Chaos Kills Morale


Another update from the Jungle…

Jason felt lucky when he was hired about six months ago by Buckeroo, Ltd., a company that makes camping gear for outdoor types. During the hiring process the sales pitch by the HR representative and his soon-to-be manager sounded wonderful.  Of course, anything would have sounded good to Jason who was unemployed for almost a year.

Jason came to work his first day anticipating a rosy future with a great job and a great boss. Two weeks later his great boss, David, left the company for another job.  One of Jason’s co-workers, Teresa, became his boss. Her promotion caused all but one of Jason’s co-workers to leave. The remaining co-worker reminded Jason of Dilbert’s Wally, a guy picking up a paycheck but not working.

A month into the new job, Jason went to see Martha, the HR rep, to ask what had happened to his paycheck.  Martha spun a confused tale about “glitches” caused when the company changed payroll service vendors.  By the end of her convoluted explanation, Jason felt relieved that he would actually be paid eventually.

In addition to his payroll problems, Jason is annoyed by a steady stream of requests to complete HR paperwork.  Martha repeatedly calls Jason to her office to complete forms that he is certain he already filled in during his orientation.  Jason isn’t the brightest guy but he’s beginning to wonder about Buckeroo’s organizational savvy.

Chaos 2Yesterday, Martha emailed Jason to remind him to complete the company’s required web-based training. Martha copied the email to Teresa and seemingly every member of senior management. Jason’s had enough.

He emails that he hasn’t done the training because he never received a password to access the on-line training. He hits “reply all”.   This morning, Teresa called Jason to her office to chew him out for “making her look bad” by copying her bosses on his email yesterday.  Jason stares at Teresa.

What should Jason do next?

  1. He can point out to Teresa that he didn’t create the email cc list and he won’t be blamed for failures beyond his control.
  2. He can tune out Teresa’s rant and mentally revise his resume so that he doesn’t lose any time in looking for another job.
  3. He can accept that the company lacks systems to operate efficiently which means employees will waste time repeating tasks.

In the actual situation, the company muddled along for years refusing to adopt systems or processes to improve efficiency.  The muddling caused high turnover and low employee morale.  Eventually, the company was bought 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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Improving Morale with Beatings

MoraleAnother update from the Jungle….

Don started his tech company in the depths of the financial meltdown a few years ago. After years of struggling, he expanded his client base to the point that he now has employees instead of subbing out the work to independent contractors.

Don ought to feel happy, but he’s not.  His employees make him unhappy. He hired millennials expecting them to be energetic and creative and to keep his company on the cutting edge of technology.  Instead, they infuriate him with their attitude.

Greg and Sam blew a deadline because they went bar-hopping with college friends.  They had not wanted to work on the project but they were next up on the rotation for assignments. So Don ignored their lack of enthusiasm and told them to get busy.  Their final work product was so crappy that Don agreed not to charge the client.

Don was so angry he decided to take away a few perks. He folded up the ping pong table and shoved it inStartup, Business, People, Students the storeroom. Then he ordered Greg and Sam to report to the office every day so that he could keep a closer eye on them. Now they sulk at their desks, doing as little as possible, while surfing the web for other job opportunities.

Don is also annoyed with Beth. Beth wants to work on a fundraising campaign for her favorite non-profit (humane housing for pot-bellied pigs that have outgrown their cuteness) rather than working on client projects. Don likes bacon and ham and doesn’t see any point in coddling a former pet piggy. Besides, he hired Beth to work for his clients; not her favorite charity. He said no.

Morale is so low that even the free-beer-on-Friday promise hasn’t improved the general malaise afflicting the office.  It’s Friday evening. Don’s sitting at home drinking the single malt scotch he reserves for special occasions and wondering what he should do on Monday morning.

What options are available to Don?

  1. He can take away all the perks, including free beer, and enforce more discipline until employees crank out quality work and morale improves.
  2. He can fire his current employees and start over with a new batch of employees who accept his way of doing things.
  3. He can allow his employees more freedom to choose their assignments and set their own schedules as long as they meet project deadlines and submit quality work.

This story is a composite of several actual situations in which the small business owners still believed in face time and didn’t recognize that the newer generation of employees desire autonomy. No one likes to be micro managed, however, a worker still needs to serve the person who has employed them. They still need to earn their paycheck. The difficulty is always in finding a good balance.


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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Are you ready for 2015?

Another update from the HR jungle…


Sue is the human resources director for her company (because she’s the only HR department employee). She is frantically working her way through her year-end checklist so that she can take a two week, rum-infused holiday cruise in late December. Today she’s working on checklist items related to the group health plan.

First on her checklist is a note to update the on-line information about the company’s group health plan to show the new out-of-pocket limits for 2015. Her company has a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA). In 2015, HSA contributions are limited to $3,350 for individuals and $6,650 for families. The maximum out-of-pocket limits are $6,450 for individuals and $12,900 for families. If she posts the information on-line, some employees may actually read it rather than calling her with their questions.

Second on her checklist is to confirm that the new ACA-compliant software is properly tracking the hours of employees. Sue was impressed by the software vendor’s ability to customize the software to track her company’s high turnover employees. Sue’s company is not subject to the employer penalty in 2015 because they met the transitional relief for employers with 50 – 99 employees. But Sue still worries about last minute glitches when new software programs are implemented.

Does your ACA-compliance checklist look like Sue’s? Can you think of any items on your checklist that Sue has forgotten?

Sue’s already dreaming about the rum and fruit drinks she’ll be enjoying on her cruise, but she’ll continue working on her checklist items in next week’s column.

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