Category Archives: Management

Maintaining Performance and Employee Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Carine Risley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article summarizes the key elements that led to a groundbreaking new approach to performance management. Applying research from industries beyond public libraries was essential to upending the way we manage our Human Resources and inspire people to do their best work. Staying true to evidence based practices and building habits were critical to establishing and maintaining successful new processes. San Mateo County Libraries’ performance approach has received a County STAR award and a ULC Innovation honor.

Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues

Source: Sharon K. Parker, Caroline Knight and Anita Keller, Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2020

Covid-19 has thrust many leaders into remote management which requires a different skill set than face-to-face management. They have been forced to make this transition quickly, and for the most part, without training. While some jobs have proven adaptable, many sectors are not well-suited for the remote environment and many workers have home lives that present overwhelming challenges. As a result, some managers may be finding their roles more difficult than before — and making their subordinates’ lives more stressful as they struggle to adapt.

Even prior to the pandemic, managing teleworkers presented unique obstacles. Research shows that managers who cannot “see” their direct reports sometimes struggle to trust that their employees are indeed working. When such doubts creep in, managers can start to develop an unreasonable expectation that those team members be available at all times, ultimately disrupting their work-home balance and causing more job stress.

Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?

Source: J. Yo-Jud Cheng , Boris Groysberg and Paul M. Healy, Harvard Business Review, August 13, 2020

…The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other Black Americans has brought the long history of systemic racism in the United States into sharp focus over the past several months. Pressure is mounting on corporate leaders to consider how their companies can address and rectify ongoing racial injustices. So what are the factors that perpetuate the continuing underrepresentation of Black professionals on boards? And what can be done to change the systems that reinforce these disparities?…

How Managers Can Motivate Employees

Source: Jennifer Thomas, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

A little gratitude and a lot of trust go a long way.

Verbal praise doesn’t have to be elaborate; it just needs to be specific. …. It’s also good to back up your words with gestures. If possible, reward employees by giving them more flexibility in their schedules or by putting them on the path to a promotion. And don’t forget to praise employees for their personal attributes, too. ….

…Employees who think their work has purpose are more engaged, and engaged employees stay at companies longer, are more productive and are 21 percent more profitable, according to Gallup’s 2018 Employee Engagement Report.

And yet, 70 percent of employees are not engaged at work. One way to help them find their purpose is to connect their work with the company’s larger mission….

….Managers must carefully monitor the amount of attention and direction they give employees. Micromanagement is a motivation killer. On the flip side, not paying enough attention to employees can be demotivating, too….

Upskilling Benefits Companies and Employees

Source: Kathryn Tyler, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

Training current employees helps companies meet evolving business needs and gives workers skills required to rise to new heights. ….

… By 2022, 54 percent of all employees will require significant upskilling, according to the World Economic Forum. Many companies have already made a commitment to train current employees to help them develop skills to meet the changing demands of their jobs. In the process, workers often acquire advanced digital skills that qualify them to be promoted to positions in high demand….

….“Generation X and Millennial employees rank ‘lack of career progress’ among their top reasons for leaving a job,” Aiken adds. “Upskilling reduces turnover.” ….

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
(subscription required)

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.