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The HR Specialist Forum

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Some of our employees are stealing from us! Not by taking money or supplies, but by stealing time. Some pretend to work through lunch so they can leave work early. Others conduct personal business on the phone or over the Internet. Others just spend way too much time socializing. What can we do to crack down?—Louise, PA
Ever since grade school, you’ve dreamed of a career filling out forms, mediating petty beefs and explaining why bosses can’t make employees run errands for them. But if you hadn’t set your sights on a career in HR, what would you have done instead? If you decided to chuck it all right now and embark on new vocational ventures, what kind of work would you seek? Why?—The HR Specialist Editors
We’re considering engaging with an attorney or law firm to a) take a look at our existing policies, employment contracts and so forth, and b) give us recommendations on how we should develop new policies and procedures going forward. Of course, we would want representation in case we get sued, too. We’re in a relatively small city, and to my knowledge, no firms here specialize in employment law. Should we go with a local firm, for the sake of convenience and day-to-day contact?  Or should we seek out a firm that specializes in employment law? Regardless, what kinds of questions should we ask to help us pick the best representation?—Steven
I wear a lot of hats in our small company. I’m the office manager, handle much of the day-to-day bookkeeping and serve as the owner’s main admin person. I also take care of HR matters, and this has me concerned because my boss doesn’t value that role very much. HR must often take a back seat to whatever else he thinks is important. I’m really afraid we’ll get burned one day because something fell through the cracks. Is anyone else in that position? Any advice on how I can get him to take HR seriously?—Chris in Florida
We recently had a key employee go out on extended sick leave, and we discovered that no one else knew how to do her job very well. It took a couple weeks for us to get back up to speed. Now we have decided to start a cross-training program so at least one extra employee will know how to perform each function. Has anyone done this? What advice can you offer to make the process run smoothly and make sure we capture all the expertise we need?—Nancy O., Virginia
With the holidays coming up, I’ve been tasked with organizing a companywide celebration that—guess what—won’t cost very much. Last year we had a potluck luncheon, but frankly it was pretty lame, and I haven’t heard anyone begging for a repeat. Any other ideas on ways to celebrate the season without breaking the bank?—Nicole, Ohio
I’d be interested in hearing thoughts (pro or con) concerning employees “donating” accrued days off to an ill co-worker. A manager approached me with the idea to help a new employee who hasn’t accumulated much time off. Would co-workers feel inappropriately obligated to donate days? Would they be made to feel guilty if they didn’t?  Has anyone had experience with this?—Cheryl, Missouri
We’re looking to upgrade our human resource information systems software. We need to track training, salary increases, EEO data and performance evaluations, among other things. How should I approach the selection process? What questions should I ask vendors? What HRIS system do you use? Would you recommend it?—Hilda, Florida
We’ve had some discord on our plant floor lately: name-calling, insults and couple of minor shoving matches. When I asked the foreman about it, he said a couple of guys have been purposely needling co-workers and picking fights. What kind of policies can we invoke to put a stop to this nonsense?—GL, Ohio
The owner of our company has a fairly in-your-face, aggressive personality. I and lots of other staff can deal with him—that’s just his style. But several of our employees have complained recently that he’s acting worse and worse, and they’ve come to me accusing him of intimidating and bullying them. Who should I counsel? The boss, to tell him to lighten up? Or the employees, to tell them to get a thicker skin?—Designated Mediator
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