Category Archives: Management

How to Optimize Onboarding

Source: Dave Zielinski, HR Magazine, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

The right tools can make new hires more productive more quickly and save time for HR…

Good onboarding practices can reduce turnover and greatly improve new hires’ time to proficiency. But next-generation onboarding technologies can also eliminate much of the manual work, reduce the chance of problems or delays, and leave more time for HR and line managers to train and socialize new employees.

Using customized portals, today’s platforms allow new workers to complete essential digital forms, learn about teammates and begin developing short-term goals even before their first day on the job. Many also feature artificial intelligence (AI)-driven virtual agents to answer commonly asked questions. These portals can customize workflows to match an organization’s orientation needs and send automated reminders to ensure that all onboarding tasks are completed on time.

The stakes are high for choosing the right onboarding system, since nearly one-third of new hires grow dissatisfied and look for a new job within their first six months of employment, and those who stay take an average of eight months to reach acceptable levels of productivity, according to new research from Gartner. A recent Gallup study found that only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new hires…..

Making Onboarding More Effective
• Define your objectives. Determine the structure and content of your onboarding program. Give careful thought to what new hires need to know about the organization and their roles.
• Identify key players. Onboarding is more than an HR initiative. People throughout the organization need to take ownership of their part in the process by contributing content, serving as mentors and building connections with new hires.
• Stay engaged. Onboarding can last from a few weeks to more than a year. Develop timetables to ensure that new hires stay on track, and suggest resources to help them develop throughout their employment journey.
• Keep tweaking. Gather feedback from new hires about how the onboarding process worked for them and how it can be improved…..

Building a Better Boss

Source: Dori Meinert, HR Magazine, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

Bad managers can make or break your organization’s ability to achieve its goals. Here’s how you can help them improve. ….

…. Bad bosses—whether they’re on the front lines or in the executive suite—can make employees’ lives miserable. The behavior of a poor manager lowers morale and increases stress. Ultimately, research shows, organizations suffer from increased absences, lower productivity and higher turnover. ….

Great managers understand the impact they have on their team members’ work environment.
“Good managers consciously and deliberately choose to create an environment for the team where good things happen,” Deacon says. “A great manager will figure out what each individual can and should contribute, and what the collective ambition should be, and will be very clear on what that looks like.”
The best managers are constantly asking: How do they need my help? How can I help them grow? By encouraging their employees’ growth, they give them something to work for—and create a more productive team as a result, he says. ….

To Prevent Burnout, Hire Better Bosses

Source: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review, August 23, 2019

…. Yet, there’s still one, big unaddressed issue that keeps popping up: burnout. In the U.S. alone, workplace stress costs the economy around $300 billion per year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, and legal and medical fees. Unsurprisingly, study after study shows that stress and burnout are major drivers of staff turnover, accidents, injuries, and substance abuse. Even among the top companies and the most desirable places to work this is a problem — and its generally the consequence of one thing: bad leadership.

In theory, leaders should be shielding their followers and subordinates from stress, operating as a beacon of calmness and safety throughout difficult times. In reality, however, leaders are more likely to cause stress than to reduce it. This problem is far more common than it should be. Millions of employees around the world suffer the consequences of bad leadership, including burnout, alienation, and decreased mental and physical wellbeing. This is particularly true when managers practice abusive behaviors, but at times, it’s their sheer incompetence that demotivates, demoralizes, and stresses out their teams. Lacking technical expertise, having no clue how to give or receive feedback, failing to understand potential, or a general inability to evaluate their subordinates’ performance, are just some of the common signs of incompetence.

To that end, here are four critical lessons you should consider:
There is no better cure than prevention. ….
It is more profitable to remove toxic leaders than to hire superstars. ….
Resilience can hide the effects of bad leadership. ….
Boring is often better. ….

Absence Management—Curing “Friday-itis”

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 17, August 20, 2019
(subscription required)

…Employers should not permit employees to continually extend their weekends by faking illness. By paying attention to patterns and intervening early, employers can reduce the number of days lost to faux sickness at the beginning and end of the week….

PERB Addresses Need for Procedural Admonitions for Post Investigation Union Member Interviews

Source: William A. Diedrich, Neel Ghanshyam, and Marleen L. Sacks, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors of this article discuss a case that highlights the need for employers to conduct thorough, neutral investigations in any situation involving allegations where a union member accused of misconduct, or who files a grievance, has the right to an adversarial hearing.

The Invisible Web of Work: The Intertwining of A-I, Electronic Surveillance, and Labor Law

Source: Richard A. Bales, Katherine V.W. Stone, UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-18, Last revised: June 30, 2019

From the abstract:
Employers and others who hire or engage workers to perform services use a dizzying array of electronic mechanisms to make personnel decisions about hiring, worker evaluation, compensation, discipline, and retention. These electronic mechanisms include electronic trackers, surveillance cameras, metabolism monitors, wearable biological measuring devices, and implantable technology. These tools enable employers to record their workers’ every movement, listen in on their conversations, measure minute aspects of performance, and detect oppositional organizing activities. The data collected is transformed by means of artificial intelligence (A-I) algorithms into a permanent electronic resume that can identify and predict an individual’s performance as well as their work ethic, personality, union proclivity, employer loyalty, and future health care costs. The electronic resume produced by A-I will accompany workers from job to job as they move around the boundaryless workplace. Thus A-I and electronic monitoring produce an invisible electronic web that threatens to invade worker privacy, deter unionization, enable subtle forms of employer blackballing, exacerbate employment discrimination, render unions ineffective, and obliterate the protections of the labor laws.

This article describes the many ways A-I is being used in the workplace and how its use is transforming the practices of hiring, evaluating, compensating, controlling, and dismissing workers. It then focuses on four areas of law in which A-I threatens to undermine worker protections: anti-discrimination law, privacy law, antitrust law, and labor law. Finally, this article maps out an agenda for future law reform and research.

Phishing Scams: Should Employees Be Held Accountable?

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 12, June 13, 2019
(subscription required)

An administrative assistant receives an email from a senior executive asking her to purchase 100 $25 gift cards to be distributed electronically to staff as a thank you for their hard work. The employee purchases the cards, charging the expense on her personal credit card. She sends the executive the cards as requested and submits the charge for reimbursement. When the accounts payable team contacts the executive for approval of the reimbursement, everyone gets a big surprise—the executive never asked for the gift cards. The employee had fallen for what’s known as a “phishing” scam and the scammers have already emptied the cards of their balances.

While the employee is contrite, the executive does not want to reimburse her because she believes the employee should have known better. The entire company had recently received correspondence from the IT department about phishing scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. The employee argues you have an obligation to pay her because she was acting in good faith to perform what she perceived as a duty of her job. The CEO of your organization wants to fire her for putting the company at risk.

If this sounds far-fetched, it’s not. A similar scenario recently played out at a company in the Washington, D.C. area. In the end, the company reimbursed the employee for half of gift cards’ costs, but hard feelings remain on all sides…..

Why do employers keep providing the same ineffective sexual harassment training?

Source: Rebecca Grant, Quartz, June 19, 2019

….Training isn’t the only place most sexual harassment programs fall short. Lilia Cortina, a professor of psychology, women’s studies, & management at the University of Michigan, has found that many organizations flounder in how they handle complaints. Cortina’s research reveals that companies’ formal grievance systems fail for four reasons: they are rarely used; people who file complaints regularly face retaliation; retaliation has negative long-term career and health consequences; and formal complaints rarely lead to the removal of the harasser. Filing a complaint can do more harm than good, if it does anything at all.

Given that current efforts to address workplace sexual harassment are clearly not working, what does an effective program look like? Cortina said the starting point has to be a commitment from leadership to meaningful cultural change, rather than checking a box or looking for a quick fix….

…..When harassment is identified, it’s important that discipline is consistent and does not give the appearance of undue favor. For example, the EEOC found that companies that successfully created a culture of non-harassment “acknowledged and owned” complaints, instead of attempting to bury them, and were willing to hold high-ranking and highly-valued employees accountable. In addition, studies show that harassment thrives in workplaces where there’s a stark power imbalance between men and women, so hiring and promoting more women, and compensating them equitably, can undermine the root causes.

There may always be people who abuse their power and act badly in opportunistic situations, but that doesn’t mean organizations are powerless to stop them…..

At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor

Source: Jerry Useem, The Atlantic, July 2019

These days, it seems, just about all organizations are asking their employees to do more with less. Is that actually a good idea? ….

…. Minimal manning—and with it, the replacement of specialized workers with problem-solving generalists—isn’t a particularly nautical concept. Indeed, it will sound familiar to anyone in an organization who’s been asked to “do more with less”—which, these days, seems to be just about everyone. ….. The phenomenon is sped by automation, which usurps routine tasks, leaving employees to handle the nonroutine and unanticipated—and the continued advance of which throws the skills employers value into flux. ….

….Minimal manning—and the evolution of the economy more generally—requires a different kind of worker, with not only different acquired skills but different inherent abilities. It has implications for the nature and utility of a college education, for the path of careers, for inequality and employability—even for the generational divide. And that’s to say nothing of its potential impact on product quality and worker safety, or on the nature of the satisfactions one might derive from work. Or, for that matter, on the relevance of the question What do you want to be when you grow up?

How deep these implications go depends, ultimately, on how closely employers embrace the concepts behind minimal manning…..