Category Archives: Management

The Effective Use of Zero Tolerance Sexual Harassment Policies: An Interdisciplinary Assessment

Source: Mark V. Roehling, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 71, Issue No. 2, Summer 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The use of zero tolerance sexual harassment policies is a common employment practice that is both widely advocated and widely criticized. Advocates of zero tolerance policies describe them as a best practice that is “essential”, “the only way forward”, and something companies should be “forced to do”. On the other hand, critics of zero tolerance policies, including the EEOC Select Task Force on Harassment, characterize them as misleading efforts that are not only ineffective in preventing sexual harassment, but also potentially counterproductive.

What explains these sharply contrasting assessments? What are the key factors that should be taken into account in evaluating the conflicting assessments and making decisions regarding the adoption and implementation a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy? This article addresses these questions and is organized in four sections. Because the outwardly conflicting assessments of zero tolerance policy are due in part to different uses of the term “zero tolerance,” the first section addresses the different meanings given “zero tolerance.” The second and third sections identify and discuss the potential benefits and potential pitfalls of zero tolerance policies. The discussion in these two sections is interdisciplinary in nature, addressing the potential benefits and pitfalls from both legal and behavioral science perspectives. Drawing on the interdisciplinary assessment of the potential benefits and pitfalls, the final section provides recommendations intended to assist employers, and the lawyers and human resource professional who advise, make well-informed decisions regarding the adoption and effective implementation of zero tolerance sexual harassment policies.

Pandemic Pandemonium: Navigating Employment Considerations in the Face of COVID-19

Source: April Boyer, Rio Gonzalez, and Erinn Rigney, Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2020
(subscription required)


From the abstract:
The global outbreak of COVID-19 presents significant issues for employers attempting to manage global and domestic workforces, address business disruptions, and navigate developing regulatory guidance and requirements. COVID-19 has led to seismic disruptions for employers, irrespective of their size or earlier financial stability. Amidst this pandemic, employers are continuing to wrestle with several challenges, including understanding and complying with new and existing laws, implementing workplace safety measures, and monitoring evolving federal, state, and local government responses and restrictions. Further, employers are beginning to assess re-open strategies and preparing to implement innovative solutions to an altered operational landscape. This article addresses how COVID-19 has affected businesses from an employment perspective; provide an overview of various regulatory changes; and identify future considerations as employers develop return-to-work strategies within the shadow of COVID-19.

Coronavirus and COVID-19

Source: SHRM, 2020

Communicable diseases like coronavirus and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19, can bring a busy workforce to a standstill. Look below for the latest news and updates, as well as critical member-only resources. In addition, here is key information to help you to work your way through the pandemic:

  • Review our coverage most read by SHRM members, plus a complete list of all content we’ve published on COVID-19.
  • Visit our resource page on Remote Work guidance and best practices.
  • Compare policies regarding layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts on the Employee Termination and Layoffs resource page.
  • Explore our COVID-19 Express Requests to learn about the CARES Act and much more.

Job Turf or Variety: Task Structure as a Source of Organizational Inequality

Source: Nathan Wilmers, Administrative Science Quarterly, OnlineFirst, Published February 25, 2020
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From the abstract:
What explains pay inequality among coworkers? Theories of organizational influence on inequality emphasize the effects of formal hierarchy. But restructuring, firm flattening, and individualized pay setting have challenged the relevance of these structuralist theories. I propose a new organizational theory of differences in pay, focused on task structure and the horizontal division of labor across jobs. When organizations specialize jobs, they reduce the variety of tasks performed by some workers. In doing so they leave exclusive job turf to other coworkers, who capture the learning and discretion associated with performing a distinct task. The division of labor thus erodes pay premiums for some workers while advantaging others through job turf. I test this theory with linked employer–employee panel data from U.S. labor unions, which include a type of data that is rarely collected: annual reporting on work tasks. Results show that reducing task variety lowers workers’ earnings, while increasing job turf raises earnings. When organizations reduce task variety for some workers, they increase job turf for others. Without assuming fixed job hierarchies and pay rates, interdependencies in organizational task allocation yield unequal pay premiums among coworkers.

Why Public Employees Rebel: Guerrilla Government in the Public Sector

Source: Gary E. Hollibaugh Jr., Matthew R. Miles, Chad B. Newswander, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Employee recalcitrance and employer reprisal are ever‐present conditions in public service. Yet we have limited knowledge of the forces that move administrators away from acquiescence and toward antagonism. The authors follow the theoretical thrust of behavioral public administration to better understand administrative behavior by targeting the determinants of guerrilla government actions. They do so by presenting the results of a conjoint experiment embedded in a survey of federal bureaucrats. Findings show that decisions to pursue guerrilla activities are conditional on a multitude of factors—namely, the bureaucrat’s personal views of the directive as a policy solution, the compatibility of the directive with the bureaucrat’s ethical framework, the status of the person issuing the directive, and the probability that the directive might cause harm to others. Notably, these decisions generally are not affected by the probability of retribution or the expected type thereof. However, they are affected by the magnitude of harm that may ensue if orders are obeyed and not resisted.

Evidence for Practice
– Ethics matter. When employees see that a policy might contribute to considerable human suffering, the likelihood of guerrilla government activities (“the actions taken by career public servants who work against the wishes—either implicitly or explicitly communicated—of their superiors”) increases.
– Managers should seek to persuade employees of the moral fabric of their decisions, which is one option that may curtail guerrilla government behaviors.
– Managers should be aware that the probability of punishing employees does not significantly deter their acts of guerrilla government.
– Managers should also be aware that the type of retribution employees may suffer does not significantly deter their decision to engage in guerrilla activities.

Employees Accuse Google of Developing ‘Surveillance Tool’ to Prevent Unions

Source: Ryan Gallagher, Bloomberg, October 24, 2019

Google employees are accusing the company’s leadership of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor workers’ attempts to organize protests and discuss labor rights.

Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers’ computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.

The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, “is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.”

Gartner: Of the 4 manager types, only 1 boosts employee performance 26%

Source: Deborah Barrington, CIO Dive, October 22, 2019

….Part of building a strong team, according to Jaime Roca, senior vice president, Gartner, during a panel at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo, lies in the type of managers charged with the development and enrichment of employees. Roca is the co-author “The Connector Manager — Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent and Others Don’t.”

A Gartner survey of 7,000 people asked how proficient they are in their current roles on a scale of 1-7, with 1 as the lowest and 7 as the highest degree of proficiency. The bulk of respondents, 70%, rated their skills between 1-5.

That means managers, already up against productivity goals, must find time and opportunity to upskill the people who report to them.

There are four basic types of manager, said Roca on Monday:
– Teachers: Managers who develop employees’ skills based on their expertise. Expect teachers to steer employee development on a track that matches their skills and experiences.
– Cheerleaders: This style of manager takes a mostly hands off approach and offers very supportive feedback.
– Always on: Opposite of hands off. This group provides feedback and coaching constantly.
– Connectors: This is the ideal management style for developing talent. These leaders give feedback that aligns with their area of expertise. Where they stand out is in their ability to connect people who can offer strength in a variety of skills. Connectors join people on the same team, but can reach out to the broader organization or outside of the organization to match people who have complementary skills.

According to Roca, one of these types is toxic — and it likely isn’t the one most would guess. ….

Writing in Race: Evidence against Employers’ Assumptions about Race and Soft Skills

Source: Jessi Streib, Jane Rochmes, Felicia Arriaga, Carlos Tavares, Emi Weed, Social Problems, Advance Access, October 9, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Sociologists have not tested this belief and provide competing theories about whether it is likely to be true. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills. Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. We discuss the generalizability of our findings and their implications for theories of access to these skills.

Antipolitics and the Hindrance of Performance Management in Education

Source: Jeffrey W Snyder, Andrew Saultz, Rebecca Jacobsen, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Performance management reforms are a popular way to try to create responsive and improving government. These types of reforms have become commonplace in education policy and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART) has been one of the leading venues for research on these topics. However, under-analyzed are the ways in which performance management policies represent antipolitical bent to education reform. We outline an argument that avoiding political decisionmaking in favor of reforms that create authoritative or purportedly neutral data risks undertaking policy change are not as meaningful as hoped. We select eight articles that represent research on performance management broadly and are thought provoking for a broader consideration of performance management in education policy.

Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration

Source: Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
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Ask any leader whether his or her organization values collaboration, and you’ll get a resounding yes. Ask whether the firm’s strategies to increase collaboration have been successful, and you’ll probably receive a different answer. ….

One problem is that leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.