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Top 10 Ways To Stay Off Of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List

Posted by Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, Amy at Friday, 12/21/2012 12:09 pm
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2.7 from 42 votes
He’s making a list, checking it twice and going to find out who’s naughty or nice. Yes, we’re talking about Santa Claus. Who else?

It’s that time of year when the office gets a little more holly and the employees get a little more jolly. But just because everyone is on their best behavior now doesn’t mean your company made the nice list this year.
Don’t worry! We want to help make sure you don’t get a big lump of coal in your mailbox this year. That’s why today we’re giving you the Top 10 Ways To Stay Off of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List.

Okay okay, put down that ginger bread cookie and let’s get started.

Top 10 Ways To Stay Off Of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List

1. Document, Document, Document!

As you probably know, the EEOC and Department of Labor have stepped up their numbers to crack down on businesses who are misbehaving. Don’t let that happen to you. Be prepared if plump man in a red suite or a DOL official comes knocking on your door. Make sure you know the EEOC and Department of Labor Investigation Process and what they are looking for.

By documenting everything that happens—good and bad—you are more likely to stay on the nice list.

2. Identify The Areas Where You’ve Had Trouble

We all make mistakes; no business is perfect. And Santa knows that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to improve. After all, remember he sees you when you’re sleeping.

You should develop assessment methods to make sure all your systems and processes are running effectively and efficiently. Identify that weak link and fix it!

You can start by identifying benchmarks and best practices in your industry and see where your organization could improve. Also, take a second to look up federal and state regulations that apply to your company.
Lastly, consider past employee issues and possibly past litigation and really work on how you can avoid future situations like that.

3. Hang All The Appropriate Posters

Before Santa comes down the chimney on December 25, you better make sure you have all the appropriate posters up. You wouldn’t want him to slide into an undecorated house!

There are numerous places to obtain posters. The Federal law posters are also online at poster page and some state posters are available on state websites.

4. Conduct an Internal Audit of Your Files and If Needed Take Corrective Action

How does Santa keep track of who is on the Naughty and Nice lists? Well he stays organized of course! And he is constantly auditing his lists to make sure no name is out of place. And you should do the same.

Conducting an internal audit of your files is an excellent way to safeguard your company from a nasty and expensive Department of Labor or EEOC audit. Here are some things you need to make sure you have in order:

       Personnel Files
       Medical Files
       I-9s
       EEO-1 Reports

Get out that new label maker Santa brought you last year and get going!

5. Review and Update Your Employee Handbook

Now, we’re not exactly sure if Santa uses an Employee Handbook (or in his case an Elf Handbook), but we are just going to assume he does. How else would the North Pole run so smoothly?

Ensuring your policies are written correctly as well as up to date with all current legislation and new cultural developments, such as social media and emerging technologies like tablet PCs, is extremely important. We recommend revising your handbook once a year, or at the extreme minimum once every two years.

Your employee handbook should include:

       Introductory information
       Employment and compensation information
       Time off
       Employee benefits description
       Other specific information including the company’s policies on drug and alcohol abuse, workplace conduct, violence in the workplace, e-mail, voicemail and Internet usage, use of company equipment, employee privacy, smoking, education reimbursement or an employee assistance program.

There is no magic page number requirement—can be 10-50 pages. And make sure all employees (or elves) sign receipt acknowledgement.

Here are some common examples of vulnerable areas in the employee handbook:

       Exempt versus non-exempt jobs
       Inadequate personnel files (i.e. inconsistent discipline documentation, inaccurate/outdated evaluations, medical information)
       Inconsistent application of attendance policies
       Inaccurate time records
       Inadequate I-9 documentation
       Policies that provide for promises or imply an employment contract

Lastly, here are the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to employee handbooks:

       Copying policies from the Internet
       Failure to address all harassment protected by Title VII, not just sexual harassment
       Failure to revise handbook as policies change
       Failure to notify employees of policy changes

Now that you have the perfect, bullet-proof Employee Handbook you need to make sure your employees actually follow the policies. Also your employee handbook need to be in line with applicable best practice, in compliance with federal and state regulations and help your organization achieve its goals. (Download our Free Employee Handbook Analysis Toolkit here.)

6. Review your Recruitment and Hiring Process

We hear it’s pretty tough to become one of Santa’s elves. I mean even Will Ferrell couldn’t make the cut. So how do you get a staff just like Santa’s that loves what they do so much so that they’ll work for candy canes?

Well, first you need to review your recruitment and hiring process to make sure you aren’t committing one of these all too common illegal hiring related decisions:

•       Refusing to hire an applicant because she is pregnant;
•       Refusing to provide an accommodation to an applicant with a disability that would enable him/her to perform the job
•       Refusing to hire a Latino worker because he/she speaks with an accent;
•       Forcing an employee to retire when he/she reaches age 65; and
•       Refusing to hire an applicant because he/she is a member of the Teamsters Union.

Also, you need to make sure that you avoid these words in your job advertisements:
•       Young
•       Retiree preferred
•       Healthy
•       Salesman
•       Christian
•       Single
•       Fluent in English

Lastly, remember to complete all the necessary testing and background checks to make sure you are hiring the right person, not Jack Frost trying to pass as an elf. (Download our free whitepaper about finding the “Devil in Disguise” through background checks here).

Just remember this when you are hiring an employee:

•       56% of working people admit they lied to their supervisors
•       41% say they falsified records
•       64% use the Internet for personal issues
•       31% admit to abusing drugs or alcohol
•       80% of computer crime is committed by insiders - totaling over $100 million

Of course, elves would never do such things!

7. Assess Your Compensation Plans

Now, we all can’t pay our employees in candy canes and sugar cookies. If only life were that simple.

In the world outside of the North Pole, you need a competitive compensation plan that attracts the right talent to your organization. A properly administered compensation strategy can not only reduce payroll costs, but also can dramatically increase the productivity of a workplace, enhance the company culture, and overall increase the company bottom line.

Here are the Top 5 Employer Mistakes Under the Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA)

•       Believing that salaried employees are automatically exempt from overtime
•       Misclassifying assistant managers
•       Taking automatic deductions for meal breaks
•       Not paying for overtime that has not been approved in advance
•       Allowing employees to “waive” their right to overtime

To find out if your compensation plan needs to be updated, download our free compensation plan analysis toolkit here.

8. Conduct Ongoing Training

With all the new toys that come out every year, elves are always going to Toy Making Training. You also need to conduct training at your organization in order to remain on Santa’s Nice List.

Here are some instances that require ongoing training:

•       Newly promoted/hired supervisors
•       New/amended policies and procedures
•       Changes in the organization
•       Changes to federal and state regulations
•       New systems
To see a list of critical employee training programs, click here.

9. Determine How You Will Measure Success

December is not the only month you should be concerned with whether or not you are making it on Santa’s Nice list. Your company needs to develop core metrics so that you can measure your success throughout the year.
No more of this waiting until the last minute thing, okay? Okay!

Here are some key statistics that your company should identify/benchmark and keep track of throughout the year in order to stay out of trouble with the EEOC and DOL.

•       Numbers of applications within a given period
•       Number of new hires
•       Length of time a position remains open
•       EEO-1 reports, where applicable, and other workforce statistics
•       Turnover data broken down by avoidable, unavoidable, and voluntary terminations
•       Absenteeism data
•       Percentage of timely performance reviews
•       Number of days of training for both staff and management
•       Frequency, timing and dispositions of lawsuits and grievances
•       Cost savings achieved through the use of an internal process versus an arbitrator or legal fees
•       Types of benefit programs offered
•       Eligibility for benefit programs
•       Benefit program cost sharing
•       Incidence of workplace accidents
•       Safety violations
•       Infraction of other work rules
•       Participation (or lack of) in employee events
•       Number of “suggestions” made by staff for improvement or change

Whew! That’s quite a list. But if you stay on top of these items, your company will definitely be on the Nice List next year.

10. Prepare An External Audit Procedure

Just because you’ve done things the same way for 30 years, doesn’t mean you are doing it the right way. Times have changed! I’m sure Santa adjusts his flying route every year to find the most efficient path that will let him get to everyone’s house in one night. (Have we stretched your imagination too far? Sorry, we got a little carried away!)

Anyways, here’s the deal. Human Resource issues have become more complex over the years, due in part to new and ever changing federal and state employment regulations. How would you fair if the EEOC showed up at your door tomorrow?

You need to prepare a Government Inquiry/External Audit Procedure. Some things to consider:

When you receive a notice, what steps do you take?
•       Evaluate what’s being asked
•       Determine who needs to be involved
•       Determine response/timing
•       Address next steps and communications

When someone shows up at your door, what do you do?
•       Who should be notified?
•       Should the Government official be allowed in the building? If so, where?
•       What actions should you take?
•       What tools and supplies should you have available

In order to avoid a messy and expensive investigation, you need to evaluate and update you human resources processes and procedures. Are you using up-to-date forms that comply with all of the new legislation? Are you unintentionally discriminating against a protected class? The list of questions goes on and on.

Many times, companies need to evaluate their HR programs and practices by conducting a comprehensive, confidential audit of all their HR practices, procedures and policies.

Having an objective third party examine your processes helps you see what you are doing right, but more importantly, what you need to correct.

So what are you waiting for? You can download our Free HR Compliance Review here to get one step closer to reducing your company’s risk, increasing productivity and gaining a peace of mind.

And that’s a wrap for our Top 10 Ways To Stay Off Of Santa’s Naughty HR List (and out of trouble with the EEOC and DOL). We hope these tips helped you get on the Nice List this year. And if you do receive coal this year, well there is always next year!

Remember if you have an HR headache, Keep Calm and Call Integrity HR! We’ll see you in 2013!

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