The HR buzzword of recent years has been employee experience, but it’s a natural extension of the focus on the customer and candidate experiences. Typically, the employee experience focuses on the positive elements and aspects of the workplace, but what about the other types of activities that aren’t as positive, such as investigations? Is there a way to maintain a positive experience so that the workforce appreciates the respect, fairness and clear communications that make up part of the process?
The point isn’t just to try and dress up something to look more fun or important than it really is. The point is to create an environment and a culture where people feel comfortable bringing up issues when necessary because they know the employer will take them seriously and work to resolve them in a timely manner. The key elements of that include respect, fairness and transparency, as we’ll explore more deeply below.
In the last week the media world tied itself into a knot after a writer at The New Yorker wrote a scathing critique of Chick-Fil-A’s continued success in New York. The issue, in part, was that the critique wasn’t totally focused at Chick-Fil-A itself but had its sights set on Christian values. A few quotes from the piece:
The brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration… because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.
Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet.
The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words ‘to glorify God.’
My question for you today: would you have fired your employee for saying or writing this kind of thing, knowing that his or her actions reflect on you as an employer? Continue reading →
Ask any business leader and they’ll tell you that a reduction in force, or a RIF, is one of the hardest activities to carry out. Often times good employees are hit by these decisions through no fault of their own, and the resulting morale issues can doubly affect the workplace in a negative way. That said, there are times when a RIF is an essential part of business continuity and operations. Today we’re going to explore some of the key things to know about RIFs.
What is a RIF?
A RIF is a time when employers have to reduce their employee headcount. This can be a handful of workers or a significant population. There are a variety of reasons why these might occur. For instance, maybe the company lost a large contract or a product has not sold as well as was expected, which means the workforce planning forecast was too high.
Essentially the employer finds out that the number of workers on payroll is more than the necessary number required to continue operating the business, and those additional workers need to be identified and separated. However, it’s not as simple as seeing that there are twenty extra workers that need to go — it’s important to pick the right ones so that the company isn’t hindered by this process any more than necessary.
3 Tips for Managing a Compliant Reduction in Force
A RIF is hard enough to go through without running afoul of legal requirements. No HR team wants to manage this fairly emotional process only to find out there are additional headaches and legal challenges on the other end. With that in mind, these three suggestions help to run a successful (and compliant) RIF:
Get clear on the skills your company needs post-RIF so that you make the right decisions about who to retain and who to remove as part of the RIF. This is a core part of the HR strategic planning process and should not be overlooked in this exercise.
Understand the WARN Act and its requirements. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies with more than 100 employees to provide 60-calendar days of notice in advance of plant closing and mass layoffs. Failing to comply with the law could cost the employer up to 60 days of back pay and benefits for each employee.
Do an internal adverse impact analysis to understand the likelihood of legal action based on decisions. While we can’t always know what will happen, this is a great preventative measure. For additional ideas and examples, including how to calculate adverse impact, be sure to check out the rest of my post on how to stay compliant with RIFs.
What has been your experience? Any other ideas that might be worth remembering during this process?
I know I need to focus on engagement and our HR strategy. But how can I do that when some of our employees don’t even have homes to go home to?
When I had this conversation with an HR leader based in Houston just after the hurricane had unleashed flooding on the state, I had to think carefully about what I was going to recommend. In the end, what I told this woman was the same thing I will recommend today in more detail.
When employees are going through a tough time, we need to recognize the fact that they are humans.
That man? He’s someone’s father, brother, or son. That woman? She’s someone’s mother, grandmother, or daughter. Just like the story I told in my initial episode of We’re Only Human when the podcast launched last year, it’s important to see people as people.
I haven’t lost sight of the fact that business often goes on as usual in many circumstances. Things need to get done. But by focusing on the person and their fundamental needs first, you can earn amazing loyalty that is difficult to quantify.
One really easy way to show that you care for someone in more mundane circumstances, such as when a child is sick, an employee is dealing with an aging parent, or even a more positive situation like the birth of a child, is to send something unexpected. Research shows that we don’t just like general surprises, we actually like to be delighted.
Spoonful of Comfort is a great example of how to do this with a relatively low investment. Recently my wife and I were struggling to handle several travel activities for my job while juggling the needs of our kids. Plus our youngest was facing a few doctor’s visits for some issue. Basically we were stretched to the max. Thankfully, the team at Spoonful of Comfort sent a care package over for me to test out and it happened to come at the exact perfect time for us. I was so appreciative!
We didn’t have to worry about pulling together a family-friendly meal
We were able to focus our time on our family needs and taking care of other priorities
One word: cookies.
If you’re looking for a simple, practical way to help your workers through a tough time, send them something that feeds their body while also meeting their need for appreciation and attention at the same time.
On a broader scale, people want to know that their employers care about them. They want to know that their managers and others are thinking of them, especially when things are difficult in their personal lives. In the instance of this horrific damage done in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere, it’s important for us as business leaders to stay in tune with what our employees need and make sure we’re offering a helping hand to the extent possible.
I can vividly remember when tornadoes ripped through north Alabama six years ago and one of our employees that had been with us for two days lost his home. Everyone gathered around him in spirit by donating leave so he could take the time with his family to recover and begin the project of replacing what they had lost.
Like many things in HR, this is simple, even if it’s not always easy in the moment. Pay attention to your people. Treat them like people. Meet their basic, fundamental need for attention and support. And in the long term, it will be worth the investment in the lives of the people that enable your business to function.
I recently learned a great strategy that I can’t wait to share with you.
Employee: Hey Bob. I know you are busy. I just have a few quick questions. A few of us came up with this really great idea for the party.
Employee: Um, well, okay. So, Jim needs me to help him with this thing…
Employee: All right, then, just one more question…
Employee: Come on, you didn’t even give me a chance!
HR: (Smiles gleefully)
Let me tell you the secret to human resources: always say no. Whatever people want, just flat out turn them down. The great thing is that pretty soon, you can train them to stop asking for anything and settle for whatever you want to leave them with. They’ll stop bothering you and just get to work.
Clever, huh? Now you, too, can implement this kind of approach to human resources and make your stand for what you believe in.
News flash: if this sounds even remotely appealing to you, you suck and need to get out of HR.
This post was inspired by a recent conversation with an HR leader that was trying to help an employee with a major insurance crisis to cover his critically ill child. The response from one of her peers in HR? “It’s not our job to take care of them.” Ugh. Yes, we’re business leaders, but we’re also people too, darn it. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you. Disregard, dismiss, or demean them and you will lose the best chance you have at being competitive in the marketplace.
This weekend I was doing some spring cleaning. Well, summer cleaning, since I missed the spring season. Anyway, one of the things I found was a box of items I used to keep on my whiteboard next to my desk as reminders of important aspects of HR. These shaped the way I practiced HR and ran my department on a daily basis. I thought it would be fun to share the notes here to help give you an idea of what kind of HR I practiced.
1: Your Company Values
Your values statement should be the most tattered piece of paper in your organization.
Most companies pick out a few values as part of a management exercise or checklist and then forget about them. Want to hire great people that align with your mission? Use your values statement every day to keep measuring your candidates and employees to make sure they are on target.
2: Communication Breakdown
The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, dribble, and misrepresentation.
I just wanted to say “thank you” for the last few years. I have enjoyed my work and appreciate the opportunity to contribute. As of today I am turning in my two week notice…
Like you probably have, I have had multiple versions of that conversation with managers over the years. Sometimes it’s painful, and other times it’s a relief to put in your notice to depart. But the question we’re examining today is this: should employees give notice when they quit their job?
My Workplace Philosophy
It is my firm belief that we should treat others in the workplace just as we would like to be treated. In many cases that has worked out well, and it is something that I don’t have to be ashamed of when I’m doing the right thing. Even when employers, like my last one, don’t hold up their end of the deal, at least I know I have done the right thing.
If you also believe in this approach, then you have a long, successful career ahead of you. At the end of your working days, at least you know that you have done the right thing by those around you at every opportunity. We all mess up, but keeping that as your guiding force over time will lead you to make more friends than enemies and more good choices than bad ones.
This applies to giving notice just as it does to most workplace situations. If I was a business owner and an employee was planning to quit, I would want as much notice as possible to get ready for the change. It takes a while to recruit and select a replacement, and while many people think there is a law around giving notice, the employee has no reason to give the employer a heads up if they don’t want to.
When to Skip Giving Notice
If you work for a company that consistently kicks people out when they give notice, then you do not have to give any warning before you depart. The company/owners/management give up their right to receive advance notice of your departure when they make a standard practice of not letting people work the entire notice period.
Most people in the workplace are on the verge of financial disaster. It’s a fact. That’s why it is so critical that an employer honors the notice period when it is requested. People need that income to bridge the gap before they start at a new employer. As an employee, if you are like the majority of Americans and living paycheck to paycheck, then you need to take this decision seriously as to whether you give notice or not. You don’t have to tell your employer you are leaving in advance if they have not given others a chance to work out their notice period. It’s not worth putting yourself in financial trouble if the company has demonstrated that it doesn’t honor a notice period.
I’ve had one employer kick me out the day I gave my notice. I was on the fence about providing any warning, because they had not treated people well historically, but I went ahead and did it simply because it’s in line with the overall philosophy I mentioned above. The thing that was the worst about being locked out immediately is that I didn’t get to tell all of my coworkers and friends I was leaving. I’ve been on the receiving end of that situation and it is strange not to get at least a bit of closure when someone departs, especially if you have become friends over time.
I can remember when a friend’s son turned in his notice and the boss started treating him terribly during his notice period. My friend was thinking that his son had to stick it out until the end, but I let him know that if the manager was treating his son poorly, then he didn’t have to stick around and take it. The manager gave up his right to a notice period when he started acting like a fool instead of appreciating the employee for giving enough notice to start finding a replacement. He was incredibly relieved and basically told his son to collect his check and get out of there.
Reasons to Terminate Someone Immediately
That said, there are some reasons from the company perspective that would warrant an immediate termination. As an HR pro, these are the big reasons I would not allow someone to work a notice period.
Open investigation against the employee
History of issues/offenses
History of irrational behavior and the position to do something unpleasant (HR, security, IT, etc.)
In case you’re wondering, these situations would encompass maybe 5% of the workforce. The other 95% don’t fall into this camp and shouldn’t be shoved out the door like yesterday’s garbage. Sooner or later that kind of treatment catches up with companies and they can’t hire high quality talent to replace the ones that left.
What’s your take? What is the right way to give (and receive) notice?
And for those of you that like a little drama, just be glad this guy doesn’t work for you.
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