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February News

February News

Don’t Get Snowed by Your Employees

As you can imagine, Joyce Rosenberg (AP) and I discussed many facets of the issue. Some of those items included:

  • It’s important to have a written Emergency Policy. Since I live in MN, we typically call it an Inclement Weather Policy. This should spell out how employees are informed about snow emergencies and how they’re paid if (a) the organization is open and they don’t show up and (b) how they’re paid if the organization is closed.
  • Most organizations pay employees for the lost time when the business is closed, since employees are absent through no fault of their own. Some policies set a maximum number of days they’ll pay for per year.
  • When an employee elects not to come to work (no matter the reason – including school closings), there are many options. One would be to allow the employee to use the available vacation or PTO; other companies allow the employee to take the time off unpaid.
  • The written policy ensures that managers and business owners do not have to make this pay decision on an individual employee basis or on a case-by-case basis. It gets you off the hook from favoritism, discrimination and having to make the same decision over and over again.

One of the other areas Joyce and I discussed was who typically comes into work no matter the weather. I think that employers know which employees they can rely on. The poorer performer may be more prone to take advantage of the “day off” even if they can make it to work. The stronger performer is going to make every attempt to get there or is going to communicate their difficult situation in a way that the employer can tell that the employee really is in a bind.

For example, the great employees who can’t make it to work when schools are closed are more likely to present alternatives to their bosses regarding making up work, coming in late once things are settled, or partnering with others in their families or neighborhoods to help get the work done – remotely or from home. We know our employees and how they’re going to react to these situations before the snow falls.

If you know a storm is coming, prepare in advance. Discuss the options with staff before you find yourself in a tight situation. Have an emergency strategy for handling the work remotely, staggering schedules, closing down and catching up. When proactive is possible, that’s always your best solution.

If you’re not
having fun
with your
human resources,
call Arlene today
at 952-996-0975


Working in a Winter Wonderland

I was contacted by Associated Press this week regarding what employers are doing about the sensitive issues related to closing the office in snow emergencies or handling employee absences even when the business is open. You’ll find the article below.

She was excited by my response and called it a “DIN DIN DIN” moment! Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!

I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’m sure I’m not alone in putting some things off to the last moment. But today’s question is what HR, personnel,
employee relations, activities, practicalities and legalities are you putting off that should be DIN DIN DIN? I’ve picked some of my favorites below and in the

DIN #1 – FEEDBACK: Do you speak to your employees on a regular basis? Are all your conversations general or are they performance oriented? The
social part is good for developing relationships with your people. But it is pivotal for the success of the individual and the organization that you
give your employees regular feedback on how they’re performing their job.

This can be as simple as “good job” comments when you see them doing something right. Or it can be as simple as “I’d prefer if you performed task A
in this manner.” These routine discussions need not be formal and they need not be in writing but they must occur.

Many of you who have heard me speak on this subject are familiar with my “No Surprise Theory of Feedback.” In a nutshell, when we give annual reviews of
our employees’ performance, there should be no surprises in the discussion. The employee should have received all the feedback throughout the year, and the
appraisal should merely repeat the year’s discussions. So, Do It Now.

DIN #2 – DOCUMENTATION: Sometimes the feedback conversations must go deeper than everyday feedback. For example, when problem performance or behavior
mysteriously appears in an employee. That’s when our tendency to procrastinate increases and our need to document skyrockets.

DIN really applies here. As soon as you see a potentially or actually serious problem, it’s time to start taking notes and documenting. What day did the event
happen? Describe the incident. Who was involved? What discussion did you have with the employee? What was the employee’s response? How is the situation going to
be rectified? What assistance do you or others need to provide to improve the employee’s performance or understanding of the problem? In what time frame must
the issue be resolved?

These are only some of the questions that need to be answered in your documentation. Most important is that you don’t try to leave an employee’s work history to
memory. If the employee’s performance continues to go south, your communication and documentation can serve as evidence for terminating an employee and winning an
unemployment decision. If the employee’s performance improves, you can add a note to the employee’s file that congratulates the employee for resolving the issue
and succeeding in their job. However, do not destroy any documentation (good, bad, or ugly). Even if the employee turns out to be the best employee you’ve ever
had, that paper trail should always exist.

Copyright © 2005 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,

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