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Employee Documentation

As business leaders or human resource managers, documenting employee performance is critical for the health and development of successful companies. Why is it so important to document, document, document?  And how should this be done?  Read on to find out the reasons why businesses should follow good documentation strategies as well as what some of those best practices look like.

It is important to document employee issues for several reasons including: protecting the company, maintaining records for the future managers and for the protection of the employee. Documenting employee issues will protect the company in the future should the employee file a lawsuit claiming discrimination or other legal matter. Documentation will also prevent any new managers from having to start from scratch. Documentation can give insight into issues and conflicts as well as how those issues were resolved. All that documentation also protects and helps the employee as well. In all fairness employees need to be informed when there is an issue so they can make corrective action or add their input about the situation. 

Proper documentation should include the following items:

  • a description of the events or situation
  • a definition of the policy that was violated
  • a review of any previous issues with the employee and how that was resolved
  • designate a mediator or neutral person to discuss the issue with
  • indicate what changes need to be made and a timeline
  • signatures of all people involved
  • comments or input from all parties

The documentation should be a thorough as possible and include differing points of view as well as the final resolution.

Multigenerational Workplace Issues

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and Millennials. . . OH MY!  Companies today often have teams with a wide range of ages. Age ranges can be wonderful. When every person entering an office comes in with different life experiences, perspectives and views it can add value to a company.  But let’s face it, there are stark differences in the values, communication styles and work habits of each generation as well. Workplaces can, in theory, have employees ranging from 18-80. That is a huge range. Businesses in all fields are quickly becoming aware of issues that have become pronounced due to these age ranges. Let’s take a look at the potential issues and some solutions for bridging this multigenerational workforce gap. 

  • Get to know each person and generation and what their concerns may be. For example, the millennial generation of workers would choose workplace flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments over financial rewards, according to a NexGen survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Baby Boomers prefer more traditional classroom or paper-based training. They also have retirement and stability on their mind. Generation Xers prefer to learn on the internet and work well independently. They may be concerned with working their way up the corporate ladder.
  • Negative stereotypes for each generation exist, so try to dispel these and show each what they have in common. For example, Forbes Magazine points out that, “Ultimately all employees want the same thing — to be engaged at work and to have a good manager who acts as a coach and helps them achieve their specific career goals.”
  • Embrace different communication styles. According to Business New Daily, “Preferred communication styles have almost become a cliché: Generation Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messages to communicate, while Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. Throw in that younger workers tend to use abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms, and you’ve got a recipe for serious communication breakdowns. Business leaders should set the example of the company line on communication and create an environment where face-to-face communication is valued and embraced. But don’t ever be afraid to embrace the differing communication methods.

Managing Conflict at Work

Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with differing personalities and work habits in a workplace. Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice. Since avoiding workplace conflict is a near impossible feat, be prepared for how to handle these circumstances in advance. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict. 

  • Stay Calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. Don’t let emotions escalate or drive decisions. However, do let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged. Each member of the conflict should have a chance to say what is on their mind in a respectful and safe manner.

  • Deal With the Issues

    First of all, if you are a manager dealing with conflict you should: recognize that there is a conflict, be objective, and be fair and consistent. What will help in any conflict would be a human resources liaison who can moderate and ease the tension. HR personnel are an unfailingly objective third party. Short of calling in HR moderators, it would be helpful if there was a written code of conduct from which to read and guide employees when a situation arises.

  • Document – Whenever a conflict arises be sure to document the event. Who was involved? What was the resolution? If a pattern of conflict emerges, it is possible that one or two employees may turn out to be the “common factor.”  In this case, documenting for potential future incidences or, unfortunately, termination will be needed.
  • Determine Follow Up – After a workplace conflict, whether it is related to work or is personal, it is critical to follow up. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing. Did the issue continue to fester? Was it completely resolved? Has it impacted workflow or morale in the office? Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Avoiding HR Issues

Owning a small business can be a major juggling act. Being a leader, chief financial officer, office manager and all the other roles that go into making a successful business can be hard. Keeping all the “balls in the air” can be a tough juggling act, which can cause mistakes – sometimes serious ones. Mistakes in the human resources area can be easy to make if you don’t understand and are compliant with the law.

Here are five of the most common HR management pitfalls small businesses face today and how to avoid making them. 

  • Outdated Employee Handbook – The employee handbook is your guidebook for all employees and company leaderships about work-related policies. These policies could include: discrimination policies, standards of conduct, compensation, benefits, work schedules, security, and vacation/sick policies. Each business is different so the policies laid out in the handbook should be updated regularly and be specific to your field of business. Not having company policies in writing and updating regularly is just asking for trouble.
  •  Staying knowledgeable of Changing HR Laws

    Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws are critical when running a successful small business. Compliance with these laws can be a big headache for small businesses. There are a multitude of regulations, and these laws continue to change rapidly. Have a dedicated employee or HR consultant who can stay on top of changing laws and compliance requirements.

  • Handling Terminations Poorly – No business leader wants to deal with a termination but they happen all the time. Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. Both performance and policy violations require documentation and a paper trail. “Make sure that you document any disciplinary issues, safety inspections, performance discussions, and the like. These records can save you if done right — or kill you if done poorly or not at all.”(Source: Intuit Books)  This is yet another reason why the well-written employee handbook is needed.
  • Develop a Reward System – Employees want to know how they are doing.

    Recognition of good performance is essential to a healthy workplace; without it, your business could face retention issues. Plan and maintain a reward system that will allow your company to maintain employees that do their job well. It is easier to maintain a good employee than to train a new one. 

  • Weak Hiring and On-boarding System – Too many employers hire hastily because they need the position filled quickly. Spend time weeding out unqualified candidates and on-boarding exceptional ones. Take the necessary time to be sure the candidate feels at home, has a mentor and understand the daily running of the office so they don’t feel overwhelmed or out-of-place.

Benefits of Having an Internship Program

If you don’t know already, small and medium sized businesses have been reaping the benefits of internship programs for years. These programs have the potential to be a win-win relationship for both the intern themselves and the company for which the intern is working. So, is your company taking advantage of these rewards?  Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of developing a successful internship program for your business.

If your business is contemplating starting an internship program realize that while there are definite obligations and responsibilities, there are also a multitude of advantages for both the intern and company hosting the program.

For the Company: 

  • New Perspective – Many businesses have a natural routine and organization to them. Using an intern can mean a new perspective on the “old grind”. Having a younger member of the team who is fresh and optimistic may mean that they question why something is done a certain way or have a fresh perspective on how something within your product or service can be done more efficiently or can better serve the customer.
  • Knowledge of Technology – Let’s face it, interns tend to be better in touch with the latest and greatest on the technology front especially social media, and the most recent gadgets. Using that knowledge can give a boost to your company.
  • FREE Labor – While interns do take considerable effort to mentor, they also are free labor which means your employees can be freed up from the more mundane aspects of their job to do more meaningful work.
  • Future Workforce – Close to 68% of interns are offered some sort of position in a company post internship. That means that the time during an internship is a great opportunity for employers to see the talents and skills that can be added to their company – very much like a test drive before buying.

For the Intern: 

  • Exposure and Experience – Two of the main reasons why college age students pursue an internship is to gain valuable experience and exposure to a given field that they otherwise would not gleam through regular studies. This resume building experience makes it just that much easier to get a job post graduation.
  • Marketability – Students who have completed an internship tend to get jobs faster.

    On average, only 30% of graduating seniors have job offers before graduation; however, after completing an internship, that figure rises to 58%. 

  • Contacts – Even if an intern is not offered the dream position in the company in which they interned for, they have had ample opportunity to build a strong list of contacts.

Running a Successful Staff Meeting

Regular staff meetings, team meetings or company get-togethers can be a little like herding cats. Getting all of your employees with different backgrounds and skill sets, and trying to keep them connected, productive and guided toward a common goal is no easy task. To help manage these different personalities and skills, the weekly or biweekly staff meeting is critical to obtaining your business goals. Here are a few tips on how to run a successful staff meeting.

  • Have Clear Objectives – There is nothing worse to team members than a meeting without a true purpose. A meeting must have a specific and defined purpose. In fact, meetings that have a written agenda tend to be more productive than meetings that do not. Standing meetings with vague purposes, such as “status updates,” are rarely a good use of time.
  • Be Conscious of Time – Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the meeting, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see. This keeps people focused. No one likes to be trapped in the never-ending meeting when they have work piling up on their desk. It is also important to start on time and end on time as well.
  • Ban Technology – Yes, we all live with our devices attached to us but that may be a bad thing in a staff meeting. Have one person keep notes but ask for the undivided attention of your team members during the meeting. This may mean banning smartphones and tablets during the meetings. If you don’t, you may find that your team members are emailing, surfing the web, or just playing around with their technology.
  • Follow Up – Sometimes staff meetings become black holes where the information is mentioned once and never followed up on. In addition, it’s quite common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on. To reduce this risk, email a memo highlighting what was accomplished to all who attended and how the suggestions and comments will be dealt with.

Successful Recruiting Strategies

If  Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn and Career Builder are the only  strategies that come to mind when thinking about recruiting the best employees to your business, then you may need to rethink your process of recruiting. If you are looking for a dream candidate to fit into the skill set you need and mesh with the personality of your company you may need to think outside-the-box. To get a list of qualified candidates instead of a pile of resumes that can only be characterized as a “poor fit” you may want to read on about what business leaders are doing to “beef up” their recruiting strategies.

It’s really not enough these days to post a job listing on your company website or one of the many job listing sites and hope that the candidate of your dreams will magically appear and apply. Business leaders need to be active to attract talent, or else someone is going to snatch up that dream employee. In order to compete, you need to make sure your recruitment strategies are up to snuff.

  • Social Media – Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to spread the word about the benefits of working at your company, as well as openings that are being posted. Jobvite reports that 44% of recruiters say that social recruiting has increased both the quantity and quality of candidates. In addition, Socially engaged companies are 58% more likely to attract top talent.
  • Drive Referrals as a Company-Wide Initiative– According to the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, referrals are one of the easiest ways to source talent. Using the referral networks of your entire company instead of just those of your hiring team will seriously boost your results. Make the referral initiatives worth-while for employees with prizes and benefits that they will be working towards.
  • Teach Your Interview Teams to be Highly Effective – This means that your hiring process is well tuned and practiced in the right questions to ask, how to ask them, what red flags to look for and how to bring the entire team into the hiring process to make sure the new hire will be a good fit.
  • Retain and Recruit the Best – The best way to fill empty slots is to keep them from being empty in the first place. Identify the top 20% of performers at your business, and keep that information in an easily accessible list. Then, sit down and create an action plan to keep those employees happy and keep them with the company. Those top workers probably know and work with people in similar fields who are also the best of the best. Find out what makes them the best so you know what to look for in new hires.

Benefits of an Employee Handbook

Writing, maintaining and executing all of the parts of an employee handbook can be a daunting task for any employer. Most new companies hold off writing such a document until their business has grown to a point where it necessary to have a formal list of items to review with each new employee during the on-boarding process. While it may seem overwhelming at first to put into a single document the goals, rules and policies of your company it is a good idea to do so for many reasons. The benefits can be numerous including the following:

  • Every employee receives the same information about the rules/policies of the workplace.
  • Employees will know what you expect from them (and what they can expect from you).
  • Valuable legal protection if an employee later challenges you in court over any human resource issue such as benefits, hiring/firing, workplace rules, discipline, safety and a host of other topics.

Top Benefits of Spelling it all out in an Employee Handbook:

  1. All employees know and have read the core mission of the company.
  2. All employees understand the expectations of their job whether it is in regard to workplace attire, hours of operation, expected behaviors, harassment, or even drug and alcohol use.
  3. All employees will have a written document explaining the benefits whether they are medical, dental, retirement or paid time off.
  4. All employees and managers will have a written document explaining the need to comply with state and federal laws.
  5. All employees will understand where to turn to if they need help.
  6. All rules and specific policies are clearly stated for all employees to read and follow.
  7. All managers and leadership position understand their role including the consistent and fair dealings with each employee.
  8. Serves as a reference guide for both the employee and the employer, thereby eliminating common misunderstandings and unreasonable employment expectations.
  9. Allows all employees regardless of level, to understand the compliance regulations of the company when it comes to technology use/misuse and communications outside and internally within the company.
  10. Explains all safety regulations and rules so that the work environment can remain a safe and secure place to work.

Termination Terrors

Ask any manager or business owner the most unpleasant part of their job and the majority will answer a resounding phrase – terminating an employee.  Handling a termination can evoke anxiety and a sense of dread for even the most experienced business leaders.  How an employer handles the event, however, can make all the difference in the tone and type of separation that occurs. Planning and executing an employee termination in a humane, ethical and professional manner can help diminish a large stir in the workplace.  If done poorly or in anger it can cause not only a huge disturbance in productivity and morale but also in the potential of a lawsuit down the road. Let’s look at termination terrors and how to handle this very sticky situation.

 

Once the writing’s on the wall for whatever reason (whether it is financial, productivity, cut backs, etc.), it is important to think about some things before you have the sit down with “said” employee. Things to consider:

Prepare – Have all your ducks in a row.  This may mean a written account of the reasons for termination, a letter prepared for the human resources file or just thinking about the best way to actually do the firing.
  • Be prepared by human resources about how to say “you’re fired.” Saying too much can get managers or leaders into legal hot water. Having a prepared written statement may be the best plan of action.
  • Be ready for questions: Monster.com has a list of common questions asked by terminated employees. These include: Can you give me an example of what I did wrong? Will I get a reference from you? Can I file for unemployment? Are you going to tell other employees I am fired? Do I get any severance?
  • Have another manager or HR representative be present for the meeting.  This will serve as a witness and probably keep things from turning ugly and stop false accusations if a lawsuit is filed.
  • Emotionally Prepare.  Allow yourself a few moments to steady yourself and keep yourself calm.  
Know the Laws- Part of your preparation will include understanding if the law is on your side when it comes to firing an employee. Did they break a rule in the handbook, commit a crime or just not cut muster?  Each case is different but your legal team or human resource officer should be able to help you out. If you don’t have an HR Department, you may want to consider hiring an HR consult for the event.  
The Aftermath – Be ready for an avalanche of questions from frightened employees who may think they are next.  Obviously not every detail can be given but employees will notice that someone is missing especially if it is a small office environment. Again consult your HR Department or legal team to find out what you can and cannot legally say.  Be prepared for morale to be low and find ways to counteract this by reinforcing to those that are doing a good job that you recognize their efforts.