Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
SHRM is recommending to its membership that we contact our Congressional representatives, both houses, and tell them to VOTE NO. I will add to that "HELL NO". The misnamed piece of legislation is a nightmare. Here are the provisions of it. Specifically, the bill would:
- facilitate class action lawsuits by repealing the requirement that employees must give their written consent to become a party in a gender discrimination class action,
- lift the caps on compensatory or punitive damages for which employers would be liable, in addition to current liability for back pay. Such damages would apply to even unintentional pay disparities,
- prevent employers from retaliating against employees who disclose or discuss the wages of other employees,
- prohibit certain employer defenses for pay disparities. For example, the bill would eliminate an employer’s ability to justify paying different salaries to workers based in different locations with different costs of living.
That last bullet point alone is enough to show how nuts this is! It means if you have locations in high paying cities and lower paying cities (because of the cost of living) you will have to pay everyone the HIGHER WAGE.
I am not for wage discrimination in any form, but falling back to the past rejected concept of comparable worth is not the way to go. Comparable worth pay systems require the government, rather than the private market, to determine employees’ wages. Congress explicitly rejected comparable worth during the original Equal Pay Act debate—when wage disparities between women and men were greater—because it would mandate the same pay for completely different jobs. Furthermore, courts have repeatedly declared that the Equal Pay Act does not require a comparable worth system.
Watch this one and shake in your HR boots as we move to a Democrat lead administration and Congress.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
“Your place at the table.” How many articles, conversations, blogs, moaning sessions, crying sessions and musings have occurred around this topic? Countless, yet the question continues to be asked. So I figured I would put in my “two cents worth.”
In my mind there are professional characteristics and personal characteristics that enter into this discussion. The professional characteristics include:
- You must be knowledgeable in HR. Yeah I know, obvious. But I mean more than just a cursory knowledge. This means you study. Be it in school (Masters degree), be it in continuing educations (SPHR) or be it on your own (reading books, magazines, websites, blogs.)
- You must be knowledgeable in business, both business in general and your industry in particular. This means more education. Understand how your company makes money and what it does with it. Assets, liabilities, debt, income statements, balance sheets and the other language of finance and accounting. Understand operations issues. Supply, demand, inventories, scheduling. You get this two different ways. Read! There should be several industry journals on your reading list. Relationships! Spend time with the finance and ops people.
- You must be knowledgeable in the world. This means you pay attention to and understand the impact of globalization, localization, politics, social trends, economic trends, legal trends and more. This means you are an environmental scanner.
- You must be knowledgeable in people. This means you are a student of psychology. You understand behavior and the principles of motivation and reward. You know group dynamics and team building.
- You must be knowledgeable in strategy and planning. Knowing “stuff” does not do any good if you cannot apply it to the current and future direction of the company.
- You MUST be competent and good at what you do. If you can’t keep a file straight or keep track of a new hire why in the hell would I want you at my side advising me, if I were the president of a company.
- It helps if you have worked in some other area other than human resources. Sales, operations or finance will all work. That gives you great perspective on the problems departments face on a day to day basis.
The personal characteristics you must have are:
- You have to be smart. Sorry, but it is the truth. There has to be the “horse power” in the cranium. There is a lot of stuff to know and apply and if you don’t have it you won’t make it to the top. You have to be able to see the big picture and read the future and that takes some brains.
- You have to be a hard charger. You don’t make it to the Vice Presidential level by coming in late and leaving early. You also don’t gripe about how hard it is. You eat the stuff up. You want more. PASSION!
- You have to have some “backbone.” If you are afraid of making decisions you don’t have the “right stuff.”
- You have to learn from your errors. Don’t be afraid to admit a mistake, but move on once you have.
- You have to have DESIRE. You want to have that VP role then you have to ASK for it. In this case the meek shall NOT inherit the earth.
Feel free to leave me your comments, opinions, additions or suggest a deletion.
Friday, July 11, 2008
- Not paying attention to taxes.
- Being too generous to win back your spouse.
- Making agreements outside the settlement papers.
- Having sex with your ex.
- Using your child as your messenger.
- Not keeping a journal.
- Not being prepared.
(Note: There were some others but they did not fit as well. Hey I said it reminded me, not that there was a 1-to-1 relationship.)
So how do these reflect the termination process you ask?
- Not paying attention to taxes. Believe it or not there may be actual tax consquences to terminating an employee depending on the level of the employee. Severence agreements that are paid out over time may be considered deferred income and be regulated in public companies by Sarbannes -Oxley. So be aware of these consequences for both you and the employee.
- Being too generous to win back your spouse. Sometimes when we have a valued employee submit a resignation (divorce) we go overboard and try to throw money at the employee, or offer promotions, or title changes or benefits. Whatever will keep the employee from leaving. The problem with this is it may not be the solution to the problem that caused the employee to leave in the first place. But you have gotten so generous the employee would be a fool not take the money. You may then still have a delayed problem. So investigate why the employee is truly leaving before you throw money at the problem.
- Making agreements outside the settlement papers. Once you have written a termination don't agree to anything else unless it is in writing.
- Having sex with your ex. Once an employee is gone, it is best to let them stay gone. Don't contract with them to do work. Don't hire them as consultants or contractors. The IRS doesn't really like that and you will end up with potential tax ramifications and penalites.
- Using your child as a messenger. Sometimes you don't want ex-employees contacting your employees. In some cases they may be barred by a non-compete from doing that. You certainly don't want to use your employees to pass messages back and forth to the ex. Don't put your current employees in the position of go-between.
- Not keeping a journal. The mantra of HR is documentation, documentation, documentation. That applies double for terminations. What leads to them, what occurs during and what follows after.
- Not being prepared. Before you ever sit down with an employee to terminate them have all your "ducks in a row." Know when, why, how, what was said, what needs to be said. Investigate. Nothing is more embarassing than sitting down in a termination supposedly prepared only to find out that it is not the way things went. Be aware of potential biases of supervisors and managers. Be aware of previous history. This is especially important when HR is remote from the worksite and there is no day-t0-day knowledge.
Most divorces go pretty well. But some are very, very messy. (Ask Christie Brinkley's husband.) Terminations are the same way. Most go pretty well, but some are very messy. And most messy ones occur because of mistakes that are made.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
- Security, for both the devices and the information contained on them.
- Personal use of the devices and privacy expectations
- Use of these devices by non-exempt employees and payment of overtime.
As we have seen in several news stories about stolen government laptops this is certainly an issue. So you need to have some policy and procedure statement that covers leaving these devices laying about for someone else to pick up. This should probably contain some statement about use in WIFI hotspots and use of a firewall. Get your techies to help on that.
If you issue business devices for business use do you allow personal use of those devices as well? Ideally not, that would make it cleaner to deal with. But that is not practical in the real world. You cannot expect your traveling employees to carry two computers so that they will be able to do personal things at night. If you have employees who are gone all week long they need to communicate with family and the bank and their doctors, etc. But you need to have a policy that does let them know that it is a company owned machine and as a result they should have no expectation of privacy and that all information on the machine is subject to review by the company if it is deemed necessary. This expectation of privacy also needs to apply to company owned phones and texting devices. All of that information is recoverable and employees need to be aware of that fact.
The train wreck I alluded to in the title is with the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires that all non-exempt employees (both hourly and salaried non-exempt employees) be paid for time worked more than 40 hours in a week (in some state and local jurisdictions for more than 8 hours in a day). This means if you have a non-exempt employee with a company issued laptop/Blackberry/phone and they are checking email, working on projects, etc. you have to track all their time and then compensate them for the overtime. This can get very complicated, particularly if those devises are used for personal things.
We have learned that it is human nature that when an email pops up it gets read, especially on a Blackberry (that is why they are referred to as a "Crackberry.") Few of us ignore that late night email or that after-hours call. The law does allow some "de minimus" use that take up insignificant time. However, if that time starts adding up it then becomes compensible. So you need to set up a policy on the use of those devices and recording that time. If it is going to put someone into an overtime situation then you need to have some approval process in place to make sure OT does not run rampent. It is expensive.
This stuff can get so complicated sometimes that it discourages employers from issuing those devices to non-exempt employees. This can create a "digital divide" in our employee groups. So be careful of your reaction to this. The law can be a roadblock to a technologically productive workforce if you let it be. Perhaps it is time for an other overall of the FLSA. But don't hold your breath. With the influence of unions on the government it is not going to happen.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
- The employee gets the day off (found in many union contracts)
- The president of the company calls the employee and wishes them happy birthday
- HR sends a card to the employee
- Monthly celebrations for everyone with a birthday that month
- A celebration on the person's actual birthday that is paid for by the company
- The boss or fellow employees take the person to lunch
- The person's name is posted on the intranet, company newsletter, bulletin board, etc.
- The person having the birthday brings their own cake
Here are the problem areas associated with recognizing birthdays at work:
- Some religions don't celebrate birthdays, such as Jehovah's Witnesses
- Some cultures don't recognize birthdays, but do recognize things such as "naming day."
- Some people don't like the attention of a birthday
As I first started to write this I was going to weigh-in on saying that I think it is important to recognize someone on their birthday (and I will continue to do so with people I know) but after reading about it I am not so sure the birthday is the best day to have some "official" recognition. Official recognition should be work related. Recognize someone for their performance.
As a boss it is important to understand the diversity of your employee group. What works as recognition, what doesn't? As an HR department it is also very important to understand that diversity. Are we treading on thin ice with sanctioning official birthday celebrations?
What do you think? Too "politically correct" or a valid concern? What do you do?
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
- You did not clearly understand what you needed in a new employee.
- You did not clearly understand your corporate culture.
- You allowed time pressure to outweigh your common sense.
- You did a rotten job of interviewing because you did not know what you were looking for.
- You "sold" in the interview instead of "asking."
- You got "wowed" by a school, a degree, a title, a company.
- You did not do your due diligence and do a thorough background check.
Here is why you still have them:
- When you realized they were "bad news" you did nothing about it, hoping they would get better.
- You did not measure their performance.
- You did not document their poor performance.
- You did not act to stop their "bad mouthing" the boss/other employees/the company/etc.
- You ran scared because they were (in no particular order): over 40, female, black, asian, hispanic, pregnant, Islamic, Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, diabled, etc.
So to avoid toxic employees avoid hiring them in the first place. If you have one act on doing something right away. Otherwise if they stay they poison everyone. And sometimes even when you do get rid of them they keep coming back and back and back. They threaten lawsuits, they file lawsuits, they harass you and other employees, they "bad mouth" your company, they steal your employees and generally make life miserable for you in anyway they can. They end up costing money, time and energy.
So get some backbone, make good decisions and don't procrastinate. Just a thought. What can you add to this discussion? Other tips or reasons I missed?