Sunday May 26, 2019
 

Here’s how NOT to terminate 938 people abruptly, and by email

There really is no sure-fire way to deliver bad news to your
entire staff.

Some experts suggest you dish it out easy, in small
increments, to soften the blow. Others says just rip off the Band Aid and be
done with it.

The owners of a Pennsylvania custom cabinet factory took the ripped Band Aid approach — they chose to terminate by email, en masse — and as a result, the blood is still flowing.

Robert and Brooks Gronlund, owners of Wood-Mode Inc., sent an automated text to workers last week thanking them for service throughout the years – and in the very next sentence then told them all their benefits ceased, effective at midnight.

“It was the final kick in the gut,” Michele Sanders, a
22-year employee, told the local newspaper.

The closure of the privately-owned company in Kreamer, PA, left 938 people without jobs, stunning the workers and community economic leaders.

Angered by poor communication

Sanders called the automated messages a “nail in the coffin.
I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “Don’t thank me. You (owners) have money in
the bank.”

“This is our thank you. All I get is an automated message,
not a personal message.”

The Gronlunds were seldom seen in the production part of the
plant when it was up and running, she said.

Most of the employees were more angered by the poor communication, than by the loss of their jobs.

“Common sense and decency would dictate that a community that gave so much to this company would have more warning,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).

Robert Garrett, a local Chamber of Commerce leader, called
the closure “catastrophic” to the region.

The automated messages and texts employees received informed them their health and life insurance plus a 401(k) plan had been terminated. They were told they would be given instructions for withdrawal or rollover of the pension funds.

Federal lawsuits filed

Salaried and office hourly employees were told due to the
company’s long-standing policy, they will not be paid for unused vacation time.

Wood-Mode said the company was forced to close after a
prospective buyer on May 7 backed out and two days later learned a lender was
unwilling to provide additional money so the company could stay open to
consider another offer.

Three employees have filed separate federal lawsuits accusing
Wood-Mode of not providing employees the required 60-day written termination
notice as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The plaintiffs want class-action certification for their
complaints that seek pay and benefits class action for 60 days.

The post Here’s how NOT to terminate 938 people abruptly, and by email appeared first on HRMorning.

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Preparing for salary history bans?

How can employers make sure that a prospective hire will be willing to take a job at a salary you consider fair before you spend everyone’s time interviewing?

 That puzzle is getting even harder to solve in the nearly 30 cities and states that have banned employers from asking prospects about their salary history.

And these laws aren’t restricted to the most progressive states
and cities. Maine and North Carolina are the latest states to pass bans. The
city of Cincinnati has also joined the list.

Salary history bans are aimed at encouraging equal pay for minorities and women doing the same jobs as their male colleagues.

Stopping cycle of low pay

Backers hope to stop the cycle of below-market salaries in one
job leading to lower offers when workers apply for a new position.

Women’s paychecks still lag behind what their male peers get
paid for the same work and the ratio is even worse for many minorities.

Research by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows women average about 80% of what white male colleagues receive for the same work. Latina women in those jobs average as little as 53% of male peers’ pay.

What benefits teams need to do

As is so often the case, these new rules create more work for
benefits pros striving to find the best candidates at the right salary.

If you operate where a ban’s in place, the first thing you need
to do is look at your application policies and any templates or scripts you use
in the hiring process. Get rid of anything that specifically asks for salary
history.

And train your team to protect your organization by documenting
how they arrived at a specific salary range for the job and for a given
candidate.

That means researching salary data available from government and
industry sources.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes data on salaries, for example, and the Randstad Salary Calculator benchmarks salaries across many industries.

And job search sites, including Indeed, Monster and Totaljobs,
offer salary comparison tools. Candidates are probably looking at these same
sites, so that can also help align everyone’s expectations.

Federal law is going to catch up to local and state rules
eventually.

It’s a good idea to take action now to ensure your team – and
your hiring policies and procedures – are ready when they do. 1

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Latest sexual harassment complaints against McDonald’s will test joint-employer rules

McDonald’s and a number of its franchisees face allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation in complaints filed this week.

The 25 workers allege they were subjected to unwanted physical contact and other harassment while working at McDonald’s restaurants. Some say they were retaliated against for complaining to their employers.

The Fight for $15 activist group filed complaints with the EEOC on May 21 with support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

The National Women’s Law Center established the $25 million fund to support women who can’t otherwise afford lawyers.

The latest sexual harassment complaints follow dozens of similar complaints filed in 2017 and 2018.

Those suits also seek to hold McDonald’s responsible for wage and employment violations at its owned and franchised locations.

Fight for $15 also wants the company to hold mandatory sexual harassment and retaliation training.

Joint employer rules in flux

An attorney for the women told Politico that they filed the suits at the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, rather than at DOJ under the Fair Labor Standards Act or NLRB under the National Labor Relations Act.

That move is aimed at sidestepping DOL and NLRB proposals to make joint employment legal standard more favorable to businesses.

Both agencies have proposed rules changes governing who is considered a joint employer for purposes of sexual harassment complaints, wage and hour and other workplace obligations.

Who’s the boss?

For McDonald’s, the rules will impact whether it’s liable for violations at franchisee-owned, as well as corporate-owned, restaurants.

More businesses will avoid liability for minimum wage, overtime, and similar claims under the FLSA and NLRA if the proposed joint employer rule changes happen.

In addition to questions of legal liability for sexual harassment complaints, uncertainty around whether franchises are independent businesses has complicated McDonald’s workers’ efforts to unionize.

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LinkedIn helps applicants get an employee referral

For a job seeker, having an employee referral from someone already working at a company is always a valuable leg up. But that’s a 2-way street.

Employers’ talent acquisition efforts also benefit when a trusted employee can vouch for an applicant’s skills. Or highlight desired skills where a potential hire may be lacking.

Professional networking site LinkedIn’s new “Ask for a Referral” feature is aimed at simplifying the process of identifying people in an applicant’s network already working where they’d like to apply for a job.

Adding contacts to narrow searches

A new filter on the site lets applicants identify companies where a LinkedIn contact works, joining other filters like location, industry and salary range job seekers can use to narrow their searches.

The company points to research that shows applicants are four
times as likely to hear back from a potential employer if their application
includes an internal reference.

According to LinkedIn, the new feature allows applicants to:

  • See jobs available at organizations where the applicant already knows someone by using the “In Your Network” search filter on LinkedIn Jobs.
  • Request a referral by clicking the “Ask For A Referral” button on job listings for organizations where the applicant already knows someone
  • Get suggestions on how to craft a referral request and otherwise put their best foot forward.

Skills testing

Another feature of the roadmap for LinkedIn Jobs will give employers a way to gauge applicants’ skills before the first interview.

The company says it will soon offer applicants the ability to take a skill assessment test as part of the application process on LinkedIn Jobs.

That will allow job seekers to demonstrate they have the desired skill set for a particular job posting.

LinkedIn hasn’t yet said what categories of skills it will
test for or whether employers will be able to customize skills assessments for
specific postings.

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LinkedIn helps applicants get an in-house reference

For a job seeker, having an employee referral from someone already working at a company is always a valuable leg up. But that’s a 2-way street.

Employers’ talent acquisition efforts also benefit when a trusted employee can vouch for an applicant’s skills. Or highlight desired skills where a potential hire may be lacking.

Professional networking site LinkedIn’s new “Ask for a Referral” feature is aimed at simplifying the process of identifying people in an applicant’s network already working where they’d like to apply for a job.

Adding contacts to narrow searches

A new filter on the site lets applicants identify companies where a LinkedIn contact works, joining other filters like location, industry and salary range job seekers can use to narrow their searches.

The company points to research that shows applicants are four
times as likely to hear back from a potential employer if their application
includes an internal reference.

According to LinkedIn, the new feature allows applicants to:

  • See jobs available at organizations where the applicant already knows someone by using the “In Your Network” search filter on LinkedIn Jobs.
  • Request a referral by clicking the “Ask For A Referral” button on job listings for organizations where the applicant already knows someone
  • Get suggestions on how to craft a referral request and otherwise put their best foot forward.

Skills testing

Another feature of the roadmap for LinkedIn Jobs will give employers a way to gauge applicants’ skills before the first interview.

The company says it will soon offer applicants the ability to take a skill assessment test as part of the application process on LinkedIn Jobs.

That will allow job seekers to demonstrate they have the desired skill set for a particular job posting.

LinkedIn hasn’t yet said what categories of skills it will
test for or whether employers will be able to customize skills assessments for
specific postings.

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NLRB: 6 reasons to check your handbook policies now

Here’s a good reason to dust off that employee handbook and re-familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your policies.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently reviewed an employer’s handbook and issued memoranda, offering guidance on the legality of certain policies.

What’s lawful, what’s not

While not an official ruling from the NLRB, the advice division’s stances on certain handbook policies can be used as a blueprint for employers creating and updating them.

Here are the specific questions about handbook policies and procedures the NLRB addressed:

Can handbooks be confidential?

This employer labeled its handbook and policies as confidential, preventing employees from openly discussing them. The NLRB said this is unlawful.

By prohibiting employees from talking about information in the handbook, it essentially forbids employees from discussing benefits and working conditions with each other and non-employees.

The NLRB added that this confidentiality policy also restricted employees from disclosing pay information, which is a fundamental National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) right. The act guarantees that employees may speak freely about wages, whether it be with other employees or third parties.

Can employees use work email for personal reasons?

The handbook being reviewed prohibited employees from using their work email for personal messaging, even on non-work time. The NLRB ruled this was a violation of the NLRA as well.

Under the act, employees are permitted personal access to their work email during lunch periods and breaks — a rule completely forbidding that is unlawful, the NLRB said.

The only exception would be if an employer could demonstrate “special circumstances” in which using email for personal reasons during breaks would disrupt production.

Can we prevent employees from wearing clothing with commercial advertising?

The employer had this dress code rule in effect, and the NLRB decided this was lawful.

A policy like this would only violate the NLRA if it could be interpreted that wearing union logos was forbidden. But a dress code simply prohibiting inappropriate or unprofessional clothing is lawful.

Which employee info should be kept confidential, and which can be shared?

The employer had a rule directing employees to use a “high degree of caution” when handling customer lists, employees’ personal information and HIPAA-related info.

The rule also noted that managers with access to this information must not discuss or divulge it. The NLRB ruled this policy was lawful.

Under the NLRA, employees have the right to share basic info such as co-workers’ names and addresses if not obtained through personnel files. The NLRB said a reasonable employee wouldn’t believe the confidentiality policy infringed on this right.

Can we only permit designated employees to speak to the media?

The employer had designated spokespeople to speak to the media, to avoid mixed messages regarding the company’s stance on issues. The NLRB ruled this policy was lawful.

A rule like this would only violate the NLRA if employees were banned from voicing workplace grievances in public or with the media.

Can we prevent employees from using cell phones in the workplace?

The employer banned the use of cell phones for the entire work day. The NLRB said this policy was unlawful.

According to the NLRA, employees have the right to use their cell phones during breaks and lunches, so a policy banning them completely is in violation of the act.

The post NLRB: 6 reasons to check your handbook policies now appeared first on HRMorning.

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5 ways talent management software can eliminate performance review mistakes

Performance reviews are a stressful event for both managers and employees. They can range from awkward conversations to pointless feedback to ugly HR nightmares.

And a bad review system doesn’t just hurt employee performance. It can have serious consequences for morale and turnover too.

Studies show that after a performance review one in five employees report being so upset they cried, while one in three immediately start looking for a new job.

In this tight labor market, employees have options. If they’re not getting adequate feedback and the right development, they’ll leave.

Successful companies take performance management seriously. But even they can make mistakes.

That’s why so many businesses are now relying on a talent management system to help them get the most from performance reviews.

What is a talent management system?

A talent management system is software that streamlines end-to-end employee development from recruiting to exit interviews. Although it includes applicant tracking, learning management and succession planning capabilities, the most popular feature is performance management, which helps companies give transparent, continuous feedback.

Some companies only use a talent management system for their top employees, while others use it for everyone at the organization. In either case, it can revolutionize the way businesses handle performance management and jump-start productivity.

Putting together a great review process, however, is no easy task. Here are five common performance review mistakes and how a talent management system can help eliminate them.

1. Not enough feedback

Too many companies still conduct performance reviews once a year. But this outdated system can lead to a lot of issues.

One example is the recency effect. If managers give feedback in December, they might focus on what happened in the past few months, rather than throughout the entire year. Problems or accomplishments from January or February might be glossed over or simply forgotten.

Although it may not be a conscious act on the manager’s part, this type of feedback can feel like a lack of recognition or opportunity to improve for employees. They want to understand how they’re doing, and they want to understand it more often.

In fact, 65% of employees want more feedback than they’re currently receiving.

A talent management system lets companies offer continuous feedback, which means consistent, meaningful discussions between managers and employees about performance.

While annual reviews put pressure on both the manager and employee, because they’re infrequent and need to cover a lot of ground, continuous feedback means check-in conversations are much shorter, more focused and less stressful for everyone involved.

Managers may have excuses that their open door policy is enough or that keeping track of multiple conversations is too difficult. And it’s true that continuous feedback can be confusing, especially if you’re using a mix of emails, chat apps and in-person conversations.

That’s why talent management systems have communication and collaboration tools for managers to organize and provide real-time feedback.

Software can remind managers when reviews are due and keep a history of all notes and action points from previous discussions. It also gives HR visibility into who’s getting feedback from whom and how those conversations are going.

Although it can take time to train managers and employees to feel comfortable giving and receiving continuous feedback, any system that offers more regular, specific feedback is a good thing.

2. Setting the wrong goals

During a review, managers discuss how employees are performing against some type of established goals.

But what if goals are ill-defined, overly broad, irrelevant or too static? Employees can feel like they’re being measured against the wrong yardstick.

For companies to have effective performance reviews, employees need to set the right goals, which should be:

  • Related to their competencies and skills
  • Broken down into actionable steps with defined benchmarks
  • Aligned with the company mission, and
  • Adjustable based on changes in performance or business demands.

With a talent management system, employees can record their competencies and skills and work with managers to set goals that are relevant to their specific background.

The software can also help organize goals into easy-to-manage steps, so that employees have a clear path to success. These steps might include learning new skills, essential tasks for a project or coordinating with someone outside the department. As employees complete these steps, they can check off their progress on benchmarks and get more guidance or recognition for their accomplishments.

Managers and employees can also use the talent management system to compare goals to company objectives. Helping employees understand how their work supports long-term business goals will give them a sense of purpose and increase their productivity.

If employees are under- or over-performing or if business needs have changed, the manager can work with them to adjust or update their goals at any time. The opportunity to pivot goals can not only help employees succeed, but can also make the business more agile and competitive.

3. Lack of objectivity

Performance reviews are only as good as the manager who gives them. If the reviewer isn’t prepared or objective, employees can feel unfairly judged.

To be effective, performance should be well-documented. Managers can’t rely solely on their memory when giving feedback.

Talent management systems offer a transparent way to set employee goals and benchmarks, track performance and record previous reviews. Managers can use intuitive dashboards and analytics to show key performance indicators and progress over time. The software also has compliance protocols for documentation, reporting and auditing. Features include version tracking and evidence collection, which means that performance reviews can’t be altered without people noticing.

Studies have shown that performance reviews are full of biases, and even if those biases aren’t conscious, they can cause all sorts of problems. In the worst cases, poorly conducted evaluations can turn into HR nightmares.

A talent management system can analyze whether managers have certain patterns in their feedback. Is the manager rating one demographic lower than others, or rating all of their employees higher than other managers? This type of data can be used to avoid claims of bias or discrimination.

4. Only one reviewer

Performance reviews also run into trouble when they come from only one source.

In the past, companies often had siloed departments where employees worked for and reported to a single manager. So it made sense for the manager to be the only one reviewing and giving feedback to an employee.

The modern workplace, however, now uses networks of employee teams to complete a variety of projects. There’s less hierarchy and more time spent interacting with coworkers and managers in other departments.

Consequently, direct managers may not have much daily interaction with that employee and shouldn’t be the only reviewer.

Feedback from multiple stakeholders – peers, subordinates and other managers – is becoming more commonplace. Because peers work side-by-side and build closer relationships, they can call out behavior that they see each day. And their comments are generally more positive and supportive, which can motivate employees and act as a form of social recognition.

A talent management system can capture feedback from multiple stakeholders through online forms or a mobile app and automatically add it to the employee’s profile. Companies can then decide how much weight to give different groups or specific reviewers, especially if there are outliers.

But overall, companies will have more sources of reference when it comes to employee performance, which means a more objective, thorough review process.

5. No coaching and training

Employees feel frustrated when they’re expected to perform at a certain level but not given the tools to reach it. Performance reviews where employees are told that they’re under-performing or not making progress may actually be an indication that the company lacks proper coaching and training.

Employee improvement needs to be supported with proper guidance and the ability to learn new skills. In fact, 87% of millennials, the largest generation currently in the workforce, say that professional development opportunities are imperative to their career.

Managers can use a talent management system to identify employee skill gaps and recommend specific training that’s needed. And the platform often includes learning management software that companies can use to deliver training.

Additionally, goal-setting may include actionable steps, but managers need to coach employees to help them actually get there. And the benefits of coaching aren’t just for employees. According to HR expert Josh Bersin, “Companies which provide high levels of development planning and coaching to their employees have a third less voluntary turnover and generate twice the revenue per employee of their peers.”

Talent management systems empower managers with automated coaching tools, links to on-demand coaching info and workflows to track coaching activities. Some software gives managers coaching recommendations based on direct feedback from engagement surveys. Others can identify which manager will be the best coach for an employee and monitors the coaching process based on self-assessments and work experience.

Bottom Line

Performance reviews are a messy process, and it’s easy to make mistakes if you’re managing it on your own. That’s why leading companies are using technology to help. With a talent management system, companies can:

  • Offer continuous feedback
  • Set proper goals for employees
  • Provide objective reviews
  • Receive feedback from multiple stakeholders, and
  • Deliver better coaching and training between reviews.

If you’re in the market for a solution, check out these reviews of the best talent management systems.

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Are you ready for intern season?

It’s almost intern season – when college students are out for the summer and look to build their resume.

You’ll recall that last year, the DOL dropped its strict “six-factor test” for determining whether an intern qualifies as an employee entitled to at least minimum wage and overtime pay, under the FLSA.

Under this test, the DOL considered all interns to be employees unless each of the very specific factors in the test were met. As a result, companies generally had to make their internship programs paid to avoid running afoul of the FLSA.

In its place, the DOL adopted a more employer-friendly “primary beneficiary” test.

Why the change? Because an increasing number of federal courts had been rejecting the six-factor test in favor of the primary beneficiary test, which was first laid out in Glatt v. Searchlight Pictures in 2015.

In this case, three unpaid interns sued Searchlight, claiming they acted as employees and should’ve been paid minimum wage and overtime.

The interns did get experience working on movie sets, but they took lunch orders, answered phones and took out the trash.

The company said the court should’ve weighed who received the primary benefit, but the court said that was impossible to prove and ruled in favor of the interns.

More wiggle room for employers

Since the courts were favoring the primary beneficiary test, the DOL changed its internship rules.

The new rules require employers to consider who’s the primary beneficiary of the internship – the intern or the employer. If it’s the latter, the internship must be paid.

The list of factors used by courts to determine the status of the internship includes the following:

  • no expectation of compensation
  • educational training that’s similar to what they’d be given in school
  • academic credit
  • accommodation with the intern’s academic commitments
  • duration of the internship coordinates with the intern’s academic calendar (doesn’t interfere with semesters)
  • job tasks that are primarily not administrative in nature to avoid the perception that the intern is performing the work of other employees, and
  • no guarantee of a paid job at the end of the internship.

Important note: Not every factor in this list needs to be met in order for an internship to be legally unpaid. Courts may also consider additional factors, if they’re relevant to the situation.

The post Are you ready for intern season? appeared first on PROD | HRMorning.com.

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In battle of PGA v. ADA, golfer John Daly gets an accommodation

Turns out even the PGA (the Professional Golfers Association) falls under the auspices of the ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), which apparently offers no mulligans the second time around.

According to the published reports, pro golfer John Daly has been granted permission by the PGA to ride in a cart during competition in this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, on Long Island, NY. 

The pro golfing circuit has long required players to walk the course, with a caddy to tote the bag. Daly won this event in 1991 and so, has a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament, one of professional golf’s four major tournaments.

Daly suffers from osteoarthritis in his right knee. He withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open last year after his request for a cart under the ADA was denied. Daly’s knee problems also sidelined him from the Open Championship. He regularly tees it up on the senior circuit, known as the Champions Tour, which allows players to use golf carts.

The last player to use a cart during a major was Casey Martin at the 2012 U.S. Open. Martin fought the PGA Tour for the right to ride in tournaments through the ADA, ultimately winning his suit. Martin also used a cart at the 1998 U.S. Open.

Daly, 53, a rotund and colorful figure on the tour, epitomizes the image of the overweight, chain-smoking, beer-guzzling golfer. He’s made just one cut at the PGA Championship since 2007, finishing tied for 12th at Kiawah Island in 2012. He last played Bethpage Black in competition at the 2002 U.S. Open, and tied for 70th.

The PGA Championship opens May 16.

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How the ‘at-will’ myth can leave employers exposed

The vast majority of states operate under the “at-will” doctrine of employment, which gives both employers and employees the right to terminate a working relationship at any time, for any reason – or for no reason at all.

But misunderstandings about the at-will doctrine often gives supervisors a false sense of security: “Hey, we’re operating on an at-will basis here. If I want to fire ’em, I fire ’em. I don’t need a reason.”

That’s only true up to the point that an employee sues for discrimination or retaliation, or any number of other possible violations of federal, state and even local laws.

“I didn’t need a reason”

When an employee’s attorney asks the manager why that person was dismissed, the manager answers, “I didn’t have a reason. I didn’t need one. He was an at-will employee, so I was within my rights to fire him.”

What happens next is a classic case of filling in the blanks … to suit an agenda.

Since the manager left the reason for the firing essentially “blank,” the lawyer simply begins filling in that blank with past interactions between the employee and the manager, portrayed solely from the employee’s point of view and tilted in the employee’s favor.

And because the manager has no stated reasons for the firing, or at least no documentation for those reasons, it’s very hard to counter an employee’s allegation that bias led to the firing.

Docs are critical when lawyers get involved

It’s the plaintiff’s attorney’s job to create the suspicion of discrimination in the minds of jurors.

In the courtroom, years after the encounters have occurred, that’s not hard for a good lawyer to do if the manager has no documents supporting his or her actions.

And that’s why employers are well-advised – even in at-will situations – to not only establish good reasons for firing an employee, but to be sure to create and preserve the critical documentation (including your employee handbook) that backs up the decision.

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