Terminating an employee is not fun, no matter how you sugar-coat it. There are bound to be hard feelings and even potentially down-right hostilities upon terminating an employee. In fact, many employers become embroiled in expensive litigation because they make simple but avoidable errors when terminating an employee. Terminating an employee always brings the possibility of a lawsuit but here are some of the most common errors to avoid as business managers, owners and leadership.
- Not Following Human Resources Procedures – When employee x was hired he or she probably was given an employee handbook that detailed the rights as well as the responsibilities of workers. Part of this handbook may detail the steps that an employer will probably take when a termination process has begun. A paperwork trail will probably be a part of any termination from documenting poor performance to misconduct in the workplace. Keep in mind that without adequate documentation, your basis for terminating an employee may appear to be groundless and lack substance.
- Not Having Just Cause for Termination – In many states, workers are employed ‘at-will,’ which means that employers can terminate an employee at any time. This isn’t completely true. There are some groups that are protected for reasons such as: age, gender, race, religion or disability. Many lawsuits can be avoided or won by employers who base their termination decision on a ‘just cause’ or who provide a legitimate reason for the employee’s termination. A ‘just cause’ reason must have its foundations based on facts or proof.
- Failing to Give Adequate Termination Notice – Should an employer terminate an employee without a prior warning, the onus is on the employer to prove that the employee should have known they would be terminated based on their actions. Avoid this situation by giving the employee notice that if they commit the same or related infraction again, they will be terminated.
- Discontinuing Employees’ Insurance Benefits (on the date of dismissal) – According to Employment Law 101, Many employers have a policy of discontinuing dismissed employees’ benefits on the date the employees are dismissed. In particular, long-term disability (“LTD”) insurance is often immediately discontinued.Employers who follow this policy often fail to realize that the dismissed employees’ entitlements to LTD benefits do not end simply because the benefits have been discontinued. Instead, the employer has made the decision to step into the shoes of the insurer. The dismissed employee’s LTD benefits continue with the employer potentially liable to pay any LTD claim.
No one likes conflict. What’s more is that no one likes conflict at work. It makes for awkward situations, causes stress, and can be a legal nightmare. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential form of conflict resolution in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps disputing parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to their conflict. Business mediation has been used for years and has some great benefits for both parties as well as the work environment.
According to NOLO Law Online, small business owners are just as likely as major corporations to run into conflict with neighboring businesses, employees, customers, vendors, or with their own business partners. Unlike corporations, small business often lack public relations, human resources, and legal departments to help them deal with these conflicts. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of mediation.
- Time Saver – It is often overwhelming for a small business to come up with the time and expertise to cope with a relatively minor dispute through legal means. A mediator can help to quickly resolve an issue so that all the parties are satisfied with the resolution.
- Better Office Morale and Quality of Work Life – Conflicts seep into the very personality and fiber of office temperament. Mediation is an efficient and effective way to resolve disputes and build community among small business owners and workers and their customers and neighbors. Many people report leaving mediation feeling understood and listened to instead of being left with unresolved hostility.
- Money Saver – Mediation is usually much less expensive than hiring a lawyer. Community mediation centers offer low-cost services, and, even if you hire a private mediator who charges by the hour, you’ll be sharing the cost with the other party instead of paying a lawyer on your own.
- Confidentiality – Unlike a court case that could be open to the public, most times a settlement is confidential and done behind closed doors. Even restitution or monetary settlements can be kept confidential as part of the mediation process.
Mediation is often a very viable alternative to longer-term, more emotionally and financially costly forms of conflict resolution such as traditional civil litigation. Mediation therefore, can be a win-win process for all involved.
According to Chronus, corporate mentoring is on the rise with 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies offering professional mentoring programs to their employees. Successful companies, large and small, use mentoring to tackle complex human resource challenges such as increasing employee retention, enabling company succession plans, and improving workforce productivity. So, what is mentoring and how can it be successfully used in the workplace?
What Exactly Is a Mentor?
A mentor is a more experienced (typically older or ,at the very least, more experienced) professional in your field who offers career guidance, advice and assistance from a real world point-of-view. Mentoring at work is an effective way of helping people to progress further in their chosen careers. It is a partnership between two people, the mentor and the mentee.
How Can Mentors Be Used in the Workplace?
- Mentors can push mentees to hone and learn new skills that are needed for future roles. These roles could be within the area of career development, leadership development or assist with knowledge transfer.
- Mentors can be a cheerleader of sorts. They can praise great work and progress and give excellent feedback on progress that has yet to be made.
- Mentors can be a life-long friendship that can guide and offer advice along the way.
- Mentors can not only explain what it takes to be the best or make it to the top in a certain field but can also show this through actions and work habits.
- Mentors can, many times, allow their mentee to shadow them and learn by doing an experiential way. The best way to learn is by doing it yourself.
- Reverse mentoring can also be a helpful tool in showing older professionals some of the new tricks of the trade, which may be new strategies or technology know-how.
In today’s competitive business world the key to advancement, employee retention and the spread of great ideas in the workplace is mentoring. This powerful process can help the emotional and intellectual growth of employees and engage them in a way otherwise not possible.
One of the most stressful events in a person’s life is starting a new job. Why all the stress? A new job comes with anxiety regarding learning about the new position, new co-workers, possibly more responsibility and discovering the ins and outs of the inner workings of a new office. Yep, that is a lot of stress. One of the things that can reduce that stress on both the employee and employer’s is a mechanism called on-boarding.
On-boarding refers to the process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members of a business team. On-boarding is more than just new hire orientation. It is much more than donuts and coffee in the conference room so the new hire can sign all the paperwork and meet everyone in the office. On-boarding, rather, is part of a more comprehensive process. It covers matters related to training, scheduled milestones, mentoring programs and interactive meetings to evaluate how the transition is going.
Here are a few steps to consider when creating your company’s unique on-boarding process.
- Plan Well in Advance – Plan ahead to have all the tools necessary for a new hire to start off on the right foot. This will include: a clean work space, all the HR paperwork ready to be filled out, as well as alerting the reception desk and IT department that there will be someone new added to the office and the computer system. This will allow them to have immediate access to email and documents that they may need. A first week agenda may also be a good idea, too. This could include meeting key people and learning the basics of office activity from the people he/she will be working closest with.
- Define a Work-Buddy System – There is nothing worse than starting a job and not knowing who to ask about simple work tasks. Assign a work buddy who can check in with the new hire over the first few days and weeks and can give insider information of how things work.
- Human Resources Points to Consider – Be sure not to miss any big points that will come back to haunt you later in the employee/employer business relationship. Go over the employee handbook within the first few days to be sure the new hire knows about benefits, vacations days, calling out sick, sexual harassment laws and legal points necessary to run a safe and productive work environment.
- Create Goals with the Employee – Everyone in this new relationship wants to know what to expect. Create a list of goals both short term and long term that can help give direction to a new hire that will be itching to make their mark. Plan for times to review these goals and allow for open conversations. Some goals should be easy to reach and others may be “reach for the stars.”
- Create a 30-90 day Ramp Up Program – Let’s face it, it takes a while to get one’s bearings in a new position. Allow a transition time, then ramp things up a bit slowly over the course of the first month to three months.
- Evaluate – After a week, two weeks, a month and several months be sure to continue checking in with the newest member of the team. Evaluate what on-boarding programs worked and didn’t work. Change course if needed and change protocols for future employees as you see fit.