Many Americans get their first job working at a fast-food chain. You may have been one of them. If so, you probably remember your first day. Maybe you started at a register. Or perhaps you began in the kitchen. Either way, you had a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Everyone was counting on you to help keep the lines moving. Patience isn’t a virtue in this business, after all.
A year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment. The decision was a response to three separate cases, all of which were about employment discrimination based on “sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.
Employee handbooks are a nifty communication and reference tool for the workplace, but only if they’re used and not collecting dust on some physical (or digital) shelf. A handbook is only as good as what it does. At the minimum, it should do the following:
Introduce employees to the fundamentals of your organization’s culture—the beliefs and values that members of the organization are expected to share. This introduction explains what you do and why you do it. It may also give employees a look into the history of your organization, how you got to where you are, and where you intend to go. Last but not least, it gives employees an idea of how they can contribute to the culture.
Communicate to employees what general behaviors and procedures are expected of them. These include general safety responsibilities, confidentiality expectations, timekeeping processes, reporting procedures, dress codes, and any other ways of doing things at your organization.
Educate employees about what they can expect from the organization’s leadership. Executives, managers, and HR departments have obligations to their employees—both those they’ve established themselves and those required by law. A good handbook tells employees what those obligations are and how they will be met. If your employees are entitled to leaves or accommodations, for example, your handbook should explain these.
Support consistent enforcement of company policies. Employers expose themselves to risk when they interpret, apply, or enforce policies inconsistently. Transparency about policies and how they are enforced helps keep everyone accountable and the enforcement of rules consistent across the company.
Showcase the benefits the organization offers. Does your organization offer vacations, 401(k), health insurance, paid parental leave, or other employee benefits? If so, your handbook should outline these programs and their eligibility requirements.
Let employees know where to turn for help. Employees should feel safe turning to HR or a manager to report workplace violations, get workplace-related assistance, and get answers to any other questions they may have. The alternative is for them to turn to an outside third party, like the EEOC, the DOL, or an attorney, which could trigger a costly and time-consuming investigation. When a handbook provides multiple ways for an employee to lodge a complaint (ensuring they won’t have to report the problem to the person creating the problem), they are more likely to keep their complaints in-house.
If we held the key for resolving the seemingly endless workplace morale problems, we would never have to work another day. While boosting employee mindset and motivation is a fairly complex topic involving many factors and moving pieces, generally the best approach to the issue is to look at the factors that substantive data has shown most closely align with employee satisfaction. Multiple research ranks these criteria in a number of varying sequences; however, there is no question that the factors listed below greatly impact an employee’s overall satisfaction in the workplace:
In an ideal world, communication would be easy. We’d immediately know exactly what to say or write. Emails, Slack messages, and reply threads would practically write themselves. And there’d be no confusion about what anyone meant, ever
Of course, communication never works that way. We stare at the computer screen trying to decide how to begin an email. We misspeak or garble our words. We don’t always convey exactly what we intend. We misunderstand, overlook, or forget information we’ve been given. We also sometimes read emotions into words that weren’t what the writer was feeling. Or we pack our speech with such an emotional punch that it distracts from the point we’re trying to make.
The importance of documenting performance problems as they occur cannot be overstated. Although this requires meeting with the employee and discussing the issue, which will almost certainly be uncomfortable, it’s your best defense to a wrongful termination claim should the employee feel litigious after termination.
Too many employers rely on the concept of employment at-will to protect them, when the reach of this concept is actually quite limited. The problem is that if an employer has little to no documentation and relies on at-will employment—and the theory that legally no reason is required—the terminated employee, their attorney, and possibly a jury of their peers will fill the blank with an illegal reason. Although you may be within your rights to terminate “for no reason,” it’s a dangerous position to take.
The recipe for workplace conflict is decidedly simple: bring two or more people together and assign them a task. Unless the stars have aligned in your favor, there’s going to be some cause for disagreement between them, and if conflict ensues, their ability to cooperate will suffer.
Answer: We would certainly recommend not having an in-person event this year, which could put your company, employees, customers, and community at risk. If your event spreads the virus, your employees could become sick, much of your workforce may need to quarantine, and your event could make the news.
When completing performance reviews, psychologists and researchers alike agree that managers naturally exhibit bias in the ratings. To be fair and objective, a performance evaluation must be based on the employee’s job-related behavior, not on the employee’s personal traits, work situation, or other factors unrelated to employee performance. While subjectivity and partiality will never be completely removed from the process, it is important to keep some of our most common prejudices in mind when completing performance reviews.
How often do you say “thanks” to your team? Daily, occasionally, during an annual review?
Saying thanks and showing appreciation shouldn’t be limited to special occasions. Here are four ways to create a culture of appreciation in your workplace: