Monday, February 26, 2007

Grievance Procedures

Every Employee Handbook should include a defined grievance procedure, which outlines the steps an employee must take when he/she has a problem, from potential violence in the workplace, to harassment, or even a common complaint.

The very first step should be to encourage the employee to talk to the person they feel is causing the problem. 90% of problems go away after this, without the necessity of management involvement.

The next steps should be hierarchical - if you're uncomfortable going to that person, or unhappy with the outcome, go to your supervisor, and so on.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Employee E-Mail Policy

The number of harassment cases involving the e-mails of employees is on the rise. Make sure you have an air-tight, written policy stating that use of company e-mail and internet access is strictly limited to business use only.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Workplace Discrimination on the Rise

It's official - and somewhat surprising:

Discrimination complaints to the EEOC are on the rise - especially race, sex and retaliation.

What's disheartening about this is that all of these complaints are preventable - through strong handbook policies, management training, and good investigation techniques.

It's the 21st Century - and it's time to manage properly!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Recommended Book Of The Month

What People Want, by Terry Bacon.

Simple, common-sense based principles for managing people. A really good read.

What Employees Want

We've been saying it for years - a good boss is not a buddy nor a dictator. He/she is somewhere in between.

Employees look for a professional relationship and value that so much in their manager that it's the primary reason why an employee will stay or leave a company.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Romantic Behavior in the Workplace

Happy Valentine's Day Eve!

Yet another article on the pitfalls of dating in the workplace - for both employers and employees. What really struck me is the finding that 84% of employees say their employer either doesn't have a policy regarding dating in the office (or that they don't know of such a policy).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shop Your 401(k) Now!

The trend is finally happening - if you don't compare your 401(k) plan, not only are YOU losing money, but your employees are losing thousands of dollars through hidden fees.

And now is the time - if you don't have a defined contribution plan - to establish one for your business. High reward, a valued benefit, and low cost to your business.

Sexual Harassment Training

Non-harassment training for supervisors is mandated for businesses with 50 or more employees (and/or independent contractors) in California.

It's also strongly recommended for all businesses - in case of a claim, you as an employer need to be able to answer such questions as:
  1. Where is your non-harassment policy in writing?
  2. Where is your grievance procedure in writing?
  3. When was the last time you trained your management in non-harassment training?
  4. Did you properly manage the investigation?
  5. Do you have a non-retaliation policy in writing?
It's for these reasons - and more - that a comprehensive review of your policies, procedures and training is necessary on an annual basis.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Any competent HR professional or consultant will tell management the first rule of good human resources practices is to document, document, document.

Yes, it's time consuming, but it provides the foundation for solid employee communication, as well as your back-up in case of lawsuit or grievance.

Make it business related, and never personal.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Employee Romance in the Workplace - Part Deux

An excellent article regarding what you can, and cannot do regarding employees dating in the workplace.

The key? Be proactive - it's much easier to put policies in place before something happens than afterwards.

Employee Expense Reimbursement

The concept of reimbursing employees for expenses incurred in the course of their job has always been somewhat vague in California.

Not only should there be a policy in your handbook on expense reimbursement, but it looks like the state is going to be setting some regulations for all businesses very soon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Employee Romance in the Workplace

In California, you can't prohibit employees from dating (although you can prevent supervisors from dating subordinates).

The problem is, 50% of all sexual harassment cases come when the relationship was consensual. And, nearly half of all workers have been romantically tied to somebody from work!

Get a policy in your handbook that puts your procedures in writing. Have your attorney review it, and make sure that all parties in a relationship understand business - from your perspective - always comes first.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Managing Down The Middle

It's always wonderful when a survey supports the theories you wrote about years ago.

People will work harder and better for someone they WANT to work for, not who they HAVE to work for.

It's worth keeping in mind.

Monday, February 05, 2007

401(k) - The Hidden Fees

I don't manage 401(k) or retirement plans, but I'm a huge proponent of them for all businesses - it is a highly desired and inexpensive employee benefit.

I find that a number of small businesses are content to use a friend or acquaintance to manage the recordkeeping and money management of their 401(k)'s - and this is where it backfires.

You should immediately demand that your fund manager disclose all the fees - most of them borne by participants - in the plan. It should be Priority One as the new year gets underway.

It's great that government is finally doing something about it - but I fear the solution will be a long time away, and those fees add up every day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Why Have an Employee Handbook?

Don't let anyone talk you out of having an employee handbook. You need written policies in order to consistently manage your employees.

You can still maintain flexibility with your business policies, but the foundation of any good employer/employee relationship starts with the handbook.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Employee Satisfaction

It's so simple to make sure your employees are happy. It's not just about the money they make - happy employees are more productive and less likely to cause problems. You can focus on the important things and not always deal with problem employees.

Managing Up - Part II

I spoke with a friend last night who's not sure if she's truly happy in her job. She's working for a stable company for the first time in ages, and making decent money.

I told her - as I've told many people - you have to weigh everything and make a decision:
Is It Worth It? Is the money and the stability more important than anything else?

Many studies show that a relationship with the boss is the most important factor in determining job satisfaction.

I disagree with the writer in this article - if you're unhappy, you have to leave. Life is too short to be unhappy in your work.

(But as a boss, you need to know that when an employee is unhappy and manage that process carefully - especially if you value that employee).