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November 30, 2009

Short takes from the blogs & beyond: bad work attire, holiday tips, restaurants behaving badly & more

Joseph Grenny of Crucial Skills teams up with his HR Manager to offer tips for handling a prickly issue: Addressing Inappropriate Work Attire

If your budget is tight this year - and whose isn't? - it may threaten to tank any holiday celebrations. Roy Sanderson of MANAGEsmarter offers 10 ideas for saving the holiday party.

Fionna Gathwright of Corporate Wellness Insights suggests tips of staying healthy during the holidays. Also see holiday health tips from The Monster Blog.

Workforce reports on two recent surveys that track employee discontent. The upshot? People are expressing frustration. In a a survey of 904 workers in North America by advisory firm Right Management, 60% of those surveyed said they intend to leave their firms as the economy improves. In a survey of 1,627 employed executives by consulting firm Finnegan Mackenzie and business network ExecuNet, more than 50% said they are looking for a new job.

Susan M. Heathfield of About.com: Human Resource explores what causes employee negativity. She also offers links to posts on tips and cures for negativity. Go weigh in with your opinion of what causes negativity in her reader poll.

HR Daily Advisor offers the reminder that how you treat employees in their time of greatest personal need can have an impact on their overall attitude to their employment: Bereavement Leave Can Make or Break Employee Loyalty

Mark Toth of Manpower Employment Blog tell us that ICE recently announced it is targeting 1,000 employers to audit hiring records for compliance with employment eligibility requirements. He offers employer tips and links to resources to ensure compliance.

From violating fair wage and labor laws to sending threatening, obscenity-laden e-mails to the workforce, it seems like the NYC eateries could use some refreshers in basic HR. In our bad-employers-of-the-week category, see this Village Voice article on When restaurants behave badly (Note: objectionable language alert for this article).

November 27, 2009

Three from Jack Canfield: Planning your day; heart talks; getting over a bad situation

Three short video clips from Jack Canfield, best-selling author of Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.

November 11, 2009

Hiring Veterans - Resources for Employers and HR Managers

Hire Vets First - this Department of Labor site offers resources for recruiters and employers to match employment opportunities with veterans.

Veterans' Employment and Training Service - the U.S. Department of Labor offers veterans and transitioning service members with the resources and services designed to maximize employment opportunities, protect employment rights and meet labor-market demands with qualified veterans.

American Corporate Partners - a nationwide mentoring program helping veterans transition from the armed services to private enterprise through counseling and networking with volunteers from some of America's largest corporations.

American Heroes at Work - a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) project that addresses the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

National Center for PTSD - this site from the Division of Veteran Affairs aims to help U.S. Veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD.

Workplace Warriors - the Corporate Response to Deployment and Reintegration - (PDF) - The Disability Management Employer Coalition and several large insurers teamed up with military and veteran advisers to examine the challenges and opportunities facing returning veterans and to identify employer-based resources and strategies to help ease the transition.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act - a federal law intended to ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other "uniformed services": (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service.

Safeguarding the rights of servicemembers and veterans - from the U.S. Department of Justice

Give An Hour - nonprofit organization that provides free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and families affected by current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also,a national network where providers can volunteer their services.

Disabled American Veterans - Congressionally chartered as the official voice of the nation’s wartime disabled veterans, for nearly nine decades this 1.2 million-member nonprofit has been dedicated to building better lives for America’s disabled veterans and their families.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs - Veterans Services - Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the VA. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions, and certain benefits require service during wartime.

Department of Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program - Information for Employers - Employers hiring disabled veterans may qualify for benefits and incentives through the VR & E programs or other Federal Resources.

Insurance issues for U.S. military service members & their families - A blog posting that offers links to insurance resources and related consumer protection resources for service members.

November 9, 2009

When your employees trash your organization online

Has this ever happened to you? You Google your company by name and right on the first page of results, there is a negative blog posting about your company authored by one of your employees. Or you find some inappropriate information about your company shared by one of your employees on Twitter or Facebook. Yikes, do you have any recourse?

Employment law attorney Keisha-Ann G. Gray has an excellent column in Human Resource Executive that tackles the issue of options available to employers when employees criticize the company online via a blog or other social networking site. While an employer's first inclination might be to react punitively, Gray advises employers to look before they leap because there are a number of state and federal laws that might protect the employee from any adverse action depending on where, when, and how the comments were made.

To prevent problems from occurring, Gray suggests that conscientious employers should have a social networking policy in place, and that such a policy may also serve as a defense against any potential wrongful discharge claims should action be taken against employees who violate the policy:

"Employers should take preventative steps by devising comprehensive, legally compliant policies that place employees on notice of what work-related matters are inappropriate to blog about (no trade secrets, defamatory/harassing comments regarding co-workers, etc.), and that blogging should not be done through company property or on company time."
She presents a list of guidelines for what should be covered and she also includes a helpful sample social-networking/blogging policy.

In addition to establishing an employee policy, there are other steps employers can take to protect their online reputation.

**Sign up for Google alerts to find out what's being said about you online. There are a variety of other reputation management monitoring tools that you can use to keep up on what's being said about your company online.

**Maintain a positive online presence for your company. Consider a blog and establishing a presence on popular social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Update sites frequently with positive information about what your company is doing. (Here's a great example of an organization that has an employee-written blog: The Ambassablog).

**Keep internal lines of communication open. Ensure that you have a way for complaints to be heard and grievances addressed. Encourage managers and supervisors to take internal complaints seriously.

**Don't sweat the small stuff. There are a plethora of anonymous complaint boards and forums that allow the public to weigh in anonymously on various industry sectors and businesses. Focus on issuing your own positive, open communications rather than chasing around to put out small fires on low-traction blogs and forums. But for a serious breach by employees, act swiftly and get advice from your legal team. Case in point - this recent damage control tale from Domino's Pizza.

November 1, 2009

Distracted driving & employer policies

Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll support the prohibition of texting while driving (TWD), with 50 percent stating that punishment for TWD should be as severe as for drunken driving. The poll also revealed widespread support - 80 percent - for banning use of hand-held cell phones while driving. This is up from from 69 percent in a 2001 poll. However, seventy percent thought that the use a hands-free phone while driving is not a problem, a view unchanged from a 2001 poll.

The use of hands-free devices while driving may not be as free from risk as people think. Recent research points to the fact that even hands-free devices pose a dangerous distraction. A Carnegie Mellon study show that just listening to cell phones can impair drivers by reducing the amount of brain activity associated with driving by as much as by 37 percent. "Subjects who were listening committed more lane maintenance errors, such as hitting a simulated guardrail, and deviating from the middle of the lane. Both kinds of influences decrease the brain's capacity to drive well, and that decrease can be costly when the margin for error is small."

Employer policies
In the interest of both employee safety and for protection against liability, employers should have policies covering cell phone usage and texting while driving on company time. A new survey of more than 2,000 employers conducted by the National Safety Council found that 58 percent had some type of cell phone usage policy in place, and roughly one-quarter of those surveyed prohibit both hand-held and hands-free devices while driving for some or all employees.

A potential decrease in productivity was one barrier cited by employers that did not yet have any cell phone usage policies in place. Yet only 1 percent of the employers that prohibit hand-held and hands-free devices reported a decrease in productivity. A second barrier cited was concern that employees would not accept a ban, but NSC cites a 2008 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey that found that 83% of drivers rated drivers using cell phones as a serious to extremely serious threat to safety.

Cell Phone Driving Laws by state - this chart is maintained by the Governor's Highway Safety Association, and includes laws related to cellphones and texting.

Texting while driving simulator - have your employees play this game to see how they fare.

The National Safety Council offers a free Cell Phone Policy Kit for employers.According to NSC, the kit includes:

  • ready-to-use sample policies
  • a presentation and written executive summary for senior management
  • a variety of policy roll-out communications for employees, including presentation talking points, posters, voice mail greetings, FAQs, and newsletter articles
  • a 1-hour course with instructor and participant guides and PowerPoint presentation

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