When is a company free from employee risk? If you answered anything other than “never,” then you need to think again. Employees present a challenge from the second they begin their careers with your company, and this challenge stays with them until they leave. As an employer, you must do everything within your power to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect. Smart employers know that deviating from this philosophy leads to potentially crushing legal action, and they take special care to avoid this road. The following outlines some of the areas in which unfair employee practices can lead to troubling situations.
HR: The Beginning
Right from the start, you need to ensure that your hiring process applies equally to everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or other classifications. Anyone who applies to your company should meet a streamlined, tier-based process that takes a blind eye to discriminating factors. By using a standardized process, you ensure that someone gets eliminated based on merit rather than potentially litigious factors.
Once you hire, make sure that your salary offering meets competitive rates while staying fair across the board. If you must offer more compensation for hiring someone from an opposing business to entice them to your company, then offer it as a bonus sign-on incentive based on experience rather than other unfair qualifications.
Training & Learning the Ropes
When acclimating to a new work environment, people may feel isolated as a new person. This could lead to potentially threatening behavior and reports. Eliminate this risk by ensuring that employees are treated fairly throughout the entire onboarding and training processes. As with the hiring process, streamline your training and onboarding by providing detailed handbooks at the outset and asking new hires to learn the ropes during off-times. This will allow them to receive paid training without the stress of adjusting to a new social order simultaneously. Ensure that each new hire receives a checklist of tasks and that the supervisor discusses the policies in detail, which will allow a new employee to ask questions in confidence. The same holds true for training. You should always conduct a regulated training process to ensure that every employee who works in the same position receives the same training. This will lead to better productivity and improved morale.
In order to eliminate charges of unjust promotions or raises, you should have a system in place to gauge employee work performance. This system should be designed in an unbiased way and should match the goals of your organization. That way, when you evaluate your employees, everyone receives a rating based on objective measures rather than subjective feelings.
Because you will have a standard system for employee evaluations, discipline will not be cause for legal action. Employees may try to argue that a supervisor is singling them out, but if you have a set standard for counseling, then you have nothing to fear. Bias plays no part in a formalized discipline system. Make sure to involve several managers in the process, as claims of bias are weakened when the proof comes from different, objective sources.
Black and White
What’s the point of having a printed handbook if no one will adhere to its rules? Your business should run on the principle that what’s printed applies universally to everyone, even in tough situations or rare occurrences. For this reason, if your HR staff allows special circumstances to slip through the cracks or fails to uphold the handbook to the letter, then you need to have a serious discussion with them. You cannot be impartial and allow some to get away with things while others follow the rules. Your handbook should be considered the final word on every situation.
Benefits of HRIS & PEO
A human resource information system (HRIS) or professional employer organization (PEO) can further help you to eliminate employee risk in extreme or especially threatening situations. Sometimes, despite standardized procedures, employees make outlandish claims that could cost a company serious trouble. An HR person might know what to do but be momentarily distracted by the severity of the claim. In these cases, having an HRIS or PEO can alleviate some of the burden and allow the HR department to perform its job efficiently and effectively.
About the Author: Rebecca Whiteside. Read more on The Human Resources Blog.