Happy Thanksgiving

by Michael Haberman on November 27, 2014 · 0 comments

Holiday Meal


I hope you have a great Thanksgiving Day!




The employee handbook is your most valuable communication tool.

The employee handbook is your most valuable communication tool.

Let’s face it we all know that the employee handbook is a valuable document to every employer there is. We also know that it is a document that, due to neglect, can get your company in trouble. If you have not updated your handbook your are behind the times.

New issues

There are a number of new issues that employers need to pay attention to now and some that are coming in the near future. According to a report written by XpertHR some of the trends that need some attention include: “LGBT protection, medical marijuana and no-fault attendance policies are just a few of the trends that employers need to consider when developing or updating their employee handbooks”.

Probably one of the more important policies that need to be addressed is BYOD (bring your own device). As companies either allow or require employees to bring their own mobile devices to work in order to do work, policies need to be put in place and communicated. BYOD is not just a matter of security, though that is a huge issue, it also includes some wage and hour issues. And what about social media use?

Old issues

I heard an attorney speak the other day and he reminded us about the importance of good EEO policies. Since some of you have last updated your employee handbook some of those have changed as well. We all had an ADA policy in the handbook, but how many of you have addressed the ADAAA changes that specifically require an “interactive discussion” that has to be conducted with every individual requesting an accommodation? And how many of you really spell out your prohibition on retaliation? Retaliation as an EEOC charge is now larger than any other area the EEOC considers, even bigger than race discrimination claims.

State issues

Unless you have been in a hole somewhere or the aliens just dropped you off back home you know that many states have now legalized same-sex marriage. If you are in one of those states you had better have that issue addressed. And in Colorado and Washington perhaps things are a bit hazy due to the fact that marijuana smoking is now legal. Have you addressed your drug testing policy in your handbook yet?

It is all about communication

Almost all federal and state laws require that you communicate important policies to employees. Some of this communication takes the form of posters, but the heavy lifting of communication needs to be done by your employee handbook. So make sure they are up to date and save yourself some pain. Hmm… guess I will need to call a couple of clients now.

If you would like more information you can download a copy of XpertHR’s whitepaper on employee handbooks. 


Retaliation is not only illegal it is just stupid

by Michael Haberman on November 25, 2014 · 0 comments

Retaliation can be financially harmful to the company in addition to being illega.

Retaliation can be financially harmful to the company in addition to being illega.

Employers do a lot of things wrong. As an optimist I hope that most of these errors are errors of omission and not errors of commission, as my friend Jon Hyman has once said. As a realist I realize that there may be more intentional wrong-doing than I would like. One area that it is obvious that the wrong-doing is intentional is in acts of retaliation.

Big and getting bigger

According to a report produced by The Network called the 2014 Global Ethics Benchmarking Report there has been a rise in whistleblower retaliation. I did a review of the figures for EEOC on claims of discrimination and found that in 2013 there were more complaints about retaliation than any other protected area, even more than race. There were 38,549 charges of retaliation filed. Race was the next biggest area with 33,068.

Retaliation is intentional

Let’s face it, if you retaliate against someone for filing a complaint, reporting a safety problem, reporting financial misdealing or any of the other areas that protect whistleblowers you are doing it on purpose. You cannot hide the intent in that action. Your lawyer will hate having to defend you. I had one attorney friend tell me that defending a retaliation case is tough. There is seldom any documentation to show that the retaliation was not intentional, and there are times where an action taken against an employee is justifiable. The problem is the action is taken without documentation and too close in time to some protected complaint or action. Subsequently the employee perceives it as retaliation.

Types of retaliation

Retaliation takes many forms, some of it subtle, some not so subtle. Here are some examples:

  • Excluding people from participating in meetings or not allowing them to talk.
  • Reassigning them;
  • Changing their job duties;
  • Not sending them to training;
  • Openly exposing them as a whistleblower even though they had asked for anonymity; (HR has to balance this one with the need to investigate)
  • Bullying them; and of course
  • Firing them.

Jillian Heim of The Network says “…retaliation isn’t always glaringly obvious.” She also says ““We are lowering the bar on what counts as retaliation – it’s not just being fired, demoted, etc. – it could be making weird faces at someone, making you feel demeaned.”

The EEOC provides an example as well. They say “It is illegal for an employer to refuse to promote an employee because she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, even if EEOC later determined no discrimination occurred.”

Retaliation has a detrimental effect

There are a number of detrimental effects of retaliation on companies in which it has occurred. First it is illegal and is as protected as an act of discrimination. It exposes the company to financial costs such as attorney’s fees, fines and punitive assessments. It harms the company’s reputation and gets the company splashed all over the news.

Beyond the financial effects it also harms the company culture. Employees become less trustful. Many times employees will turnover because they don’t wish to deal with their moral dilemma of working for a company that punishes ethical behavior. It has a detrimental effect of making it harder to find the talent needed to make the company effective. Few talented, good employees want to work for a company whose reputation is one of being unethical and mistreating employees.

What to do

You need to make sure that supervisors and managers are trained that retaliation is as illegal as is discrimination. They need to be told that they will be held to a high standard of conduct when it comes to a situation that might involve retaliation.

HR needs to have its “antennas” up and alert any time there has been wrong-doing, or perceived wrong-doing, reported to the government. Any discipline or change in behavior needs to be noted and corrected as necessary. In other words you had better have a damn good reason for doing something negative to an employee who has been a whistleblower. Even in situation where the employee behavior was malicious you need to be guarded in reacting to that behavior.

Make sure you have a well published policy on reporting whistleblowing situation and making it clear that there is a no-retaliation mandate in your company.

These items will hopefully help you avoid a situation that will end up in court costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Being a Workaholic is not the same as being engaged

by Michael Haberman on November 24, 2014 · 0 comments

Being a workaholic is a true addiction

Being a workaholic is a true addiction

How many of us know someone who proudly proclaims they are a workaholic? Perhaps some of you reading this post feel that way about yourself. Some claim it is because they are really engaged in their work. That may be true but a recent study showed that there is a difference between being engaged in your work and being a workaholic.

An addiction

There are people who truly love their work and more power to them. This however, does not make them a workaholic. As reported by Lindsay Lavine in Fast Company, Malissa Clark, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia, says that workaholism is a largely negative state. She reports that it is an addiction. Workaholics cannot help thinking about work. As a result it has several negative impacts on their lives.

According to Clark, people who are engaged in their work have positive feelings about work and home. Workaholics on the other hand experience negative emotions at both work and home. She says it operates as many other addictions and “workaholics may feel a fleeting high or a rush when they’re at work, but quickly become overwhelmed by feelings of guilt or anxiety.” They are not doing the work because they love it but because there is an internal pressure to do the work. The effects of this negative internal pressure are:

  • feeling less satisfied with their jobs and lives outside of work,
  • feeling burned out,
  • experiencing greater work and family conflict,
  • and being in poorer physical and mental health.

Surprising finding

Clark found something she was surprised in. This is the relationship between gender and age and workaholism. She discovered that older women are more likely to be workaholics than are younger women. With men the opposite is true, younger men tend to be the workaholics and older men take it easier. She did however say not to read too much into this finding, there is just not enough data on the area. My guess is we will see more work done by Clark in this in the future.

Curbing the pressure

Many workaholics put the pressure on themselves. It may be the way they were reared. Parents may have been examples growing up. Companies, however, also contribute to this with the pressure they put on employees through workaholic supervisors. As with many addictions if you give an addict their poison of choice they will consume it to their detriment. Work is no different. If you notice you have workers who are work addicts as opposed to people who are truly engaged then you may need to look at your culture and try to relieve the pressure points.


Future Friday: What if your office drove you to work?

by Michael Haberman November 21, 2014

Tweet I am not talking about a car pool here. I am talking about your office, at least a part of it, actually picking you up and driving you to work while you sat and worked. Would you be interested? With the advent of driverless vehicles that may become a possibility. The commute to the […]

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Two Carnivals for the Price of One

by Michael Haberman November 20, 2014

Tweet Two carnivals were published yesterday that you should pay attention to. If you don’t know what a blog “carnival” is it is a, generally, monthly collection of blog posts compiled in one place by someone who volunteers their time and effort to put everything in a readable and coherent format. I have done it […]

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The NLRB and the EEOC are primed to sue you for using social media in the hiring process

by Michael Haberman November 19, 2014

Tweet The use of social media has been used for finding candidates for several years. It is an excellent tool for finding both active and passive candidates. But its use comes with some potential downsides because the government doesn’t like you using it. Exposed to more than a résumé Apparently the government’s dislike of the […]

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Is Sexism at work in the Labor Market?

by Michael Haberman November 18, 2014

Tweet The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced some interesting unemployment figures the other day. They announced that the rate of unemployment for men has dropped below that of women for the first time since 2006. Is this evidence of sexism being in action in the workplace? The Facts The unemployment rate of men in October […]

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Sometimes you have to give yourself a kick in the seat of the pants

by Michael Haberman November 17, 2014

Tweet It is Monday morning. You are waking in order to go to work, yet you don’t really want to. You are just not motivated. Your boss is a pain. He/she is not “motivating” enough. The work is interesting enough, but having to face another day in that 8 to 5 drudgery with that “suck […]

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Future Friday: The future of HR according to John Boudreau

by Michael Haberman November 14, 2014

Tweet I had the good fortune to catch a webinar that was presented by the Harvard Business Review entitled Workforce Analytics of the Future: Using Predictive Analytics to forecast talent needs. It featured John Boudreau, who is a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and the Research Director at Center […]

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