Category Archives for Compliance

Discrimination Harassment Policies

Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies

Discrimination and harassment don’t just damage workplace morale and cause you to lose valuable personnel — they can also place your company at risk for ruinous lawsuits. The average court settlement for a discrimination or harassment lawsuit comes to about $125,000; harassment trials have resulted in awards of up to $168 million. If you want to protect both your workers and your business, the logical place to start is with strong, clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies

What the Laws Say

It’s relatively easy to figure out what your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies need to convey by looking at the applicable laws. Workplaces throughout the U.S. are subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, and color.

Title VII also prohibits any kind of harassment based on these same characteristics, considering it a form of discrimination. Federal law isn’t the only law you may need to consider. Your state may have its own particular laws prohibiting harassment based on marital status, gender identity, or other particulars not covered by title VII. Make sure you understand the laws for the state or states in which you do business.

HR's Role in Controlling Harassment

Creating Your Anti-Discrimination Policies

While you can create separate anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, the overlap between these two terms means you can also write a single policy encompassing both behaviors. Start by clearly and unequivocally stating your company’s “zero tolerance” for discrimination and harassment.

Name as many protected characteristics as apply to you on the federal and state level. Since small but significant additions to these laws may occur at any time, and since it’s always possible to omit something by mistake, hedge your bets by adding a blanket statement covering any other protected characteristics currently included under the law.

Harassment Training State Requirements

Education and Enforcement

Don’t assume that your employees automatically understand which actions constitute discrimination or harassment. Spelling out specific examples in your written policies can help everyone understand exactly what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Give detailed instructions on how to report any instance of discrimination or harassment experienced or witnessed by the employee. Explain the disciplinary actions that management may take, up to and including termination, as well as the available options for employees accused of discrimination or harassment. Projections’ online harassment training can serve as an invaluable reinforcement to these efforts. Last but not least, make sure your workers have agreed to uphold your policies. Include the policies in the employee handbook every new hire receives, and require each employee to sign a statement agreeing to conform to them. You’ll rest a lot easier once you’ve set the groundwork for a discrimination-free, harassment-free workplace!

The Respectful Workplace Harassment Training
Engagement Efforts

11 Subtle Signs Your Engagement Efforts May Not Be Working

A motivated, happy workforce doesn’t just benefit your company with increased productivity and better quarterly revenues. Employee engagement also guarantees that you get to retain your best employees, enjoy a higher level of staff loyalty, stave off nascent union organizing and ensure your company remains innovative and competitive going forward.

With that in mind, let’s examine the most common warning signs that suggest your employees aren’t as motivated or engaged as you’d like them to be.

1. Happy to Be Mediocre

Everyone knows teams or individuals who are content to be “just good enough.” Yes, they’re hitting their targets, but box-ticking metrics aren’t the stuff of great companies. Try to develop a culture that inspires your employees to want to become excellent in everything they do.

2. Defensiveness

Most employees should be fine with taking constructive criticism; ideally, they should be actively seeking it out. Unfortunately, some resist feedback, and this can be a sign of increasing withdrawal, both in the workplace and elsewhere.

3. Shying Away From Risk

Some employees can be overly protective of their own status quo. Not wanting to be blamed for failure, they shun any risk at all.

4. Reluctance to Grow in Their Personal Relationships

Regardless of the specific benefits that your company enjoys from good interpersonal relationships among your staff, it is a universal truth that bad employee interactions are always a net detriment to productivity. Having employees who won’t work on maintaining or fixing good relationships is a sure sign of trouble further down the line.

5. Resistance to Change

Changes to workplace practices can often trigger a natural and subconscious resistance in employees, which should be predicted and managed as such and even leveraged as a coaching or training opportunity. Regardless, it should only be a temporary reaction and dissolve over time. However, when employees demonstrate a chronic and obstinate desire to stay stuck in their ways, it may be an indicator of other, more serious, underlying issues.

6. Avoiding Experimentation

Not dissimilar to the desire to shun risk, a lack of interest in experimentation suggests that your employees have grown bored with their work and encounter a lack of stimulation and curiosity in what they do.

7. They Blame Culture

Employees who excuse their own work by finding fault in someone else’s show a lack of accountability. They never learn from their mistakes.

8. They Won’t Grow Their Skills

It shouldn’t be a hard sell to get your employees to expand their skill set and make themselves more valuable in the process. If some of your staff are reluctant to engage with workplace training and ignore offers of educational opportunities, you might want to explore it with them further in a bid to address any preexisting concerns.

9. The Sound of Gossip

We know gossip when we hear it, and in the workplace, it’s never a good thing. Not only does it decrease team cohesiveness, damage morale and inculcate a negative atmosphere, it’s also a consistent precursor to the beginnings of union organizing in your firm. Rumors and hearsay can spread false notions and add fuel to the fire that union officials rely on.

10. Jealousy

If you get that feeling that some of your employees are jealous of others, or that there’s a rift between a department or two borne out of a feeling of inequity, it’s definitely worth investigating. What might appear as a sense of petty injustice can have large ramifications on labor relations further down the line.

11. Attendance Issues

And, finally, what could be more indicative of disengagement than your staff not turning up to work in the first place? Fortunately, this is usually one of the last signs to manifest itself, giving you plenty of opportunity to address the problem beforehand.

If you’re witnessing any of these signs of failing employee engagement, it’s not too late! In fact, its testament to your commitment to your teams that you’re aware of their needs. Now is the time to begin connecting, and you can use powerfully consistent video messages, highly interactive eLearning and dedicated websites to create an innovative, engaged workforce.

3 Shortcuts Every HR Department Should Avoid

HR Shortcuts to avoid

Don’t Sabotage Your Engagement by Ignoring Other Areas

Your HR department is vital to building the best company possible. It ensures that your employees are at their best and receive the support they need. While there are so many things that your HR department has to do that it might be tempting to take a few shortcuts, there are a few areas where you absolutely must use HR best practices or face negative long-term consequences in the future.

1. Don’t Cut Corners in Employee Orientation

New employee orientation is vital, as it sets the tone for the rest of an employee’s experience with your company. Within the first week, it is important that you describe the basic work processes that the employee will be using every day. This can include everything from job-specific tasks to the basics that everyone uses, such as email protocol. It’s also important that you keep the information you share with your employees consistent. So it’s a good idea to create a series of orientation videos that you can share during the orientation process. It ensures everyone gets the same information and, if done right, can be more engaging than a manager rushing through the process.

Employee Orientations2. Don’t Make Annual Benefits Enrollment a Chore

After their salary, your company’s benefits package is arguably the most important element for your employees. To ensure that your benefits communication is outstanding, you need to go beyond the norm. Approximately 80 percent of companies still rely on printed materials regarding benefits sent to their employees’ homes. In a digital world, that’s not nearly enough. Your employees need to be engaged with the process. That means annual videos that are available online for your employees to review and interactive websites that help them find the best plans. These tools can be invaluable for smoothing out the annual benefit enrollment process.

3. Don’t Ignore the Possibility of Unions

Unions can be destructive for businesses. Unions can devalue seniority and employee effort, make it difficult for your business to compete, and also exploit your employees. This can lead to your business becoming unprofitable and to your employees losing their jobs. Union avoidance is in everyone’s best interest and you need to communicate this to your employees. Take the time to investigate the best union avoidance strategies and then implement them for the sake of your company and your employees.

33 ways to union proof your companySo, don’t cut corners when it comes to employee engagement! If you need help connecting with your employees, whether it’s during orientation, harassment training, wellness programs, annual benefits enrollment, or just to communicate important facts, contact Projections. Your message will reach your audience and create the change you need to grow. We make it so easy, you’ll find no shortcuts needed!

The Power of an HR Audit: The Case for Doing One

Conducting an internal audit may not top the list of things HR professionals look forward to doing, but the importance of reviewing HR practices should not be understated or ignored. Simply put, an HR audit can be the savior that keeps your company out of the court room.

Think about this: On average, there are more than 450 employment lawsuits filed each week. The most common target is private employers with between 15 and 100 employees. While you may not be able to control if somebody files the suit, are you prepared to defend the company when someone does? With plaintiff attorneys on the offensive, joined by an administration and Department of Labor sympathetic to that cause, employers need to be ready to handle whatever is thrown their way.

But the reasoning behind internal HR audits extends further than lawsuit defense, for example:

  • Audits are a sure way of making sure the best practices and HR metrics are being followed by the company
  • They help with process improvement
  • They can lead to fewer errors and complaints
  • Can increase readiness for government investigations
  • May lead to a reduction in EPLI (external insurance) coverage costs
  • Build management support to come on board with HR practices
  • Lead to a better use of employment law expenses

So, what exactly does an HR audit do? As with any audit, it takes a look at just what you are doing a little more closely. In this case, it measures the health of current HR practices. An HR audit will help you identify deficiencies and provide direction in the following subjects: employment practices, employment policies, employment related documentations, employment law compliance.

Bottom line: an internal HR audit is an opportunity to save the company money and avoid problems they may otherwise face. At the end of the day, an audit should help you to develop more consistent policies, treat employees more fairly, and in return the employees become more productive.

When it comes to an audit, there are two main areas of focus- compliance and best practices. Compliance looks at the legal aspects of HR and includes areas such as missing, outdated, or conflicting policies or inconsistencies between policy and practice. The practices pays attention to what is (and isn’t) working for the company including the current processes (on issues such as recruiting, discipline or terminations) and procedures (on issues such as performance or evaluations).

To get started, you will need to develop an audit team. This includes key management personnel. You want people who can give you clear input of what exactly is going on. Feedback from non-management employees is helpful, but they should not be part of a formal ‘team.’

So you have the team and are ready to go. Which areas should you look at first? I don’t know if there is a good first or second place to begin with, but there are plenty of places to get to. An HR audit should ask the following questions:

  • Do you have all the required postings present and visible?
  • Does your company follow all appropriate I-9 requirements, including proper recording?
  • Do employment applications contain any questions that are illegal? Are they properly maintained?
  • Is the employee handbook current and legal? Do employees have a copy? Have they signed documentation showing that they have obtained a copy?
  • Are any files stored in the managers’ desk files (rather than properly placed in records file)?
  • Are all OSHA logs are up to date, completed, and available to employees?
  • Do you have an electronic communication policy (this includes email, social media, etc.)?
  • Do you have a policy for company issued cell phones (how often can they talk, can they text/ send pictures, for personal use or just business, etc.)?
  • Do you have a legally sufficient anti-harassment policy? Does it include a strong anti-retaliation policy?
  • Do you have a grievance or complaint procedure in place that employees are aware of and feel like they can use?
  • Is the at-will language in your handbook legal?
  • Is the paid time off policy clear?
  • Do you have a satisfactory equal opportunity employment policy? Is it noted on job postings?
  • Are FMLA policies and procedures up to date?
  • Do you have substance abuse policies in place?
  • Are employees aware of safety or accident reporting policies?
  • Are ERISA and COBRA requirements met and followed through on?
  • Are ADA policies up to date and followed?
  • Does the company comply with all FLSA regulations? See this article  for more information on wage and hour requirements under FLSA.
  • What are your recruiting procedures that you have in place? Are you looking for the right candidate? Do you have an effective (and legal) application? Do you conduct a background check (criminal check plus work history/ references)? Who handles the interviews?
  • Do you have a proper onboarding practice for new employees?
  • Do you have a formal performance evaluation procedure? What about a disciplinary policy procedure? Is it followed consistently?
  • Are you properly retaining all records for the appropriate time as required by law?

And as you move forward, remember these two rules from HR 101: document everything (juries will only believe what you have in writing) and be consistent (a policy isn’t a policy unless it’s followed every time).

Note: This information is not intended as legal advice or counsel. Please seek a qualified attorney for more information.