Although businesses typically view flextime, compressed workweeks and part-time schedules as recruitment and retention strategies, just 6% of employers have ditched those practices, even as they cut staffs. Here are eight ways your organization can make strategic use of work/life benefits to cut costs, save jobs and pump up employee morale during the recession.
For most managers, conducting effective performance reviews is the most daunting part of their job. Don’t look on it with dread! Make your performance appraisals work for you, not against you with these tools: performance review examples, tips on writing employee reviews, sample performance reviews and employee evaluation forms.
So, your tasked with assessing employee performance and writing performance reviews. Where do you get started?
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Here’s a potential electronic communications problem you may not have considered. An employee who forwards e-mail from a company computer and e-mail account to his personal address may end up using those e-mails later in litigation against the company. That’s one reason it makes sense to prohibit employees from forwarding e-mails to their personal e-mail accounts.
Not every employee who earns a promotion will be successful at the new job. While you certainly want to do everything possible to allow the employee to thrive in the new assignment, you’ve also got to be practical. When you conduct those initial performance reviews, consider the possibility that the employee will ultimately fail. Here’s how to encourage success, but plan for potential failure:
Employees sometimes think that just calling in sick is enough to put their employers on notice that they need FMLA leave. That’s simply not the case. In the following case, the 8th Circuit concluded the new language in the FMLA means employers aren’t obligated to guess about an employee’s need for FMLA leave based on behavior.
Say you manage Kevin, a 55-year-old employee whose productivity drops over the year. Instead of citing specific, measurable examples of this decline in his performance review, you note that "Kevin doesn't seem to have the energy level anymore to truly succeed in this department." Still, you rate Kevin's work as "average," the same as last year. That example highlights two of the more common—and legally dangerous—pitfalls in writing performance reviews:
An employee who has been discharged may go looking for some underlying reason other than poor performance to explain why she got the ax. And she may suddenly remember incidents that now seem awfully a lot like sexual harassment. Your best defense to such charges is a robust harassment and discrimination policy that tracks every complaint.
Employees who complain about alleged discrimination engage in what is commonly called “protected activity”—and that means they can’t be punished for doing so. Thus, it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee who goes to HR to report possible discrimination. But what about employees who never come forward on their own, but who simply respond to a supervisor’s question about equal treatment? Are they also protected?
Employers can terminate employees who are on FMLA leave if the employers are sure they can later prove to a jury that they would have made the decision to terminate whether the employee took leave or not. That’s a tough burden, so you must make sure you have a solid reason—and you must document it.
Here’s a bit of good news for employers fighting baseless lawsuits: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has signaled its willingness to allow trial judges to order attorneys’ fees for employers forced to defend themselves from litigation that has no merit.
Before you fire any employee, double-check to make sure others who performed just as poorly or made similar mistakes were also terminated. Doing so may prevent a lawsuit … or, if you are sued, at least provide evidence that you treat everyone alike.