- Organizations like StartUp Grind continue the work they are doing to help educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs. Small business is the wave of the future, and there is so much knowledge out there that needs to be shared.
- Companies such as Shopify continue to give back to the community that helped make them successful. Continue to host events that connect all types of entrepreneurs and hey, keep serving food at them as well…nice touch!
- Small companies realize that there are resources out there specially designed for them, they are not limited to large scale solutions that they have to chop away at to fit their own unique needs. Examples of these resources are (of course, it is my blog after all) HR Matters, Scalability and Virtual assistant services.
- Just once, when I put in a Performance Management system, that the stars align and the timeline I put in place for my clients gets followed and the process is completed when I say it is going to be completed.
What does the year ahead look like? The Year of the Horse is upon us as of January 31, according to the Chinese horoscope which means it is a year for fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. Very exciting stuff! However, here are some of the things I am hoping for in the Year of the Horse, although all the talk of adventure, victories and romance is very titillating.
Christmas party season is approaching…
Oops, sorry maybe I should say Holiday party season is approaching, as we must be inclusive as HR types.
Love them or hate them, Christmas/Holiday parties are a fact of working life. I have been doing a bit of research into office parties of any description, trying to find the best or worst stories. A Google search provides some excellent reading, for example,
As a business owner, are you obligated to provide an occasion that could end up being written about in any number of blogs? I do believe we have moved away from the mandatory office Christmas party, much as many companies have moved away from the mandatory Christmas bonus, as per National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, where Clark receives a Jelly of the Month Club membership for his Christmas bonus.
My question to those individuals who will be hosting such a party…do you WANT to do this? As far as I know, a Christmas party has never been a bona fide obligation on the part of an employer. While I know of employees who complain about a lack of a party, no one has ever said in an exit interview that the reason they were leaving the company was because they were going to another organization that had rocking Christmas parties. I am not saying it has never happened, just that it has never happened to me.
If the owner/management really wants to host a party and will not resent the cost or the inevitable shows of inappropriate behavior, then go for it. Make it all inclusive, invite everyone who works at the company regardless of status (part time, consultant, temporary), make it voluntary, and do a check with the people who will be attending the party as to what sort of event THEY would like.
However, if the owner/management really does not want to host a party or will resent the cost or use the inappropriate behavior to justify some future discipline down the road, then resist the temptation to have a party. There are plenty of other occasions throughout the year to show your appreciation to your employees, and forced socializing does not need to be part of that
I am going to be lazy about my blog this time around and just suggest that you go and read this fascinating article, Here is Why You Should Get Drunk at Work, at Payscale.
I am taking that research to heart, going off to down a couple of pints and THEN writing my next blog...stay tuned.
There has been quite a bit of talk locally about tattoos and whether or not organizations have the right to ask employers to cover up their body art. In the past year, both the Ottawa Hospital and the Ottawa Police Force have made the news for trying to enforce a Tattoo Policy.
I am not sure which side of the fence I come down on this one...on the one hand, as a "collector" of tasteful and non visible (unless I want you to do see them) tattoos...I believe tattoos are a beautiful expression of personality. On the other hand, I see pictures such as the one below, and I immediately turn into the unhip mother that I am sometimes accused of being by certain teenagers who reside with me.
Where does a company draw the line? Presumably it depends on the organization...what goes in a creative mobile app shop may be completely unacceptable in a health care organization. I must say that if I were a patient at the Ottawa Hospital and the man above came in to take blood, I would undoubtedly have a negative reaction. However, let's face (Ha...pun intended) it, that is the extreme and having lived in Ottawa for many years, I have not seen anything even remotely close to this. And I certainly have never seen anyone on the police force sporting such a look.
It goes back to using common sense. If there is a dress code that prohibits vulgarity or offensive messaging on clothing, then it goes without saying that offensive tattoos should also be prohibit. But not all tattoos are offensive, and some of the sweeping policies that ban all tattoos are outdated and narrow-minded. I like the reasoning and wording of the Ontario arbitrator who struck down the Ottawa Hospital's policy to cover tattoos - he declared that tattoos were not just for “sailors, stevedores and strippers” any more. Exactly!
Dharmesh Shah is rapidly becoming one of my favourite people to keep an eye on. For those who do not know of this man, he is the co founder of HubSpot. HubSpot is known for being forward thinking in their approach to company culture and treating employees as professionals. For example, HubSpot has an unlimited vacation policy, and it has been widely debated as to whether this is a good idea or not.
Dharmesh Shah recently took to defending this policy (or non policy as there is very little to it, employees take vacation when it makes sense to do so) in the New York Times. His basic argument was we all have better things to do than monitor vacation or worry about how to balance work and family so just let people just take vacation when it makes sense.
Now, of course, this assumes people have common sense and as I get older and more cynical, I am beginning to think that common sense is not something all that common. Regardless of my opinion on the state of the world today, I think this non policy is brilliant. It requires managers and employees to work together to establish the best way to manage time. Granted this type of approach is a luxury that many companies cannot use due to corporate culture, union membership, and/or grandfathered attitudes regarding time off.
I love the idea of starting a company and putting in place a team that I know and trust will do what is required of them in order to make the company successful. Imagine being able to treat your employees as responsible adults who are fully capable of managing their time appropriately…they know what needs to be done in their professional capacities and they know what needs to be done in their roles as individuals outside the workplace. Then, they just go and do what needs to be done! It seems so simple, and I think it can be if you are starting from scratch. Changing existing mindsets around such things is a lot harder. That is not to say it cannot be done but that would be a very long involved discussion, more suited to a case study than a blog. In the meantime, I will keep following Mr. Shah and defending his right to do what he knows is best for his company and his employees.
I am the first to admit that working with third party recruiters/headhunters can be difficult, and many of us have simply stopped answering our phones so that we do not have to deal with yet another phone call telling us that there is the PERFECT candidate just waiting to talk to us. My experience with third party recruiters has been a mixed bag, and at this point I will provide full disclosure and own up that I am a business partner of Marler and Associates. However, this is not a paid advertisement for Marler and Associates, or any other third party recruiting solution, it is a general commentary on how to make the most of your recruiting relationship.
Recruiting is my second least favourite part of HR – terminations being the least favourite, in case you were wondering. When it is working and candidates are clicking with the hiring party, it is awesome but this does not happen without a lot of leg work (and luck). Leg work I would rather not do and the hiring managers I am working with certainly do not have the capability or time to be doing. Having someone reliable and who truly understands my hiring needs and challenges is invaluable.
I am not suggesting you start picking up the phone and talking to each and every one of those recruiters that are simply speed dialing you without knowing a thing about your organization, but I am suggesting you start talking to other people in your industry, find out who they are using to help them recruit. Get an introduction and have the recruiter in for further discussion. This will be no different than any other interview you have conducted throughout your career. You are looking for an addition to your strategic team, so treat the meeting as such. Educate the recruiter about your needs, the challenges, the joys etc, and let them sell you on how they will assist you. You are not looking for a quick fix here; you are looking for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. Your recruiter can be part of your strategic team, but they need to truly understand the hiring needs and the culture of the organization.
A good recruiter understands that exclusive relationships seldom work, and the truly excellent ones will welcome the competition because they know that their candidates are better, and are happy to put that to the test. Recruiters should be doing the legwork for you, you should not be seeing resumes until the recruiter has ensured that the candidate has met all the qualifications, is comfortable with the compensation, ready to make a change for the right opportunity AND fits with the culture. Recruiters who have not made an effort to gain organizational knowledge simply cannot do this for you.
Way back in 2006, a pulp and paper mill in New Brunswick put in a policy that required random alcohol tests for any employees in safety critical positions. About 10% of the workforce would get tested per year. The union took exception to this policy, arguing it was a violation of the employees’ privacy and a threat to their dignity. There were various rulings and appeals that took the case to the Supreme Court, and yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that yes, it was a violation of privacy rights.
This is an interesting and complex case for a number of reasons. Those of us on the liability side of things, i.e., those of us who lie awake at night worrying about protecting our clients or our organizations may view this ruling with a queasy stomach. Those of us who believe that our rights as Canadians need to be protected will likely view this ruling as a triumph. Initially, I was horrified at this ruling, but I had only briefly read that the ruling had occurred, it was on a Friday, I just wanted out of the office. I was horrified, and concerned because such policies are in place to protect workers, not to act as Big Brother. Clearly, workers in positions that requires diligence to ensure other workers’ safety should not be drunk or otherwise under the influence. Why would anyone object to alcohol testing in such cases? The key here is that this was random testing; testing that would occur regardless of whether there was any cause for concern. Once I properly read the ruling, I settled down...slightly...
Certainly, this puts the onus on the employer to have stronger policies and a clear procedure for dealing with these sorts of issues. This ruling does not prohibit testing; in fact, it does not even prohibit random
testing as long as the employer can show that there is a just cause for concern.
However, if there is just cause for concern, and employees are at risk from a safety perspective, an employer needs to deal with it. Immediately. Employers do not have the option of analyzing whether or not there is just cause for concern and to worry about violating someone’s privacy. Here is a scenario to consider… an employee shows up drunk one day, the employer deals with it but as it is only one case, there
is not sufficient cause for concern, in the eyes of the law, so no further action is taken. Months or even years go by, and an accident occurs. The employee who has had a history of showing up drunk for work (even though it was only once) is responsible and was under the influence at the time of the accident. Another employee is injured or killed. Now, imagine being the employer trying to explain to the family of the injured or killed employee…yeah, there had been an incident but it was only once, we cannot do random testing, it is a violation of privacy, gee sorry about your loss. Of course this is a radical example, but bottom line, I value life and intact limbs over privacy.
Such as this one…Sex at work AOK with Employees. I admit that it is a guilty pleasure of mine to read such titillating articles, such things are the equivalent of Cosmopolitan for us HR folks. It is a great disappointment to me that in all my years in HR I have never had to deal with an affair amongst coworkers. I have been aware of affairs but they were quite boring and the people involved provided absolutely no entertainment or drama whatsoever. It has been a let down.
I have never seen fit to incorporate a policy regarding office romance; it could be because I do not feel organizations have any business messing around in the personal lives of employees. It is entirely
possible that the majority of people involved in romances in the office are mature enough to handle a relationship without HR getting involved. And who made HR the final word on relationships and emotional entanglements anyway?
Having a policy prohibiting intimate relationships between employees certainly sends a message that there is no point in flirting, or hitting on an employee. This may help decrease the incidence of sexual harassment but in my experience the type of people who engage in sexual harassment (which is in EVERY policy manual that has ever been written in any company, maybe in the whole wide world) are hardly thwarted by a policy.
Let's face it, employees spend a lot of time together, often in stressful circumstances. Relationships are created, how many of us met some of our closest friends through work (Hi MED, right back at you TB, thanks for the chat today KD)? Relationships amongst humans are natural, normal and really should not be legislated by policies. I may be an optimist at heart but I do think the majority of individuals involved in office romances handle it with discretion and maturity. It would be a shame to start managing by exception.
And based on that article, most of you agree.
I just read the following article, “Half Your Staff Have Pulled a Sickie” It claims that a recent survey indicated that 54% of employees had called in sick when they were not actually sick. I was shocked, I tell you…absolutely and utterly gobsmacked by this. 54%??? ONLY 54%? Someone, or lots of someones, is lying here…I would have put this figure up around 90%. I do not believe that this is due to my cynicism with respect to the human race but based on experience and my own method of gathering intel.
While I cannot guarantee that this is the case, based on my own informal surveys, every single mother I know has taken a sick day when one of the kids was sick. 100% of my informal survey participants admit to taking a sick day when they were not actually sick. So maybe 46% of the people surveyed in the article referenced were not mothers, this is possible.
However, how about the concept of defining what constitutes being “sick”, and what justifies calling in sick. I will generally go to work with a cold, I have been known to go to work with a fever…don’t judge, I warn people and keep the Lysol handy. There are others in my immediate family who will sneeze in the morning and immediately seize upon that opportunity to call in sick. Not pointing fingers, and not passing judgment but this video says it all.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Being an employer can seem like a no win situation at times.
An article on hrmonline.ca talks about the risk of giving references: Reference risk: could ex-employees sue? It seems that in the UK, ex employees have successfully sued their former employers for giving bad references. It has not happened yet in Canada, but it could happen.
If you give a bad, yet truthful reference, the ex employee may come after you due to the fact you have impacted his/her livelihood, claiming libel. If you give a decent, yet untruthful reference, your company may be liable for damages resulting from hiring that employee.
There does seem to be an understanding amongst HR types that if someone will only confirm dates of employment and job title, this is code for "I would love to say more but it is all negative so let's move along". I would be lying if I said I have never resorted to this. Other options are to employ CourtRoom Rules. Only answer the question you have been asked. It is a sad fact that reference checking is not taken as seriously as it should and often the person checking the references has not even met the candidate. They are simply going down the list of questions that they have been provided. If this is the case, then just answering the questions is a pretty good way to remain neutral without getting into hot water.
For more information about the author, go to About Carolyn, and read more about me and about my philosophy, or don't and just read my musings...they may provide all you want to know about me.