Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Excuses Excuses Excuses

Throughout the course of your career as a manager or supervisor, you’ll likely hear a number of excuses for why an employee was not able to complete an assignment, be on time or otherwise do what they were supposed to do.  Below are some of the more common excuses and ways to address them:

·  “It’s not my job.”  This is a common excuse used by employees to get out of doing work.  If the assigned task is related to their essential job functions, it is likely to fall under “other duties as assigned” in their job description.

·   “Everyone else comes in late.”  This excuse falls under the “if everyone jumps off a bridge, does that mean you should too?” explanation.”  The focus at this point should be addressing this particular employee’s attendance while letting the employee know that everyone is subject to the same attendance requirements.

·   “I didn’t know.  I’m new.”  This excuse only lasts so long before the newness of it wears off.  If you explained the process, policy or procedure during orientation or during the employee’s initial training, then being new to the organization is not an excuse.  Additionally, being new should not prevent the employee from asking questions and seeking assistance from others.

·   “I have too much work to do.”  When confronted with this excuse, ask the employee to provide you with a detailed outline of what tasks he/she is working on and the percentage of time he/she is working on each task.  It may be that the employee needs to better manage their time or focus their priorities on value-added tasks.  Also, if the employee is exempt from overtime, take note of when the employee arrives and leaves the office and how long he/she is taking for lunch.  You should make sure the employee is working the required number of hours per day or week and not taking extended lunches or breaks or coming in late or leaving early.

While some of these excuses may be legitimate, it’s important for a manager and supervisor to hold employees accountable when it comes to performing the essential functions of their job at a meets expectation level.

This article should not be construed as legal advice.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be Social... But Be Cautious

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are great ways for employees to socialize and even for employers to promote their business.  While many employers monitor communications and employee behavior on these technologies, policies should be very clear.  More importantly, management should understand how to properly implement these policies.

You should have a policy that is specific and comprehensive is scope.  All policies should be clearly communicated to employees and make sure to train management on the importance of following company policies.  FYI, current privacy laws allow businesses to monitor electronic communication but it is important to stay abreast of changes in such laws and relevant court decisions.

Make sure you are protecting your company's reputation.  Social media can be a great way to promote a business, but don't forget about those negative ninnies out there.  Social media certainly provides  an easy forum for employees or dissatisfied customers to vent their opinions or frustrations.  Still, companies may also impose sanctions on employees for criticizing or disparaging the employer outside of work, including on social media websites. (http://www.infolawgroup.com/2011/01/articles/enforcement/employee-privacy-gains-in-the-united-states/)

There is also the issue of harassment versus free speech.  It is interesting to note that issues of harassment are not protected by free speech.  Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability (mental or physical), sexual orientation, or retaliation.  Whether harassment occurs in person or via any technology, such behavior is not protected by law.

Make sure you have a clearly defined policy that is understood by all and lead by a well trained management team.  Employees should be made aware of their responsibility to follow this, as well as all workplace policies.  Leaders must manage all policies consistently and fairly throughout their workforce. 

This article should not be construed as legal advice.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Lose Great Job Candidates

If you have ever been responsible for filling an open position at your company, you have probably wondered where all the great job candidates are or why someone who looked so promising did not finish the online job application.  Here are a few issues to consider:

1. Where are you publishing your job ads?  Are you using job posting sites or social media networks directed to professionals in a specific field or are you posting your job ad on a generic job board where every individual regardless of skills level or qualifications can apply?

2. How user-friendly is your online submittal process?  The easiest sites are those that allow the applicant to simply email their resume and cover letter.  However, many more employers are using software tools that are designed to make recruiting and selection easier but which may in fact lead to great candidates being lost.  For example, many software tools simply don’t work properly.  They gather information from a resume and input the data in the wrong fields.  The candidate then has to spend time retyping the information.  In other cases, a candidate may be frustrated with having to create and remember so many usernames and passwords each time they apply for a position with a new or same employer.

3. Are you asking questions on the online application form that may frustrate or cause a job candidate some concern?  For example, each application usually has a statement indicating that the candidate acknowledges that by signing the application, he or she states that the information is true and correct and if false information is provided, it may be grounds for termination or rejection of their application.  One of the questions that often appear on an application is whether the candidate has a family member working for the employer or whether the candidate has ever applied for a position with the employer before.  In these situations, the candidate may not be aware of family working for the employer and may not remember previously applying for a position. 
Other online applications ask the candidate to provide their driver’s license, social security number and even sign a release form for background and credit checks.  A candidate may be hesitant to provide so much personal information up front when they haven’t even interviewed for the position. 
Other applications ask the candidate to provide a salary history.  Again, the candidate may not want to disclose this information up front, and may even feel indignant at being asked to provide this information when the employer has not even indicated a salary range for the position.

When filling open positions, it’s important for employers to put themselves in the position of a job candidate and go through the online application process to understand what candidate’s go through when applying for a position. 

This article should not be construed as legal advice.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interns For Your Business

Offering students an internship to gain hands-on work experience is a beneficial opportunity for everyone, if executed properly.  To ensure a positive outcome for both parties, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends keeping these six requirements in mind when creating internships if the position is unpaid:

  • The training should resemble an educational program where the internship provides students with real life educational experiences that can only be gained outside a classroom.  Students should be able to apply what they have learned in the classroom to their experiences in the workforce.
  • The employer should structure the internship toward an educational goal, including ongoing instruction and supervision.
  • The training is for the benefit of the trainee and is not intended as a way for businesses to take advantage of free work.  The experience will increase the intern's chances of being hired in the job market and/or allow them to earn academic credit.  A key point, according to  SHRM is, "unpaid interns who fall into the category of 'trainees' rather than 'employees' frequently perform tasks that are useful only for training purposes and that provide little to no benefit to the employer."
  • Trainees or students should not displace regular employees nor be entrusted with the same work as a regular employee or a recently departed employee; nor may the employer lay off an employee to be replaced by a student or trainee.
  • Employers should have a policy with strict supervision of interns and assign a mentor.  Supervisors should actively participate with interns.
  • The employer should derive no immediate advantage from the activities of trainees or students.  SHRM suggests that "a key caution is if the employer is the primary beneficiary of an internship, for example, and the employer reduces costs or accomplishes necessary tasks through the intern, the DOL will consider the intern an employee under the FLSA.  If the intern is the primary beneficiary of the experience, the DOL is much more likely to consider the intern a trainee."
"Please note trainees or students are not entitled to a job at the end if the training.  To ensure that the intern has no expectation of employment, the DOL recommends that an employer draft a written agreement with the intern stating that the intern should have no expectation of employment and should not presume any guarantee of employment after the internship.  Though an employer should make it clear that an intern is not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship, employers should not be discouraged from offering jobs to interns.  
The employer and trainees/students understand that trainees/students are not entitles to wages for the time spent in training.  before beginning the relationship, employers should draft a written agreement stating that payment for the intern's services is neither intended nor expected during the internship."

This article should not be construed as legal advice.

The Shoe is on the Other Foot

When it comes to filling a vacant position, there’s a lot of planning that goes on, especially when it comes to interviewing the candidate.  But one thing that many employers forget is that the interview process is a two-way street.  Not only is the employer interviewing the candidate to make sure the candidate is the right “fit” for the position and the organization, but the candidate is also interviewing the employer.

The candidate likely wants details about the organization, the job, and “what’s in it for me.”  As such, employers should be prepared to answer a number of questions from the candidate, including but obviously not limited to:

·         Why is the position vacant?
·         If it’s a new position, what brought about the need for the position?
·         If it’s a position that’s been around for a while, has there been any changes to the responsibilities, and if so, why?
·         What is the most challenging aspect of the position?
·         What are the top three priorities of the position?
·         If the job posting does not otherwise specify, what percentage of time is spent in meetings, travelling, writing or presenting reports, etc.?
·         Where does the position fit in the organization in terms of influence and status?
·         What three words would you use to describe the culture of the organization?
·         How is this position perceived by others in the organization?
·         What major initiatives is the organization taking on right now (e.g., growth, new products, increased competition, layoffs, etc.)
·         How does the organization value its employees and include them in decision making?
·         How available are members of the executive team to employees at every level of the organization?
·         What are the compensation and benefits for this position, including medical insurance, hours, training reimbursement, flexible work schedule, etc.?
·         The candidate may also ask questions about the interviewer(s) including:
o   How long have you worked for the company and/or held your current position?
o   What do you like most about the company?
o   What is one area that you think the company should improve upon?
o   What interaction do you have with the position you are looking to fill?

Just as employers want to make sure they hire an individual who has the right knowledge, skills and ability to perform the essential functions of the job, candidates also want to make sure they work for a company where their knowledge, skills and ability will be put to use and where they will be valued and respected.

This article should not be construed as legal advice.