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What sort of questions should we ask and avoid asking during a job interview?

HR Topics Question

The questions you ask in a job interview should all be job-related and nondiscriminatory. You should avoid questions that are not job-related or that cause an applicant to tell you about their inclusion in a protected class. For example, if the position requires someone to lift 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day, you should ask the applicant whether they can lift 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day. You should not ask whether they have back pain or any other physical issues that might prevent them from lifting 25 pounds throughout the day. The latter question would be discriminatory. Protected classes include race, national origin, citizenship status, religious affiliation, disa

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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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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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Three Ways to Effectively Manage Your HR Responsibilities

The workplace – whether it’s an office, a salon, a restaurant, or a medical facility – is full of complexity. And many of those complexities are managed by the Human Resources Department. Sometimes the HR Department is a team of people with deep expertise, but often it’s one person who wears many hats in the organization and has no formal HR training. If your HR department looks more like the latter, and you could use a little help keeping it all together, we recommend the following three practices: Inventory who is doing whatBecause HR covers so many different tasks, those tasks are often assigned to different people in the organization. It’s common for owners, managers, and o

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The Ins and Outs of Conducting Background Checks

Have you considered conducting background checks as part of your hiring process? The practice is fairly typical in the banking and financial services industries, as well as with those who work with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. If you’re wondering whether you should do so as well, check out our overview of the process below.   Identify the business reason for conducting pre-employment background checksBackground checks add time and expense to the hiring process, and they can create risk, so if you’re thinking about conducting them company-wide or for specific positions, you should have a business reason for doing so. In short, you should know why you

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We’ve had a few employees come into work sick. Can we send them home or, in the future, tell them not to come in to work if they are sick?

HR Topics Question

Yes. Generally, you can send sick employees home early when they are visibly ill or there is objective concern for the spread of a contagious virus. We recommend you inform the employee, as well as your other employees, of your expectations for when employees should or should not come to work due to common contagious illnesses. Many employers choose to send employees home only in severe circumstances (e.g., a highly contagious illness) as the cold and flu seasons could mean that many employees are sick or recovering at the same time, and employees may not need to stay home when fighting, for example, a minor cold. Keep in mind that it is important that everyone have a clear understanding

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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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Our busy season starts next month. Is there anything we can do to help our employees reduce their stress?

HR Topics Question

There is! Here are a few things you can do to make the busy season run as smoothly and stress-free as possible: Remove or reassign non-essential work duties: Before the busy season begins, ask employees to make a list of tasks that others could feasibly handle for them or that could be put on hold. Then work on reassigning those tasks or simply hold off on non-essential tasks until business slows down.  Allow for flexible scheduling: If employees need to work longer hours on some days during the week, consider allowing them to work fewer hours other days of the week. Be aware, however, that some states have daily overtime laws.  Budget for overtime: Employees may need to

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I’ve heard serving alcohol at company parties can be a liability. What steps can we take to protect our organization and our employees?

HR Topics Question

Yes, alcohol can be a liability. Partygoers who overindulge could cause an accident or act in ways that violate your harassment policy. Here are some practices you might consider: Employers may be liable for employee misconduct and negligence when the employee is acting “in the course and scope of employment,” so make these kinds of events optional and clearly communicate that attendance is neither expected nor required.Don’t plan to have any work-related activities at the event.To further support the non-work nature of the event, hold it off-site and outside of regular business hours, and allow employees to bring a guest.Set expectations around respectful behavior and encourag

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Can we ask an applicant why they are leaving their current job?

HR Topics Question

Yes. While it’s fine to ask this question during the interview, we recommend you collect this information ahead of time by asking about it on an employment application. In the section where the applicant lists their previous employment experience, you can ask for the reason they left each job. Trends you notice may be cause for follow-up questions during the interview or a reason not to schedule an interview at all. If you ask about previous or current employment during the interview, be mindful of the direction the response goes. As with any interview question, you should redirect the candidate if they start to share sensitive information. For example, if a candidate says they left pa

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