Kate Bischoff – Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:32:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Ethics of Social Media Searching During Recruiting https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/social-media-searching-during-recruiting/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/social-media-searching-during-recruiting/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 10:00:47 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1133 From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work. by […]

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social media searching during recruitingFrom time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work.

by Kate Bischoff, Employment Attorney & HR Consultant, tHRive Law & Consulting LLC

These days, employers have oodles of information at their fingertips. However, when it comes to hiring, some employers are still reluctant to dive headfirst into the sea of information that includes social media searching during recruiting. I’m here to tell you, the water is calm, deep, and welcoming. In fact, pretty soon, not diving in could become a problem for organizations looking to hire the best talent.

As employers, we know that someone with a violent past should not work with children or vulnerable adults. We know that an accountant candidate should not have a prior grand-larceny conviction. This is why we conduct background checks: to prevent potential harm to our customers or organizations.

For some employers, though — even those who routinely administer background checks — social media searching during recruiting seems rather taboo. But in my opinion, you should gather as much information about potential candidates as you can. It’s publicly available information, and it’s perhaps the easiest way to combat hiring regret.

Consider this hypothetical situation: You are hiring a Customer Experience Manager. You’ve got several great candidates with excellent resumes, but you haven’t conducted any Web searches because you’ve heard looking at social media profiles could get you into legal trouble.

Soon, the hiring manager makes a decision, and you bring on Sebastian.

Sebastian’s first few weeks are great, but by the end of the first month, his work ethic is rapidly deteriorating and he’s spewing negativity everywhere he goes. Suddenly, your Social Media team discovers tweets he’s published that decry the organization and complain about general ineptitude in management and customer care. Backdating his profile, it becomes obvious that he took this same socially aggressive stance at his previous employer, appearing unable to control his negativity after a difficult day at work.

What do you do?

There are many different paths you can take. You may be able to let Sebastian go, but his activity could be protected under the National Labor Relations Act steering you right into an NLRB charge.  You could keep him and ask that he delete his posts, but again, you could run head-first into an NLRB charge.  You could ask him why he feels this way, address his poor work ethic through a performance improvement plan, and counsel him on your social media policy.  But you could have likely prevented this issue in the first place by quickly glancing at his social media activity, which would have revealed his 140-character tirades with a previous employer, before preparing the offer letter.

Using a simple search engine will usually provide all you need for social media searching during recruiting. Only the public versions of those profiles are available, but you can usually learn more about each candidate based on the information they choose to share. If you’re already using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to source candidates, you can also use these to research candidates. And you can do it while mitigating any legal liabilities.

Here are the steps to do this safely:

  1. Decide what will disqualify candidates in advance. A small typo in the cover letter may not disqualify a potential engineer, but it probably will disqualify a copyeditor applicant. It’s the same with conducting social media-based “background checks,” but it’s important to agree to disqualifying terms ahead of time.
  2. Have HR search. The main concern about reviewing social media is the potential to gather protected-class information. HR is more likely to know and work against bias than a hiring manager who has only heard the phrase but has not been aptly trained. Also, HR probably isn’t a decision maker—they simply report the information. (Quick reminder, if you have a third party do your social media searches, the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies, so tread carefully.)
  3. Wait. Do not search the profiles of every candidate. That’s way too time consuming. Wait until you’re down to your top five, three, or two candidates.
  4. Ask the candidate. I know this one is difficult, but social media is rife with mistaken identity, unknown trolls, and more. Even if you find objectionable content, give the candidate an opportunity to explain it. This provides a sense of fairness to the candidate and gives them an understanding of why you may decide to move in another direction.

Today’s social discourse is full of sensitive and objectionable opinions and activities. Wouldn’t you rather know about these issues beforehand? I certainly would.

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Firing an Employee: What to Do When it Has to be Done https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/firing-an-employee/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/firing-an-employee/#respond Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:00:57 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1058 From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work. No […]

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From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work.

No one really enjoys firing an employee. It’s a tough decision for any employer—who has invested time, money, and a great deal of energy—to let a person go and move on. But even if it’s not easy, it’s sometimes necessary.

I offer, then, a few pieces of advice to consider when firing an employee.

Employee Resentmentfiring an employee

Have you ever been the employee working diligently on a project, only to grow frustrated because your colleague isn’t pulling their weight? Ever see another employee engage in activities that hinder workplace productivity? We likely all have. In each of those situations, firing an employee might be the best option to ensure engagement and morale among your other employees remains positive.

Allowing misbehavers and poor performers to stay ignores accountability and everyone else. Other employees deserve everyone to be held to an equal, fair standard. Ignoring a problem because you’re afraid to let someone go is a mistake. It’s important to address a situation as soon as possible, whether through dismissal, a lateral move, or another effective action that resolves the issue.

The Opportunity to Resign

Sometimes, employers like to give employees the opportunity to resign, so the employee can say they resigned rather than being terminated. While this is empathetic of the employer, I see two flaws in doing this. For one, it’s not the truth. Employees (and employers, for that matter) should be held accountable for their actions.

Second, letting an individual resign might actually work against the now-former employee. If an employee resigns, they may be ineligible to collect unemployment or training support from unemployment agencies. I’m a big proponent of giving people the opportunity to receive unemployment when they can.

Mid-Week Terminations

Is there an “ideal” day to fire someone? I believe it’s Wednesday.

When you fire an employee on a Friday, the remaining team goes home for the weekend concerned about their jobs. They might be concerned about how they fit in at the company, or their own job security. You may have terminated a popular employee, who they will miss. The adjustment is unsettling. Dismiss someone on Monday, and those worries could impact morale for entire week (or longer).

If you act on a Wednesday, however, there are two more days for the team to ask you questions and get reassurance. By the following Monday, things have most likely settled down, and the dismissal has probably become a distant memory for many.

Dismissing an employee isn’t fun. But, on occasion, you have to do it. So, consider this advice when you have to take action. Because ignoring the situation will likely lead to bigger problems—and that’s not good for anyone.

Kate Bischoff is an energetic and enthusiastic human resources professional, employment/labor law attorney, and technology aficionado. She loves HR and wants to make companies better – not just compliant. To read more from Kate, find her HR-related posts here: http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/blog/author/katebischoff/

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Employee Handbooks: Your Ultimate Guide https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-handbook-guide/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-handbook-guide/#respond Thu, 11 May 2017 10:00:58 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=997 From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work. Guest […]

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From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work.

Guest post by Kate Bischoff, Employment Lawyer & HR Consultant

Shoved deep in some desks of supervisors and employees, the employee handbook resides.  For some, the handbook has lived in this dark corner of the workplace for years without a thought or care. In other workplaces, the handbook rests right there on the desk, enjoys frequent reading, and is referenced when needed. Where does your employee handbook live?

employee handbookLawyers, like me, love handbooks (I’m not joking). Handbooks set expectations—both employer and employee expectations. Take, for example, one of the most important policies: sexual harassment. From this singular policy, employers can expect employees not to engage in sexual-harassing conduct, and employees can expect the employer to do something about it. Employees learn what the employer defines as sexual harassment and how employees can report it if they see, hear, or otherwise experience it. And, as a bonus for lawyers, we can use the policy to protect the employer if a claim is ever raised.

Employee handbooks take on all shapes and sizes. Some are true tree-killers, coming in at over 100 pages.  Others are on smartphone apps available at employee fingertips 24-7, with links to forms that an employee might need. Here are a couple of tips for all handbooks:

Make Them Readable & Accessible

Some of the best advice I ever received was “write for fourth graders.” This is especially true for handbooks. While all of your employees might be post-graduate-degree holders, a handbook with too much legalese, jargon, or seven-syllable words is not going to be understood by most.  If you write it to a fourth grader, your employees (and potential jurors) can better understand it. It’s accessible and, therefore, meaningful.

Handbooks Should Contain Only What’s Necessary

Hundred-page handbooks make my heart hurt. Employees are probably not going to read such tomes, even though they acknowledge an in-depth reading at the start of employment. Plus, with such detail, it is unlikely that the employer is doing everything it says it will do in a handbook of that size. An at-will employment statement, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, leave (and FMLA, if it applies), and some state-specific policies are the only policies employers must include. My favorite add-on policy is “use good judgment in all situations.” It pretty much covers everything else.

Use Your Handbook!

If you say you’re going to do something in your handbook, do it. Forgetting, picking and choosing, or actively working against what’s in your handbook hurts you and your people, because you show that the handbook doesn’t mean what it says. This breeds mistrust and resentment among employees. You don’t want this, even though you have the power to change the handbook at any time, with or without notice.

Talk About Your Handbooks with Employees

Employees should have a handbook available to them. They also should have a member of management, including HR, available to answer questions about what’s in there. Walk through the handbook with new employees. Hold a meeting to discuss changes when you make them.  Being open and honest about what’s in there helps create an environment of trust.

Update, Update, Update

One last thing, please update your employee handbook. Run it past your friendly neighborhood employment lawyer. Like life, employment law moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around at it once in a while, you could miss it. In all seriousness, new requirements are made all the time. Being out of compliance is easy if you don’t regularly have someone take a look.

Handbooks are creatures of culture. If your handbook sets a tone of doom and gloom, that will be reflected in your culture. Think about this when you draft, revise, and rollout a handbook.  Find the right person to work with you to make your handbook a useful tool that employees look at, value, and don’t shove into the dark recesses of their desks.

Kate Bischoff is an energetic and enthusiastic human resources professional, employment/labor law attorney, and technology aficionado. She loves HR and wants to make companies better – not just compliant. To read more from Kate, find her HR-related posts here: http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/blog/author/katebischoff/

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HR Compliance in a Legal Whiplash World https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-compliance-predictions/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-compliance-predictions/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 11:00:45 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=873 From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work. Guest […]

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From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work.

Guest post by Kate Bischoff, Employment Lawyer & HR Consultant

HR compliance is hard. Employers are subject to so many different laws that even the most seasoned HR practitioners can innocently overlook legal changes. Last year was a particularly fast-paced year for employment law changes. We saw so many different laws and minor tweaks that one would hope 2017 would slow this down just a smidge. Don’t hold your breath, HR, because 2017 promises to be just as fast and maybe even more confusing.

Watch the Locals

With the federal government in conflict over nominees, travel bans, and religious policies, state legislatures, county commissions, and city councils are busy bees. Sick and parenting leave, minimum wages, and scheduling rules are all under consideration by local lawmakers. Even Linn County, Iowa with just over 210,000 residents upped its minimum wage and continues to study whether it’ll increase wages even further.

Employers need to know what their local lawmakers are doing. The laws being made on local levels always differ from the eventual state or federal laws that follow. We may be forced to doing some fancy HR yoga to comply with both. If you want a voice, get involved through industry-specific organizations or local chambers of commerce, or by contacting lawmakers directly. Trust me, when HR has a say in making the law, compliance is easier.

Ice Your Legal Whiplash

HR complianceLast year was a whirlwind year for employment law at the federal level. The U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, the “blacklisting” rule, and new overtime regulations among others had employers confused and working diligently to find ways to comply. Yet, it appears that only a few of the new federal laws will actually come to fruition. The fiduciary rule is now under review. The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to repeal the “blacklisting rule.” And, the last-minute injunction imposed by a Texas federal judge remains in place on the overtime regulations. While we don’t know how the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will decide whether the salary-basis part of the new regulations is within the DOL’s discretion, it’s only natural that employers feel like they’re suffering from legal whiplash.

This feeling will likely continue. We’re almost a year away from filing a new EEO-1 pay report that the new Acting Chair of the EEOC dislikes. So, could this change? Maybe. The makeup of the ever-controversial National Labor Relations Board will change and, with it, the Board’s decisions on social media and respectful workplace policies will likely swing the other way too.  Get out your icepacks. We are likely in for a bumpy ride for awhile.

Count Your Sick Leave

For the last decade, employers have known that they need to provide some sort of paid time off (PTO) for employees. This PTO has included sick leave, vacation, and even time off to attend school conferences. But, PTO has not been a legal requirement for many employers until now. Chicago, Minneapolis, Trenton, and many others have all enacted new sick-leave ordinances with other localities considering enacting such ordinances soon. Employers have to ask themselves, Got sick leave?

The challenge with the new sick-leave laws is how to calculate the PTO. For example, in St. Paul, Minnesota, employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. This calculation may be very different than the years-of-service method that determines the amount of PTO a full-time employee accrues under an employer’s policy. For HR, this means we have to be careful calculating earned PTO, and even reverse-engineer the amount of time offered to employees. Remember, employers can always pay more—even in sick leave—just never below.

Befriend an Employment Attorney

The only guarantee I can make for 2017 is that you’re going to need to know an employment law attorney. Employment attorneys are required to know the laws in their jurisdiction. The need to pay attention at city council meetings, attend hearings at state legislatures, or at the very least follow the #emplaw hashtag on Twitter to keep up are essential functions listed in our job descriptions. Meet us, let us buy you a donut or lunch, and ask us lots of questions to help keep you in compliance.

Kate Bischoff is an energetic and enthusiastic human resources professional, employment/labor law attorney, and technology aficionado. She loves HR and wants to make companies better – not just compliant. To read more from Kate, find her HR-related posts here: http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/blog/author/katebischoff/

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