Workplace violence has to be tackled at all costs

Workplace violence is one of the major impeding factors of productivity. Although the causes for workplace violence are deep-rooted and are a result of psychological, social and emotional factors; it is quite a problem at the workplace. Employees who behave violently or have a tendency for violence can always be a threat to the safety and peace of the employees in the organization.

What acts fall in the bracket of workplace violence?

Workplace violence includes acts such as acts of physical violence by which violent employees target their colleagues physically, disruptive and destructive behavior, harassment, threats of violence, and intimidation. In organizations that have workplace violence, a low level of motivation is observed. This affects productivity and hits at the organization’s self-esteem. Also, when employees who are victims of workplace violence file lawsuits; the organization suffers in other ways.

How does HR cope with workplace violence?

Workplace violence has to be tackled at its roots and has to be uprooted from there. HR should identify employees who have a tendency or potential or capability for carrying out violent acts. If this problem is identified in the early stages; there is opportunity for successful outcomes. It can deal with workplace violence in a number of ways professionally:

  • Encourage victims to share their experiences, as this will give them the confidence that they are being heard
  • Call both the victim and the perpetrator and talk to them objectively to create a case if there is one
  • Keep an eye on employees who boast about their capacity for creating or causing violence
  • Make sure no employee carries a weapon or objects that can cause injury
  • Survey the workplace thoroughly and sanitize it against weapons and harm-causing objects
  • Keep a record of violence and see if there is a pattern
  • Train other employees about ways by which to recognize early symptoms of workplace violence and supply them aids with which to protect themselves
  • Use professional help from professionals such as counselors or psychotherapists to understand the root cause and implement their suggestions

References:

http://www.usda.gov/news/pubs/violence/wpv.htm

http://www.masterclassmanagement.com/

http://www.hr.ucdavis.edu/supervisor/Er/Violence/Brochure

http://www.masterclassmanagement.com/ManagementCourse-DealingWithViolence.html

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Imbibe a workplace culture

One of the strongest indicators of an organization is its workplace culture.  It is one of the definers of what the organization stands for, both in business and outside it. Workplace culture is akin to family culture, in that just as people outside the family recognize it by its culture; organizations too, get reflected by it.

Understanding workplace culture

So, what is workplace culture? It may be defined as a unique set of values, outlooks and characteristics that stand out in the workplace. Organizational ethos is best reflected in its workplace culture, because it is through this trait that the world sees the organization. It is the most visible face of the organization.

Set of behaviors and outlooks

Workplace culture is reflected in how the organization behaves with its employees, and how they in turn work towards it. In many organizations, many managers who have otherwise been very efficient and of high standards have not got along well with the organization because they have not gelled with the workplace culture.

What should the workplace culture show?

The organization’s workplace culture becomes apparent from the way the employees are made to feel comfortable or otherwise. The ideal workplace culture is one in which employees feel at ease and don’t feel stifled. The workplace culture should foster free exchange of ideas between the top brass and the employees. This facilitates a free flow and exchange of ideas between employees, leading to improved productivity and a friendlier workplace.

Reflection of organizational values

More than anything else, workplace culture should be one in which employees feel like associating with and staying connected with the management. An organization that brings about free flow of ideas and practices nondiscrimination, honors its commitments to employees, is collaborative with its employees, recognizes and rewards good employees and takes genuine interest in the employees’ wellbeing and growth is bound to have a sound workplace culture. A workplace culture is built on the belief that happy and contented employees are naturally productive.

References:

http://www.businessinsider.com/workplace-culture-is-important-2013-1

http://www.attitudeworks.com.au/AW_pages/attitudes/positive/positive.html

http://www.denverpost.com/topworkplaces/ci_22970656/employee-friendly-workplace-culture-key-company-success

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Streamlining is crucial to workforce management

Workforce management is about time, attendance, and absence. Managing these is very important for HR, because it is important to keep the workforce aspects such as clocking and other elements in place. It is important to keep these streamlined, because that is when HR has a clear idea about things like leave, productivity, time off and others.

How to understand Workforce Management?

HR has its task cut out when it comes to workforce management. Its work at workforce management starts as soon as the organization’s team has been put in place. Whoever has been hired has to be monitored for things like time, attendance and absence from work. It should ideally consist of these functionalities:

  • Work or task scheduling
  • Tracking individual employee competency
  • Core and peripheral aspects of team management
  • Planning and forecasting of work

The time, attendance, and absence factors of workforce management

Many of today’s workforce management applications come with time, attendance and absence factors. It has real-world recording to not only the number of employees who clock in and out; it also keeps track of some payroll functions, as well. The aim of having such a workforce management application is that it helps to streamline work from not only regular employees but also part-timers and consultants.

So, a workforce management system should ideally have components such as:

  • Work scheduling
  • Log and analysis of demand planning, which helps to forecast
  • Payroll, which helps in budgeting
  • Tracking of employees’ competency, which helps analyze skillsets
  • Analysis of skill gaps, which help in professional development and training
  • System for recognition and rewards
  • Labor and time management, which helps pay for consultants and part-timers

Reference:

http://www.friartuck.net/resources/wfm/what-is-wfm.htm

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It is mandatory to implement provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a defining law of labor relations. Being the operative law on labor standards; it sets out minimum wage and working hours for employees in any sector.

It has rules on recordkeeping, overtime pay and child labor. Promulgated first in 1938; the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been amended many times over the years, accommodating changes that have taken place over time.

The types businesses covered

These businesses are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act:

  • Enterprises with employees who carry out business within or outside their respective states
  • Firms doing business of no less than $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business applies

Those to whom the Fair Labor Standards Act applies irrespective of business volume

The Fair Labor Standards Act has exceptions for some kinds of organizations, no matter what their business size:

  • hospitals
  • institutions that take care of the sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled that reside on the premises
  • schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled or gifted
  • preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and federal, state, and local government agencies.

Other workers covered

Other workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act include domestic service workers – such as –cooks, chauffeurs, day workers, housekeepers, or full‑time babysitters, so long as they receive at least $1,700 in 2009 in cash wages from one employer in a calendar year, or if they work a total of more than eight hours a week for one or more employers.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers of covered employees a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour, with effect from July 24, 2009. For those aged below 20 years, the minimum wage paid should be at least $4.25 an hour during the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer.

The Act also clearly states that an employer need not remove any worker from work if the need for hiring someone at the minimum wage or age arises.

References:

http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/minwage.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Labor_Standards_Act

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The exit interview is sometimes as important as the entry interview

We all tend to think that the only interview that really matters is the job interview. It is, for sure. There is also another kind of interview that should be counted as nearly as important as this –the exit interview. We all know that the exit interview is the one done to the employee who has left the organization. Just like how a job interview, or the entry interview has a set of questions that candidates are usually asked; many in HR prepare a standard set of questions to even the employee who is on the way out.

Not universal

First of all, many organizations do not consider it necessary to conduct the exit interview. This could be because of many factors. One, their HR could have convinced them that it is a waste of time interacting with someone who has already left. Second, it may have convinced itself that there is no better employer than itself and that the employee who left the organization has lost the opportunity of a lifetime. Worse still, a few employer develop a kind of vengeful attitude toward the leaving employee, being even intimidating it its approach to the departing employee. This could be especially the case in smaller companies when the leaving employee has plans of starting on his own and becoming a likely competitor. No matter how cheap and dirty this approach is; it is a reality in many places.

No place for complacency

All of these approaches are plain wrong. Of these, let us see where HR could be faltering in terms of the exit interview and what it could do to correct itself.  If the HR believes that there is no need to conduct an exit interview; it is skewed in its thinking about the perception the organization carries in the minds of employees who worked with them till recently. If an employee is leaving, he must have done so for a number of reasons. If the resignation is because of personal reasons like higher education or to change the profession into doing something more satisfying; that is fine and understandable. But if the resignation is due to lack of job satisfaction; then HR has lost an invaluable opportunity to see things in the right perspective by being smug in its attitude.

HR’s role and assessment are all-important

If an employee is leaving disgruntled and disappointed; that is where HR has to really act. This is because at the time of the entry interview, there is hope that the candidate could be a long-term prospect who could deliver for the company in the years ahead; whereas when an employee has actually quit, it could mean that there is something brewing within the organization that needs remedying.

The exit interview is the best means to understanding what the resignation means to the organization. By being gently prodding; HR can elicit information about what behavior or actions on the part of the organization made him take this step. It should then analyze in a very objective manner if the problem is rooted in the organization. If it is; it is squarely on HR’s shoulders to take action on this. This is a great way to understanding how to take the organization forward vis-à-vis its most important resource –the people.

Understand the reasons

A good employee’s resignation due to dissatisfaction should sound the alarm bell. The organization has to introspect on what could be the likely future situation. Is this a case of isolated disenchantment? Or is it the first of what could be a trend in the near future? If it is the second of these; it could bode terrible things for the organization. This is when HR has to take the top management into consultation and press the emergency button.

Other reasons for leaving

There are occasions when an employee leaves not for any disrespect or problem with the organization per se, but because of a general disagreement with his immediate manager. This too, can be sorted out, if HR and top management could sit with the two parties together and listen to both of them patiently and fairly.

There is also a scenario when it is for insufficient pay that the employee is leaving; it is an easy problem to fix. HR should have a talk about what the employee’s expectation is. It should then see if it is realistic and in tune with market conditions. If the employee is being unreasonable in his expectation; then HR can talk it out with him and make him understand that this is not realistic.

The exit interview is where all these are discovered

If HR has to zero in on the reasons for which an employee has left; the quality of the exit interview has to be very high. It has to be structured to not just understand inane aspects like working hours and facilities or the dress code, but should lead to the heart of the matter in a rather unobtrusive and nonintrusive manner.

It is certainly a challenge to elicit all these from the quitting employee for a number of reasons. First, since he has already made up his mind to leave; the exit interview may not make any great impact on the employee himself. He may answer many questions without any seriousness. Unless answering it is for his own benefit, he is unlikely to be truthful.

HR has to convince the employee into giving the right answers. After all, he is not going to be held into account for giving answers that are not to the management’s liking. If HR could insist on the usefulness of this exercise, it is likely to get the desired answers. This is all the more true of situations where the employee has had a grouse with the management which could be set right with an open and fair discussion. It all eventually boils down to how much that resource is respected and important within the organization. That should be the deciding factor in making exit interviews useful, meaningful and pertinent.

Reference:

http://briancwatkins.com/2012/learning-from-the-exit-interview/

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Teams are the building blocks of organizations

Team building is one of the core skills a good leader brings into organizations. One of the most important parameters by which a leader is rated is in his capacity for team building. This is because the difference a leader makes is in not just how he functions as a leader, but by what he builds and leaves behind.

A good team is indispensable for a number of factors

An effective team building strategy is a must for a good leader because more people can contribute together when functioning as one unit, rather than as individuals. Another important advantage of team building is that while together they can fortify individual strengths; some in the team can compensate for the weakness of one or more members of the team. Team building is critical to leadership succession too, because the team can take over from the leader after his departure from the organization.

What does it take to build a team?

Team building is one of the most vital functions a leader carries out. It is carried out over the long haul, and not something that is done as a matter of daily task routine. The leader has to keep a close eye on some of these points:

What to build the team for

A leader entrusted with the task of team building has to begin by asking oneself this most elementary question: for what purpose in the organization should the team building be done? The leader has to decide on the specifics of the purpose. What is the team going to be for? Is it for the organization’s core function or secondary function? What department or area does the team need to be built for? Is the team to consist of young or old employees? These and related questions form the core of what the teambuilding exercise has to be focused on.

Whom to select

This follows the first point logically. Once the leader has decided with going ahead with team building and the purpose for it; the next matter to consider is which of his employees will be part of the team building exercise. In other words, the leader has to decide which of his team members will go into the core team building activity. For this, the leader needs to be aware of his team’s strengths and weaknesses. He then has to make a selection of his employees for team building.

Roles

The third important component of team building is what role to assign to each of the team members. This too, is largely dependent on the knowledge the leader has of his team members and the expectations he has of each of them. This completes the triad of teambuilding. All these are to done very judiciously, because his decisions at team building are critical for the organization’s future.

Reference:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226063

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Talent management is a talent

It is now clearer than ever before to organizations’ managements that if there is one really important factor that separates an extraordinary organization from an ordinary one; it is in talent management. Employees are an organization’s biggest asset, and the ultimate asset for an organization is the employee with talent.

Talent management –what is it?

All of us have some or another talent at various phases of our lives. When any of us nurtures our talent and grow with it and make it the core of our careers; it means we have a talent at doing things that our careers demand of us. So, talent is the potential or flair for doing things well and consistently excelling at it. This is the most important quality an organization looks for, because people grow to their best and give in their best when they are allowed to use their innate talent in doing this.

This is why talent management is the new age mantra. Organizations have come round to the realization that nothing helps them grow better –not technology, not process or any system –as much as employees’ talents. When employees have the ability to do things differently over time, the business is made.

How does an organization recognize and handle talent management?

One difficulty organizations face with talent management is that talent is often difficult to spot. Generally, it is true that the extrovert gets noticed more easily and is thus easier to identify. But what if the really introverted employee has loads of talent, which the organization’s HR or management will not be able to discover all that easily? This is one of the first challenges of talent management. This is why HR has to be consistently on the lookout for talent. If it fails to recognize talent in the organization; it will have done the organization a big disservice.

Nurturing it

The next big thing for talent management is to grow it and take it to a point where the organization grows, and to retain this talent for a long time, for the organization’s good. There is no use of talent that lies hidden in some corner of the organization and is not even known about. HR has to not only spot talent; it has to collaborate with management to ensure that this is exploited (this word is used in the positive sense here, of course!) for the organization’s good.

The onus of talent management thus lies to a vast extent on HR. The way it spots talent and takes it to its logical outcome is an indicator of its own talent.

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