Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.


Can Businesses Learn From Tim Tebow?

Tim Tebow is becoming a national phenomenon. No matter which side of the argument you find yourself on, chances are you’ve either found yourself arguing whether he would be the greatest thing or the worst thing to happen to professional sports in some time. There are plenty of people who enjoy watching him succeed, and plenty of people who enjoy witnessing him complete only 2 passes during an entire game. However, there is one thing that cannot be argued: Tim Tebow wins. No matter how pretty (or ugly) his game is, he always finds a way to succeed.
 
Take last night’s game against the Jets for an example. Tim Tebow led an anemic offense through what could be considered some of the worst football you will ever watch, and it lasted for 55 minutes. However, when it became crunch time, and when it mattered the most, Tebow transformed and his Denver Broncos came away with a win. He may not have the decision making of Aaron Rodgers, or the arm strength of Ben Roethlisberger, or the pinpoint accuracy of Drew Brees, but Tim Tebow shares one thing with all of these other quarterbacks; he is winning.
 
Tim Tebow is 4-1 this year as an NFL starter. An ESPN article reported his teammates as saying, “We’ll take the win” and “Would you rather us look good and lose?”  This brings up an excellent point. As a business, would you rather have your team look ugly and win, or look good and lose?
 
“Winning in business” is something that cannot be as explicitly defined as “winning in the NFL”, however we can examine this in a different angle of achieving goals. The ultimate goal of an NFL team is to win, and more specifically to win the Super Bowl. Now think about your business. What is your ultimate goal? What is it that your company sets out to achieve day in and day out? What is it in your business that allows you to feel like a success story when you leave for the day?
 
Is Tebow actually “winning ugly?” Would it really matter to you if you were to achieve your goals through unconventional means, or would you be more proud of it? 
 
So what do these critics mean when they say “winning ugly?” “Winning ugly” in business can imply a lack of ethics. Let’s abandon that argument and define “ugly” as “unconventional” and “breaking normal rules.” Let’s define what others consider “ugly” as “thinking outside of the box.” Let’s define “ugly” as really not even being ugly at all. Entrepreneurial thinking is far from an ugly matter, but it is unconventional by design. Tebow can be defined as unconventionality at its peak. And while no one is likely to follow Tebow’s methods, the truth is that he is winning, and he is winning with what he has and what he knows how to do. We can learn from this directly as business people; you can win with what you have, no matter what you have, if you know it well enough and apply Appreciative Inquiry concepts.
 
Not all of us can have the top level of resources, so we need to win with what we have. This may directly lead to “winning ugly”. If you are a supervisor, learn about your employees, individual and team strengths, and how to maximize that potential. If you are a CFO, learn what your company has in financial assets and learn to make the most of it. If you are a Product Manager, know what makes your product unique and find the best way to allow that product to “win”. We can’t all be the Aaron Rodgers or the Tom Brady of the world, but we can beat them if we learn to succeed with what we’ve got.





Matthew Bare - Friday, November 18, 2011

 





Writing Job Descriptions for Legal Compliance and Organizational Development Results

Templates exist for best practices job descriptions.  Some templates hit the mark and others fall short.  Our article outlines the minimum goals to be attained by job description creation as well as some helpful guidelines to writing a custom description.  Rarely can an organization pull a job description "off the shelf" from another organization and apply it without essential modification.  Consider a job description model only a starting point and invest the effort into customizing the instrument to your organization and your unique job.  The exercise of doing so offers value in itself. 

For starters, let us explore the goals.  A strong job description will...

  • Serve as an effective tool for employee selection and orientation to specific position duties and evaluation criteria.
  • Establish a training checklist for new hires or incumbent job changes.
  • Provide a point-by-point quality of work itemization for performance appraisals and ongoing performance management.
  • Document position goals and performance standards.
  • Protect the firm from legal risks through written documentation of position requirements.  Establish ADA, FLSA and EEOC compliance.
  • Benchmark the position for accurate compensation scale review.
  • Facilitate a merit-based compensation system by clearly identifying distinguishing characteristics between positions and position levels.
  • Communicate recruitment parameters to safeguard the hiring process.
  • Effectively distribute workload among team members to ensure organizational “right sizing.”
  • Manage legal risks in employment law by comprehensively documenting the position requirements and performance requirements.
  • Allow team members to measure their own performances between formal performance appraisals.
  • Establish individual accountability.
  • Internally market the position to each relevant team member through controlled terminology and quick communication of the “keys to success” in the position.
  • Enhance training and thereby minimize relevant turnover.
  • Validate the need for pre-employment testing/screening toward legal risk management.
  • Protect team members not selected for promotion from failure to understand selection decisions.  Protect the company from challenged decisions.
  • Assist supervisors with the performance appraisal system by providing written reminders of the goals and expectations actually communicated to the team members.

 

Job Analysis should involve both incumbent employees and their supervisors.  Not only should the tasks and position goals be documented, but in crafting and weighting such considerations, the keys to success and risks of failure should also be considered.  The consideration and the documentation of facts are two different things.  The final product will be edited and filtered for content and purpose. As an example, we document what an employee is responsible to do to avert problems, but we do not necessarily document the potential problems themselves.

Typical categories of information include Job Title, Immediate Supervisor, FLSA Status, Mission/Summary, Essential Tasks & Responsibilities, Supervisory Responsibility, Job Requirements, Working Conditions, Physical Demands, Skills & Learning Goals, and Disclaimer of Management Ability to Modify.  Some descriptions may include Department, Pay Grade, Work Hours, Location/Site Travel and more.

When crafting language, measurable benchmarks must be present to ensure the standards are meaningful and reliable.  Legally compliant language is essential to ensure compliance and perception of compliance at every stage of employment.  Desirable behaviors should be documented in detailed description.  While some label behaviors as"soft skills," successful leadership recognizes that behaviors drive results often more than skills do.  Behaviors need to be measured both on the job and at pre-employment assessment.  The HRS Assessment Center supports just that! Owning a characteristic is not as important at appropriately deploying that characteristic when it counts.  In order to pay a bill, one needs not only to have the money but also to write the check.

Job analysis questionnaires, sample job descriptions, outsource assistance and more information are available from HRS.  We wish you great success with your project!

 

  

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, September 26, 2011

 





Disability Leave: How Much is Too Much?

Fueled by ADA, FMLA and countless ever-changing statutory concerns, employer confusion has sparked over-generosity.  Employers are giving against their will and caving in beyond necessity.  While competitive offerings remain critical to attracting, engaging and retaining the right talent, benefits that reach the greatest number of top performers are most valuable.  Disability benefits may or may not be integral to that mix, specific to the overall company offerings and keys to success. Disability leave, disability law and disability insurance are each distinctively different topics.  Accordingly, we have taken time to debunk the myths and blueprint the actual requirements.

ADA Leave: Recent legal precedents validate that employers need not provide “indefinite leave” nor any disability leave that produces “undue hardship.” According to circumstance, four weeks beyond FMLA entitlements has been a typical benchmark for ADA leave.

Employee Paid Disability Premiums: Where the company does not pay premiums or administer benefits, such disability insurance plans may be exempt from company benefit rules.  While it is unlawful to penalize employees for the allowable use of company benefits, benefits not provided by the company may be carved out.  Written distinction is mandated through a well-crafted policy.

Advance Notice:  Wage, hour and employment laws are quite clear that while an employer may be granted certain latitude in practice, advance notice to employees is critical to legal compliance.  Burden rests upon the employer to provide clear advanced notification of policies.  Again, a well-crafted proactive policy satisfies this requirement.

Benefits During Leave:  The company needs not pay benefits during leave not legally mandated.  In fact, the same is true during certain legally mandated leave.  Employers may craft policies that stipulate leave to be employment separation.  Such leave can then have its own consistently applied definition, eligibility for rehire and seniority recaptured, if so desired, upon rehire. Employees are eligible for COBRA as of the employment separation date, which becomes the qualifying event.

As with most employee handbook policies, one size does not fit all here and legal compliance can be complex.  HRS is available to weigh situations on their own merit and customize policies to unique company practices.

 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, August 29, 2011

 





2011’s Most Important Organizational Communication Lessons

2011 finds employers in eclectic places, damaged by recent economic impact, confused by new legal mandates, often acclimating to corporate restructure, balancing technology’s influence and typically cautiously optimistic in a mode of strategic change… some finding great new opportunity as the dust settles. Organizational communication, both internal and external, is substantially impacted by these adjustments. The keys to success are keen skill sets in organizational communications, companywide, often at employer burden of training. The following are the 5 most commonly missed opportunities to succeed and a brief resolution theory.

1. Compliant Communications:

Anti-Harassment, HIPAA, social media and intellectual property are just a few critical learning topics of employer responsibility.  While it is true employers are not always responsible to actually control human behavior, reasonable care in training, policy establishment and enforcement are essential to company success, affirmative defense and risk management.
 

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis:

Employers are found over-communicating and under-communicating change to the point that the cost of communication is disproportionate, upward or downward, to the actual benefit of the change.  Consider the costs of employee communication including preparation, costs of miscommunication and time away from work when developing the communication rollout plan.  Calculate the anticipated benefits, and weigh accordingly for your blueprint.
 

3. Lopsided Sales Cycles:

In the effort to find the best price point or value, employers are demanding staunch sales cycles from prospective providers.  More than ever we see 3+ proposals sought for a 3 or small 4 figure acquisition…too much.  If you want to find the best value, treat your “vendors” as “partners,” keeping in mind their costs become your costs.   Find ways to help your providers keep their costs down.  Don’t sloppily force information repeats, listen carefully, streamline correspondence and be creative.  Prices are prices. Bullying is not negotiating. Together you can build collaborative strength.
 

4. E-mail Versus Traditional Communication:

Rules exist for communication media choice.  Know them and train them.  E-mail is the least invasive, most easily queued at convenient times and facilitates immediate documentation. Live discussion with or without body language, however, can be more efficient for transactional type exchange. Videoconference is a growing option.  Without proper training as to when each should be deployed, debates emerge as to the media choice, further contaminating topic discussion.
  

5. Blameshifting:

With fear of job security alive and well, elaborate schemes are being plotted and deployed to “save one’s skin.” Sadly, the individual who best plots and conceals usually wins, and here the company loses.  The blameshifting target was usually too busy actually working and owning workplace integrity to have won this nasty unproductive game.  When a team member “blames” a vendor or another employee, please investigate and monitor.  Your team members should be rewarded to help company stakeholders do a better job.  Those willing to throw another “under a bus” are far less valuable to you than those working toward greater good.
 

Communication is the means of knowledge transfer and collaboration toward unified goal.   When it is compromised, so are profit, growth, risk management and sustainability. Further detailed analysis and solutions on any topic herein are available through HRS.


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

 





Candidate Screening by Video Technology Reveals Mixed Success

As global talent assessment experts, HRS has spent many years researching success of video technology use in screening.  We’ve reviewed dozens of platforms and learned from thousands of employers.  Recently, with the continued emergence of videoconferencing use in business, video skills gain importance.  However, screening platforms are still showing flaws.

The first major flaw lies in the difference between skills just being on camera as opposed to actually “addressing” the camera.  These two skills have little or no correlation between them.  Addressing a known audience can be far more comfortable than addressing an unknown (camera) and vice versa.  Even the company’s sales reps appear “frozen” and ill at ease in certain platform demos.   Videoconferencing typically allows the visibility of and interaction with an audience, a different dynamic altogether. As a regular speaker, I find it infinitely easier to “come alive” with dynamics when I have an engaged and participative audience.  A flat, unresponsive audience is a challenge, and often a burden, to an educator.  Entertainers sometimes enjoy that challenge, yet entertainers and educators are two different characters.  Consider the actual video skills requirements of the job, and align the screening dynamic with the job’s parameters.

The second major flaw lies in the platform’s validation.  Some platforms align with the proven concept that the best interviewers often are those who have the most practice. Sales and substance are two different concepts, and for many, these are sadly mutually exclusive.  We researched several platforms which have specifically positioned themselves to major market employers whose keys to success lie in turnover versus employee retention. Not all organizations are talent based. In fact, many large organizations rely upon “plug and play” capabilities which create sustainability without reliance upon specific talent.  The important takeaway here is to find a platform which aligns with your corporate goals for talent lifecycle. You may adopt more than one platform if you do not find an integrated solution.
 
The third major flaw is legal compliance.  While the federal and state governments are mandating appropriate timing to potentially discriminatory data collection, inappropriately deployed video screening can heighten risks of noncompliance.  Structure a program consistent, compliant and true to the job description for best protection. These are the same risks discussed in our teachings on social media use in screening.

The fourth major flaw lies in BFOQ test of reason.  Unless a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is prominent, the screening technique is at risk.  If video skills are not necessary to the job description, do not consider video skills in the screening.  How people present in person, in writing, via telephone and via camera are all unique characteristics independent of one another.

HRS has pioneered telework principles and use of global technology for decades.  We understand the benefits and the risks. Many technology options are available, appropriate to individual job requirements.  Video may or may not be the solution, and please adopt the platform which truly represents your best interests.  We use video technology often… but selectively according to the actual job requirements and career path lifecycle.  Detailed research is available from HRS.

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

 





Top 2011 Initiatives for HR Risk Management & Cost Savings

This year’s most popular goals of employers large and small are to manage new legal risks, reorganize staff for best efficiency/future growth, and manage human capital for improved cost savings.   The following checklist provides framework to suggested 2011 initiatives.
 
 

1. Identify and control emerging legal risks.

More than 20 areas of statutory and case law have changed in the last year alone.  Government audits can newly be random rather than triggered solely by complaint as before.  Fines are a vehicle for government fundraising.  Employers must not only get compliant as cost control but must also gain reasonable care certification from 3rd party expert analyst. New ISO practices are emerging for HR.  Discreet compliance reviews are available to provide essential investigation plus affirmative defense certification. Avoid using non-profits in this role as they are not lawfully eligible to advocate on your individual behalf and can only advocate for their memberships on the whole.
 

2. Reassess HR needs.

With the wealth of HR/OD resources available, the best way to safeguard your HR initiative is to ensure no idle time and to ensure you have secured the appropriate change management resources.  This is not a time for old school thinking and rote maintenance behavior.  This is time for invention and transformation. Have full time resources for full time needs maintenance.  Draw upon external experts to suggest and design change.
 

3. Enjoy the ROI, cost savings and future planning benefits of employee assessments.

Deploy testing that predicts employee performance and learning needs throughout the life cycle: pre-employment, advancement, change, trainability and exit, at a minimum. Personality profiles do not get that done.  In baskets, role plays and job simulations provide meaningful data.  Expect at least a 100:1 return on your investment.  Reject instruments that fall short.
 

4. Create and enforce a lifelong learning culture for leaders.

Leaders who burn out or who miss opportunities to transform others are toxic to your environment.  Leaders should be seen learning.  Trainers should be seen learning to train.  Leading and training are not “common sense.” Commitment to external education sources is critical, but speaker seminars are the least effect learning venue.  Consider learning workshops in your environment at which real-time case studies can be explored and resolved to better apply learning and safeguard time away from work.
 

5. Stay in touch with employees to monitor engagement, troubleshoot, facilitate and be proactive.

Proactive solutions are typically 5-10% the cost of reactive solutions.  Accept that what is past may or may not be prologue.
 

External resources can provide outstanding facilitation to these action items, and please think of HRS during your proposal process.  3rd party objectivity, specialist research, multi-employer relevant case studies and flex talent bring value added your internal time simply is not licensed to bring, no matter how competent and no matter how dedicated.  The collaboration between internal and external talent is a powerful force.


Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, March 27, 2011

 





Sensitivity Creates Results In Business… Don’t Misinterpret It

Old school culture teaches us to toughen up, be impersonal and stay objective.  All of these behaviors remain critical to business success provided we do not overlook the value of passion, deep analysis, empathy and unwillingness to fail.  These are characteristics of sensitivity.

The team member who overanalyzes, scrutinizes intention, predicts behavior and takes it personally can be the team member who serves as a predictive bloodhound for business problems and who goes the extra mile to get results.  Lack of sensitivity often leads to lack of creativity, mediocre effort and lack of foresight. Resilience is key to sustainability.  The hypersensitive can be extraordinarily resilient. Coping with sensitivity requires enormous strength. 

In the popular de Bono Six Hats Thinking model, four of our six problem solving hats require sensitivity, “gut” reaction and emotional posture.  Understanding perspective of others is recognized as a key concept to negotiation, leadership, motivation, customer service, sales and comprehensive business communications.  Your company’s performance feedback system needs to appropriately value these organizational toolsets.

The next time a member of your team misinterprets sensitivity as a business weakness, set them straight.  Success is a longshot without it.


Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, February 27, 2011

 





Social Media Investigations May Be Essential to Hiring and Can Be Conducted Lawfully

Some attorneys will advise employers to avoid using social media as a recruitment and screening tool.  The caution is wise; however, avoidance may be impractical, and the proper use of social media can most definitely pay off.  In many cases, we consider it actually necessary. While risks of unlawful use exist and need be avoided, bona fide occupational qualifications can be investigated through proper methodology.  The following 3 rules are set forth to simplify legal compliance.

1) Timing is everything.  The EEOC is often more concerned about the timing and outcomes of collecting data than the collection of data itself.  That is, we know certain visual characteristics when we interview or videoconference a candidate, yet premature collection and use of this data is considered unlawful “profiling.” The investigation of social media after interview is typically safer than prior to interview.  A company that shows reasonable care and great diversity in demographics and advancement provides substantially stronger affirmative defense than a company with insufficient diversity and/or without reasonable care compliance. Protected characteristics are found not only in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but also in the legal changes and state regulations emerging ongoing.
 
2) Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (BFOQs) are still considered a lawful job requirement subject to reasonable investigation. How a candidate presents his/herself to the general public and company stakeholders is a legitimate public relations and credibility concern.   While off duty behavior may or may not be appropriate to monitor and discover as a BFOQ, how a candidate chooses to be known on the Internet as searchable by customers, co-workers, competitors, associates, vendors, investors and other stakeholders, is certainly a BFOQ.  Such a presence affects on duty performance, especially when easily detected by search engine or links to professional or company presence.  A great job description and strong company policies will validate social media investigations.
 
3) Outsource investigation and/or control consistency and chain of information.  HRS policy establishment, training and candidate investigation services are currently booming.  While we are biased that no competitor meets our standards, please know resources abound for outsourcing implementation or procedural design as risk management. If choosing to insource the effort, control documentation and custody of information. Appropriate policies and disclosures should be considered.  One size does not fit all here.  Social media usage and monitoring policies should match the company’s unique practices.  And, although the candidate may choose the “world wide web” to air private and personal information, the employer must remember to not further the information distribution except on a “need to know” basis. Use of search engines to collect data is recommended.  The method of collecting data should align with reasonable access to information by company stakeholders.

The appropriate use of social media in hiring provides cost-effective recruitment, often with cost savings or targeted candidate access impractical to ignore.  However, the very nature of recruitment via social media could grant us access to candidate social media profiles too soon. To use only social media for recruitment, in certain cases, may in itself be considered discriminatory.  Audience demographics should be considered to both control costs and to also ensure abidance with Affirmative Action Plans where they exist.

It is difficult to investigate certain social media sites, especially those of a personal rather than professional focus, without receiving information regarding age, race, nationality, military, family status, sexual orientation, religion, or some combination of the many, many lawfully protected characteristics.  Pictures, comments, links, interests and profile page data cannot be reasonably avoided. To better manage risks, we suggest directing the candidate to the company’s own application system rather than linking the recruitment response with the candidate’s social media profile.  Such a step allows the company to broadcast the recruitment via social media but to collect responses through traditional methods discouraging profiling. 

Upon reaching the correct stage and method of data collection, be certain to avoid risk of error and falsehood. Identities can be confused, and inaccurate information may be collected.  Be certain you have the correct individual, and be certain the information is true. Background check permission forms should collect necessary data to validate identity. HRS recommends and designs a sequential plan of using social media investigations lawfully, consistently, with proper timing and privacy controls toward the appropriate evaluation of BFOQs.  As an added safeguard, it is popularly recommended to involve an outside firm or an individual not participating in the employment decisions. That individual or firm should then be in position to report only on job requirements and BFOQs, thereby inherently controlling the distribution and use of data.

 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, February 24, 2011

 





Is the Boss at Fault for the Blame-Shifters?

Blame-shifting in an organization is typically a barrier rather than a conduit to problem solving.  Playing “Where’s Waldo?” with blame or finger pointing to another target can be effective diversions strategically deployed by those afraid to accept the blame.  Often, unwillingness to accept blame can be a character dimension based on intrinsic motivation and longstanding experience.  In other cases, unwillingness to accept blame is situationally dependent based upon immediate leadership and company behavior.  The following 3 steps are a quick assessment and blueprint to resolution.

1. Objectively evaluate the company’s role in behavior modification.  Has leadership at all levels properly rewarded truth, or are employees afraid to admit their roles in an obvious problem?  Problems are opportunities and risks create inventive greatness.  Has the company paved the road to quality without jeopardizing the road to problem solving?

2. Which employees are most likely to shift blame?  Is it by department or reporting relationship? Is it individual or company-wide? Patterns are clues to the motivation behind blame-shifting.

3. While blame-shifting is in itself unacceptable, remember that those unwilling to accept blame are afraid to be wrong or at fault. These can also be powerful motivators to positive productivity, something to be salvaged. Teach employees that accepting ownership in a problem is the first step to being the problem solver.  Transformation may follow.
 
At the end of the day, we are likely to find a combination of variables attributing to the blame-shifting.  Some good information is likely to result, so keep listening.  Personality types of both leaders and those being led contribute to the dynamic.  At the end of the day, however, it is the boss’s job to create an environment which applauds ownership, truth and lifelong learning.

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

 





Employment Law Compliance: 6 Steps to Risk Management

1.Stay Informed via Reputable Experts

There is no acceptable plea of ignorance.  Laws are constantly changing and it is the employer’s responsibility to stay on top of it.  Government sites are improving, but state and federal governments often do not accept responsibility for creating clear communications via websites.  The courts look to reasonable care and actual workplace outcomes; however, complaints can be costly. Secure a source of compliance updates reasonably considered compliance “experts.”

2. Choose the Right Expert Source

Subrogate liability: find an expert willing to “take the fall” and back you. Compliance experts need not be legal counsel as long as they remain committed to advanced legal studies and ongoing compliance research.  HRS has proven it possible to attain 100% success in avoiding legal argument when compliance is deployed at the proactive stage. Reasonable care and due diligence are key. If you determine to use legal counsel as your “experts” and they have pulled you into the fire only to bill you going in and coming out, find new legal counsel or find an alternative remedy.  Insurance brokerages, payroll partners, TPAs and other HR related vendors offer valuable templates and perks for their customers.  Most, however, do not profess themselves as “experts” and non-compliant information potentially coming from them is on your plate, not theirs.  Several of these firms are proven to circulate bad information because it’s just not their problem. If you grab a tax advice flyer at the grocery store, you shall be challenged in holding the store accountable for bad information.  Several HR industry vendors hire HRS and other accredited experts to provide deeper quality risk management for clients. 

3. Reject Cookie Cutter Advice

Compliance is more about judgment than templates.  Non-profits can be a great source of templates and education; however, by the nature of being non-profits, they are ineligible to advocate for any individual client and can only serve the “membership as a whole.” Although we’ve caught one or two professing themselves in the “management consulting” field, please know this is categorically impossible. Take their information as one component of your research and adapt it to your company’s unique variables.  Call upon experts who can bring widespread case studies where you prefer assistance. There are some valuable non-profits, they can be highly beneficial; however, they cannot be a “one stop shop” for your compliance needs.  

4. Document Policies and Incidents

Do not let deniability work against you.   The courts look for evidence and reasonable care in forms of currently compliant employee handbooks, related documentation and proof of receipt.  For top risk management, an employer needs to prove the employee knew what was expected, received no confusing/contradictory messages, was capable of meeting expectations, knew the consequences of failure and chose to fail.  Consistency of enforcement without discrimination is critical.  Incident reports, valid job descriptions and clear compliant performance appraisals are each contributory toolsets.   Legal postings must be up to date and accessible to employees.  (Flat annual fee poster services can be a great partner here.) Maintenance and access to employee files must be controlled on a “need to know” basis according to HIPAA, EEOC, DOL, GINA and countless other emerging and ever-changing standards.  Consider a voluntary compliance review for risk management and to build “affirmative defense” through reasonable care.  Non-profits are ineligible by status to protect individual members/customers, so please do not deploy a non-profit organization in this capacity.

5. Train, Train, Train

Enforce a culture of lifelong learning and properly train employees not only in operations procedures but also in legal compliance to include anti-harassment, risk management, liability aversion, documentation and diversity.  While the employer is not ultimately expected to control each and every workplace action, the employer is held accountable to “reasonable care.”  Proper training averts risks, and the act of training builds “affirmative defense.”  Training by 3rd party experts brings additional reasonable care and promotes exceptional questions and learning. Remember most people are not classroom learners and bear learning threshold of 2.5 hours typicalmaximum.  Consider kinesthetic learning bullets. (Hint and shameless plug: contact HRS!)

6. Stay Current and Prepare for Change

The employer who has been non-compliant and has “never had a problem” is probably due.  Granted those employers are probably not taking the time to read this, invulnerability is a myth. Everyone is vulnerable.  Don’t waive it off. The government is fundraising.  Many people would rather fundraise than work.  Some lawyers are fundraising.  Insurance companies, like any businesses, will protect their interests.  It is your responsibility to protect your own interests as an employer.  Stay up to date with regular compliance reviews for practices and policies. The right 3rd party expert partnership is excellent “reasonable care.” Secure updates and review for compliance regularly. 


Please contact HRS for more information regarding answer desk, compliance review, handbook services, kinesthetic learning bullets to include anti-harassment, referrals to HR partners who rely upon actual experts and other risk management reasonable care programs.


Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, December 16, 2010