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Building a Learning Culture

As we head into a new decade, there are many exciting opportunities and challenges for U.S. employers.  Among those are the ways companies build the skills and knowledge of their workforce.  What used to be called “training and development” has evolved into a front-and-center business strategy in order to remain competitive in a global market and provide the heightened service level expected from customers.  No matter the size of the organization, it’s important then that all company leaders set aside time to define and sustain their learning culture. An important first step is to make sure the company is clear on its reasons to build a learning culture.  Are yo

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Can we discipline employees for complaining about the company on social media?

HR Topics Question

Probably not. Depending on what they said, and who responded to it, their speech may be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 protects concerted activity by employees that relates to the terms on conditions of their employment. Concerted means “in concert,” so two or more employees must be involved, but this is easily achieved on social media if a co-worker even just “likes” the post. Terms and conditions could include pay, hours, work environment, treatment from managers, benefits, or violations of labor and employment laws. We understand that this sort of social media activity by employees can be frustrating. One way to reduce the likelihood t

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We’ve seen an uptick in complaints from employees. Is this cause for concern?

HR Topics Question

The mere fact that you’re getting more complaints than normal isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The increase in complaints could be a sign that there are now more issues that require your attention, or it could be a sign that your employees are—for some reason—feeling safer speaking to you about their concerns.  In and of themselves, complaints can be a good thing because they inform you about matters that may have escaped your notice and they indicate that your employees trust you to resolve those matters. The last thing you want is for employees to keep their concerns to themselves or vent about them to their colleagues (or the entire internet). You can’t solve

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We received credible reports from several employees and witnesses concerning sexual harassment by a manager. I feel confident in proceeding with termination, but we have not interviewed the accused manager. Should we get “his side of the story” before terminating?

HR Topics Question

Yes, you’re on safer ground terminating the accused employee if you interview him as part of your investigation – and do the same for other employees accused of harassment. In this case, you might not learn anything that would change your mind about the termination, but it’s still a possibility. More importantly, if the terminated employee were to challenge your decision, you would be able to show that he wasn’t treated any differently than other accused employees.  If you were to skip the interview with him, while typically interviewing other employees who have been accused of harassment or misconduct, he could claim that your decision in his case was discriminatory. A cons

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Four Ways to Show Employees That You Appreciate Them

Saying thanks and showing appreciation shouldn’t be limited to special occasions. Here are four ways to create a culture of appreciation in your workplace: Involve your employees in the big decisions and strategic planning of the organizationSolicit their ideas about the direction you’re headed. Discuss the future of the company with them, along with their place within it. Consider what they have to say and give them credit for their input. By doing all this, you show your employees that they’re important to you and to the success of the organization.  Invest in your employeesOffer opportunities for advancement. If promotions aren’t possible, then help employees up-level

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We have an employee who generally performs well, but at times behaves immaturely. When she gets upset, she slams things and stomps around the office. She also often says “That’s not my job” when asked to help with something. She’s younger and this is her first job. Is there a best way to address this behavior without it sounding personal? I know I can’t tell her to “grow up,” but I also can’t allow this immature behavior to continue.

HR Topics Question

Yes, I would suggest you give the employee a verbal warning concerning her unprofessional behavior. While you could, in fact, tell her to “grow up,” that may not be the most useful advice. You can tell her that slamming and stomping are not acceptable behaviors in a professional setting, and that you would appreciate it if she addressed frustrations with her direct supervisor or with you. You should also remind her that you’re on the same team and helping the team is part of everyone’s job description. You might also let her know that you’re there to support her, that you want her to succeed, and that while first jobs can be especially stressful, she’s not alone.  Af

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How to Help Underperforming Employees

There are a lot of reasons why an employee or a team may be underperforming, and sometimes it takes a little digging to get at the root of the problem. Under-performance could be due to a skill gap, unclear expectations, or a lack of incentive to perform. It could be due to obstacles in your organization that prevent people from completing their assignments or getting their work done on time. There could be a combination of factors that would need to be addressed before employees could routinely do their best work.  Consequently, while your performance management process should have some consistency to avoid any discrimination, it also needs to be complex enough to account for a mul

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New Form I-9 Released

On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new Form I-9. The form is dated 10/21/2019 and should be used immediately. USCIS is allowing employers a three-month grace period, however, during which the old form (dated 07/17/2017) may be used. By May 1, 2020, only the new form should be used. The new form can be found on the HR Support Center by searching Form I-9, or on the USCIS website, here. Regardless of where you get it, make sure you right click on the download link and “Save link as…” then right click the saved file on your computer and select “Open with Adobe...”  USCIS made the following changes to the

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We received a wage garnishment for child support that the employee doesn’t want us to follow. What should we do?

HR Topics Question

Valid wage garnishments need to be followed regardless of the affected employee’s feelings on the matter. In this case, you should go ahead and follow the instructions from the garnishing agency, withholding and sending them the specified amounts. The instructions should tell you what kind of notice you need to provide to the employee and provide a contact number if you have questions about remitting the payments. You may want to have a separate conversation with the employee so you can explain your legal obligations and why you cannot refuse to withhold the required amounts. If the employee wishes to get the garnishment discontinued or altered, you can refer the employee to the garnishin

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During an exit interview, a departing employee accused one of our managers of harassment. Should we investigate even though the accuser is no longer employed here? The manager has been with us a long time, and we’ve never heard any complaints about him before.

HR Topics Question

Yes, I would recommend investigating the allegations even though the accusing employee has left the organization. If your investigation shows that harassment occurred, I would recommend taking disciplinary action as appropriate.  Federal law obligates employers to prevent or stop unlawful harassment. Harassment happens when behavior is unwelcome and based on a protected class such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or disability. It becomes unlawful when it is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. In this case, since you’ve been made aware of alleged sexual harassment, failing to investigate the allegations could invite risk, especially if

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