze gathering again.

unnamed-37What options are available to Vicky?

  • She can congratulate herself on her self-restraint for letting Gus live.
  • She can look around for a frenemy who can be conned into hiring Gus.
  • She can give Gus a final warning but begin planning to replace him.

In the actual situation, the millennial was given another chance to improve. He is apparently still unaware of how close he is to termination for cause.

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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Don’t Anyone Touch Anyone!

Another update from the Jungle…..

ABC Corp always seems to catch the latest trends late, thinks Karen. She’s the HR manager for her company and she’s watched for years as the news headlines play out at the office. Now she’s seeing an uptick in sexual harassment claims.

This morning before Karen could finish her first Diet Coke, Vanessa stopped by to complain that Hank had touched her inappropriately. Inappropriately how, asks Karen. Vanessa says that last week Hank patted her on the butt and since then he’s been looking at her in a suggestive way.

Karen sighs inwardly. Before the company switched to electronic records, Karen devoted a large, four-drawer file cabinet to Vanessa and Hank. Vanessa is always complaining about something. Hank has a reputation for saying things that others would leave unsaid often being a little too “friendly” with his hands.

Karen fortifies herself with a second Diet Coke and begins calling in Vanessa’s co-workers to find witnesses. Dorothy says she didn’t see any inappropriate touching but admits that she dislikes Vanessa and Hank and avoids them as if they have the plague. Amanda says that she dances a highland jig to stay out of range of Hank but generally considers him harmless.

Sue shrugs and says that Hank has patted her on the rear many times. When a project is successful, Hank often pats people on the back or the butt. She dismisses it because she thinks he’s just acting like the jock he was. When Sue tires of it, she kicks Hank in the shins, as she did with her older brothers when they were obnoxious. Dan and Joanne confirm Sue’s interpretation of Hank’s hands-on approach to thanking co-workers for a job well done.

Karen sighs deeply and reaches for another Diet Coke before she calls in Vanessa. She tells Vanessa that she believes Hank used poor judgment but it is unlikely that a claim of sexual harassment can be proved. She encourages Vanessa to tell Hank immediately to not touch her if he again pats her on the rear.

What other options does Karen have?

  1. She can institute a new HR policy that says no employee may touch another employee during business hours.
  2. She can encourage Vanessa to join a nudist colony to overcome her sensitivity about the human body.
  3. She can advise Hank to be less “friendly” since not everyone finds his behavior innocuous.

Context is so important. What one person may find offensive another may not. It’s important to take sexual harassment complaints seriously but to not over-react.

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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Holiday Hijinks

Another update from the Jungle….

Lucy was ambivalent about returning to work after the holiday weekend. She enjoyed the long weekend, of course. But as the HR manager she expects to hear wild and weird stories from other employees about what they did during the break. She’s not disappointed.

Walter shows up on Tuesday with a broken arm. He was at his favorite sports bar on Saturday with a group of friends watching several sports events. When his favorite team took the lead, he was so excited that he jumped off his bar stool. Unfortunately, his victory dance ended further away from his bar stool than he realized. Arms flailing, Walter succumbed to gravity. His right arm broke his fall with an audible crack. He spent Saturday night at the emergency room. He tells Lucy that he needs a reduced work schedule because typing one-handed is tiring.

Sheila shows up with a scowl, from which Lucy deduces that her marriage is still headed toward divorce. Sheila’s been complaining about her husband for two years to a diminishing crowd of friends. She can clear a room faster than a barrel of snakes. Sheila told Lucy to mind her own business when Lucy suggested that her personal life should be kept out of the office.

Tom didn’t show up on Tuesday. He overindulged on beer, brats, potato salad, and other goodies at his family’s annual cookout. His wife says his stomach will be back to normal in another day or two.

Lucy looks up as a shadow falls over her desk. It’s Bob, the company CEO, and he’s looking dyspeptic and annoyed. He drops into the chair next to Lucy’s desk and takes a deep breath. He wants to know if he can kick a few people for doing dumb stuff on their own time over the weekend.

What should Lucy tell him?

  1. She can tell him that kicking might break his foot so he should try hitting people with a blunt instrument.
  2. She can offer to write a policy that outlaws fun during off hours.
  3. She can caution him about trying to regulate employee behavior outside the office.

Many companies have HR policies that cover high risk behavior, such as bungee jumping, motorcycle or car racing, and other high risk activities. However, attempting to dictate employee behavior outside of work is generally frowned on.

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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Promoted to Failure

Another update from the Jungle….

actionplanJulia, the HR manager, is watching her company’s diversity and inclusion program go hideously wrong. Julia pushed every level of management all the way to the C-suite, urging them to broaden the pool of employees eligible for promotion to management. What did all her effort get her? Margaret.

Margaret worked in operations for many years and understands the technical side of the job but her interpersonal skills are dismal. She’s whiny and needy and self-absorbed. Some of her shortcomings might have been fixed if the C-suite had accepted Julia’s recommendation to create a management training program.

Instead, Margaret was promoted to manager without training or a mentor to help her. Now she micromanages her subordinates and refuses to delegate any decision-making authority to them. But she’s afraid of being held responsible if something goes wrong so she fails to make any decisions.

When other department managers complain that their work is disrupted, Margaret blames her subordinates of incompetence. Her subordinates show up and don’t do their jobs since they know bossany actions they take are likely to be undermined by Margaret. Most of them are applying for transfers away from her.

The stress on Margaret is so intense that she suffers from migraines and works from home several days a week. When she does come into the office, she is so unpleasant that everyone avoids her.

The steady rumble of discontent is growing so loud that the C-suite is having trouble ignoring it. Julia is desperately searching for a solution to the whole mess but she’s run out of time. In today’s mail she receives an EEOC notice letter that a complaint of racial discrimination has been made against Margaret by Margaret’s secretary.

What should Julia do next?

  1. She can recommend that Margaret be appointed special liaison to the company’s suppliers with an immediate posting to, say, Shanghai or Taipei.
  2. She can investigate the charges and then artfully respond to the EEOC in a way that is slightly more flattering than the actual situation warrants.
  3. She can notify the C-Suite of the EEOC investigation and use this as an opportunity to convince the senior managers to approve a training program for new managers.

In the actual situation, the EEOC concluded there was no racial discrimination because the new manager treated all her subordinates like crap. The employer hailed this decision as a victory. The new manager was eventually reassigned during a departmental reorganization but the employer still doesn’t have a training program for new managers.

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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What Are We Thankful For?

Another update from the Jungle….
image049Nicole, the HR manager, had a scary Halloween with underclad co-workers and a wild Veteran’s Day that ended with claims of discrimination. She is finding it increasingly difficult to boost morale among her fellow employees. She’s trying to boost morale because her co-workers are disenchanted after years of no pay raises and limited opportunities for promotions.

Her newest morale booster is a Thanksgiving lunch. She even convinces the company’s president to pay for the turkey and dressing. Now all she has to do is convince her co-workers to bring side dishes and prepare to have fun. She tapes a sign-up sheet to the refrigerator in the break room.

Before anyone can sign up, Steve stops by her office to demand beer with lunch. Nicole vetoes alcohol, as usual. She tells Steve that he seems unhappy and asks if he’d be happier working for another type of employer, such as a honkytonk or a house of ill repute in the Nevada desert.image051

Then Monica pops into Nicole’s office to announce that she has just become a vegan because living off animals is disgusting. Monica wants vegan-acceptable food at the Thanksgiving lunch. Nicole replies that Monica can bring a side dish that satisfies her new dietary requirements, as long as it’s not kale or cabbage or a similarly aromatic vegetable.

Next a delegation of employees crowds in to Nicole’s office. The Hispanics are still furious about the Veteran’s Day event when a co-worker suggested building a wall on the southern U.S. border. Now they complain that Thanksgiving completely ignores their cultural heritage. Sam Redhawk complains that Thanksgiving is racist for celebrating the extermination of Native American culture. The gist of the complaints is that they feel unappreciated and marginalized.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can tell her co-workers to shut up and be thankful they still have jobs.
  2. She can strive to make Thanksgiving lunch a celebration of multi-cultural America, encouraging everyone to bring a side dish that represents their cultural origins.
  3. She can tell the president there are serious morale issues that can’t be fixed with food and that he should watch “Mutiny on The Bounty” if he wants to preview the end of the story.

If you’re an HR manager, you’ve probably had a year like Nicole’s year. The holiday season isn’t over yet so stay tuned for more adventures with Nicole.

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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Happy Veteran’s Day!

Another update from the Jungle….

veteransNicole, the HR manager, is planning another morale boosting event. Her first effort was the Halloween party a couple weeks ago which ended on a sour note when some of the costumes exceeded her expectations and the president’s tolerance.

Nicole is now working on her Veteran’s Day celebration. Ever the optimist, Nicole decides on a pot luck lunch with a patriotic theme. She announces that during the luncheon, they will honor employees who served in the military.

As usual, the whine of the day comes from Steve who says he’ll boycott the party if there’s no beer. Nicole says no alcohol will be served since everyone has to work after lunch. She’s beginning to wonder if Steve would be happier working for a different sort of employer.

On the morning of the party, Ruth stops by the break room to look at the decorations and fixates on the red paper poppies
that adorn the middle of each table. Ruth says that displaying red poppies encourages the use of
image048illegal drugs because everyone knows that heroin comes from poppies. Nicole retorts that everyone knows red poppies symbolize the military dead in World War I. Shaken but undeterred, Nicole finishes the decorations as people wander in for lunch.

Almost immediately, there’s a problem in the buffet line. The employees split into two (almost equal) camps arguing about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and whether the president should send troops to fight in Syria. Then someone says the U.S. needs stronger border controls to keep out illegals and terrorists. This provokes the Hispanic workers who angrily deny being “illegals”; the Muslims who say that they aren’t terrorists; and the Indians with H1B visas who work in the IT department and complain that they haven’t stolen jobs from Americans.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can forge ahead with the plan to honor the military veterans, although this now seems risky since half the employees appear to be in an anti-war camp.
  2. She can sneak out of the break room and hide in her office until after lunch.
  3. She can hold an impromptu educational discussion on the company’s anti-discrimination policies and appreciating diversity in the workforce.

Nicole’s first two attempts to boost morale on a limited budget haven’t gone as well as she would have liked but there’s still time before the holiday season ends. Stay tuned for more adventures with Nicole.

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.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

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The Right Person for the Job

Another update from the Jungle….
image013Wanda owns a small company and she’s preparing for her next round of job interviews.  She hates the interviewing and hiring process. It takes a lot of time away from running her business and the results can be iffy.

The last few batches of job applicants she interviewed left much to be desired. One job applicant said that if he was hired, he would need to take time off to fix a “mix up” about his probation. Another asked if a job offer was contingent on passing a drug test.  Another applicant candidly admitted he didn’t want the job but had to perform a job hunt in order to keep his unemployment benefits.  After that interview, Wanda tottered home and had an extra-large glass of wine
image016 with her dinner.

In the last batch of job applicants the only one showing real promise was a biker dude with prison tattoos. Heshowed up on time, was polite and actually asked relevant questions about the job duties.  Even though the biker dude lacked many of the job skills she was seeking, she immediately offered him the job because he seemed willing to learn.

But Wanda knows that she can’t continue such a hit or miss process. She needs to find a better method for hiring new employees.

What are Wanda’s options?

  1. She can reconsider what she’s looking for by ensuring the job description accurately reflects the job duties. It’s difficult to hire the “right” employee with the wrong job description.
  2. She can outsource much of the hiring process which will save her time. Of course, the staffing agency will need an accurate description of the job duties in order to find appropriate applicants for the job.
  3. She can rely more on referrals from friends, family and current employees as they understand her business are more likely to refer suitable candidates for job openings.

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 Was Going to Pay It Back….Honest!

Another update from the HR jungle….

image021Sam leads the IT department for his company and is the head of their internal security team.  As part of his duties, Sam has administrative rights to all electronic and computer-based systems at the company.  He ensures that new employees are issued security clearances to use the company computers. He sets the dollar limits on company-provided credit cards as authorized by the owners of the company.

But Sam has a problem. He likes to gamble. It started years ago quite innocently when he participated in a sports betting pool with co-workers at a former employer’s office. Then he started spending his weekends at casinos. Sam began using his company credit card to get cash advances at the ATM in the casino.

At first, he paid off the credit card balance each month and no one discovered what he was doing. When he couldn’t pay the credit card balance, he raised the credit limit on the card using his administrative rights as the head of internal security.

Sam’s basically a decent guy and the stress of his situation has finally gotten to him. This morning he walked into the owner’s office and confessed all. As he sat sobbing and promising to reimburse the company, the owner stared at him, stupefied with shock.

What could the owner have done to avoid this employee theft?

  1. The owner could have regularly reviewed all company expenses, including credit card charges, to ensure they were used only for valid company business.
  2. The owner could have required regular reports from Sam’s department showing the authorized limits on all company credit cards.
  3. The owner could have hired an outside auditor to do an annual audit of the company’s financial records in the hopes that the fraud would have been uncovered.

Employee theft arises from five basic motivations, including a gambling habit. Another closely related motivation is a drug or alcohol habit. Employees experiencing any of these addictions may decide to steal an employer’s property in order to feed their habit.

Need help 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 when the policies are implemented.

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Boxed in by Box 12 on the W-2

Another update from the HR jungle….
image013Maryann handles payroll questions for her employer. She and her coworkers have been scrambling for a couple of years to ensure they comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last year was all about finding a software program that would allow the company to track the hours of its temporary employees.

This year, Maryann is looking at box 12 on the W-2. That’s the box where employers need to plug in the cost of the medical plan for the employee. Filling in this information is mandatory only for employers who filed at least 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year, meaning in 2013. Maryann’s company filed 170 W-2’s in 2013, so they aren’t required to complete box 12 for the 2014 tax year.

She knows that this January her company will issue 200 W-2’s covering the 2014 tax year. She thinks that number will rise to 250 during 2015. Maryann wants to get a head start on figuring out box 12 after some of the past fiascos in trying to comply with the ACA.

What should Maryann consider?

  1. Maryann knows that the “cost” or “value” of health coverage refers to the premium paid for medical coverage in the health plan, known as “major medical”. She needs to verify what other costs, such as FSA contributions and dental and vision premiums, may need to be included.
  2. Maryann can consult her company’s CPA firm for assistance on completing box 12.
  3. Maryann can do some research in the ACA section of the IRS website during her spare time.

Need help 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 when the policies are implemented.

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