Tag Archives: Employee Relations

Sexual Harassment Outside of the Workplace

(Post by Rick Dacri, September 25, 2015)

UnknownThe issue of sexual harassment just won’t go away. Most employers work hard to make sure that they develop a workplace culture of respect, where issues of harassment are not tolerated. But it is hard enough to constantly monitor behaviors in the workplace. Do you also have to scrutinize your employees actions outside? This is a question I frequently get from clients and unfortunately, the answers is often “maybe.”

The law may apply to harassment that occurs between co-workers that takes place outside the workplace. When the conduct complained of occurs outside of the workplace, consider the following factors in assessing whether the conduct constitutes sexual harassment:

  1. Whether the event at which the conduct occurred is linked to the workplace in any way, such as at an employer-sponsored function;
  2. Whether the conduct occurred during work hours;
  3. The severity of the alleged outside-of-work conduct;
  4. The work relationship of the complainant and alleged harasser, which includes whether the alleged harasser is a supervisor and whether the alleged harasser and complainant come into contact with one another on the job;
  5. Whether the conduct adversely affected the terms and conditions of the complainant’s employment or impacted the complainant’s work environment.

If you become aware of a situation or if a complaint is presented, take it seriously. Listen to the complainant. Evaluate the situation. Contact the Dacri HR HelpLine or your attorney to determine your next steps. Just because the actions took place outside of work, does not mean the harassment did not occur. And remember, if it is determined to be harassment or not, the impact of the situation is sure to bleed into your workplace, impacting your employees, productivity and employee relations.

Other posts you may like:

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11 Tips to Dampen the Flames in a Crisis

5(This article by Rick Dacri was published in the Maine Town City County Management Association July 2015 Newsletter)

If it can go wrong, it will. While some municipal managers may prefer to take the tact that a crisis will never occur on their watch, the more seasoned professionals understand that unfortunately, Murphy’s Law trumps. It is never IF a crisis occurs, but more likely, WHEN will the crisis happen. Readiness must include anticipation, preparation, mitigation and communication. Not having a crisis intervention plan is like driving 80MPH in the dark without headlights and not knowing there’s a hairpin curve up ahead. The likelihood of a safe arrival is quickly diminishing.

So what should you do to prepare? Here are 11 tips:

  1. Accept the fact that a crisis will occur sometime: Playing ostrich is not crisis planning. Prepare for what could go wrong.
  2. Anticipate what could happen: Plant closings, major fire, drug bust, or economic calamity. All require a response. While you can never anticipate everything (think Zumba), know how you would respond in a crisis and develop contingencies.
  3. Decide who will speak: Whether it’s the town manager or the mayor, or the police or fire chief, know who will be the face and voice of the community. Remember, the first rule of crisis management is knowing who is in charge. Have a spokesperson ready.
  4. Know your audience: Understand that you have many stakeholders who want to know what is going on and they want answers fast. Your stakeholders include residents, employees, elected officials, media, regulators and more. Ignore them at your peril.
  5. Understand your strategy and message: Know what has to be said and say it. Don’t wing it. Gather the facts. Get your message out quickly and be honest and transparent. At the same time, there will be times when circumstances will prevent you from telling all.
  6. Prepare for the media; Understand they have a job to do and they are not your enemy—or your friend. Be straight with them. Have a clearly identified spokesperson ready. Get your message out before they formulate another one. Put out a clearly written statement. Obviously, if you have created a positive relationship with the media before the crisis, your job now will be a bit easier.
  7. Utilize social media: People get their information, good and bad, through social media. Residents, the press and employees quickly turn to twitter, Facebook and your website for instant information. Educate your stakeholders in advance that this is how you get immediate and reliable communication.
  8. Talk to your employees: be clear about your message. Remember, residents and the press will likely seek out employees to get the “inside scoop.” Make sure employees know what to say.
  9. Don’t ignore emotion: You’re not a robot. Depending on the issue, empathy, sympathy, remorse and even anger is appropriate. If the town made a mistake, apologize. If the community was harmed, a smile will not be the best expression to show.
  10. Have a presence: Show that you’re in charge; that you’re on top of the situation. Be truthful and in control. If you don’t have an answer to a question, let them know you’ll get it for them. And then do it quickly. Never be wishy-washy or reticent.
  11. Communicate well: Frequent, timely and with clarity—that’s how you must communicate. In a crisis, people demand information. Without it they’ll fill in the blanks, often with misinformation. Remain out front.

Crises will always occur. How you handle them will either dampen or fan the flames. Preparation will minimize the potential chaos and will often generate you good will during a difficult period.

Other posts you may like:

  1. Municipalities: Top 10 Tips to Ensure the Board & Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Relationship
  2. Succession Planning in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow of Talent
  3. Managing Your Career: 9 Musts for Continuous Success

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Filed under city, communications, crisis management, ICMA, media relations, municipalities, social medai, town

HR HelpLine: When You Need Expert Advice

imagesManaging people is hard and often frustrating.  Throw in those ever changing employment laws, lawyers that want to sue, employees who “know their rights,” a bruising economy and everyone demanding more and more of your time, and your job just got very complicated.

Well, I can help you with the people side of the business. Since I started my business in 1995 I have provided my clients with practical, uncomplicated, expert advice on how to make managing easier. Through my HR HelpLine, I have provided managers, just like you, the human relations expertise and hands-on skills needed to improve employee productivity, mitigate risk, and eliminate headaches that comes with managing people.

My clients call me for help on a number of difficult issues, from how to deal with the cook who came to work smelling of booze, to the clerk who hasn’t showed up to work in days, to the injured nurse who has refused to return on modified duty, to the manager who gets bit “handsy” with his female staff. You name it, I’ve been asked.

Regardless of the issue, if it is impacting your workplace, I can provide you with the assistance and expert advice you need to rectify the situation.

Want to know more? You can click HR HelpLine for a more detailed description of the service or you can call me direct at 207-967-0837. It’s that easy.

Incidentally, when you call the HR HelpLine, you speak only to me, Rick Dacri. No rookies. And, beyond the unlimited phone and email access, I’ll also give you a subscription to my management newsletter, The Dacri Report; a copy of my book, Uncomplicating Management; and regular updates and alerts designed to help make managing a bit easier.

Sound too good to be true? Give me a call and we can talk a bit more about it—and when you do, I’ll even send you a copy of my bookFree. See, I’m a nice guy too!

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Filed under Compliance, Management

Job Abandonment: How Should Employers Handle?

I received a question from a client who uses my HR HelpLine Service about an employee who has apparently abandoned his job. Here is the client’s question and my advice on how to handle it:

Client Question: We have an employee who has gone MIA (he has done this in the past also, apparently he has a significant drinking problem). We are in the process of terminating him for absenteeism and failing to show up for scheduled shifts. We have called his cell phone numerous times with no success at connecting with him. Is there anything we need to do on our end other than to document the reason(s) for his termination? Should we send a letter of termination to him?

 Answer: To begin, your desire to terminate is because the employee has an absenteeism problem and has failed to call in when absent, consistent with your policy. Do not discuss the alleged issue of drinking. This is not an issue unless you actually see him drinking on the job or he admits he was drinking. Stick with the issues you know: he has not shown up for his scheduled shifts and he has not called in to inform you of his absences.

 Note: Employers should never accuse or suggest that someone has been drinking or has a drinking problem. You should only discuss performance related issues. Stick to what you know or what you observe. Do not surmise, diagnose, or act simply on rumors. Focus on observable behaviors. In this case: no call, no show—repeatedly.

Since you have tried to contact him a number of times without success, you can move forward with the termination for job abandonment. Send a certified letter, return receipt. Tell him after continued absences and his failure to call in to inform you of his absence; and after your repeatedly calling him to find out where he was, you are terminating his employment due to job abandonment, consistent with your policy, as outlined in your employee handbook. Keep the letter short. You should also keep in the file his record of absences and the days and times you tried to contact him. Note that you left messages for him to call you and he did not do this.

Pay him all monies owed including any unused, accrued vacation time.

If he should contact you with a legitimate reason for not contacting you and working, then you may have to reconsider your decision. But multiple violations of your attendance and call in policy constitutes job abandonment.

If you have employee questions, call our HR HelpLine. I provide operational advice, not legal advice, on how to address difficult employee issues.

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How Managers Can Raise Their Performance: 3 Uncomplicated Questions

11949849751056341160traffic_light_dan_gerhar_01.svg.medHaving a healthy, open dialogue between employees and their manager is the cornerstone to employee engagement and productivity. While the focus is often on the employee’s performance and steps needed to raise the bar on their performance, attention must also be directed on the impact the manager’s action have on it.

Managers can quickly get a sense of their impact by asking their employees, individually, 3 simple, uncomplicated questions:

 

  1. What am I doing that you would like me to STOP doing?
  2. What am I not doing that you would like me to START doing?
  3. What am I doing that you would like me to CONTINUE doing?

              Stop/Start/Continue

 Watch the reaction as you first pose these probing questions. Most employees will be initially reluctant to respond. Being honest can have negative consequences. But with time and trust, they will respond and their responses will allow the manager to reflect upon his style, allowing him to manage better.

To remember the questions, think of a traffic light. Red for STOP, yellow for CONTINUE, and green for START.

Give it a try, and then let me know how it works out for you by responding in the comment section below.

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2012 Checklist for People Management

Annual physicals are a must for good long-term health. The same applies to your organization’s people management. To start the year off right, here is your checklist:

  1. Are your employees coming to work everyday, being productive, making few mistakes,  rarely getting hurt, and always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done right?
  2. Are your policies, systems, and procedures consistently being applied and compliant with state and federal employment laws?
  3. Have you reviewed your employee handbook and policy manuals? Do your managers know what’s in it and are they following it?
  4. Do  your supervisors have the skills and knowledge to confidently confront  most workforce issues?
  5. Are you properly classifying your employees as exempt or non-exempt? Have you checked all independent contractors?
  6. Have you reviewed your workers’ compensation program? Are injured employees returning to work quickly? Do you have up-to-date loss runs? Is your experience modification rating less than 1.0? Are open claims being closed?
  7. Have  you provided annual sexual harassment prevention training for managers and employees? Have you distributed your policy to all employees? Do employees understand that harassment will never be tolerated? Do supervisors  understand their responsibilities? Are complaints being properly and promptly investigated?
  8. Is  your performance management program working? Are you seeing an improvement  in employee’s performance? Are employee goals being met? Are supervisors trained to give appraisals? Are employees educated to receive appraisals?
  9. Are you growing and developing your people? Are training programs in place?  Are skills being developed? Are employees being coached? Is performance  improving?
  10. Are  you successfully recruiting star performers? Do you have a recruitment brand that draws candidates to your door?
  11. Are your compensation programs working? Are you getting value for your payroll  dollars?   Are your wages competitive with the market?
  12. Do  your employees know what is expected of them? Do you have clear accountability systems in place? Is performance consistently improving?
  13. Are you confident that your employees are doing the right things when dealing  with your customers?
  14. Are you retaining your best people? Do you have a plan in place to ensure that your stars will not be poached by outside recruiters?
  15. Have you put in place succession plans in case you lose a key employee?
  16. Are  you confident that things will be better this year than they were last year?

Fostering an environment where employees are “willing to give their all” to guarantee the success of your organization is paramount.  When managers take care of their employees and inspire them and when employees believe in their boss and their organizations, then success is guaranteed. This is pragmatic, uncomplicated, bottom line approach to business and the right medicine for 2012 and beyond.

 

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Filed under Employee Relations, Leadership, Management

Never Ignore Warning Signs

 Driving around the bend on this very winding road, I came upon an auto accident. The driver, obviously driving too fast, couldn’t navigate the road, lost control and ended up in a ditch. As I sat in the traffic back-up, I remembered seeing a number of signs warning of the dangerous curves.

 A new client of mine is at wits end with his new general manager. The manager is turning everyone off with his abrasive personality. In the hiring of this manager, my client recalled how he was warned that this individual, though very capable, could be difficult to work with.  When the new GM got off to a difficult start, my client chalked it up to his newness; when many of the staff quit, it was because he needed a new team. But when the new team started quitting too; when customers complained; and when vendors voiced concern; then and only then did he realize he had a problem.

 Warning signs should never be ignored, whether on a winding road or in managing. Those that ignore them do so at their own peril.

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