HR’s Role In Controlling Sexual Harassment

The #MeToo campaign that recently hit social media has brought an important subject into the public’s eye – sexual harassment and sexual assault. This problem is one that stretches far and wide, but it is unknown how prevalent it really is. One issue that is particularly troublesome is that many employees don’t feel comfortable bringing their harassment complaints to the human resources department or any other representative of their employer.

Companies must ensure that they provide solid training for all employees as well as a clear plan for employees who are subjected to harassment of any sort. This strategy must also include a framework that ensures swift action to address the complaint.

Fear of Retaliation

One of the top priorities in these cases is separating the victim from the alleged harasser. Employees must be assured that retaliatory measures won’t be taken if they report sexual harassment, as this fear can keep a victim from speaking up. Anxiety over being fired or having to deal with other problems at work because they lodged a formal complaint can be a true deterrent in creating a positive work environment.

An estimated one in four employees are affected by sexual harassment while they are working, but experts believe that this is a low estimate because of the fear of reporting. Proper training regarding sexual harassment is one way to combat the problem of employees feeling fearful to report these actions.

From the employer’s standpoint, training can go a long way toward protecting the employer. One of the fastest growing complaint areas in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deals with now is complaints of retaliation. The liability that companies face from retaliation complaints is actually much greater than what they face for a complaint of sexual harassment.

Factual complaints are encouraged

Factual complaints are a key point in sexual harassment cases. As much as employers need to encourage victims of sexual harassment to come forward, they must also require that these complaints are based on fact and not fabricated.

One way that employers can encourage factual complaints is to ask that employees clearly document the incidents, reporting them as soon as they happen. Keeping track of the time and date, type of action and any witnesses to the harassment can help with the investigation.

Witnesses must be encouraged to give a factual statement about the events when they are asked about them. Speaking to them privately and ensuring them that adverse actions for factual statements won’t be initiated or tolerated.

The situation gets touchy when there aren’t any witnesses, but employers must still take these complaints seriously. The more information the victim can provide can make the investigation much easier and a bit faster for the employer.

What You Can Do Now

Providing solid training on what constitutes harassment is a vital element of a defensible position for your company. Make sure your sexual harassment training is fully compliant with all current laws and, just as importantly, make it easy for employees to complete that training, repeating it as necessary to ensure compliance. Ideally, your training should be available 24-7 and outline a specific and understandable path for complaints, questions, and other two-way communication on this topic.

To protect your company and your employees, your harassment training should also include other kinds of harassment such as workplace bullying.

Ultimately, sexual harassment complaints are a difficult spot for all employers as well as employees. Through proper training and a solid plan for handling these complaints, employers can help to make their workplace a harassment-free zone.

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An Ounce of Prevention: The Comprehensive HR Audit

HR Audit Guide

An internal HR audit has the same goal as any other audit: to scrutinize business operations to ensure best practices are in place and consistently applied. Of course, an HR audit is exclusively focused on HR practices, offering an opportunity to identify deficiencies in employment policies and their application, employment-related documentation, and compliance with relevant employment law. Proactively auditing HR practices is the most effective method of addressing small issues before they have a chance to take up time and money that would be better spent elsewhere.

If you haven’t conducted a full review within the last couple of years, let this guide serve as a wake-up call to making an audit part of your Engagement Plan for the coming year.

WHY DO AN AUDIT?

The job of a Human Resources, Employee Relations or Labor Relations professional is often reactive: investigating employee relations issues, responding to a compliance violation, or searching through poorly maintained records when a legal claim is made. However, it is far more satisfying to take a proactive approach and address small problems before they become major headaches. HR auditing sets businesses up for success, establishing basic HR practices. Audits systematically review whether and how policies are being applied, ensuring consistency among staff members and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Other benefits of HR audits include:

• Company-wide adoption of best practices

• Identification of potential processes improvements

• Reduction of errors and employee complaints

• Proactive preparation for government investigations

• Reduced likelihood of fines for noncompliance with employment regulations

• Possible reduction in insurance expenses

• Improved utilization of legal budgets

• Increased buy-in from managers regarding HR policies and practices

• Reduced likelihood of successful union organizing

HR Audit Guide

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO YOUR FIRST AUDIT

Launching an HR audit is a major endeavor, and it is important to secure the appropriate resources. These subject matter experts are particularly helpful:

Legal Counsel – The results of an audit can be discoverable in future legal proceedings. Consult legal counsel for advice on protecting the business.

Department Leaders – Enlisting the help of department leaders saves time. They can point you towards the relevant records and explain how policies are applied from day to day.

Once your team is assembled, outline the areas you will audit and develop a list of audit questions. Common inquiries for HR audits include the following…

DOWNLOAD THE FULL GUIDE

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Creating a More Engaged Workforce With Improved Policies

Conducting an HR AuditCreating a highly engaged workforce has become a vital aspect of business success. Statistically, employee engagement has been poor in the last few years. According to recent data from Gallup, nearly 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged; around the world it’s worse, with only 15 percent of workers engaged. When employee engagement is low, it can harbor dissatisfaction in employees, making them susceptible to reduced productivity, turnover and an increased presence of labor unions. Therefore, all organizations must have a system for checking that their labor and employment practices are conducive to a highly engaged workforce.

Our comprehensive guide to conducting an HR Audit can help you form a plan of action for making sure that your company is on the right track. Here are five incredibly easy (and practical) first steps you can take to develop workforce policies that promote improved employee engagement:

1. Review all Recruitment and Hiring Processes

The journey to greater employee engagement can be a difficult one, but it is easier to manage with a clear roadmap. This often starts before an individual actually begins work — in the pre-hire stage of their experience. When a company’s brand reputation emphasizes a positive culture where employees feel valued, it sets things up for long-term success.

What you can do now: The applicant tracking system and way candidates are treated throughout the interview, hiring and on boarding process makes a huge difference. Use the audit guide to help you to identify any areas that need to be corrected.

2. Improve your Compensation and Perks

All human resource teams must ensure that employees are receiving the best possible compensation and benefits in order to remain competitive. The 2017 PayScale Compensation Best Practices Report indicated that 32 percent of top performing companies have changed their compensation strategies as a result of employee engagement feedback. More employers are actively listening to what their employees are asking for and taking steps to ensure they get what they need.

What you can do now: Take the time to conduct a brief survey of your employees to find out if your compensation program needs improvement.

HR Audit Guide

3. Ensure Secure and Accessible Information

In today’s business world, everything from customer data to employee information is stored in a digital format. This often includes the use of scheduling, payroll, performance and benefit platforms. Ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date and that people are paid correctly.

What you can do now: Your organization should verify that all information systems are secure from information breaches, and accessible and easy-to-use for employees. A third-party auditing firm can often pinpoint potential issues.

4. Improve the Work Environment

Working conditions make a big difference in how employees view their employer. There are too many toxic conditions invading otherwise good companies. The aspects that human resources can control include: having clearly written policies to deal with things like employee grievances, anti-bullying, drug use, union card signing, and more.

What you can do now: Review employee handbooks and update labor law posters in employee break areas. For some objective feedback, ask employees during exit interviews what the company can do better.

5. Boost Employee Performance Management

When employees are recognized for their efforts at work, they tend to stay more engaged in their careers. Having a professional development program to guide employees through the various stages of career growth is one step in the right direction.

What you can do now: Review job types with management and create structured learning paths for each department.

By following this checklist , any human resource team can help to elevate employee engagement, productivity, knowledge and morale.

Looking For More? Download our FREE Guide to conducting a Labor & Employment Audit to help you make your workplace more positive & productive!

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This One Thing Will Help You Connect With Employees

Video is easily the preferred medium for consuming information, and is rapidly outdistancing other options for ease and versatility. Recent data shows that video is expected to be responsible for 82 percent of online traffic by 2021. So, if you’re not already incorporating video in your internal communications, you may be missing out on an opportunity to connect with your employees.

Video Enhances the Effectiveness of Internal Communications

When you use video as a communication channel, you increase the effectiveness of internal communications. People remember only 10 percent of the information they hear; however, they remember 65 percent of that information if it’s accompanied by a relevant picture.

You can use videos to improve employees’ understanding of an important topic, such as union organizing.  A video used during a union organizing drive to effectively communicate the facts about joining a union before the employees make the commitment will drastically help your cause.

Video Is a Familiar Medium

Today’s employees are accustomed to consuming their information, news and entertainment via video. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that 50 percent of adults watched educational videos online. YouTube’s educational content via YouTube EDU is an example of the exponential growth of video-based instructional content online. In 2011, YouTube EDU started with 500,000 educational videos and doubled its viewership by 2012. In addition, academic enrollment in online courses is growing by nearly 3.9 percent annually, with thousands of online courses, saving $130 billion on certification and corporate training annually for organizations.

Video Enhances Training Sessions

When you hold training sessions, capturing and maintaining your audience’s attention just by speaking alone may be limiting your employees’ learning experiences. However, when you incorporate a video into a training session, it helps support what the live training is trying to communicate to your employees while enhancing their learning experience. Video combined with a live trainer is better than a live trainer alone for a variety of reasons:

  • Consistency. Delivering a consistent and thorough message regardless of turnover in human resources personnel is vital to the company’s success, especially when considering new hire employees.
  • Clarity. Stage fright can impact the effectiveness of the presentation. However, when your trainer can use a video for part of the presentation, nervousness subsides, and your training sessions are more likely to be successful.
  • Access. When you include video in your training content, you’re facilitating your audience’s access to information. Online streaming also helps enhance your employees’ learning experience by enabling them to access information anytime and anywhere.

Videos are useful for breaking down important or complex information into digestible content that is shown over time. For example, you can stretch out complex topics regarding union organizing into discussions that are shared and released to employees weekly. This can include releasing a topic on strikes in the first week, on job security in the second week, on collective bargaining in the third week, and additional topics in the weeks that follow — such as union dues and finances, union card signing and how unions organize.

Final Thoughts

Using video is a modern and helpful method to connect with your staff. Employing videos in your training sessions doesn’t have to be complicated or a solo job. Whether you’re looking for innovative training approaches to provide managers with union avoidance tips or you want to educate employees on union organizing, working with a professional team with experience in producing videos for employees ensures you provide relevant, engaging and memorable content.

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Never Mind the Alarmists: AI Isn’t the Workplace Apocalypse

Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence, or AI, is no longer relegated to science fiction novels and “think pieces” on future innovations. In reality, AI has already arrived and is much more pervasive than most people realize. For HR professionals, the technology is already providing dividends in the areas of recruiting, onboarding, and training procedures by significantly streamlining operations.

As useful as AI is already proving to be, it is already clear that it’s best utilized as an accompaniment to people in the workplace and not a replacement, allowing employees to perform their responsibilities in a much more efficient and effective manner. Despite how the vocal naysayers are reacting, AI’s negative impact on a workforce itself will be negligible, but could instead increase the overall health of many organizations. This is evidenced in the banking industry, where ATMs could have caused job losses but instead streamlined operations and reduced costs, allowing many banks to add staffed locations. This created a positive situation for workers and customers alike

That said, many union leaders are concerned that automation means workers will no longer have the ability to demand higher wages, which will in turn continue the decline in union membership. In the private sector today, just 6.4% of workers belong to a union. Contrast that with 1983, when about 17% of private-sector workers were in a union.
union-free technology

Practical Uses for AI in HR

The typical HR professional is being pulled in a thousand different directions at any given moment. In fact, no matter the length of the work day or size of the staff, the work always seems to continue to pile up. This unending accumulation of duties is exactly where AI can positively impact the workplace. Through various platforms, AI automates the bulk of the tedious responsibilities that are important to the organization but a tremendous expenditure of time and effort as well.

 

In terms of recruiting, an AI-based suite can administer any and all social media efforts, email correspondence and even interview scheduling with an interface that makes it difficult to tell if the communication is coming from a human or machine. Furthermore, all testing and training for onboarding and existing employees can be personalized down to the individual level to adhere to the training method that best fits a particular person. All of this functionality can be synced with current CRM and ERP systems to further streamline the entire process.

A Look Down the Road

Like most technologies, AI will only continue to grow and evolve in the future. As far as impact on overall operations and a workforce are concerned, it will work alongside humans to make them more efficient in their responsibilities. While specific tasks like email correspondence might be automated, it will always be under the watching eye of a human being.

In other words, while on the big screen AI might still enslave humanity in a zombie-like state of perpetual anguish, in reality, it will simply permit us to excel and reach levels we otherwise would never reach. That might not be as dramatic as the Hollywood version, but, at least for HR professionals, AI will undoubtedly be a welcome tool to significantly enhance productivity.

 

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