It’s becoming increasingly clear that many people will be working from home for a significant period of time. It’s also likely many managers will be leading a completely remote team for the first time.

This no doubt was thrust on both parties with little time to think, talk or prepare for this new way on working.

will call for managers to operate very differently.  We know that the way we engage and
communicate with each other is informal when people physically work together.
Great managers understand their people and can pick up on changes by observing
both individual and team behaviour. 
However, both of these become more challenging as people work from home
or remotely.

There is a huge, positive opportunity here – 80% of people who work remotely say if it’s done well their engagement and morale improves and 62% say they feel more trusted. This is an opportunity to be grasped.

Here are my top 6 tips for managers who find themselves in this position:

Clarify what matters

In times of crises and change people look to their managers and leaders to provide clarity, support, guidance and direction. True leaders will step forward and recognize the importance of their role. They will start by reinforcing why the work the team does is important. 

The more it’s aligned to a compelling purpose the better, this creates meaning. Leaders who are good at this get their people excited about the work they are doing and why it’s important. Leaders need to walk the talk; be visible and available to their teams, but they also need to demonstrate energy and the ability to make tough or difficult calls on behalf of the team.

A leader’s true values will be tested when under pressure. It’s relatively easy to live your values when times are good. However, when success and results hang in the balance an authentic leader will demonstrate what they are prepared to sacrifice and the trade-offs they are willing to make. Leadership is about putting your people first and yourself second. 

Set expectations

Set clear expectations about this new way of working, including your expectations of people’s availability and accountability as well as how often team and one-to-one conversations will take place.  My advice is to do the generic scene-setting with the whole team so they all hear it together at the same time.

Make sure there is plenty of time for questions and ask for ideas. How do we make this work together? Then, have one-to-one conversations with each member of the team about their specific deliverables and what you expect of them and when. Clarity is important but also giving people the space and opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and explore the issues avoids misunderstanding and difficulty later. Don’t rush the process.

Listen and communicate

Team Communication is always an important part of a leader’s role but when your team are all working remotely it becomes critical. Recognise you should spend more time talking, listening and engaging with your people – its important people feel connected.

Firstly if possible use video rather than conference calls but even they are preferable to the dreaded email with all the potential for there is for misunderstanding . The opportunity to use video is a god send in these circumstances and is so much easier today with the tools available such as Zoom, Skype and Google hangouts.

Over 60% of communication is non-verbal so seeing people as they talk enables you to pick up on non-verbal.  Keep the team communicating as a whole – I suggest ensuring regular team meetings continue and to start this new way of working you may want to do it more regularly than normal perhaps 2 or 3 times per week initially.  This gets people comfortable and allows people to test how it works for them.

Allow time for small talk; people may feel isolated or even lonely after a few days with little social contact. A good way of doing this is to get everyone to check in (say how they feel at the moment) at the start of the call/meeting. It’s also a good idea to still do creative or brainstorming sessions with the team asking for ideas or solving problems together this enables to team to feel connected and that they are making a collective contribution.

Encourage one-on-ones

One-to-ones must continue and as with team communication you may want to do them a little more regularly to start with. As a leader ask lots of questions to find out what’s going on for each individual. Set shared agendas in advance and make sure you know what you’re going to be covering.

Preparation is more important for conversations over the phone or video as they tend to be shorter and more business focused. Actively listen to what’s being said and try to avoid assumptions, talking over people and ask questions to clarify what’s meant so you’re not at crossed purposes.

Be friendly

Foster friendships amongst the people that work for you. Apart from the formal calls and meetings encourage people to have informal calls so they stay connected. We know people feel more engaged and passionate about their work if they have confidants and supporters at work. This may atrophy if it’s not encouraged.

People go to their work friends when they need help or want to celebrate or commiserate about things at work. In the absence of that support work can seem lonely and isolating. It lacks attachment. We may like what we do but we won’t be fully energised or motivated if we don’t have close and supportive relationships at work.

A study by Harvard Business Review showed that remote workers are much more likely than on site employees to worry that co-workers say bad things behind their backs, make changes to work projects without telling them in advance, lobby against them and don’t fight for their priorities. Be a leader who fosters a culture of open positive friendships among co-workers – this will avoid these concerns becoming a reality.

Make yourself available

Be responsive and available. Set time aside in your calendar so people know you are happy to catch up on anything. The thing that makes people feel distant is the communication time lag. If people have to wait hours for a response to something they are working on or an idea they have, whether it’s right or wrong people feel it’s not important to their manager.

Setting time aside where your available online or over the phone to provide feedback or insight instantly helps people feel recognized and listened too.

Many of things I propose will feel
unnatural to start with but if you persist then there is no reason why your
team shouldn’t be us productive, creative and energised as if they were all on
site together. In fact, you may find that they perform better and deliver
better results working this way! Out of adversity comes opportunities.

The post The 6 top tactics for inspiring your remote team appeared first on HR Morning.

As social distancing becomes the new normal throughout the US and the world, professionals across industries are making drastic and immediate changes to their work and presentation styles.

With the quick shift to working from home, business leaders, lawyers and sales and marketing teams are navigating new terrain—figuring out how to effectively communicate in a way that will achieve a desired outcome while working remotely.

There’s nothing quite like the energy and connection that a face-to-face interaction can create, but we have to try to work with what we’ve got. With that being said, just because we’re in a period of social distancing doesn’t mean that work and persuasion come to a halt.

Remote work was a rising trend before the COVID-19 pandemic, with regular work-at-home growing 173 percent since 2005. With so many additional businesses moving to a work-at-home structure for the time being, it’s safe to assume that broader long-term adoption will become even more prevalent over the coming years.

It’s a good idea for professionals to start learning now how to connect remotely to stay  ahead of the curve. Here are a few tools and tactics that will help you become a successful and persuasive communicator via a remote connection.

Stick to the basics

Even through a remote connection, the basics of persuasion apply. It’s vital that you do your homework and learn about the decision maker. Just because you aren’t meeting face-to-face doesn’t mean that you can skip the groundwork you would regularly complete

What are your target’s demographics? Do they have any special interests? You’ll need to establish an even stronger bond to persuade via remote means, so flex your research talents and learn about your target.

You should also continue to find their needs and pain
points. Learning this information will help you demonstrate to your decision
maker that you understand their goals, even if you can’t see them in person.
Establishing a strong sense of understanding will help you build trust and
allow you to position yourself as an advisor. This trust will be critical for
remote persuasion. 

Leverage technology

Although working from home can create another level of separation from your target, technology has progressed leaps and bounds when it comes to interpersonal communication.

Tools such as Zoom and Skype for Business allow your audience to see your face. You should leverage your entire technology suite to help you persuade remotely.

Visuals must lead your decision maker to your desired conclusion. Create polished presentations to either show via conference call or email ahead of your meeting. When you might not regularly do this when meeting face-to-face, you may consider incorporating a video presentation as well.

Video can be a terrific way to establish an emotional connection with your decision maker, providing for a unique story telling opportunity complete with visual and musical cues.

Nearly 90% of professionals indicated that a strong narrative was critical in maintaining their attention. Engagement with your story is more important than ever, as you’ll be competing with additional distractions including family and pets.

Develop a style

Personal energy exchange is very difficult via a computer screen. You must determine who you are as a presenter in this new medium. How can you be more dynamic through remote connection? Before jumping on a conference call, practice on your computer by recording yourself and playing it back to see how you present on camera.

Think this is taking it too far? Consider the first time you had to leave a professional voicemail and were put on the spot to communicate your needs in a brief message. It took time to sharpen those skills and you’re probably a pro now!

The same is true for online presentations. It might take a few rounds to get comfortable, but at this point in your career there’s no time to fumble. “Practice makes perfect!”

Be memorable

Would you do a face-to-face meeting and not follow up? Absolutely not! You would always follow up with your decision maker and you need to continue that with a remote connection. Think about ways you can stand out in the crowd. How about an old school, handwritten thank you note sent to their home?

During a time when personal connection is minimized, it might be an opportunity to brighten your customer’s day and build trust. Just make sure you send to the correct address. If they’re also working from home, a note to the office will get lost in the shuffle.

Persuade … at a distance

While many professionals are used to persuading through face-to-face interactions, the current climate calls for a new tactic. Just because you can’t meet in person with your decision makers doesn’t mean that you can’t still do your job

Learning to effectively persuade via remote connection is possible, and by following the basic principles of persuasion, leveraging your technology suite, setting time to practice and developing ways to be memorable, you still have a strong chance at leading your decision maker to the desired outcome.

While remote persuasion may take a bit more effort and preparation, you can get the results you seek if you take the time and keep these guidelines in mind.

The post How to be a persuasive communicator while working remotely appeared first on HR Morning.

As HR leaders try to scale their organizations in 2020 and beyond, strategic business decisions come down to strategic people decisions.

But in order to grow your company, empower front line teams and maximize efficiency, you often need people-centered technology to help you achieve these goals.

In fact, according to a recent Gartner Report, “88% of chief HR officers say they need to invest in three or more technologies over the next two years.” 

However, HR and People Operations leaders face many challenges when it comes to their day-to-day jobs and getting the resources that they need in order to execute their forward-looking initiatives. On top of having limited resources, today’s people leaders are overburdened with work and administrative tasks.

And 51% of HR leaders say, “…They didn’t have enough staff to appropriately handle the workload this year.” With a lack of budget for headcount, new technologies are positioned to support smaller HR teams to do more with less.

As a former Head of HR and the current CEO of a People Operations Platform, I’ve had direct experience with and currently work alongside HR industry leaders struggling with these types of issues. I often see HR leaders spending a great deal of time trying to get a seat at the table, achieve executive buy-in and showcase the ROI on their initiatives.

CFOs and key decision-makers frequently ask HR leaders to “show them the money” when it comes to making a case for investing in software or technology to improve the candidate, new hire and employee experience. 

While a numbers-first approach may work in business, treating people like numbers has a negative impact on any organization’s employee retention and therefore ultimately impacts their bottom line. As many as 40% of employees currently feel disconnected from their place of work, leading to disengagement, a drop in productivity and shorter employee tenures. When you think about it, HR professionals are every organization’s first line of defense, and they are responsible for safeguarding their company’s most important asset: people. 

While HR leaders struggle to deliver best in class employee experiences to increase retention and employee engagement, they’re having to evaluate how HR technology, AI and automation can better support them in their job and as people leaders. However, you can’t automate humanity. 

The more personalized your candidate-to-employee outreach is, the more your employees feel that you and your organization cares about them. So how can HR and People Operations leaders best assess AI, automation and how it can best impact their work and improve their organization?

Strategically deploying AI in HR

In my experience working with and helping HR leaders kickstart and support employee engagement initiatives, I’ve seen three key applications of AI in HR. AI can give People Operations leaders important insights when it comes to analyzing their people data, and using that data to make actionable decisions.

For example, at this stage of development, AI can (1) make recommendations, (2) provide predictions and (3) showcase anomalies based on previous employee patterns.

So how does this work in practice? AI can help HR leaders anticipate certain people changes, whether it’s based on previous employee tenures, promotions, or shifts in roles. Once HR leaders understand their people data, they can start their recruiting efforts in advance of having an empty role, design programs to improve career paths and create career mapping.

AI can highlight patterns like how long, on average, it takes an sales rep to get promoted to account executive, or showcase that perhaps you have very few experienced engineers on your team and in the upcoming year need to invest in more education and workshops for internal employees so that they can up-level their skill sets. 

One of the advantages AI gives HR leaders is that in the
best of cases, it can provide better recommendations based on thousands of data
points that the average HR person does not have time to analyze. When it comes
to candidate outreach for example, the AI in recruiting software sifts through
attributions, hundreds and thousands of resumes that fit a specific profile,
and that intake of data informs their recommendations. 

With recruiting specifically, HR leaders often find that they miss out on top candidates and talent because their response time wasn’t fast enough. But by automating messages or scheduling times to meet, automation does the bulk of the manual work for HR teams so that they can focus on how they will strategically position their company, do research on their candidate, and highlight parts of the organization that People Ops teams know from experience that their top talent is looking for. 

AI: The human connection

There can be a downside to AI and automation however, and that can be that the more communication or messages that are automated, the less human they can feel. However, when comparing HR technology, automation and AI tools, you should look to see how customizable these tools are, and program them to feel curated for your particular employee or candidate. 

Take for example the widely shared Spotify feature, “Your Top Songs.” This interactive feature is essentially a year in review, sent to millions of listeners, so the type of communication shared itself is not unique. However it’s the curation of what information is highlighted, your favorite song or artist, that makes it feel unique to you.

Perhaps you had no idea you listened to Billie Eilish 3,000 times last year, maybe that even scares you, but the reason Spotify continues to refine, iterate and offer a “Your Top Songs” feature is because it connects them to their customer base, it goes above and beyond and it shows their customers they care.

The same can be said of the way you program your messaging for your candidates, new hires and employees. You can, for example, design pre-boarding email templates for a sales team that very much reflect that specific team’s culture, automates team specific invites to go on outings to the opening night of Star Wars or whatever pop-culture event a particular team is obsessed with.

The more you inject personality into different team communications, the more you show that you’re listening, paying attention and trying to support the existing culture initiatives your team leaders are working hard to build. 

When utilized correctly, AI and automation can help reduce the administrative workload HR leaders face so that they can focus on bigger, strategic initiatives. To assess what types of AI or automation could be most effective for you, it’s important to review your people data and see where you can make improvements.

From there, when you start to automate messaging or leverage AI for recruiting, it’s essential to create personalized messaging that reflects your company’s values. Once the candidate is farther down the recruiting funnel, complement the speed and efficiency AI has given you to focus on researching and creating personalized communication so your candidates and new hires feel like they see themselves reflected in your company and in its communication.

After all, AI is only one tool that can help Human Resources. The most successful Human Resources leaders make sure they maintain their human connection to their people.

The post How AI will power the human side of Human Resources appeared first on HR Morning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently provided new guidance regarding workplace cleaning, disinfecting, social distancing and ventilation in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation in the U.S.

Social distancing

When it comes to social distancing, the CDC recommends establishing policies and best practices for the individual workplace, especially if state and local health authorities are recommending it for your area, according to updated guidance on the CDC COVID-19 webpage.

This means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining 6 feet from others when possible.

Recommended strategies include:

  • implementing flexible worksites, such as teleworking
  • implementing flexible work hours, like staggering shifts or lunch breaks
  • increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
  • increasing physical space between employees and customers, such as using drive-through services or partitions
  • implementing flexible meeting and travel options, like postponing non-essential meetings or events
  • downsizing operations
  • delivering services remotely, such as using phone, video or web services, and
  • delivering products through curbside pickup or delivery.

Building ventilation

The CDC recommends improving engineering controls for building ventilation, including increasing ventilation rates and the percentage of outdoor air circulating into the system.

Environmental cleaning, disinfecting

All frequently touched surfaces in the workplace should be cleaned frequently. This includes workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs.

Other cleaning recommendations include:

  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them with detergent and water before disinfecting.
  • Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective against COVID-19. Follow manufacturer instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices and work tools and equipment. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  • Provide disposable wipes so employees can wipe down commonly used surfaces before each use. Use products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the respective surface.
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after individuals who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.
  • If a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow all CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.

For additional information

Unpacking the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for Employers

Complying with the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is challenging because so much of the new law is long on legal mandates and what employers must do, but short on the details of how to do it. Employers are left confused and not sure where to start.

This 75-minute workshop provides up-to-date guidance on how to interpret what the Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family Medical Leave provisions of the FFCRA actually mean; and what employers need to do now to comply with the new mandates.

The post CDC updates COVID-19 disinfecting, social distancing guidance appeared first on HR Morning.

EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon issued a reminder to employers to be vigilant for instances of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or race.

Dhillon said in a news release, “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen many examples of people rising to the occasion, helping others in need, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice to themselves.  Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent.”

And in the workplace, she said, such discrimination is illegal. The commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

The EEOC chair urged employers and employees “to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.”

The President has recently changed his own racially-charged descriptions of the coronavirus after warnings of anti-Asian incidents and complaints from lawmakers, advocates and the Chinese government.

Additional information about national origin and race discrimination can be found at the EEOC website:

The post EEOC reminds employers on racial bias appeared first on HR Morning.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, employers are permitted to check employees and job candidates for fevers, the EEOC said in recent guidance.

Employers may ask if employees and candidates are experiencing any other symptoms of COVID-19 as well.

Send symptomatic workers home

Typically, requiring a body temperature check would be
considered a medical exam and is forbidden under the ADA. However, during this
pandemic, the EEOC is making an exception.

Employers may also require any employees or candidates exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home. It’s important that the names of those affected remain confidential.

It’s also crucial to note that if you ask one candidate
about symptoms, you must ask all of them, or it could be considered
discriminatory. Employers may also delay the start date of any new hires
displaying symptoms.

The post EEOC OKs asking employees, candidates about COVID-19 symptoms appeared first on HR Morning.

During these challenging times, it’s important that HR leaders remain physically and mentally healthy, and yet, they are the first ones to forget to add themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness.

By better maintaining their health through self-care strategies, and by building support, HR leaders can more effectively develop the overall wellness that they are striving for.

HR leaders face a variety of challenges throughout the day. Some of these are daily tasks common to most employees at every level within the company – from getting up in the morning, commuting to work, caring for children and/or elderly parents, to time demands, technology demands and balancing work and a personal life.

However, HR leaders face the additional
challenges associated with managing constant uncertainty, attracting and
engaging talented staff, handling the bombardment of information from various
levels, and maintaining a strong health and benefits program.

Bill Wilkerson, CEO of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, identified the following as the top ten sources of workplace stress.

These make HR self-care a priority

The treadmill syndrome – Often, HR leaders have too much to do, too many responsibilities, and feel that they should be even more productive. Learning to delegate appropriately, prioritizing and being more realistic about what they can and should be achieving, can help to tackle this syndrome.

Random interruptions – Telephone calls, walk-in visitors, and ‘emergencies’ from the teams that they support. Goal setting, time management and assertiveness strategies can increase productivity, and alleviate the stress of incomplete projects.

Pervasive uncertainty – An HR leader has to have the emotional capacity to tolerate
uncertainty and frustration. Their coping strategies through this uncertainty
will allow them to be able to raise tough questions without getting anxious
themself. Others will observe their verbal and non-verbal cues, and this will
impact the rest of their team’s ability to effectively cope.

Mistrust, unfairness, unresolved
conflict and vicious office politics
Addressing these situations head on through effective communication and
conflict management skills, rather than avoiding them, is the only way to
guarantee that these issues will not continue to poison them or their

No sense of clear direction within the
 – When there is a sense of little
direction in the company, an HR leader must work to bring the vision into clear

Career and job ambiguity – Effective HR leaders tie what they do on a day-to-day basis
to the vision and mission of the company.

No feedback – This prevents HR leaders from knowing how they are doing and whether they are meeting corporate expectations. A 360-degree feedback process can help HR leaders identify any gaps between perception (what they think) and behaviour (what their team sees).

No appreciation – HR leaders are expected to give appreciation and are often not the recipients. Dr. Clifton and The Gallup Organization discovered that 65% of employees received no recognition in their workplace in the last year. However, we know that regular recognition and praise increase workplace engagement, productivity, safety, retention, and customer satisfaction.

Lack of communication – Mixed or incomplete messages can lead to critical mistakes in problem solving. While problem solving, the HR leader needs to ask who needs to learn what in order to develop, understand, commit to and implement the strategy. The HR leader needs to listen to others to raise questions that may indicate an impending challenge.

HR leaders get caught up in the situations that are stressful and often forget about the simple techniques that can be used to restore their body’s natural rhythm and decrease the negative effects that stress can have on them.

Practicing these quick tips, below, can ensure their health and wellness. The great thing about them is that they are fast and simple.


Air is the primary ‘food’ of our body. Rapid, shallow breathing is a common involuntary reaction to stress and is part of our innate stress response. This shallow breathing causes us to feel tired and foggy headed. Deep breathing interrupts this stress response and can be a powerful means of recharging oneself and regaining a more natural rhythm. It can relieve headaches, relax shoulders, stop racing thoughts, increase energy and turn restlessness into calmness.


Tense muscles cause blood to be squeezed out of the body tissue resulting in oxygen and nutrient depletion. This can cause pain and even a lack of concentration. Deskercises or self-massage can be helpful in releasing tension and restoring the flow of blood. Deskercises can relax neck and shoulder muscles, increase focus for problem solving, and can revitalize energy.

Some quick examples: Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, stomach squeezes, hip twisters, wrist curls, quarter squats, and hand massage. Focus on particularly tense muscles or create a whole-body stretching routine.

Nutrition, water, light

During high stress times we often
compromise or completely forget about eating, drinking and getting outside.
Taking lunch, drinking a glass of water, or going outside for a stretch break
are simple and necessary techniques that provide essential energy and can
restore rhythm.

Safe space – beauty, sound, aroma

The space in which we work can have a
profound effect on our mood, energy and comfort. It is a benefit to create a
space that feels, sounds and smells great and to take a few moments after a
stressful situation to become involved in the quiet of one’s surroundings.


An HR leader’s mood and behaviours drive
the moods and behaviours of everyone else – “Smile and the World Smiles With
You”. Moods are contagious – laughter is the most contagious of emotions and
depression can have a definite negative impact on the work group.

An HR leader’s emotional maturity affects their performance and creates a certain culture or work environment. It creates climates where information sharing, trust, healthy risk taking and learning flourish.

Leaders can make sure that they are in an optimistic, authentic and high-energy mood, which will positively affect their own behavior, and the mood and behavior or those around them.

Though HR leaders frequently forget to add
themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness, there are a
variety of strategies that can assist them in remaining physically and mentally

Self-care in these chaotic and challenging
times must be the new norm. HR leaders need to address their unique challenges,
maintain their health through quick stress busters, and build support and
connectedness in their personal and professional lives.

The post HR self-care: The new norm in the age of COVID-19 appeared first on HR Morning.

Every workplace has negative people who erode morale. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do an amazing amount of damage over time.

Most of the time, these folks don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They’re frequently pretty good at their jobs, so they’re not called on the carpet too often.

But like a virus running in the background of a computer program, their acidic personalities eat away at the goals – and ultimately the bottom line – of the company week after week, year after year.

Who are these people? They’re the employees who:

  • continually find things to complain about and exaggerate the seriousness of co-workers’ mistakes
  • spread gossip and start rumors that pit employees against each other
  • talk behind co-workers’ backs, and
  • undermine supervisors’ authority with a never-ending flow of criticism that stays under-the-radar so it’s rarely recognized and corrected.

It’s been said the only way to fix a bad attitude is through psychotherapy, religion or brain surgery.  But it’s a rare manager who is a shrink, a minister and a neurosurgeon.

Still, every manager needs a strategy to deal with this constant drag on employee attitudes.

The stakes are too high to just let things slide.

Looking for answers – 4 key questions

So what’s to be done? The experts say managers should move away from the vague “bad attitude” discussion to the hard facts of employee behavior.

The key questions:

  • What’s the impact of the employee’s behavior?
  • How do the person’s actions differ from the standards set for overall employee behavior?
  • What’s the effect of this individual’s behavior on the people who work with him/her?
  • If this person acted according to our accepted standards, could it make a difference in morale and productivity?

Managers should identify the actions of negative people – and make it clear those actions will no longer be tolerated.

An example: A Midwestern company established a “no jerk” policy. It included the statement:

Each employee will demonstrate professional behavior that supports team efforts and enhances team behavior, performance and productivity.

Handling tough conversations with acidic employees

Establishing policy is a solid first step; it creates a good framework.

But managers need practical advice that gets results day to day on the front lines.

Managers need one-on-one coaching sessions to cover these points:

  • Acknowledge the awkwardness. Managers can let employees know they’re providing feedback that’s difficult to discuss. It’s only human to feel that way.
  • Keep it results-oriented. A phrase like “I’m bringing this up because it’s important you address this issue to be successful in your job” is helpful.
  • Accentuate the positive. It’s a good idea to highlight the good things that are likely to happen when the person changes the disruptive behavior. On the other hand, if the person remains defiant, stressing the negative outcome if the person’s attitude doesn’t change can be effective, too.

It’s human nature to want to delay having a tough conversation with an employee with a bad attitude. But that only makes things worse.

And since it’s going to be a tough conversation, it’s recommended that supervisors prepare for the discussion.

Suggestions for handling the confrontation:

  • Be specific about what you want. It’s a mistake to use general terms in a discussion about a specific behavior problem. For example, a manager says “I don’t like your attitude. I want you to change it.” That’s pretty safe, but it could mean anything.
    Instead, the manager should say “It’s not helpful the way you talk about our customers behind their backs. It poisons the attitude of the others in customer service. From now on, if you can’t say something supportive of a customer, please don’t say anything at all.”Managers should try to gather specific examples of negative things the employee has said in the past, and use those in the discussion for clarity.
  • Let people rant … a little.  Once a manager has gotten through discussing the specific behaviors, it’s likely the other person is going to feel the need to blow off steam and maybe even mount a defense. To avoiding having people feel like they are on the witness stand, let them rant a bit. It’ll help them feel like they are being heard – because they are. Then steer the conversation back to the results you want.
  • Try to use “we.” Work to get across the notion that the issue is a problem for everyone concerned. A manager can start by saying “We have a problem” or “We need to change.”This helps the person realize the behavior is important, without finger-pointing.
  • Avoid overusing “you.” Putting all the responsibility on the employee is a conversational black hole that’s impossible to escape. The constant use of the word you, as in “You have a bad attitude and everyone knows it” is an invitation for a fight. Instead, try “We need to talk about your attitude.” The point here is, while it is OK to use the word “you,” using it continually in a negative way kills the conversation.
  • Avoid “however” and “but.” Some managers believe that if they lead with a compliment, it’s easier to wade into the problem. That conversation looks something like this: “You’ve done a pretty good job, but …” and then the manager lowers the boom.That often angers people and leaves them thinking, “Why can’t he ever just say something positive and leave it at that?”Consider substituting “and” for “but” and “however,” and the conversation is likely to go smoother, as in: “You’re doing a pretty good job and we need to talk about how to get you to show more respect for customers.”
  • Don’t feel as if you have to fill the silence. In a tense situation a manager may be tempted to fill every gap in the conversation. Don’t. Stay silent when there’s a lull. Obligate the other person to fill in the silence. It’s surprising the amount of information a manager can get without ever asking a question … just by remaining silent.

The post Dealing with acidic attitudes: Help for your managers appeared first on HR Morning.

Human Resources is at the front lines of employers’ response
to the COVID-19 crisis.

The crisis is forcing almost every business to immediately develop,
adapt or improve remote work policies and procedures.

As HR pros struggle to keep employees safe and informed, it
helps to think about what changes will be more permanent and how you’ll guide
employees and organizational leadership through those changes.

Here are 5 effects that you’ll likely be dealing with long after things return to “normal.”

Remote work will be a permanent feature for more organizations.

And that is a good thing, because, in addition to workers moving to remote temporarily as we weather this crisis, many will continue working remotely at least part of the time after businesses re-open their doors.

Luckily, for most employers, the technology and communications infrastructure needed for successful remote work are available to employees.

But HR needs to start now, collaborating closely with Finance, IT and other departments to develop and implement new rules. Among the questions that need to be addressed:

  • How will managers translate existing work rules, meeting schedules and communications strategies to the new reality?
  • Who will pay for remote workers’ connectivity and any required equipment, like printers, monitors, headset, etc.?
  • How will you recover them if someone quits or is fired?
  • How must job descriptions change to accommodate part- or full-time remote work?
  • How will you monitor and enforce attendance?
  • What HR functions must adapt – talent acquisition and development, discipline, benefits and compensation all introduce their own challenges in a remote work environment.

And in the meantime, HR’s role in monitoring and maintaining morale becomes even more crucial.

It is a good idea to create a formal process for checking in with remote employees to ask how they are dealing with the added stress during the crisis – and to keep on top of any issues after things return to a new normal.

Are they are staying in touch with their colleagues and manager? Do they need anything to help stay productive? Are they aware of available emotional health resources and how to access them?

It will also become clear over the coming weeks what jobs cannot be done effectively offsite. You’ll need to start on contingency plans and work policies for those, as well.

Nurturing culture gets more challenging in dispersed workplaces

Workers and business leaders tell researchers they believe a strong and well-defined organizational culture is critical to long-term success.

It sets the organization’s identity, helps form its mission and gives employees at all levels a sense of identity and purpose in their work.

But culture is also vulnerable in times of crisis when decisions are being made on the fly and financial survival takes priority over almost everything else.

Unfortunately, culture is also impossible to automate – there is no technology solution that can preserve and enhance organizational culture.

Employee engagement, constant communication and demonstrated commitment to your culture by leadership are the only tools that will work.

And workers will detect lip service even when they’re working remotely and will remember it after the crisis passes.

It is hard to put culture at the top of HR’s priority list while you are putting out fires every day. But, if anything, culture is even more important now and can hold your organization together over the long term.

Talent acquisition and retention remains critical

With the dire economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic becoming clearer by the moment, companies and whole industries are laying off workers and freezing hiring.

That may require greater reliance on contractors and temp workers in the early stages of the eventual recovery. But companies’ reputations among the candidates you’ll need longer term will depend on how they are treated during this crisis.

That may mean hiring some employees back as 1099 contractors in the short term or helping them sign on with temp agencies.

Even in the midst of this uncertainty and turmoil, however, it’s a good idea to keep your talent pipeline full and maintain contact with prospective rehires and new hires.

Engaging a remote workforce

Keeping employees engaged, enthused and productive is one of HR’s most valuable roles and, often, one of your team’s superpowers.

And research makes it clear that employees who feel that their physical and emotional wellbeing is a real priority for the organizations they work for are more engaged.

That translates into real money.

Two decades of Gallup research shows that highly engaged teams:

  • produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged

Engaged employees are also healthier, Gallup reports, and less likely to experience burnout.

You can show workers at home you are committed to their wellbeing by adjusting benefits.

A great immediate step is to reduce or eliminate copays for telehealth visits. If you don’t already include mental health consultations as part of your telehealth plan, add it now.

And, with financial stress impacting almost every employee, it is a good time to investigate options like daily pay, subsidized loans, and free access to financial education webinars.

Loyalty to your workers amid unprecedented stress and confusion will come back to you through their ongoing loyalty and dedication to your mission.

Accommodation and compliance

With the number of people working remotely exploding, employers face new policy issues and, potentially, very real employment law concerns.

Potential compliance issues include:

  • Permitted employer actions under the ADA, FMLA, Title VII and other federal and state statutes and regulations
  • The important ADA concepts of “disability-related inquiries,” “medical examinations,” “direct threat,” “undue hardship, and other similar terms
  • Leave policies and FMLA requirements
  • Acceptable teleworking arrangements to protect employees

You’ll need to keep track of all the new requirements in new laws coming out of congress, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that takes effect on or by April 2, 2020.

Taking effective action requires leaders to conduct advanced planning and make strategic management decisions, all of which will rely heavily on the advice and insight only HR can provide.

Additional resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for HR Professionals. Keeping yourself and your team educated and informed during times of uncertainty is important. To help, we’ve compiled the need-to-know resources regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) – how to keep yourself and your team safe, managing remote employees, and more.

Coronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks, on Monday, March 30 at 1 PM. Join internationally-recognized business consultant Michelle Coussens to get tools and information to help your organization make the leap from having employees work in the office to working remotely from home – while minimizing downtime and anxiety and maximizing productivity.

Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More, on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 PM. Please join Dr. Jim Castagnera, labor and employment attorney as he explains what employee-related actions the ADA, FMLA, and other relevant federal regulations permit employers to take before, during, and in the aftermath of an outbreak.

Coronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees, available on demand. Join Adele L. Abrams, Esq., a nationally recognized authority on Occupational Safety and Health law for this 60-minute program explaining what OSHA requires from employers, and steps you can take to protect workers.

The post 5 ways the COVID-19 crisis will transform HR’s role appeared first on HR Morning.

In an effort to provide
employees paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recently passed The Families First Coronavirus
Response Act (the Act). The Act will take effect on or by April 2, 2020.

The new law creates two new
emergency leave benefits for eligible employees: (1) emergency paid family and
medical leave and (2) emergency paid sick leave. It generally applies to
employers with fewer than 500 employees, with some exceptions discussed below.

Key provisions of the Act
that will impact employers are summarized here:

Up to 12 weeks of Emergency
Family Medical Leave
(EFML) is available to employees who have been
employed a minimum of 30 days and who are unable to work (or telework) because
they need to care for their child whose school is closed, or whose childcare
provider is unavailable because of a public health emergency
. Additionally,
the Act provides that:

  • The first 10 days of EFML is unpaid, but employees may elect to substitute any of the employer’s other paid leave benefits during this period, e.g., paid vacation leave.
  • After the initial unpaid 10 day period, employers must pay employees at least two-thirds of their regular compensation, up to a maximum of $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • The FMLA’s job protections apply to EFML, but there is an exemption for employers with fewer than 25 employees, where the employee’s position is eliminated because of economic slowdowns related to the declaration of a public health emergency and the employer attempts to restore the employee’s employment within a year.
  • The Secretary of Labor is permitted to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from the EFML requirements if the Act’s requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” We are closely monitoring the Department of Labor for announcements about possible exemptions for small employers.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) is available to all
employees for immediate use, regardless of their length of employment.
Employees may take EPSL for the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine because of concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for an individual who is quarantined or advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care for the child has been closed, or the child car provider is unavailable because of COVID-19 precautions.
  • The employee is experiencing any other, substantially similar condition, as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Other aspects of EPSL

  • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of EPSL, and part-time employees are entitled to EPSL in the amount equal to the average amount of hours they work over a two-week period.
  • There is no carryover of EPSL into the following calendar year, and employers are not required to pay out unused leave upon an employee’s separation from employment.
  • Employers must pay EPSL to employees in addition to any other leave benefits the employer offers, and employers may not require employees to use any other leave before using EPSL.
  • If an employee uses EPSL to care for himself or herself for reasons (i)-(iii) listed above, employers must pay the employee his or her regular compensation, up to a maximum of $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate.
  • If an employee uses EPSL to care for a family member or for reasons (iv)-(vi) listed above, employers must pay the employee either two-thirds of his or her regular compensation or the minimum wage, whichever amount is greater. Employers must only pay up to a maximum of $200 per day or $2,000 in the aggregate.
  • Employers must post a notice about leave entitlements in a conspicuous location within the job site; the Department of Labor is expected to publish a model notice for positing on or before March 25, 2020.
  • The Secretary of Labor is permitted to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from the EPSL requirements if the Act’s requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”  We are closely monitoring the Department of Labor for announcements about possible exemptions for small employers.

The Act provides employers
some financial relief in the form of tax credits on a dollar-for-dollar basis
for EFML or EPSL payments to employees, subject to certain caps.

In addition to the Act, many
state and local jurisdictions are considering legislation that may supplement
the Act’s leave benefits in response to COVID-19. Employers should confer with
counsel about how state and local laws may augment the leave to which their
employees are entitled.

For some answers to commonly
asked questions regarding how to communicate with staff about COVID-19
challenges, click here.

For additional information
regarding COVID-19 legal issues, please visit Venable’s COVID-19
legal resources page

The post The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What you need to know appeared first on HR Morning.