COVID-19 & HR: Preparing For a Potential Pandemic


In the past several weeks the coronavirus COVID-19 has experienced exponential growth, and not only in Wuhan, China, where it is thought to have originated. Cases have been identified in at least 52 countries internationally, including 59 in the United States. And, in mid-February 2020, one Harvard professor, Marc Lipsitch, of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The Wall Street Journal that he predicts that in the event of a pandemic, “40–70% of people worldwide are likely to be infected in the coming year,” admitting that not all carriers may be symptomatic.

As of 28 February, the WHO reports that more than 83,647 cases have been identified, and more than 2,858 deaths have occurred.  The JAMA Network is currently reporting a 2.3% death rate based on survivability of victims.

First and foremost, we need to take steps to protect not just the safety of our employees, clients, and customers but their families as well.

COVID-19 Symptoms & Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), patients with confirmed novel coronavirus infections (2019-nCoV) are reported to experience mild to severe respiratory illness, with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure, based upon the estimated incubation period of MERS viruses. However, Reuters indicates that the Chinese Provincial Government now reports that the COVID-19 incubation period could range as long as 27 days. As individuals not exhibiting symptoms can still be carrying it, precaution is certainly in order.

Prevention & Education

Promoting a clean environment and advocating for employee wellness is imperative, as prevention is key to stopping the spread. Employees need to be reminded to wash their hands—and wash them well—and to sanitize often. Provide them good guidance on healthy workplace habits.

It may sound like basic common sense, but many people are not alert to simple hygiene practices, such as covering their nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing and using a hand sanitizer afterward, to prevent the spread of germs. Help employees access the important steps necessary, such as the CDC’s guide to flu prevention. Even discouraging the practice of shaking hands can help. (It has been reported that Japan’s risk of spreading the disease is lower because of their cultural practice of bowing instead of hand-shaking.)

Data shows that people who are healthy and active have a much greater chance of survival, if infected. This is a call to people to start or continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle as it relates to nutrition and cardiovascular exercise.

 Employee Relations

Brush up on your current absenteeism policies concerning both exempt and non-exempt employees. What do your policies require you, as an employer, to do regarding time off? Go further and investigate your local, state and federal compliance regulations as well. Are you large enough to have to comply with FMLA?

Be prepared to answer questions from people who could be quarantined or prevented medically from returning to work. This is where it gets problematic. Will they be paid? Unpaid? Eligible for PTO or sick time compensation? Naturally, this depends on your organization, its policies, and the rules that govern your local, state and federal employment. Now is the time to prepare, to get ahead of these questions, instead of waiting to react when under the pressure of a potential pandemic.

Employees Returning from Highly Infected Areas

What should you do if you suspect an employee  or a member of their family has traveled to where the coronavirus is prevalent? We recommend that you have the employee check in with a physician prior to returning to work and provide you with a return-to-work statement, clearing them to return to full duty. The last thing you want is someone to enter the workplace who has been exposed and could potentially spread the virus to your other employees. This will mitigate concerns expressed by other employees and help stave off any rumors or innuendo.

In Closing

The sudden speed and geographic spread of this virus has caught the world off-guard. As HR professionals, these are the times when gaps in our policies and procedures become evident. The idea is to prepare as much as possible rather than reacting under pressure.

We opened this posting by reminding you to not panic, and we would like to close with that reminder. If you feel you or your leadership team is not equipped to face this current crisis, don’t wait—contact us today. We are here to support you.

Taking Care of Your Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis In HIS Name HR LLC

Webinar: Taking Care of Your Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis


During this crisis, one of the greatest at-risk groups at every Christian higher education institution is your greatest intangible asset—your employees, the faculty and staff who so faithfully serve your students.

Balancing fiduciary responsibility while caring for your employees is a serious challenge at most of our Christian higher education institutions. Gain key HR insights from the CEO of In His Name HR, Mark Griffin, on options for employee pay and relationships as you financially navigate these uncharted waters.

We will cover the following 5 crucial points:

  1. Reduction in force – What is the difference between furlough, layoff, and reduction in force? How do you approach changes with grace, respect, and dignity?
  2. Communication keys – Over-communicate with employees with transparency, addressing emotional concerns, decisions, and forecasts.
  3. Employee focus – Ensure all of your job descriptions are updated and understood, especially as duties shift.
  4. Organizational design – Update your organizational chart with current reality and future options.
  5. Vision and value driven – Energize employees in the importance of your mission, vision, and values

These and other issues will be addressed in this important 1-hour webinar by a keen partner and consistent High-Performance Human Resources blogger with ABHE, Mark Griffin. If you’re dealing with employee relationships during this crisis, I hope you’ll join us for his invaluable counsel.

 

Mark A Griffin

Our featured speaker will be: Mark A. Griffin, MBA
President and Founder In HIS Name HR LLC

 

Thursday, April 30, 2020
2:00 – 3:00 pm ET

Register here Button For In HIS Name HR LLC Events

HR Trends 2020

Upcoming 2020 HR Trends for Christians in the Workplace


Whether you are in the C suite at a large organization or working at a nonprofit, a college, ministry, or church, one of your most critical tasks is to ensure that your colleagues work in a safe, comfortable environment. Surveys consistently show that workplace culture is directly correlated to organizational success. Because of this, you must pay close attention to how your employees feel, and whether they are positioned to do their best work at your organization.

Therefore, as we enter a new decade, it is worth taking the time to explore some of the most important HR trends for Christians in the workplace. Even if you do not interact with HR on a day-to-day basis, understanding these trends can go a long way toward creating a terrific workplace experience for all of your colleagues.

Upcoming HR Trends for Christians in the Workplace

One upcoming HR trend for Christian ethics in the workplace centers on the rise of soft skills. Much of the media discussion regarding the war on talent focuses on the technical skills necessary for a particular role. And, clearly, your HR department and hiring managers need to ensure that your team members can successfully do their work. That being said, some of the largest skill gaps are behavioral, rather than technical. Soft skills like emotional intelligence and creative problem-solving are extremely valuable, regardless of your type of business or the services you offer.

Embracing Christian ethics in the workplace gives you and your organization a distinct advantage. The Christian faith naturally calls for followers to work on their emotional intelligence skills, for us to recognize that everyone around us has their own desires, dreams, and needs. Christians in the workplace stay true to a set of principles and values, and apply them to their colleagues.

Ultimately, it is difficult to hire for “soft skills.” They are difficult to identify on a résumé/CV. That said, having already incorporated Christian ethics in the workplace, you should leverage the emotional intelligence and other soft skills of your team. Even though technology has changed the world as we know it, these soft skills can help set your organization apart from its competitors. Make sure you take advantage of them in 2020.

From the rise of soft skills, 2020 will be the year of diversity of location and schedule. More of your current and new employees will be looking for flexible working schedules, whether that means having the option to work remotely several days per month or something else. Flexible working schedules can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they increase employee morale. Some studies also show that flexible working schedules result in increased productivity. On the other hand, flexible working schedules require a significant amount of trust in your workforce. It may also be logistically difficult, depending on your particular organization.

While you and your colleagues must make the final call, Christian ethics in the workplace may tip the scales in favor ofallowing for flexible working schedules. Your colleagues, in all likelihood, will not abuse this freedom and be intent on doing the best possible work they can outside the office. Once again, it is a judgment call, but this is a fact that you may want to consider.

Finally, a key trend in HR for 2020 will be the rise of mental health services to employer benefits. While it may have been overlooked in past years, employers are increasingly looking for enhanced mental health options for their employees. The modern-day workplace is stressful. Clients can be demanding. Not only that, but employees may be dealing with other stresses in their non-work lives.

Whether or not your company adopts Christian ethics in the workplace, allocating part of your budget to mental health care for your employees can go a long way. Not only can it make your colleagues happier, but it can increase productivity within your company.

Spiritual Health

As Christians, we believe that the most important aspect of our health is spiritual health. The best benefit you can offer employees is access to a chaplain. Corporate Chaplains of America, a workplace chaplain network, provides employees with 24/7 access to the largest nationwide network of full-time workplace chaplains. These chaplains are professionally trained and prepared to care for people in crisis. Chaplains can help in circumstances where you, as an employer, cannot. Chaplains assist employees with hospital care, family and marriage care, substance abuse, stress management, and interpersonal conflicts. They are a great benefit and we have personally witnessed the impact they can make on morale and the eternal security of your employees.

Preparing for the New Decade

These near-term trends for Christians in the workplace are important to monitor. By taking advantage of these trends, you can help create and maintain a wonderfully positive and supportive workplace culture at your organization.

Therefore, as the new decade looms, keep these HR trends in mind. Gather your team to determine how you can leverage any or all of the trends mentioned above. By doing so, you can help ensure your organization starts off on a strong foot in 2020.

In HIS Name HR provides results-oriented human resource outsourcing services, professional recruiting services, and leadership development utilizing behavioral and talent assessment tools, as well as solutions to reduce HR costs and create more successful, productive employees. We help you develop a high-performance organization.

 Contact Us In HIS Name HR LLC

 

Top 4 reasons Talented People Quit Their Jobs

The Top 4 Reasons Talented People Quit Their Jobs, +1


Over my 25 plus-year career in human resources, I’ve noticed that while people will endure fewer amenities and less pay, there are four reasons skillful workers will leave for another job.

(1) No opportunity – When employees sense no potential for career progress, or leaders are unaware that advancement is important, employees look elsewhere for better options.

(2) Not knowing the dollar value of their benefits – Pay and benefits is a topic often avoided in many workplaces. Many organizations, however, offer competitive pay and often benefits that cost thousands of dollars, and employees haven’t a clue. (Think PTO, like legal holidays, sick days, and vacation days; life insurance, long-term disability (LTD), and short-term disability (STD) programs; health insurance, including vision and dental; and wellness programs.) The costs of all these programs add up. When organizations take the time to periodically make employees aware of the total cost of all the benefits at their disposal, employees gain a greater appreciation how much value they receive in their job.

(3) Feeling unappreciated – When employees receive little or no gratitude or acknowledgment for their contributions, it feels demoralizing — no wonder they seek more rewarding work elsewhere. The biggest surprise? Many times, during exit interviews, departing employees disclose that a simple, verbal “thank you” would have made all the difference. However, in many organizations, too often managers fail to do even that.

(4) Sheer Boredom – Without savvy leaders or a solid idea of the big picture, employees don’t see concrete, interesting ways to contribute, outside of the ordinary scope of their jobs. Things grow tedious and employees hunt for new challenges to make work feel more meaningful.

So, while you might think your employees only want higher pay and a corner office, or that the trend among employees is to feel “entitled,” the truth is that the best employees are satisfied with simpler, more basic and fundamental management approaches—and a better explanation of the benefits they currently have.

Be thoughtful — find out what motivates your employees! This simple investment will ensure improved worker retention, enhanced overall morale, and increased company loyalty. And isn’t that what you really want?

Action Steps
What can you do as an employer right now to keep your best employees? Consider asking them. That’s right. Simply spending time with employees in focus groups and roundtable discussions can help you to help them by making basic changes to ensure you keep your greatest asset happy and encouraged.

One more thing…What’s the Top Reason People Quit?

This 2017 Inc. magazine article reveals that the primary reason employees quit is:

People leave managers, not companies.

Marcel Schwantes, while researching the topic of turnover, found that 50% of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”

Keep in mind that as a new generation of workers comes of age, the issue of turnover will continue to grow. Many employees now look at their lives differently than workers did 20 and 30 years ago. Most value relationships above all else, and when a manager starts stealing their joy, they won’t hesitate to look for work elsewhere.

The workplace ladder is simply not as important to young workers today as in prior generations. Many are talented and capable, but will invariably choose a desirable manager over monetary or organizational rewards.

If you are concerned about retaining talented employees while also saving time and money in hiring and training costs, remember these top 4 reasons and the new trend that makes talented people quit. It could make keeping the great people you need a lot easier than you thought.

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Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience. Follow Mark on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

 

How to Deal Effectively with Harassment in the Workplace

How to Deal Effectively with Harassment in the Workplace


It’s almost impossible to open a news website without seeing a headline regarding sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace.

Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein… They represent organizations that have just gone mad, that have failed to protect their people. The list of organizations and accused persons continues to grow. I find it particularly offensive when I consider how I want my family—both men and women—to be treated in the workplace. I am dismayed to discover the extent to which organizations are failing to protect their employees from predatory and exploitative behavior.

Those of us who are Christian professionals in the workplace have an obligation to not only live by the law but also demonstrate behavior that is biblical, and not a reflection of the current aberrant culture. We must ensure that all we do, and all the policies we institute and the responses we make to issues are above reproach.

I am in no way claiming that Christian organizations are perfect. Some have also failed (some, spectacularly) in this area. This is not just a Hollywood or industry-specific issue; it is a moral issue, a sin that knows no bounds. The Christian community has had its own share of scandals. Church leaders have failed us, and international mission leaders have failed us as well.

At In HIS name HR, we serve organizations across all professional sectors. We have served for-profit and nonprofit enterprises, higher education institutions, including Christian higher education institutions, churches, and ministries. One thing is for certain, when you get two or more people together, issues and conflicts inevitably arise—at the very least, innocent misunderstandings—which, when not handled well, can lead to complete pandemonium.

The Three-Prong Approach

What should organizations do to protect their employees from harassment? We at In HIS Name HR believe that it is far easier to do than most realize. We suggest a three-prong approach:

  • Policy
  • Training
  • Response

Policy

Have a good policy in place that is easy to understand by both employees and managers. Have it embedded into your employee handbook and ensure everyone has signed for it. We promote having only a handbook. Most organizations can cover every topic in one handbook without adding additional policies. Having additional polices creates confusion, especially when you have to update multiple documents in multiple locations.

A best practice is to have the handbook online with a date embedded in the footer and have all employees in an employee meeting sign a receipt that they have been informed of the version and location. Then follow up in an email with a link to the handbook and a return receipt memorializing the fact that the employee has received the updated version.

Training

Training should include awareness for all employees, and awareness, detection, and prevention for leadership. Employees need to know what is and is not acceptable in the workplace. For instance, there are two separate types of sexual harassment in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: a hostile work environment and quid pro quo.

A hostile workplace is just that: a workplace that is hostile and what the average or “reasonable person” would deem inappropriate. The complexity derives from the interpretation of an offense—what is offensive to one person might be considered the norm by another person. What good training does is help both the offended and the offender navigate how to abate a situation that risks elevating to explosive.

The second type of harassment, quid pro quo, derives its name from the Latin expression meaning “this for that,” doing a favor for a favor, as it were, where something is given in exchange for something else. In its most negative connotation, in terms of harassment, it is used when a person in a position of authority exploits their power to pressure or manipulate a subordinate to submit to behavior or activity, typically sexual in nature, which either promises a favorable outcome or threatens them with repercussions. Such favors include promotion, pay increases or bonuses, while threats may be made to compromise employment, reputation, or future opportunities. Both employees and leadership must be able to recognize the signs of such quid pro quo, and have sufficient ability or recourse to safely put a stop to it.

One aspect of the training is to “be real,” to let everyone know that certain behaviors are not acceptable, whether in the workplace or anyplace. Let them know that they should not do it, tolerate it, or ignore it, and they should personally help make the workplace an environment we would want all the people we love to work in.

Response

When a complaint is raised, it must always be taken seriously. One aspect we have built into the complaint approach is to formally let the complainant know that we take their complaint very seriously, and that it will be thoroughly investigated immediately.

“People are denying the reality that most women grow up and live their lives being harassed, if not assaulted, and being propositioned or being pursued inappropriately,” Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior says. “Almost every woman I know, including myself, has had something like that happen to them. This is just the world we grow up in.”

We must honor and trust all complaints that are brought forward, while explaining that if the complaint is found to be untruthful, the accuser may be subject to discipline up to and including separation. This might seem harsh, however, it is important that the accused be equally protected before and during the investigative phase. I have led more than one investigation where the person who was accused was able to provide evidence to prove their innocence. In this instance, “Innocent until proven guilty” applies to both parties, the accuser and the accused, and both are entitled to fair and confidential treatment during the investigation.

The investigation itself should be swift, and conducted by trained professionals. The best practice, if the investigation is performed internally, is to ensure the person investigating has no reporting relationships with anyone involved in the compliant. Ensure copious notes are taken and the privacy of all involved is protected. This is paramount to prevent anyone who is accused or involved from filing charges against the organization for false accusations.

The best way to list the contact for complaints is to employ consistency by supplying a title versus a name. You should, however, make sure there are two ways for people to bring forward an issue—have both a female and a male as points of contact. This helps any complainant to feel more comfortable bringing the issue forward. Oftentimes, the person who feels harassed prefers to talk with a like-gendered person.

Finally, if your organization is small, consider hiring a third party to operate as the point of contact. Our firm offers this to its clients, which gives their employees increased confidence, knowing their issue will be dealt with swiftly and objectively by a third party.

In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance human resource programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR or e-mail them here.

Mark A. Griffin is the founder and chief consultant of In His Name HR LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Labor Issues IHN HR

3 Labor Law Issues that Can Destroy Your Organization


Are you complying with all the proper state and federal labor laws? 

If not, it could cost you everything.

 In large corporations, an entire human resources (HR) department navigates the complex minefield of federal and state labor laws. Most small organizations think of HR as an afterthought, or HR responsibilities like hiring, benefits, compliance, and payroll falls to a few people who aren’t properly trained. This can be a pricey mistake. Laws concerning overtime, unlawful termination, and equal rights are just a few areas that trip up organizations, big and small, all the time.

Labor laws fill volumes and are quite complex. Plus, labor laws vary from state to state! Even Walmart ran into trouble recently and incurred $4.83 million dollars in back wages, penalties, and fines for violating The Fair Labor Standards Act. The mistake? Managers were misclassified and not appropriately compensated for overtime work. Unlawful termination is another problem that has cost organizations like UPS, Carmike Cinemas, and Dial Corporation dearly. Yes, it’s tricky. Do you know the laws?

It gets worse—the government is ramping up efforts to check up on organizations and crack down. The Obama administration has allotted $25 million for the sole purpose of investigating those misclassified as “independent contractors,” hoping to reclaim lost tax revenue and pad the IRS’s coffers. Be smart. Remember that stiff penalties and lawyer fees can decimate your organization. Are your workers properly classified?

Stay legal and remember these 3 key points:

 Child labor, non-resident labor, and equal rights legislation are the three areas where small organizations most often fail to comply.

• Both state and federal labor information is free and available online.

• Outsourcing with an HR professional firm can save your organization a lot of time and money.

Most organizations with fewer than 100 people benefit from outsourcing labor law compliance and other human resource tasks to HR professionals. The alternative is risky: employees are often uninformed about and under-trained in labor law compliance. Look out! Federal fines could be in store for you. In addition, HR often falls outside an employee’s main job focus, so getting it wrong or spending valuable time away from primary tasks can cripple productivity in a small organization. Get the right person trained or on your team to comply with labor laws.

Regrettably, staying legal has never been more difficult or important.

Make sure to get the help you need right away.

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 Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience. Learn more about Mark’s journey in HR by watching this short video. In addition you can also follow him on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Join us in Garden Grove, California November 6 – 8, 2019


Sexual Harassment and Your Responsibilities Under the Law

You can’t open a news website without seeing another #MeToo circumstance being reported. As a result, many organizations have a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual harassment in the workplace, but what does that really mean to you, as a leader? Or you, as an employee? What is sexual harassment? In this interactive presentation, you’ll learn:

  • What sexual harassment is—including the verbal, visual, and physical conduct that could be considered or perceived as harassment
  • What your rights and obligations are under the law
  • What you can do as an employee to support a harassment-free work environment
  • What you should do as a leader to help provide a harassment-free workplace
  • What to do if you feel you may have been the subject of sexual harassment
  • Steps your organization can take to better your work environment

Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace. It simply should never be tolerated. Come learn how you can help free your workplace of harassment and make it one where all employees will grow and prosper.

For more information about the TRACS conference click here.

About The Speaker

Mark is an accomplished HR expert with a fresh perspective. He believes in challenging people to think differently when presented with obstacles in any situation. His passions are inspiring, motivating, and helping others. Peers describe Mark as creative, proactive, determined, and eager to learn. Just a few of Mark’s professional skills include organizing, presenting, and problem solving.

Mr. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources Administration from Saint Leo University. He earned his MBA from Bloomsburg University while interning for Congressmen Kanjorski as a military liaison during the first Gulf War. Mark has completed several executive education programs at the University of Michigan.

Prior to leading In HIS Name HR, Mark worked for Quaker Oats Company, Kodak Inc., and Merck Inc., and private companies Woolrich, Conestoga Wood Specialties, and Valco Companies Inc.

In addition to helping people professionally, Mark also believes in helping people personally through volunteer work. Mark has coached leaders on “Business as a Mission,” traveling to Eastern Europe, India, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

Are You Having an Organizational Identity Crisis?

Are You Having an Organizational Identity Crisis?


If your organization is having an identity crisis.  You may be the last to know. The clues aren’t usually obvious, but you may sense something is wrong.

Do you spot any of these patterns emerging?

  • More and more employees are leaving
  • Quality and/or performance is trending downward
  • Your organization is missing deadlines
  • Your clients or customers are complaining more
  • It’s getting harder and harder to find good talent

These issues are not random blips on the landscape. They reveal deeper problems, those below the surface. Greater attention to structure and organization may be needed, but there is a core issue at stake: Organizational Identity.

An identity crisis may happen for a number of reasons. Some reasons are inevitable. Some are regrettable. But, many times an identity crisis starts from what are, initially, positive changes. What is positive at first, like growth or increased capabilities, can morph into quagmire without attention. This drag causes confusion and does not just hinder your workers but will inevitably affect your customers and outside contacts, too.

An identity crisis will likely coincide with these circumstances:

  • A change in key management, ownership, or structure
  • A new technology replacing an old way of doing things
  • Expansion into a new territory or demographic
  • Offering new services
  • Expansion and increased public visibility
  • New or changing partnerships, associations, or clients

Organizations, if they last long enough, experience seasons where renovating identity is crucial. This is a good thing. What your organization stands for or why it exists may seem obvious to you, but it needs routine upkeep to ensure everyone shares a cohesive vision. Creating and cementing your organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values are essential to new and continued success.

Organizational Identity answers the questions:

  • Who are we?
  • Why do we exist? 
  • How do we share that vision beyond ourselves?

Core values and identity should be found together—in a partnership with owners and employees. It should be built from the ground up to forge something solid and genuine. Identity can never be reduced to platitudes or window dressing. It shouldn’t stop at a new logo and updated policies. It must be the foundational way that your group functions, together and with the outside world

Organizations like charity: Water, Starbucks, and The Coca-Cola Company, for example, have all crystallized their organizational identity for us. But, more important, they have all reinvented or re-clarified themselves as times have changed and found continued success. With some effort or outside expertise, you can usher in higher performance for your organization, too.

So, what problems have you seen that were evident of an identity crisis?  Help us and our community of readers to learn from your experiences

 

Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  Follow In HIS Name HR on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

The Crucial Upside of Workplace Friction In HIS Name HR LLC

The Crucial Upside of Workplace Friction


Every workplace has friction—that’s the simple truth. Anytime you have a few people working together on something, differences surface that create drag. We shouldn’t be surprised when conflict or tensions arise. Instead, we should be prepared and have some tactics on hand to facilitate a cooperative working environment and healthier relationships. Friction has a bona fide upside.

In my decades of work in the field of Human Resources, I’ve learned that 3 major things have the potential to create workplace conflicts:

  • Inadequate communication
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Indefinite goals and boundaries

Here’s an example of all three creating a common situation of friction:

Project X must be finished in two months. The lower level manager fails to set legible parameters on a project when expectations and roles are not defined for the work. As the manager delegates the project, too much is left to speculation. Co-workers attempt to complete the work, but soon run into interpersonal problems as different ideas emerge. Frustration increases, tempers flare, morale sinks, and passive aggressive sabotage and gossip start. In other words, gridlock. A few team members inform the manager; however, by then, emotion is driving the situation. Decision-making is maligned and communication continues to falter. The project is tanking.

What to do?

A lot of repair work is needed to get things back on track and keep the project moving forward. First—and this is important—ditch email as a resolution tool. A sit-down, face-to-face meeting is necessary, and a concise description of roles and responsibilities must be presented. But a few other things are invaluable, too.

It’s important to reestablish a healthy culture with the team and ensure acceptable behaviormoving forward. This shouldn’t be done by lecturing. It shouldn’t be expressed in an exasperated tone either. Rather, make sure you conduct your meeting by modeling respect and integrity. Assume the best in your co-workers and back it up with words and actions that make it clear. Graciousness and amiability should preside, not hostility and annoyance.

Get the Right “Game Face” On.? Prepare yourself. Your “game face” must be a commitment to the greater good plus good faith efforts to buoy the environment and create a better working situation. It’s crucial to find common ground. This can be done with a simple and sincere reference to everyone wanting to do well, or a mention of some of your company’s most important values, or by outlining the basic goals of the project. It may be wisest to use a bit of each.

Conflict = Opportunity for Improvement.? It’s normal to dislike friction. Just remember, excellent organizations and great leaders have a habit of transforming conflict and tensions into occasions that make things work more smoothly, efficiently, and improve the positive bonds between employees. Don’t shrink from this opportunity. Instead of dreading conflict or becoming paralyzed by it, realize that conflicts can harvest new ideas and innovation—not just in how your company works, but also in how co-workers connect with each other.

Grace, empathy, forgiveness, cooperation, and better listening can be the result. If you treasure-hunt in the situation and invite that same positive attitude from your employees during conflict, better times are ahead.

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Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs.

Visit them at In HIS Name HR or  Send Email

 

Yahoo! Scrapped Telecommuting—Should You?

Yahoo! Scrapped Telecommuting—Should You?


As a long-time veteran in the field of human resources (HR), I’ve seen telecommuting storm onto the scene through advances in technology. Telecommuting employees complete work from remote locations, and sometimes the method backfires.

In February 2013, Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, killed the long-standing policy that allowed employees to work from home. The news sent shockwaves in every direction, especially throughout high-tech industries. Many wondered whether the decision was a step backward and a signal of changes to come elsewhere.

Two months later, Mayer spoke at a human resources conference. She clarified that the new rule applied to just 200 of the 1200 Yahoo! employees. She reinforced the idea that collaboration and innovation happen best in an interactive environment. Even though the change was drastic for a tech company, she wasn’t backing down.

Many people feel their best work happens when they are uninterrupted and left alone, but even the best worker can hit some snags.

Five Common Pitfalls in Telecommuting

  1. Misalignment of organizational vision
  2. Loss of focus
  3. Derailed project or job expectations
  4. Poor time management Burnout (as work hours lengthen at a remote environment, like one’s home)
  5. Remember, the key principle for an ideal telecommuting situation is this: Working from home, or from another remote location, should include the same qualities that make work at the office productive.

Five Workplace Features that Help Telecommuters Succeed

  1. Workspace boundaries  – Can the employee shut the door when they need to work and otherwise maintain a good work-life balance?
  2. Ability to concentrate – Will children, friends, or other obligations frequently interrupt the employee?
  3. Organization – Can they make a schedule and stick to it?
  4. Productivity – Have they been given expectations and goals? Can they get help quickly if they hit an obstacle?
  5. Focus and Fitness – Can they take short, regular breaks throughout the day to stay fresh and avoid fatigue or burnout?

What single safeguard makes telecommuting most effective? A job description!

Do the groundwork and craft a solid job description for a telecommuter before telecommuting takes effect. When a manager latches onto telecommuting as a hot trend without making the necessary preparations, trouble lies ahead.

A job description is not only important from an employee management standpoint; it’s a strategic necessity.

Your organization’s productivity and growth can be stymied when skills and competencies are unknown variables. Be definitive.

What’s the future for telecommuting?

Telecommuting is here to stay! The kibosh on telecommuting seen at Yahoo! won’t be the norm. While a number of organizations may rein in their telecommuters, many organizations will increase their use of telecommuting.

They will also recognize the high value of the expertise from contracted workers through portals and agencies like UpWork.comFiverr.com, and Guru.com. Specialized workers will continue to work from home, their local coffee shop, or other spots as the trend becomes normalized and wireless networking becomes more widely available worldwide.

Now is the perfect time to set expectations and boundaries to make the best of the situation.

How many people do you know who telecommute? What has been your experience?  Would love to hear from our readers.

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Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs.

Visit them at In HIS Name HR or  Send Email