Tag: employee handbook

Why Employers Need a Social Media Policy

Internal company policies are designed to articulate rules where laws either do not exist or where laws are not specific enough.  Sexual harassment is a prime example of where laws lack specificity. To avoid litigation, an employer must “take reasonable care” to:  1) prevent sexual harassment, and 2) promptly correct sexual harassment that has occurred.  To “take reasonable care” is not specifically defined, but there are deliberate steps that employers can take to easily satisfy this requirement.  One of those is to have a policy communicated clearly to employees.

What about social media?  The legal system is still behind and very slow in catching up to address employee versus employer rights when it comes to Facebook, in particular.   A teacher’s aide in Michigan, who had posted a picture last year of a co-worker’s pants down around her ankles, has been suspended because she refused to give her Facebook password to her employer.  A teacher in Illinois was fired from her job for posting a comment on her Facebook page stating that she felt like she was teaching “the next generation of criminals”.  Where does the right to privacy and free speech begin and end?

Laws and courts have yet to decide.  However, there is movement.  For instance the Illinois House of Representatives recently passed a bill that prohibits employers from asking employees for their social media passwords (pending in the State Senate), and other states are following the lead.  Where does that leave employers?  Make your position clear with employees by publishing and clearly communicating a Social Media Policy.  Start by having a Policy that addresses the following 4 subjects:

1.     Confidentiality

  • Employees are not Company spokespeople.
  • Company information is the Company’s property.

2.     Company References

  • Employees are allowed to speak about the Company (1st Amendment).  But, employees should inform their manager in advance.
  • Company property (IP and otherwise) is the Company’s property.

3.     Competitive Activities

  • Employees cannot compete with the company.  And, this certainly means via personal websites even if the activity is “off-hours”.

4.     Privacy Rights

  • Employees are required to respect others.
  • Even if respectful, employees are required to identify themselves.

Until our legal system delineates right from wrong, help protect your business and your employees.  HRInsights recommends that you make your Social Media Policy clear.  Like other company policies, make certain to update it to reflect changes in regulations and laws, include it in your company’s employee handbook, and communicate it regularly.

 

HRInsights Weekly Lightbulb 12/5

This Week’s HRI “Lightbulb”  – Special Employee Treatment

Dilbert continues to provide fodder for the HR professional.  On Sunday, December 2nd, Dilbert highlights small differences in how employees may be unknowingly treated differently by management, at least from the perspective of other employees.  For example, take the carpooler who is excused early from the meeting by the CEO to catch his ride.  So, why do carpoolers get to leave early?  Not sure.  Why do smokers get all those free 5-minute breaks?  Why does it seem that Sara and Jerry are always lingering around the coffee pot rather than doing their jobs?  Bob is sure that Samantha always takes 35 minutes for her lunch break instead of 30.  Small differences in the enforcement of office rules can fester among employees and create hidden resentment.  Fair or not, we at HRInsights think that small business owners can better maintain a productive atmosphere when these “differences” are addressed openly.

Politics, Sexual Harassment & a $100,000 Reminder to Business Owners

Regardless of who said this, who said that, the truth, the history and the outcome of the Herman Cain scandal in the daily news!  Politics again brings up the very serious topic of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Does your company have a well-communicated process to handle sexual harassment complaints?  If not, your business is potentially facing a costly liability.  Take the case of …

Sheriff v. Midwest Health Partners, P.C., 8th Circuit Court No. 09-3367, August 30, 2010

An employer’s failure to keep a female employee apprised of its response to her complaints of sexual harassment, and its further failure to follow through on remedial actions could lead a reasonable jury to find that the employer did not take the complaints seriously. Such failures form the basis of a recent decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in which the Court denied an employer’s post-trial motion regarding a $100,000 jury verdict.

A Sexual Harassment  Policy should be stated clearly in company’s Employee Handbook.  And, there should be a signed document from each employee acknowledging that they have read AND understood the policy.  No excuses!

In the workplace, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual or sex-based conduct – such as unwanted touching, pressure for dates, or offensive remarks – that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment and interfere with the victim’s ability to perform her job.  Sexual harassment can also include conditioning an employment or educational opportunity on the victim’s submission to requests for sexual favors.”

Provide a work environment that fosters teamwork and where everyone can reach their full potential, and also be prepared to protect that environment!

Money Makers Through People Management

All good businesses seek ways to improve efficiencies and GREAT businesses seek efficiencies through effective people management.  Yes, you can be profitable and even “successful” without a true people-focus, but you will never realize the organization’s true full potential unless you effectively manage the people aspect of your business.   Being people-focused isn’t a feel-good, nice-to-have core value, but an actual business strategy that is well thought out, customized to fit your business and brings real value to your bottom-line AND top-line.  When you truly have the realization that people make a difference, you will invest significantly in your people just as you do for marketing, sales strategy and technology.  You must have consistent investment, policies, programs and process.

Every business should consider the HR basics below as they plan and prioritize their people initiatives.  Well planned and implemented HR practices, processes and programs will enable your organization to realize its full potential.

Top 10 Money Makers and Savers For Small Businesses Through People Management

1.  Standardize your hiring process.

2.  Implement a performance management system.

3.  Develop and distribute an employee handbook.

4.  Create an employee communications program.

5.  Reduce use of legal counsel for basic workplace questions and issues.

6.  Hire HR experts (consultants or employees) to design HR programs.

7.  Appropriately document programs, issues and actions

8.  Implement salary structures tied to job levels and performance.

10. Develop and document basic human resource policies and practices.

Have you reached your potential?