Tag: HR

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 10/26

This Week’s HRI “Lightbulb”  – Negative Feedback

I think all of us have found that most people aren’t used to receiving negative feedback about their job performance.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise when it comes as a surprise to your employees.  Do yourself a favor.  First ask their permission to give them honest feedback.  It helps reduce or eliminate the element of surprise.  And, finish off your feedback with a truthful note of optimism.

HRInsights’ Weekly Lightbulb 10/5


This Week’s HRI “Lightbulb”  – Brightening Your Workplace

The most under-rated and under-utilized management tool?  THE SMILE!  It shows your co-workers how you feel, how you feel about them, and it creates a positive atmosphere from the get-go.  You should even smile at your competitors!

Mobile Social Recruiting

The high volume demands of 2st century recruiting drive hiring professionals’ search for the next best thing for finding talent. Recruiters have always been quick on the uptake when it comes to new and innovative technology, especially if this technology makes it easier to stay connected. Lately, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding social recruiting and mobile recruiting – and many recruiters are blinldy jumping on the bandwagon. But what’s just buzz, and what will become a permanent part of every recruiter’s toolbox?

Mobile Recruiting, Mobile Recruiting & Social Recruiting

If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “moblie recruiting,” don’t feel bad. Though you’ve clearly been living a rock, I think it’s safe to assume you aren’t alone. So begore we answer my larger question, I think it would behoove us to establish exactly what we’re talking about.

When talking about mobile recruiting, there are two distinct things someone may be referring to. Mobile recruiting usually refers to tools and best practices for managing the recruiting process on the go. However, mobile recruiting can also refer to marketing and recruiting strategies that leverage SMS, QR code and mobile technology (a relatively new idea in the industry).

Social recruiting is the all-encompassing term for strategies leveraging social media outlets for sourcing and recruiting candidates. Some might argue that social recruiting is only reinventing the wheel – as hiring professionals have always drawn on their social networks – but this is something different. Social media is taking the wheel, and bringing it out of the Stone Age.

Mobile Recruiting: Apps and More

What started with the mobile phone has exploded into a new way of doing business. Mobile recruiting allows recruiters to do what they do best: stay connected. How? Apps. Recruiters love gadgets. And mobile apps are, like, so in right now. Beyond staples like LinkedInsmobileapp, there are a few recruiting apps that I really like.

  • JobScience puts the functionality of an applicant tracking system right into recruiters’ pockets. Access jobs, applications and contacts on the iPhone. Their nifty resume search completes this powerhouse package.
  • TrafficGeyser’s InstantCustomer is a handy gadget for business card and contact management. Snap a picture of the contact’s business card, and Instant Customer scans the contact info, creates a profile for the candidate, and allows you to send a pre-written follow-up.
  • Recruit2’s GlobalRecruitingRoundtable app gives users access to top industry news and trends, and allows them to plug in to a community of experts. The app also delivers some serious functionality (sharing capabilities, videos, full article library) while running on a straightforward interface.
  • JobSpeek wins the award for originality. This free app adds a new dimension to job postings: audio. When posting a job description, recruiters can record a “hiring message.” Your very original postings go live on JobSpeek, as well as the major job search engines. It’s just downright cool.

Mobile SMS and QR code recruiting is getting some serious attention in recent months. Many of the big-name innovators in talent acquisition are onthequest to get candidates using smartphones to connect with their organizations. However, recruiting leader and sourcing consultant GeoffPeterson says, “The technology’s not 100% there.” A lot of time and energy is going into developing this new avenue for recruiting, though, and I expect we’ll see more developments in the next year or so.

Social Recruiting: Plan for Your Slice of the Pie

Though recruiting has always been social, social media has opened an entirely new can of worms. And if you want a piece of the social recruiting pie, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • You need a strategy. You may have a Twitter account, but that doesn’t mean you have a social recruiting strategy.
  • Don’t bombard, engage. Anyone can post “an exciting opportunity” on LinkedIn. If that’s all your using your social media accounts for, however, you’re going to lose your audience fast.
  • Keep the social in social media. You can get all the Facebook fans and Twitter followers you want, but unless you’re engaging your network, they’re just numbers.

Do Social & Mobile Really Create an Improved Process?

Amidst all the social and mobile recruiting buzz, everyone is talking about an “improved process,” and gushing over the benefits of all of these great developments in recruiting technology. But this phrase strikes a chord with me. What, exactly, dictates “an improved hiring process?” Will all of these nifty apps and tools continue to drive the high-volume recruiting demands of the 21st century? Or will the automation of the more tedious processes give us the time to shift the focus back to what recruiting is all about (getting to know people)?

Based on your answer, you’ll be the one to decide what hip new trends are worth investing in.

About the Author: Kyle is the HR Analyst at Software Advice. He blogs about trends, technology and best practices in HR and recruiting by day, and drinks entirely too much wine by night.

New E-Verify Self-Check

On March 21, 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the launch of E-Verify Self Check, a direct extension of the E-Verify service which will allow individuals seeking employment access to their employment eligibility status.  The service will include detailed instructions in both Spanish and English for those individuals needing to correct their records.  Currently, the online program is being tested in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The service will allow prospective employees to ensure their work eligibility information is correct and they will no longer have to wait for employers to show them where the red flags are within this information.  This seems to be a step in the right direction for employment verification.  Though it does conjure up the issue that if put in the hands of employers who do not follow the letter of the law, this system backfires.  It has been brought up that some employers may require this E-Verify Self Check from candidates before submitting their job application, thus, swinging the duty of establishing eligibility to the candidate.  This is illegal and viewed as pre-screening.

As an employer, you may consider bringing in outside consulting to develop your best practices for dealing with E-Verify.  Also, in developing an outline for these practices, it will help define proper use of the E-Verify system and any oversight that you deem necessary.  According to the DHS, they expect the service to generate up to 1 million queries this year and over 8 million per year when the service is expanded to every state.

Avoidable FLSA Mistakes

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that oversees wage and hour issues like overtime and minimum wage requirements.  When many companies or small business owners see “FLSA”, they start shaking in their boots.  There are so many different complex provisions of the FLSA that make it quite a difficult act to manage.  So, let’s take a step back and look at some common mistakes and how you may be able to prevent these mistakes from happening in your organization.

-Since many state laws conflict with federal laws, it is sometimes difficult to determine which laws needs to be adhered do.  The advice of many HR professionals here would be to follow the law that is more generous to the employee.  Do some research and look at your state’s law before doing anything pay-related.

-One of the most important things your organization can do is keep diligent records.  This applies to HR basics in general and not just the FLSA.  For the FLSA, however, you must keep records pertaining to hours worked and wages earned for nonexempt employees for 3 years.  This is entails everything that you would think; from total overtime pay for the workweek/pay period to total hours for the day/week/pay period and everything in between.

-This one is easy: DO NOT PERMIT “OFF THE CLOCK” WORK.  Even if an employee works unauthorized overtime hours, they must be paid.  To discourage this, you can create a policy where overtime work is prohibited unless previously approved by a manager.

-Though it seems easy, exemptions need to be applied properly.  Definitions are acutely defined in the FLSA.  Executive, administrative and professional, outside sales personnel, and certain IT positions are exempt not because of their job titles, but because of their job duties and their day-to-day responsibilities.

-Another classification mistake is one where an individual is determined to be an independent contractor before examining the employment relationship first.  There are very specific requirements that must be met in order for an individual to be classified as an independent contractor. The IRS’s ‘Common Law Test’ examines who has control over how work is done, whether the individual has unreimbursed expenses or  realizes a profit or loss from the working relationship, and whether there are written contracts or employee-type benefits involved.  You can submit a Form SS-8 for determination of worker status.

These are all common mistakes and there are plenty more.  The key to staying within the boundaries of FLSA is to keep on top of your state and federal laws as well as having a diligent system implemented to keep track of hours worked and wages earned.

Civil Union Law Passed In Illinois

On January 31, 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn signed IL SB 1716, Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act, into law. The new law defines a civil union as a legal relationship between two persons of the same or opposite sex. Further, the law states that couples, under a civil union, are entitled to the same legal obligations, protections, and benefits afforded by Illinois law to spouses.  The law becomes effective on June 1, 2011.

What does this mean for Human Resources Management?  Will you have to change your health and benefit programs?  What about your employee handbook?  Don’t forget about the leave-of-absence policies where a ‘spouse’ needs definition.  Unless you are an experienced HR Professional, it may be a good idea to use an outside service to ensure that all of your policies are compliant and up to date with new laws.  In the mean time, let’s explore a little bit more into how this new Illinois law will affect business in it’s state and the six others that have passed similar laws.

The big point here is that the word ‘spouse’ now needs redefinition in many policies and handbooks.  Any condition that may extend to “family,” “immediate family,” “dependent,” “next of kin” and other terms that denote “spousal relationship” will need to be reviewed.  To determine whether or not your company is required to change their health/benefits plans, you need to see whether or not you are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (you may not be required to offer coverage for same-sex spouses/domestic partnerships if your benefits plan is subject to ERISA).

Because the law passed in Illinois gives same-sex marriages more power than does federal law, there is a unique conflict when you bring in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and the word “spouse” refers to “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”  However, to avoid the discrepancy of whether or not you are required to provide health insurance and benefits to the spouse of your employee engaged in a civil union, you may consider voluntarily  offering additional insurance and/or coverage.  This avoids any potential claims stemming from the conflict between the state and federal level.

Though it gets sticky when dealing with who is and who is not qualified to receive benefits and insurance, keep in mind that there are professionals who are here to help.  Also, try to step back from the inner-workings of the laws and consider what is fair.  If you do not want to deal with potential claims, again, consider voluntarily offering coverage/benefits to the spouse of your employee no matter what.

Are You Prepared for Sick Season?

Sneezing Man

It’s that time of year again…  It’s the time for sniffles, coughs, sore throats and headaches.  The cold and flu season is frustrating for employees and employers alike, but what happens in the event of a flu epidemic?  Are you prepared?

Here are some steps for creating a response plan:

  • Divide the company into divisions/departments
  • Have each department determine worst-case scenarios
  • Proceed with each department in establishing what is essential in keeping each department moving
    • Who is essential? Who does their work if they’re out sick? What needs to get done and what can slide?
  • Integrate each departments’ plan into one company-wide plan listing contact information for key members
  • Also, an appropriate activation/deactivation factor will need to be determined
  • This could range from public health officials administering an alert to employee absenteeism from flu exceeding a certain percentage
  • Develop materials signifying symptoms of the flu and be ready to distribute these materials when the response plan is activated
  • Develop an information platform (internet/hotline) for employees, customers, vendors, and suppliers to communicate the epidemic status in a timely fashion
  • Also, keep supplies in place to prevent or slow down an outbreak
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Workplace disinfectant wipes
    • Face Masks
    • Tissues
    • Receptacles for used supplies

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if an employee who is covered and eligible under the FMLA is needed to care for a spouse, daughter, son, or parent who has a serious health condition, the employee is entitled up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period.  Keep in mind, covered employers must comply with the federal or sate provision that provides the greater benefit to their employees.

So, as opposed to laying off employees in this situation, we would encourage you to consider other options, such as telecommuting, and to prepare a plan of action specific to your workplace.

Government Help? A Different Twist!

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationLet’s face it, few small business owners rarely smile when confronted with the acronym OSHA.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conjure up scary thoughts for owners thinking unnecessary regulations and oversight into our businesses.  Various state regulation agencies offer similar ill feelings.

But, any successful enterprise does want a safe and healthy work environment where employees flourish.  There is no debate that the merits of a hard working and dedicated staff outweigh the problems with an organization that is unhappy and working against your goals.

There are many free services and benefits that the government offers small business entrepreneurs to help with organizational effectiveness.

  • OSHA provides free on-site consultations to help small and medium sized businesses identify risks in their workplace and give advice on compliance to OSHA standards.  These consultations are not enforcement visits.  In fact, OSHA consultants will not issue citations or report potential violations to enforcement staff.  Learn more here.
  • If your organization operates within the health care or construction industries, OSHA has developed specific modules and guidance that apply to your workplace.  Visit the Compliance Assistance Quick Start for the construction industry and the health care industry.  OSHA also provides a general industry module, which can be found here.
  • OSHA also provides advice and guidelines for organizations working with Hispanic employees.  Here you can find dictionaries, training opportunities, key OSHA publications in Spanish, and Spanish speaking workplace-safety videos.

We just thought it might be a good idea for you to be aware of the potential valuable insights available to you from organizations such as OSHA.  Explore the OSHA small business page for more ideas that may be helpful to your organization.


Yes, I am talking about the coveted Golden Ticket from the Wonka Bar!  If you’ve seen the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, then you know that ticket gave a select few children the opportunity to visit the infamous Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.  They were very special guests of Mr. Wonka and received a tour of the eccentric Chocolate Factory.  Mr. Wonka had an ulterior motive for inviting the guests.  He was planning on selecting one of the children to be his successor to lead the business and run the chocolate factory into the future!  During the visit, Mr. Wonka treated the children as honored guests.  They were privy to see the inter-workings of the candy maker’s magnificent operations, taste test the goodies, ask questions about the business, and even see what the company was planning for the future.  These children were candidates going through an evaluation process.  As the story goes, Mr. Wonka had predetermined criteria which he is using to evaluate the candidates which included ethics, respect, selflessness and passion.

While Mr. Wonka’s interview process was unique and unprecedented, each of you have your own Chocolate Factory and Golden Tickets when you invite candidates to come in for an interview.  Determining who should get the ticket is just the very first step in the recruiting process.  The most important part of the process is when the candidate arrives at your office and how you treat them while they are at your company.

Similar to the Wonka experience, a solid recruiting process is based on some of the same principles:

  • When your guests (candidates) arrive, be ready for them and greet them as special, invited guests.
  • Determine what selection criteria are important to you and assure your interview is based on those criteria.
  • During the interview process if you discover someone is not a fit, treat them respectfully.
  • Share who you are what the company is about including products and guiding principles.
  • When you do decide on a candidate, have and share enthusiasm with the candidate.

Some other recruiting quick tips that don’t require significant investment other than thoughtfulness:

  • Tell the candidate when you are scheduling an interview how long you expect them to be at your office so they can make appropriate arrangements.
  • Thank them for taking time out of their day to come see you.
  • Coordinate interviews to assure candidates don’t see other candidates.
  • Communicate the next steps in the recruiting process and when they can expect to hear from you.  AND call them when you say you will…even if you haven’t made a final decision, you need to be courteous and let them know that.  It can be a simple call or email.

While the above items may not be a major revelation, they are often mistakenly overlooked.  Your company’s ability to execute these will distinguish you from your competition.  It doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time, work or money to execute these things well.  Identify someone in your organization to own, coordinate and focus on the candidate experience.  Additionally, assure everyone in the interview process understands the “special guest” approach.  Candidates will want to work for you because you are a great company, not just because you have a job opening.

Your golden tickets are special and so are the people who receive them.  This holds true for every position you are hiring.  EVERY candidate is important and EVERY candidate has contacts.