Distractions exist everywhere in the workplace! As introduced in the first two-parts of this four-part series, business owners and leaders must minimize distractions proactively. Waiting until an issue arises typically results in lost money, time, and productivity…all killers to an organization’s profitability and success! Here is part three of this four-part series.
6. “But, I Don’t Like That Person!”—Enforcing Policies Sporadically
It is easy to let a policy or rule slide. It is easy to show favoritism toward one employee versus another one. What may seem innocent in the moment may lead to disastrous and costly litigation. Many organizations have an Employee Handbook and related Policies and Procedures. Tucked away in these guiding documents lies sets of rules and regulations to create a well-run organization. Well, at least that is what they should hold. Unfortunately, many of these tools list outdated guidelines that few managers truly know. When this happens, it is easy to treat employees differently within similar situations. For instance, one employee may be given a free pass when it comes to being absent while another employee is penalized for the same offenses. Such actions may have operational demands at heart, but they demonstrate discriminatory actions. Some managers go through “waves” of enforcement. When they feel the heat to perform, it is likely enforcement of policies will increase. This becomes a problem when an adverse employment action occurs (e.g.—termination), yet similar actions from other employees has not incurred similar adverse employment actions. Such discrepancies can cause employees facing adverse employment actions to seek litigation.
Action Step: First and foremost, employers must make sure their policies and procedures make operational and legal sense. Too often, policies exist that do not make sense! They are outdated and fail to meet the demands needed to run a high effective workplace. Since the workplace is a dynamic state of being, policies, procedures, and practices should be constantly reviewed, tweaked, and communicated. Second, managers must appreciate their partnership with Human Resources. Yes, managers should understand how to enforce policies, procedures, and practices, but it is vital that they have someone, who can assist them with consistent enforcement. There are times where immediate action needs to take place, but most situations occur with enough time to pause and think through a proper response.
7. “But, I Didn’t Know I Was Discriminating Against That Person!”—Failing to Understand How Discriminatory Practices Can Exist in All Stages of the Candidate/Employee Life-Cycle
Discrimination can occur at any time within the candidate/employee life-cycle. When an employer fails to recognize this, it is possible to face costly and time-consuming distractions. Employers should not only understand the legal risks but also appreciate the value of having a diverse workforce. Discrimination can begin as early as the job posting and all the way through an employee’s off-boarding period. Recruiting, hiring, training, performance management, compensation and benefit offerings, and career advancement are some of the areas where it is easy to unintentionally discriminate. When considering discriminatory practices, employers must understand key employment laws protecting various groups. These protected areas include but are not limited to the following: race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, military service, genetics, and citizenship status. When an employer makes an adverse employment action, intentionally or unintentionally, affected candidates/employees have grounds to bring litigation.
Action Step: Employers should review practices within each stage of the candidate/employee life-cycle. When recruiting, companies should widen their advertising reach in order to attract diverse candidates. When interviewing, interviewers should have proper training on what to and not to ask as well as what they cannot consider when deciding. All workplace policies should be applied with as much equity as possible. It is vital that all handbooks, policies, and procedures have equal application and enforcement to all employees. When deciding how to treat a person, employers cannot make assumptions based upon any of the aforementioned protected classes (e.g.—assuming a pregnant woman would not want to work in a certain environment).
- https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/hr-laws-to-know/ (item #1)
All of these are areas where business leaders can get distracted from what they love most…producing high-quality products and/or services. Stay tuned as I explore Reasonable Accommodations, Connecting Policy and Practice, and Accurate Record-Keeping in the final installment of this four-part series.
Check out parts 1 & 2 of this four-part series by Steve Black: