Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is an Important Shield Against Discrimination in the Workplace

Organizations are bound by the EEOC. If they have to be compliant with employment regulations, one of the most important things to do is to adhere to the EEOC.

Equal employment opportunity is a prominent hallmark of Affirmative Action in the US. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came into being to ensure equal employment opportunity in the US. Such recognition is all the more prominent in this multicultural country, whose organizations attract people from all over the world.

First, What is Equal Employment Opportunity?

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action

It is an employment practice that is guaranteed by a Federal legislation, theEqual Employment Opportunity Act (EEO). Passed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the EEO prohibits an employer employing 15 persons or more from discriminating against any person seeking employment, on the basis of these five factors:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Nationality of origin
  • Religion

Related legislations

A few supplemental statutes have been added to strengthen the provisions of the EEO. These include:

  • Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
  • Age Discrimination Act
  • The Rehabilitation Act
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
  • Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which is yet to be passed by Congress

5 attributes for employee assistance program

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a program that an organization implements to ease some of the personal problems faced by its employees. An employee assistance program is largely voluntary, in that it is not mandatory either for organizations to implement it, or for very employee to avail it.

employee assistance program - TrainHR

According to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, here’s what to look for:

  1. 24/7 phone response. Seek out providers that have trained counselors on duty answering a toll-free phone line at all times. Avoid EAPs that require users to navigate an elaborate phone tree before reaching a counselor.
  2. Confidential services. Licensed, professional counselors should deliver assessments and face-to-face counseling sessions in safe, private and confidential offices. Make sure there are enough counselors in your area to deliver timely services in both urgent and nonurgent cases.
  3. Referral support and follow-up. The EAP should assist employees by providing referrals for long-term or specialized care based on assessed needs, recommended treatment and employees’ financial resources. The EAP should provide follow-up and ongoing support for employees.
  4. Crisis intervention. Will EAP counselors come to your facility if there’s an emergency, such as an incident of workplace violence? Good EAPs can provide counseling for traumatized employees. They can also help management coordinate emergency-response plans.
  5. Substance abuse expertise. Given their disproportionately great impact on the workplace, drug and alcohol abuse problems often represent the bulk of EAP cases.

Performance assessment has to be SMART

In simple terms, performance assessment is the assessment of an employee’s performance during a period of time. Usually –although not necessarily –done once a year; a performance assessment is a major indication of what the employer thinks of an employee’s work. It is a determinant in pay raises, because most appraisals are carried out after a performance assessment.

The SMART approach

Organizational behavior experts propound the SMART approach to performance assessment: Specific outcomes, Measurable (How often? How well?), Attainable and Agreed upon, Relevant and Realistic to the department and employee, and Timeliness of accomplishment.

Quality should be the yardstick

The most important criterion of a performance assessment is quality. Nothing speaks of an organization more or better than the quality of its goods and services. So, the quality that an employee delivers at work should be the first measure for performance assessment, since this is what helps the organization produce the quality that is required for competing in the market.

True, targets are important, but no quantity of work is useful unless quality goes into it. Even in fields like sales and marketing, where everything is judged by numbers; quality is important because finding a few good quality customers is more important than selling to customers who will be forgotten the next day. So, for performance assessment to be fair, the quality of work the employee delivered is the most important benchmark.

Fairness

This is a very important aspect of a performance assessment. Both management and HR should be completely fair and unprejudiced when carrying out a performance assessment. Fairness means giving the devil its due. It is quite natural to fall prey to some prejudged attitudes about employee behavior, but nothing should come in the way of a proper performance assessment. If an employee performed exceedingly well, but the management does not like his attitude to work, performance assessment should be understood for what it is –a performance, and not an attitude assessment. Attitude is important, but in the case of employees with sloppy attitude, the assessment has to be of a different nature.

Reference:

http://www.unh.edu/hr/sites/unh.edu.hr/files/pdfs/employees-role-in-performance-assessment-process.pdf

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Broad provisions of the National Labor Relations Act

One of the landmark legislations pertaining to labor relations in US history; the National Labor Relations Act was passed by the American Congress as far back as in 1935. It was one of the most prominent Acts passed during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.  Since it was New York senator Robert Wagner who was instrumental in formulating and promulgating this piece of legislation, it is sometimes also referred eponymously as the Wagner Act.

The highpoints

The outstanding features of this statute are: it

a)     gives private sector employees to organize themselves into trade unions;

b)     gives them the right to engage in collective bargaining to secure better working conditions and other employment terms;

c)      guarantees improved conditions at work, and

d)     gives them the right to take some forms of collective action, which can include the right to strike work if they think it as being necessary.

 

While these points form the nucleus of this statute; the National Labor Relations Act also made way for the creation of the National Labor Relations Board. This board is given oversight of conduct of elections to unions and other employee-oriented bodies.

When members are voted to important positions of this board; the National Labor Relations Act hands labor unions the status of sole representatives of workers. This is the only legal representation of workers, and is the only body with which the employer has to engage on matters concerning collective bargaining.

Who are exempt?

While National Labor Relations Act brings under its panoply virtually all kinds of employees and workers in the private sector; there are some types of employees who are exempt from its provisions. These include:

a)     employees who come under the Railway Labor Act;

b)     those who do domestic work; those engaged in agriculture (those who work for agriculturists);

c)      independent contractors;

d)     those who work for the government at any level –local, State or federal, and

e)     some kinds of close relatives of employees.

References:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/national_labor_relations_act_nlra

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

 

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Identifying employees that have leadership mettle

Identifying people with leadership skills is perhaps the most important task for an organization that has its eyes on the future. Every organization has employees from across the rank and file with leadership capabilities that can take the organization forward. It is just that many of them never get to the limelight, as a result of which they leave out of frustration. In many organizations, even after such employees have left; the impact is never realized fully, because the reason for which they left was something the organization created in the first place.

Put a system in place

To avoid such a situation, the organization has to have an efficient system of identifying leadership skills in an employee. There are various ways by which this is done. The nearest and easiest person to identify a tyro with leadership potential is the manager to whom he reports. He is the most vital source for spotting and nurturing leadership skills. Rookies who have just begun their career will report to a manager who has no idea at the beginning about the new recruit’s potential.

The manager is the ideal person

This manager should be the first contact through whom the leadership skill is recognized and given shape to. With no prejudice towards that employee, the manager should make an objective assessment of such skills. The manager should try out by giving assignments and challenges in a graded manner. Since the novice is at the manager’s total disposal; he can try out various combinations and permutations of identifying skills.

Test the beginner in a variety of ways

He can start by allotting simple tasks. If the new recruit achieves the task with ease, he can be tried for greater roles, all of which demand good leadership skills. A good candidate is one who takes every task as a challenge and gets fuelled by greater complexity levels. Doing this consistently should be easy for the manager to locate and then if need be, refine these skills.

There are a few drawbacks

Often, the flip side of this exercise is that the manager could end up overrating an employee in whom he subconsciously sees a reflection of his own management style, which may be far from perfect. Spotting leadership mettle can suffer other drawbacks, too. There are innumerable instances in which a manager’s blue-eyed body is the one who is most favored for promotions.

Dealing with experienced employees

If this is the case of handling rookies, there are other occasions on which people with leadership potential are gifted to an organization on a platter. When employees are consistently denied leadership growth, one organization’s loss is another’s gain. All that an organization needs to do is to recruit the frustrated employee. Once he has been recruited, a simple thing the new organization can do is to give him opportunities of the kind he was missing earlier on. This will bring about many benefits by bringing the best out of him.

It will motivate the employee highly, because he is freshly out of the old organization. He will show the enthusiasm of a proselyte and work in the new organization till he drops dead. The other major benefit is that such an employee will be easy to retain.

Manager is important here too

Here too, the manager is the most important person in identifying leadership potential. Of course, since this kind of employee is not raw and carries some experience; it calls for different dynamics. The experienced employee may have ego issues with the new manager. Or he could have other issues like reluctance to carry out instructions. These factors have to be taken into account in such situations. It calls for handling such persons with suave. They would not like to be shouted at, which is a small luxury for a manager dealing with a greenhorn.

HR can help

For these bottlenecks to be overcome, HR has to step in. It can, in fact, initiate the entire process. To make sure that spotting leadership in the organization is a collective process and one that is free of errors of the type we saw; irrespective of the experience of the employee that joins the organization, HR can start identifying leadership potential from day one of the employee’s tenure.

It can interact with the manager on a regular basis and keep itself updated on the progress the employee that the manager has identified as one with leadership potential, is making. It could keep a close watch on this employee’s attitude towards work and life. It could be a good point of contact between this employee’s manager and the top management.

Ensure objectivity

Another important way by which HR can play an active role in the process is by placing or being a filter in the selection of the employee with leadership potential. We saw that there are a few drawbacks in the method of identifying leadership skills. HR is the best suited department to ensure that the manager does not show favoritism or is not erring in his judgment. It can use its own assessment skills to cross check and reinforce the manager’s choice. This will ensure that the organization reaps the best out of the employee with leadership potential.

There is one point that HR needs to address when it is doing this. HR itself has to be completely free of prejudice. If it is assigned the task of verifying the manager’s choice and carries a bad memory of the manager, it is likely to mar a bright prospect.

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Retaining your best employees

Make no mistake: how to retain your best employees is one of the toughest challenges for any organization. If finding the best people is one big challenge; keeping them is a bigger one. But when the organization does not know how to retain its best employees, it is certainly a reflection of its weakness.

Key factors

HR or management has to understand key factors that make employees remain with the organization for which they work. Pay is a factor, but certainly not the most important one. With most good employees, the most important reason for working for a company is the recognition, appreciation and freedom associated with their position. HR and management have to find out the reasons for which the best employees work in the organization: what they value in the organization, what they don’t like, what they expect and so on. How to retain the best employees is often a function of these factors.

Understand their needs

First and foremost, HR and management need to understand and create the right environment for helping employees to grow in the organization. The best employees are usually fired by challenge. They want to experiment with new things and try out lots of ideas. If they find that the organization is not providing them, it is certain that the organization will have lost an important factor in how to retain the best employees.

What is freedom?

HR has to understand that freedom means different things to different people. For some, it is about being given the opportunity to fly high. For others, it could be being allowed to work from home. For some others, freedom could consist of being asked to work in flexible working hours.

Of course, giving unbridled freedom has its flip side; too, since fueling an overambitious employee’s challenging nature can sometimes be expensive. It has to be pragmatic and judicious in selecting person for the right challenging assignments if it has to understand how to retain its best employees.

Create the right environment

Many a time, good people leave organizations for the bad work environment. Some people don’t like the politics at office; others may not like being bossed, and yet others may be averse to domineering from above. HR plays a vital role in how to retain the best employees if it goes to the root of the matter. It has to create the right, positive environment at work, something that will take effort and time.

References:

http://www.adeccousa.com/articles/Want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html?id=21&url=/knowledgecenter/employer-articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx&templateurl=/Employers/resource-center/Pages/read-article.aspx

http://www.tlnt.com/2013/03/18/4-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-help-keep-your-best-employees/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4305-why-retaining-your-best-workers-is-a-challenge.html

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/15/2958498/want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html

http://www.roberthalf.com.au/EMEA/Australia/Channel%20Descriptors/rh-au%28en%29/PDFs/How_to_keep_your_best_people_lowres.pdf

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Give respect, earn respect

The wise say that life is like entering a room that echoes. Once inside the room, shout a bad word; it repeats after you. If you shout a sweet word; it throws back the same at you! The same holds for respect. The more you respect someone, the more you get back of the same thing. So, how to demonstrate respect at work is dependent on what you want to expect from people in return.

Respect is reflective

It is a simple, but important fact of life that the more one respects others, the more she gets of the same in return. It is always true that a courteous and polite person is more likely to be respected at work than one who is foul-mouthing others and is abusive and loud. There are some ways by which one can show how to demonstrate respect at work.

Respect for a manager

A manager can show how to demonstrate respect at work by being understanding and supportive of her team. A manager who knows her team’s strengths and works in collaboration with them facilitates a conducive and amiable environment. This is a natural prescription for earning respect. Respect is never demanded or commanded; it is always earned. It goes without saying that a manager who earns the respect of her team is the manager of a very productive team.

Respect for the employee

If this is one of the ways of how to demonstrate respect at work; the employees who report to the manager have ways of showing it, too. They can be polite, punctual, professional and efficient. When do people demonstrate all these qualities? Only when they are respected; which is when they too respect their manager, in turn. Earning and giving respect is thus never one-sided. It is mutual, reciprocal and complimentary.

One may invent false ways of how to demonstrate respect at work; but this is never going to work in the long run. True and sincere respect from peers at work is always done out of one’s own volition, and is what may be termed as something that comes from the heart. It is only when this happens that there will be true meaning in how to demonstrate respect at work.

References:

http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/03/16/to-earn-respect-you-must-show-respect/#comments

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/demonstrating-courtesy-respect-workplace-34529.html

http://www.richmondhill.ca/documents/cc_enews_06_04.pdf

 

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