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STAFF MANAGEMENT

Try skip-level meetings to get straight answers

By Lynne Curry bio Question: The three of us run a mid-sized practice. Despite the pandemic, we’re doing well. We’re hiring, in part because we’re growing, and in part because we’ve had resignations. We don’t understand why so many employees have resigned since mid-October. We have a bright future, but sense we have a problem. As we don’t know what it is, we can’t fix it. It’s not that our employees are choosing unemployment; they’re leaving for jobs in other practices. We’ve tried to exit interview the employees who’ve quit, but only reached two of them. Both said negative things, but when we brought what they’d said up with their former managers, the managers convinced us we’d talked to disgruntled employees whom they’d disciplined for performance problems. We’ve tried an… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

What I really wanted for Christmas

By Lynne Curry bio “What I really wanted for Christmas,” the woman said, “Wasn’t a turkey or a ham. It’s communication. The management around here keeps us in the dark, but then expects us to carry out their last minute orders without knowing the full story.” Have you thought about how you could have wished your employees happy holidays this year? Did you throw them an end-of-the-year party, hand out bonus checks or give them well-chosen presents? Or did you give them gifts that last longer—more of what they wanted in their jobs? Communication When changes loom, senior management often calls mid-level managers into closed door meetings and gives them information about what’s coming so they’ll know what to expect. The mid-levels then return their desks or stations and get right… . . . read more

HUMAN RESOURCES

5 people problems and how to solve them

By Lynne Curry bio We can’t guess all the challenges facing us as office managers in this new year, but we can assume that we will be dealing with an old one: people and their personalities. Whether working together virtually or in-person, chances are good you will be dealing with people problems. Here are five common problems and strategies for dealing with them. Stopping a bully senior manager without losing your job Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no easy solution. As the office manager and human resources director, I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Professionals working remotely clock long and weekend hours

A new study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows employees are working around the clock while at home. More than half (55 per cent) of professionals who transitioned to a remote setup as a result of the pandemic said they work on the weekend. In addition, one-third (34 per cent) of remote employees reported regularly putting in more than eight hours a day. “Despite the significant benefits of working remotely, such as saving time spent commuting and increased flexibility, it can also lead to putting in longer hours,” said David King, senior district president of Robert Half. “Heavier workloads have become a reality for many professionals during the pandemic, making it more challenging to disconnect while at home. It is critical that employers encourage their teams to take regular… . . . read more

COVID-19

Our employees may stage a Thanksgiving rebellion

By Lynne Curry bio Question: I overheard a breakroom conversation last week and learned several employees were planning to get together with extended families for Thanksgiving. One employee was letting another know that if she didn’t “have any place to go,” she could join their family gathering. I honestly couldn’t believe this given the uptick in COVID-19 in our community, so I decided to call an all-hands meeting. I held the meeting in the downstairs lobby so we could physically distance. I started with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance that we celebrate virtually or within our household. I added that the CDC specifically says those who don’t currently live in our household, even if family members, need to be viewed as members of different households. I reminded everyone… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Can we use a contact tracing app to protect our business and employees?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: Every morning we conduct wellness checks on our employees as they arrive at work, but worry that some employees don’t monitor physical distancing when not at work. We’re barely hanging on as a practice, but all it would take is one employee getting COVID and infecting our other employees to shut us down. We have heard apps can provide real-time contact tracing and wonder if we can require our employees to wear them even when not at work? Answer: Potentially. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers must act to reduce and manage COVID-19-related hazards in the workplace. Employers can view video surveillance that shows when employees clock in and out and reveal an employee’s interactions while at work. Employers can provide employees… . . . read more

TOOL

Model Substance Abuse and Fitness for Duty Policy

Workplace substance abuse remains a major challenge for law offices. Although sound in principle, the traditional zero tolerance policy is ill-suited to the legal complexities of the modern world. This is especially true in states that have legalized marijuana. You can still take a clear and firm line on employee drug and alcohol abuse for the purpose of health and safety. But the policy also has to exhibit finesse and sensitivity to legal subtleties. One of the best ways to create an enforceable policy is to base it not on the legality of substance abuse but the undisputable fact that it renders employees unfit for duty to the detriment of safety. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

COMPLIANCE

How to Create a Legally Sound Substance Abuse Policy

Make it all about fitness for duty, rather than zero tolerance Although it may sound good, zero tolerance may not be the best foundation on which to build a legally enforceable workplace substance abuse policy. This is especially true in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The reason drug and alcohol use and impairment in the workplace cannot be tolerated isn’t so much that it’s illegal, but because it renders employees unfit to do their job. In addition to undermining the productivity you’re entitled to expect from your employees, this unfitness for duty may pose a health and safety dangers to not only the employee who’s high but others in the office. Here are 14 things to include in your Substance Abuse and Fitness for Duty Policy, along with a… . . . read more

Quiz

Office’s duty to protect returning employees from COVID-19 discrimination and harassment

SITUATION Fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Max is thrilled and excited to return to his custodian job after 14 days of mandatory home isolation. But almost immediately, he senses that something is wrong. His co-workers shun him and leave the room the moment he enters. And, while hygiene and handwashing are de rigueur for all maintenance staff, Max alone is required douse his hands in germicide and don rubber gloves each time he touches a piece of equipment. Worse, his supervisor harasses him and calls him “virus boy.” After weeks of putting up with it, Max complains to office management. But his complaints fall on deaf ears and he continues to be ostracized and made to take extraordinary safety and hygiene measures not required of anybody else. So,… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

New COVID-19 guidance for you from EEOC

By Mike O’Brien bio The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its COVID-19 guidance page, addressing a number of issues. Here are some of them: On coronavirus testing, the EEOC said general testing administered by employers consistent with current CDC guidance will meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard, and noted that employers should ensure that the required COVID-19 tests are accurate and reliable according to the FDA, CDC, and other public health authorities. If an employer wants to test only one employee, however, the employer should have a reasonable objective belief that he/she might have the disease. The EEOC says an employer can ask employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who may have symptoms associated with the disease, but should not phrase that… . . . read more


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