Demonstrate that Your Firm Won’t Tolerate Harassment

file6831274905127It’s probably impossible for your company to eliminate any chance of harassment, but there are precautions you can take to help win a lawsuit filed by an employee:

  • Above all, have a sound company policy against harassment, which includes discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or any other class protected by federal, state, or local law.
  • Make sure your employees are aware of the policy. Spread the word through orientation sessions and your employee handbook.
  • Require staff members to sign an agreement indicating that they understand the policy.
  • At least once a year, train your employees and managers on the subject of harassment and its consequences. Employees must be told how to report incidents and feel they can without retaliation.

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Enforcing Work Break Time Limits

clock-594178_1280It can start out as a minor, even overlooked, irritation for managers and supervisors: Employees stretching out work breaks by one or two or three minutes. It becomes a minor headache when they stretch out 10-minute work breaks to 15 minutes. Then it becomes a major headache for managers and supervisors when the 10 minute break becomes 15 minutes or longer.

When employees consistently stretch out the length of work breaks, it’s time for employers to look at their work break policy.

Does your work break policy address who is eligible to take work breaks? When are work breaks scheduled? Where do employees take their breaks? How much time do they have for taking breaks? What discipline do you use for abuse of work breaks? Continue reading

Resolve Employee Complaints Through Investigation

control-427510_1280Employee complaints that allege mistreatment at work have to be taken seriously. Even if you doubt the legitimacy of a complaint, you’ll put your company in peril if you fail to delve into what really happened. However, a poorly executed investigation could do more harm than good and potentially sink you in legal hot water.

Under federal law, you’re required to investigate any complaints involving harassment, discrimination, retaliation or safety issues. But even when a complaint seems small enough that employees should be able to work it out themselves – such as loud music blaring from a cubicle – don’t ignore it. The matter may not rise to the level of bringing in upper management, but employees need to know you take their concerns seriously. Continue reading

Pre-Employment Screening Services Can Help Prevent Workplace Violence

!The numbers are disturbing enough to keep business owners and managers awake at night: nearly two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence every year.

Two million workers. Those chilling figures come from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Workplace violence ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide, according to OSHA.  To make matters worse, experts say that many cases go unreported.

As a result, businesses need to plan how to prevent workplace violence not only with current workers, but before potentially violent individuals are hired.

OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.”

That’s why it’s important to take preemptive steps to screen out workers who might demonstrate any propensity for dangerous or disruptive acts, so they aren’t hired in the first place.

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Banning Wage Talk is Dangerous

Question: Recently some of my employees were given a pay raise.  It was not an across-the-board increase. One of my employees, who tends to be a troublemaker anyway, started discyes-238372_1280ussing his wage increase with other staff members and causing them to be dissatisfied with their raises. We have a policy prohibiting employees from discussing their pay with each other. Can we fire this troublemaker for violating our policy?

Answer: Sorry, but a “go-ahead” to terminate this employee could get your business into serious trouble.

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What is Employee Engagement Anyway?

Many managers have heard of the phrase “employee engagement” — but do you really understand what that means? What is the definition of employee engagement?

-Emotional connection an employee feels

Employee engagement is complex.  There’s not one specific attitude or  behavior which indicates whether an employee is fully engaged, it involves a combination of attitudes and behaviors and it’s different for every individual.  Employee engagement is job satisfaction, loyalty and commitment to the organization, involvement in the job, a feeling of empowerment.

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Demoting an Employee Has Risks

financial-crisis-544944_1280Demotion is a rarely used personnel practice. So why include a demotion policy in your employee handbook, if you don’t expect to demote anyone anytime soon?

Because sooner or later you will have to change an employee’s duties in a way the employee sees as a demotion.  You may call it a transfer, or a reassignment.  But the employee will know it as a dreaded demotion.  And a demotion (no matter what you might call it) is hurtful and embarrassing. By putting a demotion and change-in-duties policy in your employee handbook, your employees will know the circumstances under which they might experience a demotion or reassignment.

If you think of demotion always as a negative form of discipline, take another look.

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