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The HR Specialist Forum

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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
We have an employee handbook that spells out our policies and procedures. I wonder if we need a similar publication aimed specifically at managers and supervisors? Does anyone have one? If so, what does it include that’s different from your employee manual?—Kristin, Chicago
Management just let everyone know that we're going to continue a salary freeze for at least another six months. For some people, that means they won't have seen a raise in more than two years. How can we keep our employees motivated when it doesn't seem like there's any light at the end of the tunnel?—B.D., New York
As we enter the back-to-school season, office supplies have begun to disappear. Does anyone have any policy or procedure in place to thwart this type of behavior? In your experience, will a firm but diplomatic e-mail help? It's getting expensive and embarrassing as large quantities walk away.—K in FL
Does anyone have a formal policy preventing employees from using vacation or paid time off in between the time they announce their resignation and their actual quitting day? It can be really hard to do the necessary “knowledge dump” if the departing employee spends much of his or her last two weeks on vacation? What’s your policy?—C.P.C., Alaska
It’s back-to-school time, which means a lot of parents in our plant are going to need time off for various school-related activities. Trouble is, we’re in a relatively small community and most of our kids go to the same schools. That means everyone needs time off at the same time. Any suggestions on how to handle this so we can keep our plant running smoothly and be good parents?—A.G., Alabama

We’re trying to fill a technical position and have found someone who I think is extremely well qualified. The hiring manager isn’t nearly as enthusiastic because the man has been unemployed for 18 months after being laid off. The manager says if the guy was any good, he would have found work long ago. What can I do to persuade him to take a chance on this candidate (who, by the way, is willing to relocate his family at his own expense from more than a thousand miles away)?—Jim, Dallas
Our company is doing OK in this lousy economy, all things considered. In fact, we occasionally hire someone! However, it’s not easy doing business these days, and I really can’t say we’re thriving. It’s more like we’re doing a really good job of hanging on. When we conduct interviews, candidates naturally want to know about our financial stability. I struggle with what to tell them. I don’t want to paint a too-rosy picture, but I don’t want to scare off good potential employees either. Has anyone faced this problem? How do you handle it?—Keith, Houston
To save on premiums, we’ve been reconsidering when new employees become eligible for health insurance benefits. Currently, new hires can sign up after their first full month of employment. Management wants to change it so new hires only become eligible after completing their 90-day “introductory period.” We would still pay 65% of the total premium. Has anyone else made this kind of switch? What do you think of the 90-day waiting period? — Eva, PA
Should we give out employee information (wage data, demographic information, etc.) to anyone who calls to request it? I suspect we need a policy for handling these situations, but (short of calling a lawyer) I don't know how to figure out what it should say. Do any of you have rules on how to handle such calls?—Pam J.
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