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Archive for July 2011

Your Anti-harassment Policy, Part 1: What to Include

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As you know, businesses must take steps to protect themselves against discrimination lawsuits. Well, many of the same issues that factor in those suits – unfair treatment due to an employee’s ethnic origin, gender, physical abilities and so on – also form the basis of workplace harassment charges. Your company’s anti-harassment policy must be as clear, comprehensive and logical as possible so that employers and employees alike know how to avoid stepping into trouble and creating an unhealthy work atmosphere.

What does “harassment” mean? You don’t have to have an attempted assault during working hours to have a case of harassment on your hands. The term applies to any kind of hostility, abuse or intimidation based on an employee’s ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, military or marital status, or other characteristic covered by anti-discrimination laws. You must clearly state a policy of zero tolerance for any such harassment in your workplace.

You must also prohibit incidences of sexual harassment. This type of harassment may require its own specific definition so that employees understand exactly how sensitive the issue can be. In addition to such obvious situations as requests for sex, you must prohibit any sexual comments, jokes, gestures or any other such communications that might make a worker feel pressured, uncomfortable, intimidated, offended or insulted. In other words, sexual content of any sort does not belong in your workplace.

But you can’t assume your employees will know what’s right or wrong – you must spell out these off-limits actions precisely in your policy and take steps to educate them on a regular basis. Post this policy in common areas and make sure everyone reads and agrees to the policy at hiring.

The Texas Workforce Commission suggests that your policy should:

  • define harassment in its various forms;
  • make it clear that no form of harassment will be tolerated;
  • notify employees of how to report harassment;
  • stress that it is not only a right, but a duty, to report harassment to responsible management
  • warn employees of the disciplinary actions that could result from violations of the policy; and
  • provide a framework for investigation and remedial actions in harassment situation

In a future post we’ll discuss what to do when an employee reports a violation of your anti-harassment policy. For help with attestation signature documents and other anti-harassment policy help, feel free to contact us.

Written by Dan Hettrich

July 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A Hearty Welcome: Your Best Retention Tool?

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Your new employee seemed really enthusiastic about joining the company during the interview process. So why did he hang around for a few weeks and then disappear? Was he just not serious about the job after all — or did you do something to drive him away?

If you don’t care about the typical 15 percent turnover rate in the business world, then you won’t find much of interest in this post. If, however, losing a new employee after your HR department spent serious time and effort to find that person does bug you, then read on.

The business world has changed, and not necessarily in the employer’s favor. True, the scarcity of jobs in recent years has given companies access to a wider range of qualified candidates — but many of those candidates are in fact over-qualified, and they know it. They’ll accept your job opening today, get another tomorrow, and if you haven’t made a great first impression on them, off they go.

So how do you make new employees happy to be at your company from their very first day on the job?

Develop a detailed plan for onboarding new employees, and make sure the first day is a very positive first impression that lets them know they are important and you are excited (and prepared!) to help them be successful. Think about it — would you want to start your first day at a new job filling out an hour’s worth of paperwork, especially after all the hoops you jumped through just to get here in the first place? If you want new employees to feel welcome, put the I-9 aside until later in the day and walk them through the building. Introduce them to their co-workers. Show off your corporate culture and let them get a true feel for what your company is all about, spend time on ‘the vision’ and get them oriented to the team and position. Then maybe when that other offer comes, the answer will be: “Sorry, I’m no longer available!”

Already have your own “Welcome Wagon?” Tell us about it!

Written by Dan Hettrich

July 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Better hiring through referrals (or, goodbye Craigslist)

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If you had to hire someone for a critical situation in your own life — a tax lawyer to rescue you from a serious IRS issue, or a dentist to take care of that nagging toothache — would you feel okay about just grabbing any warm body off the street to do the job, or would you feel more confident using a specialist personally recommended by a trusted source?

If you chose the latter, you understand the power of networking. Most of us would much rather ask the people we know and trust for referrals than just pick a name out of the phone book. Yet all too often, employers rely on Craigslist or other relatively undiscriminating public sites to locate potential workers instead of using the powerful networking tools already at their fingertips.

“I’m not a networker,” you say? But everyone has a circle of trust — a network of friends, acquaintances and colleagues who can point you toward the best and brightest performers for the task at hand. Another great resource to consider is your employees – you’ve hired them, invested in them and gotten to know them. Based on their experience at your company, they also have a great understanding of your culture and demands of various positions, and they may have contacts that may be as productive as they are and would be a good cultural fit.  And thanks to social media technologies these concepts have gone truly global, bringing the entire business world to your company’s HR department at the touch of a mouse.

Among the many social media platforms helping businesses find qualified staff, perhaps none can rival LinkedIn for power and signal-to-noise ratio. LinkedIn focuses purely on business connections. Members post their resumes, bio profiles, company website or other business information, connecting with potential networking partners through requests for online introductions. This structured networking approach gives you access to high-quality referrals from people you trust. More and more smart employers and job candidates are finding each other in this manner. Maybe it’s the smart solution for you too!

Written by Dan Hettrich

July 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized