Document, document, document! It’s the mantra of the human resources profession. Create timely and thorough documentation for all employment decisions. On the other hand, supervisors and managers often view documenting as a chore they simply don’t have time for.
But do they have time for the following all-too-common scenarios?
Rebecca, has performed her data entry job poorly for several months. She is consistently late and her work is often inaccurate. The manager has spoken with her and given deadlines for improvement but the deadlines have come and gone. The company decides to fire her but wants to wait a few days until the manager returns from a business trip. Before he returns, Rebecca suddenly goes out on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a problem with her back. Upon her return, the company fires her for poor performance. She claims the company retaliated against her for taking FMLA leave. Without documentation of her performance problems, the coaching efforts or the timing of their termination decision, the company has no defense against her claim of retaliation.
Joe, performs some aspects of his graphic design job well but is often slow to get back to customers. Co-workers pick up his slack. Resentful, two of the best employees quit so the supervisor knows she needs to fix the situation quickly. She approaches Human Resources about firing Joe. The HR administrator check’s Joe’s personnel file and finds several years’ worth of good performance evaluations. So she says, “You can’t. At least not yet.” The supervisor and HR work together on a coaching and performance improvement plan that will take a couple of weeks to implement. The turnover adds pressure until replacement staff can be hired and brought up to speed. Staff members grumble louder than ever.
A supervisor in a retail store, Marcus, asks employee, Kaitlyn, out on dates every day. She tells him, “No, thank you” but he keeps asking and makes comments about her body that make her feel uncomfortable. It is Kaitlyn’s first job and she doesn’t know how to handle the situation so she quits. She was given a copy of the company’s sexual harassment policy on the first day, along with a stack of other papers. No one told her what was in the policy, she never read it, nor did she sign an acknowledgment that she received it. Her mother helps her contact the EEOC. They decide to pursue two claims: one for sexual harassment and one for constructive discharge. (Constructive discharge is when an employment situation is made so intolerable that a reasonable person would quit.)
All of these scenarios are preventable! Supervisors and managers and those responsible for handling human resources need to understand that creating timely documentation is a critical part of their role. Here’s why:
1. Documentation is vital in an employer’s defense against discrimination and other employment claims;
2. Memory alone will serve poorly in court. The lack of documentation will be a glaring omission and could paint the employer in a potentially suspicious light, particularly in a jury case as juries are notoriously pro-employee;
3. Documentation can explain how a situation was handled when an individual involved is no longer available to testify;
4. Documentation can verify that employees have read (or heard) and understand information they were given;
5. Documentation helps supervisors provide accurate and constructive performance feedback to employees.
There are several different types of documentation, depending upon the circumstances. We’ll look at these and practical tips on key information to include in Part 2. Stay tuned.
Employee retention can be impacted by a number of different organizational forces, which start the moment the employee steps in the door to interview for the job. One of the most important things to remember is that first impressions can set the tone for the whole experience. You want to make sure that both the employee and the organization are on the same page and know what to expect from each other.
Some effective steps:
Start with the Interview
A successful retention strategy starts with the first interview and continues throughout the employee’s career. The interview is an essential tool for both the prospective employee and the interviewer to gauge each other’s needs, abilities, and future plans. An employee’s career starts with interviewing, it is their first impression of the company and how they operate.
The employee orientation provides a chance for the new hire to become familiar with their new surroundings. This should be a time of low stress for the employee, giving them the opportunity to meet co-workers, learn the layout of the office, and further their understanding of the vision and mission for that organization. Why do you need to do an orientation? It sets expectations for both parties at the beginning of the job and helps to develop positive attitudes, job expectations and job satisfaction.
Designing Your Orientation Program
The first thing you want to do when creating an orientation program is to define what you want to accomplish with the program. In doing this, keep in mind what kind of impression you want to make on the employee, in other words what are the stories they will be bringing home to their families after their first day/week on the job.
Get Them up to Speed Quickly
Have their email address, phone number etc already set up prior to their arrival. Give them a glossary of common terms, all orgs have their own language. Pre-arrange a “buddy” who will be there if they have any questions or concerns. Prepare a quick “help” card listing contacts for different questions.
A Lasting Impact
A well thought out orientation program, whether it lasts one day or six months, will help not only in retention of employees, but also in productivity. Organizations that have good orientation programs get new people up to speed faster, have better alignment between what the employees do and what the organization needs them to do, and have lower turnover rates. Which translates into dollars.
I recommend: For a comprehensive online Human Resource Compliance service that provides support in areas including employee hiring and orientation, check out HRSentry.
Tips & Tactics
Who is doing the interviewing? Are they up to speed on the job? Do they understand the legal framework for questions? Are they a “people” person? All of these things will impact how interviews are conducted and how effective they are.
When designing an orientation program it can be helpful to sit down and make a list of what you need the first day, the second day, the first week, and so on.
How can you reduce the first day jitters for new employees? Send them a letter prior to their first day with info in it: What time to arrive, where to go, where to park, who they will be meeting with, what to bring with them (documents for I-9 form etc). Also celebrate their arrival by doing something such as hanging a welcome sign with their name on it by their office.
Onboarding: This is the modern term for the process of interviewing, hiring, orienting and successfully integrating new hires into an organization’s culture. The best onboarding (orientation) strategies will provide a fast track to meaningful, productive work and strong employee relationships.
Who should be Involved: The people who need to be involved in the onboarding process include the HR department, team members of the new hire or a “buddy” from that area, and members of other functional areas they will be working with on a regular basis (ex: payroll/finance), their direct Supervisor, and a member of the management Team.
For more tips and resources on employee orientation program “HRSentry” users should access the “New Hire” kit after logging in. If you are interested in becoming a user please contact us at (800)523-2564, or firstname.lastname@example.org.