Friday December 6, 2013
Have you ever had to investigate a charge of sexual harassment against a senior manager? Rather than investigate the charge yourself, the appropriate action might be to hire an external, uninvolved law firm to investigate the charges.
In cases of formal complaints or charges involving the CEO, a president, vice president, or even a lower level manager, in some cases, you risk the appearance of, or have, an actual conflict of interest if an internal employee conducts the investigation. Internal employees may have worked together for many years. Internal employees have an opinion about the integrity of the parties involved, the person making the charges and the person who is charged.
When executive managers are involved, the investigatory climate becomes even more complex. The executive controls or influences the working conditions, promotions, and compensation of internal staff. This intensifies the conflict of interest situation.
When I have investigated charges against a senior manager, I have always retained an outside law firm to conduct the investigation. Even the firm's usual law firms pose a conflict of interest scenario, so I have always retained a recommended attorney who has not worked with the company in the past.
You take these precautions to ensure that the investigation is not tainted by any possibility of favoritism, impropriety or personal gain. Sometimes, even the appearance of any of these influences is enough to set off suspicions about conflict of interest.
Organizations should include policies and guidelines about conflicts of interest in their code of conduct or code of ethics and in their employee handbook. Steps in an investigation should be clearly laid out, too, so employees know what they can expect.
Image Copyright Diego Cervo
Ask Susan: How to Deal With Coworker's Harassing Behavior
Friday December 6, 2013
Are you interested in how to approach an older employee who is working past the retirement age at which they would have qualified for social security and other benefits? It's tricky unless you know why the employee continues to work.
It's even trickier if age is your primary reason. Performance issues, attendance problems, and making room for younger employees to move up and get experience are other reasons I hear from readers.
Sometimes the employee doesn't want to retire because they can't envision a life in which they don't come to work every day. Or, work has been their primary interest and they can't imagine how they will fill their time productively. Broaching retirement is touchy for so many reasons.
My uncle is a good example. Some time during his sixties, my uncle was offered an early retirement package by his employer, Ford. Many employees who received the offer happily took it and retired. Uncle Dick had no immediate family, few hobbies, and some physical challenges. He couldn't imagine what he'd do if he retired.
So, he turned down the early retirement package and Ford never brought it up again. But, they did move my uncle into jobs where he was mentoring younger employees, sharing his experience, and still contributing. He was no longer in charge of a department, but I don't think he ever felt shuffled aside.
A reader wrote and asked how to approach a discussion of retirement with a 67 year old employee. See her question and my response.
Readers, do you have any additional thoughts or advice for this reader? What did you do in a similar situation?
More Ask Susan Questions and Answers
Image Copyright Josh Webb
More Related Reading: Maintain Relevance at Any Age | Age Discrimination | Semi-retired or Phased Retirement | 10 Ways to Make Your Coworker's Retirement Memorable
Thursday December 5, 2013
Just another week in Human Resources...
An employee who was fired claims to have been laid off. Another employee who left with no notice thinks she should get a positive reference. A third at a client company is unhappy because the client's policy about references is to confirm dates of employment but provide little additional information.
In this economic climate, job searchers want love from their former employers. But, often there is a reason why they are a former employer. References are a tough topic during a tough time. You can compare your workplace practices with the workplace practices of other readers in my poll.
Recently, a client company received a reference request for a former employee who had not done well in her most recent job. Yet, in earlier roles with the company, she had apparently performed well. This sparked the question about how to respond to a request for a reference. After typing about a five paragraph response, it dawned on me that I needed to make this question into an article since I covered the topic of reference checking nowhere else on my site.
Responding to a reference check request can be tricky. Fear of reprisal and lawsuits keep many employers from responding at all. These reference check recommendations will help you respond reasonably to reference checking requests while protecting the legitimate interests of your company and your current employees.
Am I on target with my recommendations? And, if you don't have a workplace reference checking policy, what do you do when you receive a request? Please comment.
More Reference Checking Resources
Thursday December 5, 2013
Are you just starting out in Human Resources (or a seasoned pro who'd like current reminders)? Key areas of strategy and support for the business and your career are recommended by Bob Calamai (pictured) who is currently the Interim Director of the New York University / School of Continuing and Professional Studies Human Resource Management and Development Graduate Program.
He offers five tips for the HR professional based on his career in HR at IBM. Knowing your business and understanding how to strategically apply HR to the business is just a start. Social networking, continuous learning, and becoming, not just a valued contributor, but a game changer follows.
This aligns perfectly with advice from Dr. Dave Ulrich, a noted HR guru, who identifies a key HR role of change agent. Heed the advice of these tribal elders to get off to a terrific start in HR.
Image Copyright Robert T. Calamai
More About Careers in HR