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► Cheers! 7 New Year's Resolutions For HR Pros

The start of a new year is an excellent time for HR pros to focus on key resolutions to improve personnel management and performance. Although none of us typically follows through on every New Year’s resolution we make, the following checklist of goals and actions could pay great dividends in 2020 and save costly resources down the road by avoiding unnecessary employment claims and litigation. Let’s get right to the checklist.

By Mark M. Schorr.

1. Review Employee Handbook and Policies

Conduct a thorough review of your employee handbook and other written policies to determine if revisions are needed because of changes in employment laws at the state or federal level.

Do the handbook and the other policies sufficiently preserve your discretion to determine when employees can be terminated? Do you have an appropriate acknowledgement form on file for every employee who has received your handbook? It should confirm receipt of the handbook and acknowledge that, absent a formal contract, employment is at will (i.e., the individual can be discharged at any time for any legal reason or no reason at all).

Do you have an appropriate workplace harassment policy? Has it been provided to all employees, and does it clearly describe an internal mechanism to register complaints? If you’re covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), are your leave policies up-to-date?

2. Revisit Employment Applications

Your employment application should be carefully reviewed on an annual basis. Be sure it’s requesting only valid job-related information—and no details about an applicant’s age, previous injuries, worker’s compensation claims, or disabilities. The review is critical because the application itself can become the subject of a discrimination charge or legal action.

3. Double-Check FMLA and ADA Forms

Review your library to ensure you have all of the proper forms in place for whenever an employee requests medical leave under the FMLA or an accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Are you using outdated forms or handling the requests in an inconsistent manner?

4. Audit Exempt Classifications

Conduct a thorough audit of your classifications to ensure salaried employees deemed exempt from receiving overtime pay truly meet all aspects of one of the recognized exemptions. In addition, do they meet the “salary basis” test to qualify for the exemption?

Are hourly employees covered by the overtime rule properly recording all hours worked? Do you have sufficient procedures in place to ensure compliance with the overtime regulations and requirements? For overtime calculation purposes, are you properly including nondiscretionary bonuses in hourly employees’ regular rate of pay?

5. Fine-Tune Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are no luxury but rather a necessity. Accurate, up-to-date descriptions are critical for (1) establishing employee expectations and performance parameters and (2) complying with the ADA and its various requirements.

6. Schedule Supervisory Training

When was the last time you conducted training for all supervisors on the basics of workplace diversity and harassment, wage and hour administration, the FMLA and ADA requirements, and so on? If more than 18 months or two years have passed, now would be an excellent time to schedule the training.

7. Critique Job Evaluation Policies, Procedures

Thoroughly review and examine how you’re evaluating employees and grading performance. Job evaluations can be an excellent management tool, or they can become a major problem if not properly and effectively administered.

For example, when I’m called upon to defend a disciplinary or termination decision, it’s often apparent that performance problems existed, but the issues were never accurately chronicled in a job evaluation.

It’s imperative you conduct evaluations on a timely and accurate basis to reflect the employee’s actual performance and any identified shortcomings.

Bottom Line

No checklist of New Year’s resolutions is ever complete, and you may want to expand on the points provided here. Taking some time at the start of 2020 to focus on the critical issues facing your workplace will provide continuous benefits going forward.

By Mark M. Schorr. Mr. Schorr is a senior partner with Erickson | Sederstrom, P.C., in Lincoln, Nebraska.



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