John Wilcox, Moderator

Question: “Does anyone have a formal policy preventing employees from using
vacation/paid time off leave in the time between announcing their
resignation and the actual quitting day? It can be really hard to do
the necessary “knowledge dump”  if the person spends much of his or her
final two weeks on vacation. What policies do you set?” — C.P. Cotter, Colorado

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Question: We’re a small manufacturing firm with fewer that 50 employees. It’s
getting harder to find qualified people, so I’m advocating a stepped up
training program. Management is balking at the cost. We currently spend
a little over 1% of payroll on training. I think we should at least
spend 2% and preferably more. Am I off base? How can I make the case? – Carol C., Oregon

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Question: “I’m a college student considering a career in HR. What kinds of
courses should I take to prepare myself for this career path? What
courses do you wish you had taken when you were in college? Is there a
preferred major?” – M.A., California

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Question: “I’m sympathetic with employees who have to juggle work with child care
responsibilities. I know it’s tougher in the summer, when school is out
and camp and daycare schedules don’t always work out conveniently. But
I’m getting tired of children being around the office, even when it’s
just for a while in the morning and afternoon. It’s a constant
low-grade distraction. I’d like to create a policy that says “no kids
at work, ever.” Any suggestions on how to do this?” – Luke, Vermont

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Question:What are the pros and cons of a comprehensive
paid-time-off (PTO) leave plan, compared to one that has separate
accruals for vacation, sick and personal days?
My company is considering changing, and we need to know the advantages and disadvantages of going with PTO.” – P.T., Tucson

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Question: “I’m planning to create a standard letter to send to applicants who we
interviewed but rejected. Do other companies send such letters? (This
was our president’s idea!) If so, can you give me an example of the
wording you use? Thanks.” — Janice, Texas

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Question: “Our small law firm has several administrative staff
members nearing the top of the pay scale (both in our organization and for
similar jobs in our region). Does anyone have experience with keeping employees
in that position motivated? We’re not in a position to raise their salaries,
but we need to keep them energized and excited.” – B.D., New York

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Question: “I’m new to HR and feeling a little overwhelmed. Between
hiring, compliance, benefits, performance management and all the other aspects
of the job, I’m having a hard time prioritizing. Can experienced HR people
suggest any tips, tools or resources to help me keep track of what needs to be
done and what to focus on first?”  – J.A., Florida

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Question: “We’re revisiting our health plan, and are looking at when new
employees should be eligible for coverage. Insurance companies we’ve
spoken to say we can sign people up for coverage after the first full
month of employment. A couple of executives think we should let
employees sign up only after they have completed our 90-day
introductory period. The company will be paying half the employees’
premiums. How long should an employee be on the payroll before becoming
eligible for company-paid health insurance?” — Evey, New York

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Question: “When some employees come into the HR office, they carry on
like they’re at home yelling at their children! How can we let them know
that this kind of behavior is out of line, without escalating their anger? What
kind of language or techniques can we use to defuse these tense situations and
get on with solving their problems?”
  — Maria, Florida

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