The HR Specialist Forum

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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
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
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
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

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

Question: "With the U.S. Senate starting to debate immigration reform, many HR pros are worried that Congress has no idea how the current worker-verification system really works. What's your experience with employment verification? If you could offer senators one piece of advice to make the process work better, what would it be?"  -- The HR Weekly Editors

Question: Does anyone utilize other terminology for what’s commonly called a “probationary period?” I am concerned that this terminology could jeopardize our at-will status. No matter what you call it, what other issues should I consider as we formalize how we treat employees during the first 90 days on the job?  -- P.R. Ohio

Question: My company president and I are having a disagreement about what's legitimate use of sick leave. He thinks employees should only take sick leave when they themselves are sick. I believe it's also okay for employees to use it for doctor's appointments and caring for their sick children. What do your sick leave policies cover? Do you spell out when it's appropriate for employees to use sick leave?  -- T.C., Delaware

Question: We're gearing up for our annual performance-appraisal cycle, and I know I'm going to have to hound several managers to get their reviews done on time. We go through this every year. Any advice for encouraging (or forcing?) them to complete the paperwork and conduct review meetings on a timely basis?  -- Stephen, Arizona

Question: My CEO asked me to look into the feasibility of requiring employees to be 'tobacco-free' off the job as well as during working hours. He thinks we could save a lot on health insurance if none of our employees smoked. Has anybody done this ... or considered it? What issues do I need to consider before I make a recommendation on how we should proceed?  -- Chris M., Ohio

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