HR Learner in Development

Posts Tagged ‘Accountability

A recent issue of Parents Magazine published an article about maternity leaves and the importance of knowing your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, or as most would call FMLA. As both a mother recently returned from my maternity leave and the point person for Leave Management for my Division, I could not agree with the need for this type of reminder more. So I hope you don’t mind me piggy-backing to spend a little time discussing leave management.

My role leave management role withing the Division sounds simple.  Track people’s leaves.  Mark leaves accurately in time sheets.  Process any actions related to pay changes in our HR Information System.  Where it gets complicated is when people don’t follow policy, don’t know that they can take leaves, or don’t know that they actually have to let us when when they return.

For just a little bit of information on FMLA, it protects an individual’s job from being taken away if he or she needs to take some time away from the office to tend to a medical condition, for self or for a family member.  Every company with at least 50 employees working within a 75 mile radius (the specifications get more granular than this but I don’t want to bore you) must grant 12 weeks of unpaid protected time to any employee who has worked at least 12 months and1,250 hours within the last 12 months before the leave.  This protects individuals who are out for a continuous amount of time (surgery and recovery, including delivery of a child), as well as intermittent time (regularly occurring symptoms & scheduled doctors visits to treat).  While every company falling under the guidelines must give this time by law, some go above and beyond to allow some, all, or even more than this time to be paid time.

Other laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect disability leaves, and require organizations to provide reasonable accommodations to those with disabilities, including extending potential leave time.

In HR, we need an accurate picture of who is out and when so that we can have each individual paid correctly, as well as to potentially provide support to any department in need of additional assistance.  In all honesty, we do not need to know why an individual is out, and sometimes it is better if we don’t know, but we do need to know how it affects the work that the individual does on a daily basis.  Therefore, it is important that we receive doctors notes, not to police, but out of concern for the healing individual.  We want to see proof that the individual is ready to return and able to do the job they were assigned, and if there are any tasks that an individual can still not do as a result of their recovery or continued impairment, we need to not take any retaliatory actions against the employee for not doing what they used to be capable of doing.  No, we don’t want to get sued, but we also really want the employee to be healthy and well, too.

Not all leaves are created equal, but tracking them all is very important


It is also true, however, that people can take advantage of company leave policies.  It then becomes important to know when an individual was out, whether it was protected or unprotected time, and whether they followed the procedure for requesting and notifying the proper people at the right times in order to determine whether coaching conversations or disciplinary actions need to take place.

Ultimately, the organizations that respect individuals leaves will see a better uptick in loyalty from those people who took leaves.  The more generous a leave policy is, though, does not translate to greater and greater loyalty.  There must be a line where employees know they can not take advantage of the organizations generosity.  Organizations benefit from healthy workers.  But unhealthy workers can benefit from being under the wing of a healthy organization.

Take some time to review the leave policies in your department, organization, state, and federal area.  What you find may give you peace of mind, or may show you where you can help illuminate a potential growth area.  Stay healthy! But if you can’t, know your rights.

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I work for an organization that has continued to hire during the recession.  Looking at the pools of applicants we receive for each posted job, it is clear that people are still struggling to find full-time and permanent jobs.  In a pre-recession world, I was advised to review resumes quickly.  Was the individual a job hopper?  We don’t need him.  Has the person been out of work?  She doesn’t need to start again with us.  Wait, they only work part time?  Forget them.

Hiring decisions made in your department could start to offset these unemployment numbers by just considering a few additional candidates you may have overlooked.

However, with the unemployment numbers hovering, continually, around 9%, it is clear that Human Resources, and hiring managers, have a responsibility to consider those what would have been considered ‘weaker’ candidates.

You may disagree with this suggestion, but let me add a side note.  I work for an organization that honors a union contract which stipulates if a member of the union applies for a job within the first week the job is posted, that person is guaranteed an interview if he or she meets the minimum qualifications for a job.  Jokingly termed the ‘pity interview,’ there are instances in which these candidates can surprise us, and even surpass our considerations for the outside candidates we selected ourselves.

The same consideration and courtesy should apply for the unemployed and underemployed during the time of a recession.  If you do place certain limitations on this extension of your search (ex 7 days from the first posting) this consideration should not overly burden you.

Now, I’m not suggesting you hire an under-qualified individual.  These interviewees should be put through the same process as everyone else being considered for the role you are trying to fill.  If they do meet the standards and the needs of your company, by all means, please hire away.

Let’s face it.  Most of us would prefer to hire someone who is currently working in a job (full-time for longer than at least a few months to prove staying power) which provides the appropriate skill base for the job we are trying to fill.  However, there are numbers upon numbers of unemployed individuals who have the skills already, and may even have some extra tricks up their sleeves, but they are being pushed aside, being deemed unworthy.  Let’s overturn this unemployed/underemployed bias and at least speak to those who actually could benefit and appreciate the positions we need to fill most.  We may just end up with a more loyal and engaged group of workers because of it.

And let’s not wait for the politicians to decide how to turn this economy around.  It starts in your department.

To return next week

Thank you for being patient. I will return.

I would like to take a moment to express my joy in returning to my blog.  The past few months have taken a mental and emotional toll on me both at work and home, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to return to a more regular posting schedule, as was planned at the beginning of the year, and I hope those who have been interested in what I have had to say will pick up the pieces with me.

Over the past few months I have had to focus all of my energies on my work.  I have hit some hurdles and reached a stride.  I have some new ideas on posts I can use in the future, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned.

Until that point, thank you for sticking around.  I intend to have smoother sailing from now on.

The importance of feedback can not be understated.  Occasional check ins  are necessary for getting on the same page about successes and areas of growth.  I don’t say ‘areas of growth’ as a mistake; the term weakness is avoided on purpose.

The danger of feedback lies in the negative.  The presence of too many negatives drives the appraised to disheartedness and defensiveness, anger and resentment, often resulting in less productive work, missed days, and disengagement, on the extreme end.  Even just a few negatives can bring a relatively positive conversation to the ground.  Done well, however, it can  be motivating.

Therefore it is vital for those giving the feedback to truely understand the art of it.  They need to understand it as a tool for re-establishing expectations and goals, a method of providing praise to successes and support to the challenges.  Framing, attitude, and timing are key.  They

Even done right, negatives are powerful.  If you delivery feedback:

  1. Know the job that you are evaluating well.  Proper preparations should be taken in reviewing a job description and other like documents. 
  2. Discuss positive performance first.  Statistically speaking, the person will remain in a self-affirming mood when going into some of the more touchy subjects.
  3. State observations, and focus on specific incidences of specific behaviors.  There is nothing worse than vague feedback – there is nowhere to go from there, and a feeling of confusion or even resentment can come out of it.
  4. Provide enough time for the employee to defend him or herself, or talk about his or her present concerns.  If need be, use similar techniques for interviews in this meeting.  Wait for answers, and rephrase questions or suggestions if the person is not responsive.
  5. Set goals together, that you both agree on, that would benefit the growth of the individual and the department by extension 
  6. Finally, don’t just let this be the last conversation.  If specific actionable goals were discussed, check back in to see how things are progressing.

If you are being appraised:

  1. Don’t take the appraisal personally.  The appraisal is intended to bring everyone back to the same page. 
  2. Don’t make snap judgements.  Allow the information to sink in a little.  It’s easy to get emotionally defensive of the work that you do, so it may take some reflection to acknowledge the truth in the feedback.
  3. If you have to, vent about it, but not to your boss or co-workers.  Venting to your boss is dangerous for you.  Bringing your negative emotions to your co-workers can possible poisin the work environment.  Present your thoughts to your non-work relations, and ask them to support you and give you suggestions as to better the situation.
  4. If you don’t understand where something is coming from, ask.  Get specifics, and get suggestions how to be more effective in what is being asked of you.
  5. Take a negative feedback session as a wake up call, and a call for growth.   Frankly, if it’s important enough, if  change does not occur your reputation and your job could be on the line so a serious look at these.  So what behaviors do you need to implement or abandon?  Do any of your workplace attitudes need readjusting? 
  6.  If there is someone who is excelling in an area where you are struggling, ask for suggestions.