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As a supervisor of others at your organization – you could be held personally liable for employee discrimination or other legal claims – a scary thought.  It is of benefit to you, your organization, and your employees to learn a tiny bit about human resources to make you a better manager.

Know the Rules

Remember the employee handbook you were given on your first day that you didn’t read?  Yes … now is the time to read it.  Ask for the most up to date version of the handbook and familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures your employees are expected to know and follow.  Consistency is key, understand the rules and apply them fairly across your entire group – strong teams know what is expected of them, and also know that each person will be treated the same if they’re not meeting certain expectations.

Know the Laws

Or at least, these 3 legal requirements:

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Put simply, if your organization has 50 employees that work within 75 miles of each other, your employees are allowed FMLA in qualifying circumstances. Get assistance from HR when you have an employee who is absent for 3+ days or reports a pregnancy, surgery, or serious illness.
  • Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws –Employers cannot discriminate against employees in protected classes in any employment decision included hiring, firing, promotions, transfers, training, and others. Protected classes include race, sex, disability, age (40+), religion, national origin, and sexual orientation (and more – familiarize yourself with any additional protected classes your state may recognize).
  • Workplace Harassment – Managers need to be able to recognize and stop potential harassment and sexual harassment issues. Harassment against protected classes of employees is prohibited and can come in many forms.  All employees have a responsibility to contribute to a harassment-free workplace – but managers have an added duty to enforce and address problems.

Feedback Matters

Communication with your employees is vital – communicate often about top-down company matters to maintain transparency as well as regularly discuss employee performance.  “Thank you” can be said every day, and compliments don’t come nearly often enough in a lot of cases!  Employees that feel recognized and appreciated do better work and maintain loyalty to supervisors and organizations.

On the flip side – if an employee behavior needs to be corrected, communicate early and address appropriately.  Learn how to better document constructive feedback and maintain appropriate records.

No matter whether you supervise one, or many employees – leaders are responsible for providing employees with a safe, productive, and open work environment.  Your HR department can help with any questions you may have about employee issues or legal compliance – we HR pros love to help!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Director of Client Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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