Posted on January 5, 2017 in Consulting
Uncertainty surrounds the wide ranging changes President-elect Trump has promised that are certain to impact employers. Time will tell which campaign pledges come to fruition that impact the workplace. Whatever those changes may be will not, however, have a dramatic affect on employment-related litigation. Instead, employer will avoid the courthouse when they focus on strong fundamentals no matter who sits in the Oval Office Here are some basics all employers should focus on in 2017.
My first news letter in October 2010 (http://www.employment-matters.com/consulting/better-communication-in-the-workplace-2/) argued that effective communication avoids workplace issues from becoming employment claims. That will always be true. Effective communication is direct, honest, and conveys a clear message. Anything short of this leaves the employee questioning the bosses intentions and motivations.
I was reminded of this recently at a lunch with a lawyer-litigator friend who asked whether I thought an employer should tell someone the reason for termination in an exit interview. Many people (really smart people too) hold tight to the premise that at-will employment means an employer never owes a person a reason for losing their job. While that is true, an employee who does not hear the rationale for termination will draw their own conclusions and might lean toward conspiracy theories or illegal ulterior motives.
I highly recommend employers communicate effectively and provide a clear, concise explanation for termination. It may be harsh but there is no substitute for the truth.
Read your Policies
Hypocrisy emerges most often when HR folks fail to achieve their own understanding of the company’s policies. Managers must also know company policies. Unfortunately, too little attention is placed on studying policies. We assume that people will take the time to read the handbook and other pertinent policies.
Take some time this month to read those policies, and while doing so, look for and propose needed changes. Also, borrow a lesson from our colleagues who handle HS&E and learn from the example of “tail gate” meetings. Before work begins the crew talks about the task at hand, the environment, and the safety protocol.
Too bad the work day does not begin with “the policy of the day.” Perhaps it should.
All good legal work starts with an attentive lawyer who listens to the facts with an open mind to help clients achieve the best possible results. Good HR begins with the same approach.
The ideal HR department will be available and approachable creating an environment that welcomes a person seeking to make a good faith complaint. Likewise, HR needs to create an environment that encourages management to seek their guidance. A few easy rules for HR personnel:
- Avoid the appearance of favoritism. For example, eat lunch with a diversity of people;
- Keep your door open;
- Speak in positive terms. Avoid such terms as: “You can’t do that.” Think: “How can I help”.
I wish you the best in the new year and hope to see you at my upcoming Lunch & Learn.