The Department of Labor vs. Your Company – Are You Ready to Rumble?
14th December 2010 · 0 Comments
Ladies and Gentlemen! Your attention, please! Today’s bout is for the heavy weight title of America’s Successful Enterprise. In the near corner, wearing red trunks, is the Department of Labor, returning to activity as an enforcement agency after several years of non-participation. In the far corner, wearing green trunks, is Your Company, which has been struggling for success through years of difficult economic conditions. We expect to see some good, clean competition in this arena, so be prepared! Gentlemen, are you ready to RUUUUMMMMMBBBLLE?!!
Okay, so much for drama. Here’s the real story: 2010 is coming to a close. Unemployment is still up, but economists are reporting that we are becoming economically stronger. As we enter 2011, business leaders are reviewing their plans for growth, budgets, and client relations. But are you also taking note of the human resources within your organization? Does your staff feel supported and valued? As the executive leader, what climate have you created for your most important resource and capital?
The Obama Administration has promised that the Department of Labor will become an enforcement agency again, and we have already seen a rise in employment litigation. Have you protected your company by providing an environment that will prevent unhappy employees? It is almost impossible to keep everyone happy all the time, but you can provide an organization that strives to be consistent in its goal to have happy and satisfied employees. Is it time to have an operational assessment of your organization to find out how you’re doing in these efforts? It’s important to ask objective questions about your organization, rather than just go along hoping that things are going well.
As a business strategy consultant, I suggest organizations review the following items on a regular basis to ensure a healthy environment for employees and clients. (This is a section of the free download, A Health Checkup for Business.)
|The company has clear, written expectations of its employees.|
|Employees know what the leadership expects of them.|
|This company is loyal to its employees.|
|The employees are loyal to this company.|
|A client survey is conducted at least annually and is followed-up on by leadership|
|Employee performance reviews are conducted annually or more frequently.|
|Employees have ready access to their managers.|
|The company has formal training programs for specific jobs and professional development.|
|The company follows a pay-for-performance strategy.|
|Staff has regular and frank conversations with leadership.|
|Leadership demonstrates that it values input from all levels of staff.|
It is the responsibility of leadership to ensure the organization is free from liability of employment allegations for unfair work practices. Protect your company by having written policies and procedures, job descriptions, and documented coaching sessions. But the key to success in this area is not in the documentation as much as it is in the consistent application of the verbiage in the documents. An employee needs to be able to trust leadership to provide consistent and clear direction to the organization. When an employee feels mistreated and/or neglected, the likelihood of an employee complaint rises exponentially. As the leader of an organization, it is your responsibility to create an environment that minimizes risks and liability within the workplace.
There will always be unhappy people, but you can limit the exposure of your company by providing consistent and fair practices for the employees. It was recently announced that the Department of Labor and the American Bar Association will unite to provide representation to any employee who feels wronged by his employer and who is not able to hire an attorney. The scenario is prime for an employee to file suit against your organization, even when you’ve done everything right. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that you assess the consistency of your written procedures and the application of those procedures. You can’t necessarily prevent a claim from being filed; however, you can prevent a disgruntled employee from having a legitimate claim by being proactive.
The political scene may help disgruntled employees, but you can help yourself by having the right things in place at the right time for the right people. Consistency, application, and due diligence will be your defense. Don’t wait until you receive a complaint against your company to assess your readiness for the current climate of management-labor relationships. You don’t want to feel or look like a scene from the World Wrestling Federation, a.k.a. the Department of Labor, versus Your Company. Think about it. Are You Ready to Rumble????
Penny Crow is the Founder and CEO of Operational Strategies, a management consulting firm with consultants who have become subject matter experts in their various areas of specialization. She can be reached at (512) 394-8696 or email@example.com