Call Me Cait: Examining Diversity in the Workplace

If you haven’t heard of Caitlyn Jenner, I’d like to know where you’ve been hiding so I can join you! With the premiere of the new TV show Call Me Cait just around the corner on the E! network, and the much publicized news of Caitlyn Jenner’s entrance into the world exploding all over social media, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the prevalence of transgender issues in the world. Of course, from my perspective, this easily translates into a question of how transgender and diversity issues play out in the workplace as well. Preventing harassment in the workplace is a responsibility that falls on the employer, and as stories such as Caitlyn’s become more prominent in the media, it’s an important time for employers to become educated and protect their companies from possible litigation. Caitlyn has already paved the way for this summer’s reality TV hit, Big Brother, to introduce the first transgender contestant, Audrey. What’s next? As more and more stories are shared, the likelihood of this affecting your own workplace increases.

As a product of the millennial culture, I find that many of my peers have been raised in a society where #diversity is acceptable. It is a commonly held belief among young adults today that a person’s identification as #transgender does not change the core of who that person is, or their capabilities in the workplace. However, as we have discussed before on Peoplescape’s blog, the generational differences that are seen in today’s workplace make it an interesting melting pot of values, morals, beliefs, and tolerances. It is imperative that you, as the employer, set guidelines and rules in a WRITTEN format for all employees to sign, agree to, and abide by during their employment. [tweetthis]Employers need WRITTEN policies for employees to sign and abide by. #transgender[/tweetthis]
Otherwise, your less-than-accepting employees are opening you (as the manager/owner/supervisor/CEO) up for liability. As we all know, for any employer with 50 or more employees, managers must be trained on sexual harassment every two years in California. Recently, bullying was added in to that mandatory training as well. It would be my suggestion as an HR professional to also include a slide or two on #transgender identity within your required sexual harassment supervisor training. I would also propose that your workplace harassment zero tolerance policy be included in the employee handbook for every new hire to sign as part of their orientation.

According to CalChamber, “Sexual harassment in the workplace spurs huge lawsuits, affects productivity and damages your company or organization’s reputation.” A payout for this type of lawsuit easily hits the millions! Another easy way to protect your company is to follow the requirements regarding law postings that must be displayed in a common area to which all employees have access (i.e. the lunch or break room). Combined, California law and federal law under both Title VII and the FEHA guidelines, protect against harassment regarding gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, pregnancy, disability, race, ethnicity, and national origin. In regards to the recently headlining transgender issues, this raises interesting questions regarding whether gender is defined or adopted, as transgender individuals identify as one gender although they may biologically be a different sex. With these changes on the horizon, it’s best to be prepared and stay protected with your legal postings, handbook, training, and open door policy!

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Take Me To Church….Just Not While I’m At Work

In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision that will forever change the face of religious discrimination in the workplace. In EEOC vs. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the court ruled that an employer cannot make employment decisions based on a candidate’s religious practices. In this particular case, Abercrombie did not hire a job applicant because she wore a hijab, or head scarf, which went against the company’s “Looks” policy forbidding “caps” from being worn on the head. During the interview, the candidate made no mention of her religious views, but did wear the black hijab during her interview. She was determined to be qualified for the position, with the exception of her head scarf which conflicted with the company’s “Looks” policy. Although the applicant did not expressly state that the hijab was worn as part of her religious beliefs, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that she was discriminated against in the company’s decision not to hire her for the sales position.

What does this mean for discrimination in the workplace moving forward? If an employer knows OR EVEN SUSPECTS that an applicant or employee wears certain items of clothing due to religious beliefs, as is the case with this applicant and her head scarf, it is best to err on the side of caution. Here are a few steps that every employer can and should take to ensure that religious discrimination is not a factor in your hiring practices or employee relations.

[tweetthis]3 Steps EVERY Employer Must Take to Avoid Religious Discrimination in the Workplace.[/tweetthis]

Step 1: Walk the fine line of assumption versus dialogue. This case sets the bar for common sense assumptions – something that is not black and white but is in fact, subjective to the interview panel or supervisor. Although it is illegal to ask an applicant or employee what their religious beliefs are, be aware and use common sense in offering accommodations where it appears that a religious accommodation may be necessary (i.e. a job applicant wearing a hijab when your “Looks” policy prohibits caps).

Step 2: Even if a policy applies to ALL applicants, do not assume it is therefore a neutral policy. This case clearly determined that a policy that applies to everyone is still in violation of Title VII rights.

Step 3: All assessments and assumptions made by the employer should be fully defined by the interactive process between employer and employee/applicant to ensure that all protected classes are being safeguarded. This case not only tells us that religion will be protected, even in the case of company policies and dress codes, but that other factors should be considered as well – age, gender, pregnancy, national origin, presumed disabilities, etc.

Dress code policies are a touchy subject in human resources these days, and should always be reviewed by experts to ensure compliance and legal protection for the employer. Religious discrimination is something that can be avoided if your policies are accurately documented in accordance with the law.

The solution: Make sure your employment policies are in accordance with legal requirements, consult an expert on training for harassment, discrimination, bullying and management training, and stay apprised of new case law and decisions regarding this very controversial and sensitive subject. Employers are allowed to have dress code policies, but the terrain is getting tricky to navigate, so be cautious and make sure your policies are backed up by a bona fide job requirement – not personal preference. Peoplescape consultants are trained in all of these areas, and we are just a phone call away!

What’s Your Status? Facebook Branding in the 21st Century

“People spend money when and where they feel good.” – Walt Disney

As a master of invoking emotion in the hearts and minds of children everywhere, Disney was able to sell a brand worldwide that still brings in millions of dollars every year, decades later. When a product speaks to a person, that person feels something – and is able to justify spending money on something that is important to him or her. In this same token, products on Facebook are using emotional responses to create a recognizable brand. Using videos, catchy lines, and triggering feelings in individuals viewing their Facebook page, companies such as BMW, McDonald’s, 3M, and Budweiser have all seen success this year with their social media branding. How can companies that are not as well-known as these use similar strategies to make an impact?

At the top of the list for successful strategies in Facebook branding for the companies mentioned above were the following:

  • Visually stunning (science based or otherwise) videos which stylishly
  • Partnerships with socially successful brands such as MTV
  • Building on the momentum of popular events such as concert festivals
  • Piggybacking on popular holidays, sharing photos of holiday treats
  • Announcement of the brand’s presence on another social media site such
  • Gratitude towards fans
  • Videos that pull at the heart strings
  • Short videos that feature humor to grab the viewer’s attention

Why is social media branding a topic that HR Consultants would be concerned with and want to share with our clients and readers? Put simply, branding is about people and organizations, and so is Peoplescape. We want to offer a full range of people-oriented services to our clients, and because we know the business of people, we know how important it is for you to reach your target audience through social media branding.

[tweetthis]Creating a loyal fan base on Facebook means generating views, likes, and shares.[/tweetthis]

Creating a loyal fan base is equivalent on Facebook to the number of views, likes, and shares that a company receives. How many views are you currently getting on your Facebook business page? Do you have a Facebook page? Peoplescape is looking to expand their audience on all forms of social media, and we would love to help you do the same for your company. Targeting a generation of social media addicts is the way to go if you’re looking to attract new brand followers, and these are a few easy ways that we can all do it!

understand personality in the workplace

Who are You? How To Understand Personality in the Workplace

[tweetthis]“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” –Anais Nin #Personality[/tweetthis]

Truer words have never been spoken, and whether you realize it or not, you’ve heard this exact same thing many times (just in different words). From the glass half-empty versus the glass half-full debate to the awkward photos of the blue/black vs. white/gold dress circling social media in the spring of 2015, the manner in which we see the world is shaped by who we are. The same can be said for any professional organization – the employees working in a department will shape the atmosphere of that particular work dynamic because of their individual personality, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. That being said, we need a tool that allows us to determine the suitability of candidates for essential job duties we are looking to fulfill. We do not necessarily need to know if someone is an analyzer or a driver, but we do need to know if they are suitable for the job. Every person is a complex being made up of numerous pieces, and we cannot just box someone in to one personality type if we wish to see true success and fit for the job in our assessment and selection process. Read more

“Under new management” – A tragedy or a seamless transition?

It’s happened to all of us, you go to your favorite restaurant or neighborhood hangout and there’s a banner outside “under new management” or “under new ownership.” Depending on your personal experiences and what you’ve heard from friends, neighbors and relatives, this could be a blessing or terrifying change. Imagine how a business transition like this felt or looked for the employees of the establishment?

[tweetthis]How business transitions are handled can make all the difference to employees.[/tweetthis]

As an HR professional, I’ve assisted with changes both in ownership and management. I must say that the way business transitions like this are handled can make all the difference to the employees and the image projected on the local community. Here are a few wins and losses of my experiences with management change:

1. Speak to the employees first before sharing the news with the public or affiliates of the company – WIN!
By speaking to the employees first, the current and future management companies show their commitment to the staff that has carried the business this far and can avoid rumors from destroying the positive outlook of this strategic move. Note: Check your compliance with the WARN Act! You may have certain legal obligations of giving notice to your employees!

2. Waiting to tell the employees whether they will be re-hired or not – LOSS!
Inevitably, the new management company will want to be selective about individuals they keep and who they opt not to hire. This is a tough position for both the current and future management. My recommendation is to move swiftly with communication. This may mean having difficult conversations with employees who have been with the company for a long time, but the sooner you communicate to those who are not being rehired, the sooner you can tell the remaining employees that they are being retained. In one of my experiences, the in-coming management waited until just a few days before the transition to communicate who was being retained and this was a serious blow to morale. In this situation, the job abandonment rate was high and some of the employees they hoped to retain went out and found a new job out of fear of the unknown.

3. Have the transition team meet weekly (or twice a week) to discuss critical items and answer questions that have come up – WIN!
There are a lot of pieces to the transition puzzle and it helps to have continuous communication as well as clearly defined tasks assigned to one individual for follow up. This doesn’t mean there won’t be teamwork, but when push comes to shove, one person needs to champion each task to avoid duplication of work. Throughout the process employees will have a lot of questions and it’s crazy to think any individual will have all the answers. By meeting weekly, or more frequently, and discussing the questions, you guarantee that the answers are uniform across the board and if further information is needed, it should be added to the task list with a champion to get the answer.

4. Be prepared and organized for the transition day with individualized packets for each employee – WIN.
Whether it’s on-boarding or off-boarding, we all know there is a lot of paperwork involved and having incomplete or missing pages could have serious ramifications. I recommend having packets with each employee’s name on it. Go through the packet with employee and explain each form and what they need to do with each item. I have tried the “buffet line” of paperwork and it always seems that paperwork is missed or goes missing. So while making packets is time consuming and uses extra supplies, you will not regret the small extra expense for the peace of mind that paperwork is complete, secure, and organized.

5. For the out-going management, celebrate and commemorate the years of success – WIN
This is the lasting impression left with the employees that you have worked with for past years. Consider doing a reception for the employees with a catered meal and have key management members or the CEO/Owner say a few words. Saying “thank you” goes a long way. You never know when your professional paths may cross again and you want the lasting impression to be something along the lines of “they cared about us” “they appreciated my contributions to the workplace” “They saw the job through to the end” While it may seem like a completely obvious answer, the most critical element to the change is communication. The more answers you can provide, the fewer rumors will successfully circulate. Getting the buy in from the employees can definitely assist in the shaping of the public optics of the change because if the employees are comfortable and excited about the change, they will communicate this to patrons, friends, relatives, and the like. Very few people like change, especially in their workplace, but with the right finesse and on-going communication, you can minimize disruption and successfully guide your team through the transition.

employee resignation

I Quit! Did You See It Coming?

Almost every HR professional has at least one story of a “creative” employee resignation.

From an employee saying they’re going to lunch and never returning, to an employee bringing a Marching Band into the office to play him out, some of the stories sound like a scene out of the movies. If the employee was obviously disgruntled, it may not come as a surprise that they make their exit in a grandiose (and possibly disruptive) way.

What if the resignation is coming from one of your top performers? When the resignation letter hits your desk, were you prepared for it? About a month ago, CNN Money came out with an article about job-hopping to gain salary increases, and these are increases that are much larger than your average company would offer as an annual increase. While the examples they used were extreme, with the number of available jobs on the rise, employees may be more willing to test their luck in the job market.

[tweetthis]Available jobs are on the rise, and your talent may be on the move.[/tweetthis]

Have you checked in with your top talent lately? If not, it may be a good time to do so. Let’s talk about some of the warning signs that your talent may be gearing up for a change.

1. The Wardrobe Upgrade: An employee who usually has a more casual style that starts wearing a tie a few times a week may be interviewing. It could also just be a wardrobe change.

2. Wacky Scheduling: Your most consistent employee, in at 8 and out at 5 suddenly starts shifting their schedule around. Coming in an hour or two late, leaving a little early, or even taking an extended lunch could be another warning sign of meeting with a potential new employer. On the flip side, it may be that the employee is dealing with non-work related issues, like tending to a sick loved one. Either way, a sudden change in schedule on a continued basis when they previously were very consistent may warrant a check in conversation – especially if the wardrobe upgrades seem to coincide with these days!

3. Salary Stagnancy: When was the employee’s last increase? Was it a standard 2-3% increase or merit based? It’s unrealistic to try and give everyone a raise to keep them, but if an employee hasn’t seen a raise in en extended period of time, they may listen to articles like CNN Money and Forbes that tell them they could command more by leaving. (It may also be time to do a salary survey to see if your salaries are still on par with the market!)

4. Decline in Product: Whether it’s efficiency or quality, if an employee is becoming disengaged their work product may decline. That’s not to say you should panic if an employee has one bad project, but if their work may decline over multiple projects, they may no longer be fully invested in the work.

5. Life Events: Getting married, a new child, or the declining health of a loved one can be a game changer. This one usually has less to do with the employer, but having a conversation with the employee as soon as you learn about the life event could help you plan for the future. You may also be able to discuss flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and the various types of leaves available to the employee. If the employee knows they have options, they may be more inclined to stay.

You can never guarantee that an employee is going to stay with the company forever, but taking the time to check in and test engagement levels may help you to build action plans around key employees or start planning and resourcing for the future.

What are some warning signs you have seen in your workplace?

The Case for Paid Maternity Leave

Did you know?  [tweetthis]Among global rankings of maternity leave programs, the US sits very near the bottom.[/tweetthis]Nestled among the ranks of countries like Swaziland, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea, we are one of the few countries in the world that do not have paid maternity leave. From a new mother’s standpoint, it seems incongruent to the costs of having a new baby, the critical bonding time, and the need for stable finances during this hectic time.

From a business standpoint, there are some major advantages to joining the ranks of the 16% of US companies that do offer paid maternity leave. Some of these include employee retention, higher morale, and improved productivity. Don’t believe us? When Google increased maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks, the rate of women leaving the company after leave fell by 50%! Think about the money you could save in recruiting!! Think about the new father who opted to work through his paternity leave and now has the stress of providing for mother and child, with only one income. The stress of this situation could have serious effects on work productivity.

Perhaps the greatest case for paid leave is the three states that currently have paid leave programs – California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. California’s program has been operational for more than 10 years and a 2011 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 91% of employers said paid leave either boosted or had no effect on their profits.

Paid leave has also aided in reducing the Gender wage gap. A 2012 study by Rutgers found that “Women who report leaves of 30 or more days are 54% more likely to report wage increases in the year following the child’s birth than are women who take no leave at all.” So while key industries are actively working to recruit women who have left to workforce to raise their family, wouldn’t your business be ahead of the curve, if you could retain these women after pregnancy?

On a much smaller business scale, many businesses and corporations fought hard to keep paid sick leave laws from being passed out of fear that it would be too costly. Today, there are 3 states and 18 cities with Paid Sick Leave laws and the effects of legally mandated time have had little to no effect on profit margins.

Yet, from the business standpoint the idea of mandatory paid sick leave is definitely scary, but we also know that all changes hold a certain amount of risk. Wouldn’t it be great to be one of the businesses that has a reputation for supporting women by being among the first to offer the benefit of paid maternity leave? Offering employees security and benefits can often lead to employee loyalty, referrals, and other morale building effects on the company culture as a whole. While this may be a topic that not all businesses support, it is something to consider as we move into the second half of 2015 and look at the new mandates for benefits in terms of sick leave and health care. Maybe maternity and paternity leave will not be too far off. Time will tell!

Recruiting Trends for 2015

#Career  #HRBlogs  #business

Job seekers are using these words and hash tags and sharing and liking updates and posts all over social media to land their next gig. How many employers are utilizing this same thing to attract their talent? What is branding all about? How can employers use social media to their advantage, and who is paying attention to this new trend in recruiting? Hash tags are quite possibly the ticket in to your ideal talent group. So let’s jump right in to the top recruiting trends for 2015!

According to a LinkedIn survey conducted in 2014, 4 years is the average length of time an employee stays at one job. Baby boomers cringe at this knowledge, because their worldview was much more about job security and company loyalty – keeping them at the same organization for 20+ years in many cases. The younger generations are in search of the next big thing; they are continuous job seekers, and their main loyalty is to improving their paycheck, career, status, etc. [tweetthis]With hiring budgets decreasing, social media is now a major factor in recruiting candidates.[/tweetthis]With hiring budgets decreasing, but the need for quality talent increasing as the skills gap continues to widen, social media is now a major factor in recruiting passive candidates (those who aren’t necessarily looking but are open to discussing new opportunities). Here are a few of the top trends to look out for, and how to make them work for your company – big or small!

1. TARGET your social media job posting – who are you looking for? You should be where they are! For example, LinkedIn groups focused on your target group, Facebook for the Generation X’ers, and Twitter and Instagram for the younger generations of millennials.

2. Make your recruitment functions entirely MOBILE – mobile job applications, mobile job postings, mobile apps for applying/searching.

3. Use the DATA at your fingertips – many recruitment software programs allow for data analytics. Use this information to find out what works for your company and what doesn’t, depending on the number of resumes submitted from various sources. I.E. are your Technical Web Developers seeing your job posts on Instagram or Twitter? What is the best source for posting for this group in the future? Where is the ideal talent pool hanging out?

4. BRANDING – what is your company brand? Is your brand recognizable? 60% of US leaders say that employer brand is a top priority in their company. What about yours?

5. Based on a report conducted by LinkedIn for Recruiting Trends in 2015, social professional networks are the top source of quality hires in the US. ASSIGN one employee in your HR department the task of keeping your company profile up-to-date on LinkedIn, as well as posting job opportunities, engaging in discussions within groups, and networking on LinkedIn.

6. Create a proactive TALENT BRAND STRATEGY. An astonishing 77% of US talent acquisition leaders say that talent brand has a huge impact on the quality of new hires. Engaging in social media to promote your brand is key!

Bullying – Is it happening in your workplace?

In the news lately there have been an overwhelming number of stories about children and adolescents being a victim to a bullying. Did you know that reports of workplace bullying are on the rise? It’s been a hot topic in the HR realm – adding anti-bullying policy to your handbook, but is it still happening in your workplace right under your nose? Are you missing some of the signs?

Teasing and banter is common in workplaces, but when does teasing cross the line? I’ve done some digging and found 3 helpful guidelines about when bullying may be happening right under your nose.

David A Davis, the National Director of Client Training at Ogletree Deakins, provides us the following guidance:

  1.  The teasing and banter is not returned. The person on the receiving end does not reciprocate the behavior.
  2. It is directed at one person only. The focus of the jokes is a single individual, not many.
  3. The banter is personal and generally focuses on weakness, deficiency, or inferiority.

These three signals may help us to better identify sensitive situations that could result in complaints of bullying. No one wants to work somewhere that is so uptight that banter is outlawed, but I think this lays the framework for when banter and jokes cross the line.

So now what?

It’s great to have an anti-bullying policy at work, but if that is where the effort stops, then the policy is falling short. Here are a few things you can do to minimize these sensitive situations:

  •  Train managers on the warning signs and encourage them to report sensitive situations or step in. By interrupting the sensitive situation, it puts a stop to situation. Once the situation has been stopped, work with the manager and employees involved to resolve and change behavior.
  • Do not wait and hope the situation will resolve itself, especially if the issue has been reported. Get involved and be armed with what is and is not acceptable behavior in the office.
  • Bring in a trainer and host a training session on workplace bullying. In the training, be sure to examine management styles to ensure managers are aware of behaviors of their own that may be construed as bullying.

Like all sensitive situations, it’s better to address them instead of sweeping them under the rug. Avoiding dealing with the issue could result in bigger issues down the road.

If you haven’t reviewed your anti-bullying policy in a while, it may be time! If you think your policy may need some revamping, Peoplescape can help!


Social Media and Recruitment

Love it or Hate it, social media is not going anywhere. Along with it comes the debate over whether or not to use it in recruitment and then, how and when to use it .

I’ve heard arguments on so many sides of it.

“Don’t Use It”
Social media profiles can give potential employers more information than they need to make employment decisions. For example, the photos may tell you information about age, gender, and national origin. The profiles may tell you about religious beliefs or sexual orientation. The content on their page may suggest political affiliation or show details about out-of-work activities that don’t pertain to employment decisions. The fear seems to be primarily around discrimination.

“Use It”
There are numerous benefits to using Social Media in your recruitment strategy. Employees can reach out into their networks and post about open positions and that leads increased engagement. Not to mention, you can reach passive job seekers more easily than using a standard job board.

Then there’s the question of how and when and which sites to use?

This question may be easier answered depending on the Social Media platform. For job postings, consider encouraging individual employees to post the link to your ATS on their social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn about open position in the company, especially if a number of your successful hires have come from referrals. This should also be embraced on a company level – embrace Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as marketing and recruiting tools. From a recruiting standpoint (directly contacting potential candidates), I tend to prefer LinkedIn as it is the most popular Social Media site for posting about professional details.

I’ve heard discussion about researching a candidate’s social media profiles after you have selected your final candidates. This again could still put you in hot water with learning information about the person that is protected. There seems to be a lot of chatter about an employer’s ability to limit or monitor an employee’s off-work activities. The EEOC held a meeting last year to hear information about topics surrounding Social Media and one recommendation that came from an attorney in that meeting was to use a 3rd party company to review social media profiles to avoid the potential of seeing sensitive information.

All in all, I’m a supporter of leveraging social media to reach more potential candidates and increase engagement. The more people that see and share your job posting, the larger and better pool of candidates an employer gets to pick from! Where I draw the line? Beware of reviewing social media content on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to make employment related decisions – there’s just too much sensitive information you may be able to pull from these sites to sway decision based on appearance, politic views, non-work activities, protected classes, etc. rather than on the merits of their skills and experience.