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How to prepare for proposed overtime rules

15 Oct

If enacted as it currently is the new proposed changes to overtime pay by the U.S. Department of Labor will give nearly 5 million Americans extra pay, according to the Pew Research Center. Those millions of employees that could be eligible for overtime pay are working in salaried white-collar jobs where payment for working over eight hours a day isn't an option.

The new regulation could have a great affect on human resource planning and payroll management if it becomes law. Human resources will need to process more paperwork. Also, if a company wants to cut costs, it'll mean human resources and supervisors will need to keep track of how long employees work to ensure staff members don't go over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. 

A new motion
As it is, the proposal raises the threshold for workers currently exempt from overtime pay. The current baseline, set in 2004, is $455 per week or $23,660 per year for employees who work over 40 hours a week. The new recommendation would allow staff members making $970 per week or $50,440 a year to be eligible for overtime compensation, too.  

According to the Pew Research Center, the threshold would rise each year if the government ties it to the Consumer Price Index or wage percentiles so it can keep up with inflation.

Remaining compliant
Companies and their human resource departments should draw up a plan of how to deal with any changes the motion could bring if it becomes law. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, business can prepare now while the Department of Labor reviews the public commentary about the proposed regulations. The department allowed anyone to comment on the proposal via a government website until Sept. 4, 2015, and so far it received nearly 200,000 responses, the SHRM reported.

"For critical positions that often result in overtime pay, employers should consider hiring more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees, or restructuring their workforce to offset a potential expansion of overtime pay," Phyllis Cheng, an attorney with DLA Piper, told the SHRM.

The proposed regulation could cause logistical problems for companies, leading some businesses to slash employee hours or cut back on benefits in order to pay out more in overtime salary. 

To curb this potential problem, employers should pinpoint which employees still fall under the overtime threshold and which ones are closing in on it, Paul DeCamp, an attorney, told the SHRM. A company could raise the salary of a staff member who's current salary is already near the overtime brink. Bumping up the employee's salary would keep him or her above the threshold and ineligible for overtime pay.  

Businesses might need to move workloads around, splitting them up among multiple employees to ensure none work overtime.

The proposal could also have a chilling effect on work-life balances. Employees who take work home with them or on the road could see their hours cut or monitored more closely. 

Social media’s use in hiring

15 Oct

Social media is playing an increasing role in human resources, especially when it comes to engaging the public and recruiting new employees. According to Business 2 Community, the many different platforms for communicating such as Facebook and LinkedIn can make hiring even easier. A simple job description and a link to a position opening is a great way to get a company noticed by individuals who wouldn't otherwise visit a company's website.

It's also great for human resources solutions since the hiring department may also view a prospective candidate's social media accounts to see whether they'd be a good fit or not. 

Social networking
Platforms such as Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn are great ways for human resources to find someone who might be right for a job opening but isn't an active candidate, according to Forbes. Sending that person a message along with information on the position could get him or her to switch jobs to your firm. 

Advertising job openings via social media also cuts down on legwork and expenses since human resources can simply post openings for free online instead of taking out a classified ad like in the old days. 

According to The Society of Human Resource Management, using social media for hiring purposes is the new norm as a 2013 study from the trade publication showed 77 percent of companies used social networking websites to recruit employees.

Risks involved
If a human resource department does use social media to recruit, it should be wary of the risks involved. The same survey by the SHRM found that 74 percent of respondents were also concerned with the legal risks involved in using LinkedIn, Facebook or other websites to assess a potential job candidate. According to the SHRM, employers can learn a job prospect's age, race and health issues by searching for the person online, which is information they cannot take under consideration when hiring or passing on a candidate.

Some employers choose to avoid social media when it comes to the hiring process, CGMA Magazine reported.

"I don't look at [candidates] on social media," Robert Blumberg, an employment lawyer for Littler Mendelson PC, told CGMA Magazine. "I could. I affirmatively choose not to, because I don't really want to know that information. I think there are too many dangers. There are too many things that you shouldn't know and shouldn't be part of the hiring process."

Noncompete clauses pose issues for human resources

7 Oct

Human resources should be aware and wary of job candidates still under noncompete clauses. According to, hiring someone still under one or not asking during the interview process could cost a company millions. A business could have the best employee management system to aid human resources in their work, but recruiters and HR need to be vigilant when asking job candidates necessary questions.

Costly mistakes
BioSense Webster, a cardiac medical device manufacturer owned by Johnson and Johnson, had to pay $1.2 million after knowingly hiring someone who worked for competitor St. Jude Medical, reported.

When BioSense Webster hired Jose de Castro he was still under a three-year noncompete agreement with St. Jude Medical and he performed similar job duties with his new company. While the judge in the case subsequently threw out St. Jude's lawsuit, the judge ordered BioSense to pay attorney's fees, the cost St. Jude incurred from losing de Castro as well as lost profits.

Noncompetes becoming more commonplace
According the The Washington Post, noncompete agreements are becoming more prevalent in many different work sectors. They're no longer just used to keep executives and developers from jumping ship to another firm and potentially passing on proprietary information, The New York Times reported. Even fast-food chain Jimmy John's made news when it came to light that the company had employees sign two-year noncompete clauses, CNN Money reported. Employees agreed that they would not work at another sandwich store within three miles of one of the chain's restaurants.

"There has been a definite, significant rise in the use of noncompetes, and not only for high tech, not only for high-skilled knowledge positions," Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, told The Times. "They've become pervasive and standard in many service industries."

More noncompete agreements means more lawsuits, The Washington Post noted. And this is why it's important for hiring managers and HR to ask potential employees about any clauses they signed with their former employers, advised.

A company can be sued if they knew their employee was under a noncompete agreement with his or her old employer. Businesses can also be taken to court if their was a reasonable expectation that the person they hired was under an agreement but they failed to ask before hiring him or her, stated.

Lawsuits on the rise
The number of court cases regarding noncompetes are on the rise, The Wall Street Journal reported. The percentage of lawsuits involving the breach rose by 61 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to research law firm Beck Reed Riden LLP did for the newspaper. Most noncompete clause suits are settled out of court, The Journal noted.

Some companies already decline to hiring candidates who are still locked in a clause from their former employers due to possible ligation and court costs. Many just don't want the headaches or worry and because of that it can keep some businesses from growing.

"We're around $8 million in revenue," James Keating, CEO for commercial insurance broker, Keating Group. "I'm confident we would be double our size if we didn't have that to deal with."

With noncompetes and lawsuits both on the rise, it pays for human resources and hiring managers to ask the right questions of candidates in job interviews. It can save a business both time and money by avoiding court or paying someone until the clause the ends. 

Even if human resources doesn't suspect a job candidate is under a noncompete agreement, they should ask anyway to keep their company safe.

Get your office active with moving desks

5 Oct

 The eight-hour work day didn't always exist. Before the Industrial Revolution, people rose with the sun and concluded their work by sunset. The eight-hour work day only came into existence in the the U.S. 99 years ago, once the Adamson Act, regulating railroad workers' shift hours was made law, PBS reported. And just as the 40-hour work week and eight-hour day are relatively new inventions, so is sitting down to work. 

According to Fast Company, sitting down at work only became commonplace when other inventions such as the telephone and typewriter entered the office environment necessitating chairs. However, standing while you work is making a comeback and is even becoming a trend at many offices across the U.S. Even The New York Times recently published a style guide of what to wear when using a standing desk that includes recommendations on pencil skirts and jumpsuits.

Taking a stand at work
So, what are the benefits of a non-sedentary office, and what can human resources departments do to encourage healthier workplaces? Employee engagement ideas such as asking staff members what they think of standing desks and if they'd test them out for a period of time may help. Introducing standing options for employees is a great way to test the waters at first instead of making a complete change to non-sedentary desks, according to Human Resource Executive Online. 

"I think the biggest and clearest takeaway for HR is to explore the idea of using non-sedentary workspaces beyond just standing desk stations, which are starting to become more prevalent in organizations, but to also explore their use during meetings, especially those that last less than an hour," Andrew Knight, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Washington University, told Human Resource Executive Online. "Those standing-oriented workspaces not only might be more efficient, as prior research suggests, they might lead to actual enhancement of creative thinking and problem solving."

Knight recently studied the effects of standing at desks or in meetings can have on employee behavior and found people are more receptive to collaborating and working as a team when they stand.

Out of 214 students who participated in his study, those that stood saw an increase in their physiological arousal, Knight told Human Resource Executive Online, which makes them more adept at working toward a shared goal.

Health and productivity
Being continually sedentary can be just as unhealthy as smoking, according to the American Heart Association, and if a company's human resource department wants to encourage healthier lifestyle habits along with better employee productivity it could introduce standing or treadmill desks. Standing and walking gets the blood pumping and enables staff to be more alert. Less sitting down may also minimize the number of sick or absent days employees take, Human Resource Executive Online noted.

"The trouble is, it's hard to measure the effect on productivity, unless you are making a widget," Rose Stanley, a WorldatWork practice leader. "If you look at it in terms of how much more alert a person is standing or being active, it makes sense. Also, think of an employee who is suffering from obesity, high cholesterol or diabetes –  those take away from productivity, too. It's a good idea to step out of the box to help employees create behavior modification. Not sitting as much is one more tool in your arsenal."

Many staff members might think eight hours of standing is too long, but Fast Company advises employees and supervisors to slowly integrate the practice into their workday routines. Those new to placing their feet on a cushioned mat should start off by getting up for two hours and then gradually work their way up to eight hours. Desks with adjustable heights can also help employees get acquainted with a more active workday as they allow you to raise it when you want to stand and lower it when you need to sit.

Motivation versus experience: Which is better for employees?

2 Oct

Your company uses the latest in training management software for new hires and regularly works with staff on employee engagement ideas, but what do you do with staff members that aren't motivated to learn? Employees with veritable skill sets can be a boon to businesses. However, if they only want to remain in one position in the company they might not be as useful as you think.

In today's job market and workplace, self-motivators are increasingly attractive to businesses looking to fill positions. According to Inc. Magazine, the world is shifting in favor of candidates and employees who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit during the interview or while on the job. 

Potential versus performance
Applicants who show potential and mesh with a company's culture are more likely to be hired than people who demonstrate their experience and qualifications. A joint study from Harvard Business School and Standford University showed candidates who displayed potential received more job offers and money than those who had a proven track record of high performance.

While highly motivated job applicants might not have all the qualifications for a position, they will be of considerable use if they are willing to learn new skills to meet company expectations. A candidate who's assertive gives managers a better picture of whether or not he or she will fit in with the company, according to The Society of Human Resource Management.

"When we are sourcing for candidates, there are two important factors: Can they do the job and do they want to do the job?," Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm, told the SHRM. "The first level is a technical assessment, meaning, do they meet the qualifications? Once you have determined that they have met the requirements, then during the interview you can assess if there is a cultural fit."

Can do spirit
A recent survey by Futurestep, a candidate recruiting firm, showed that out of 500 company executives surveyed a third said an applicant's motivation was one of the compelling factors that got them the job. Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents said most of their good applicants are active job seekers instead of passive candidates.

"What executives tell us when they say a candidate's motivations are most important is that the person they hire must be a good fit for the company's culture," Vic Khan, managing director of global operations for Futurestep, said in a press release. "For example, one very potent driver is power – the motivation to attain work-related status, visibility, responsibility and influence. Those who work in a competitive environment and have this driver would likely be highly engaged and successful."

High-performing job candidates are easy to spot since human resources can verify the qualifications listed on their resumes. However, applicants with potential and great motivation are harder since their track record isn't so easily quantifiable, The New Talent Times reported.

Changing work trends
Applicants that show a level of potential along with entrepreneurial traits are at a greater advantage in succeeding in the job market today since many trends in the working world are changing, Inc. noted.

Employees are judged more on results and the amount of work they can finish rather than the hours worked that week. Punching in at 9 a.m. and leaving by 5 p.m. is no longer the standard as people take work home with them or use cloud-based software, smartphones and laptops to stay connected to the office 24/7.

Staff members who value their work and output and how it can advance their company are employees who are truly passionate and motivated.

E-cigarettes in the workplace prove a problem for human resources

29 Sep

Electronic cigarettes are now a common sight. From bars and clubs to restaurants and stores, you can see some people puffing clouds of vapor from the electric sticks. But allowing e-cigarettes in the workplace is a major issue for businesses and their human resources systems

Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist invented the e-cigarette in 2003 as a way to get himself to quit smoking but it never took, according to The Guardian. And vape pens and other styles of the device are taking off in popularity with their use tripling from 2013 to 2014 among teenagers and doubling for adults from 2010 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The electronic sticks are, so far, not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, the government agency could take action on them in the future, USA Today reported. 

Vaping in the workplace
E-cigarettes allow a smoker to drop a liquid containing nicotine into the device and then he or she can inhale it in the form of vapors. Many contend that electronic smokes are just as harmful to health as regular cigarettes even if the product isn't burning like normal rolling papers. According to NBC News, people who vape take shorter puffs and don't inhale as deeply as those smoking the real thing. Also, unlike regular tobacco products, the long-term health effects of electronic cigarette use still isn't known. 

Some large companies such as Starbucks, UPS and Wal-Mart banned e-cigarettes from their workplaces, according to The Society for Human Resource Management, while other businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach since the full effects including breathing in secondhand vapor isn't known.

Clear regulations
However, some human resource publications advise offices to take action and ban all styles of electronic smoking to create clear-cut policies. If an employer forbids smoking standard paper and tobacco cigarettes while on the job, why would they allow vaping? 

"If you just ban smoking or tobacco products, you haven't covered e-cigarettes," Russell Chapman, an attorney with employment and labor law firm Littler Mendelson P.C., told the SHRM . "You need to specifically ban them if you want them covered."

Allowing one but not the other creates ambiguity in a workplace environment, Human Resource Executive Online noted. It's better to be safe than sorry since there's still no empirical data regarding the safety of e-cigarettes. 

"The important thing is to have a clearly written policy consistently enforced across the board," Elizabeth Leitzinger, an attorney with Fenton and Keller in Monterey, California, told the SHRM.

According to Leitzinger and others, it makes more sense to outright ban vapes and other forms of e-cigarettes from the office as some of the devices are made to look like the real thing – having a white cylindrical stick with a light that glows when the user puffs on it.

Advocates for vaping in the workplace said the device can actually help employees who smoke regularly because they'll no longer need to leave the office to take a puff and can do so at their desks while working. Therefore, using an e-cigarette could increase productivity for smokers and also help them quit real tobacco products. However, their argument doesn't hold weight since there's no evidence to prove that the devices do either, Inside Counsel reported.

Since the speed of technology development outpaces governing bodies such as the FDA, use of e-cigarettes in the office will inevitably fall on the shoulders of managers and human resource departments. Whatever a company's decision may be, the SHRM noted business leaders should seek out the advice of their counsel before implementing any policy changes.

Could sleeping on the job be a good thing?

24 Sep

While it's usually frowned upon, sleeping on the job could be a good thing for employees and businesses. A 2015 University of Michigan study suggested napping at work can increase staff members' productivity, improve safety and minimize mistakes in the office. Participants in the study who slept for an hour during the day performed duties and tasks at a faster pace than those who didn't take a nap. 

Human resources departments in some of the nation's largest companies may soon try to deal with the sleep deprivation problem via employee engagement ideas by polling staff members about their sleeping habits and schedules.

Benefits to employees and businesses
Employees lacking an adequate amount of sleep can cost their employers not only via lower productivity levels but also through higher health insurance rates, according to The Washington Post. Many studies suggest there's a link between poor quality of sleep and conditions such as diabetes and dementia. 

Plus, enough rest also improves memory retention, according to CNN, citing a study performed by Nicolas Dumay, a psychologist with the University of Exeter and the Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language.

"Sleep is good not just to maintain secured knowledge, but also to rescue weaker information, which we could not remember while still awake," Dumay told CNN. "The light here is on those inaccessible memories, which sleep makes suddenly more accessible."

The benefits have more supervisors and human resource departments either investing in or investigating nap rooms and sleeping pods for their employees. Tech giant Google offers its staff members a chance to get some shut-eye in its many nap pods found around its offices. The futuristic-looking chairs recline and include a large visor-like partition that features soothing sounds and an alarm to wake the employee, according to Entrepreneur.

A human resources matter
Besides Google, other companies such as Zappos, Nike and Ben and Jerry's allow staff members to sleep in on-site bedrooms in the office, reported. Many business are finding that allowing afternoon napping can be an added benefit for staff members as the work-life balance blurs. As employees remain connected to their jobs outside normal working hours through smartphones and laptops, highlighting the usefulness of a proper amount of sleep is imperative for human resources. It can also help staff members flying in between their companies' offices to get over jet lag before important meetings or other work events.

Truck driving and other industries that require employees to complete long shifts must abide by regulations splitting work hours up and mandating that staff get at least eight hours of sleep before starting their shift again. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, while sleep is currently a requirement for those professions that use heavy machinery, it could become necessary for office staff as well.

However, many companies outside of Silicon Valley or those that do not have a start-up culture in the office remain skeptical about allowing employees to sleep while on the job. Only 2 percent of businesses surveyed by SHRM reported having rooms designated for napping as a benefit for staff members. 

Those companies are missing out, some health experts say, noting businesses are willing to spend money on gyms and fitness centers to encourage employee wellness, but they stop at the point of offering areas to nap.

"I'm still surprised that people are put off by napping," Terry Cralle, a certified sleep expert told Entrepreneur. "We've got great research supporting the fact that naps can help corporations and employees, yet we still feel reluctant to make it an acceptable part of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy workday."

Companies using fitness trackers to examine employee health

22 Sep

Big data is increasingly becoming big business for companies across the nation as they use analytics and employee management software to determine personnel progress, workloads and benefits.

Human resources departments are changing the face of employee wellness programs by giving staff wearable pedometers along with health and sleep trackers to encourage well-being and, hopefully, lower insurance rates for the company.

Large incentives
Healthy employees end up saving businesses millions, according to the Harvard Business Review. The publication cites Johnson and Johnson as a case in point as the manufacturing giant saved an estimated $250 million over a decade by encouraging staff members to quit smoking and lead active and healthy lifestyles. The business review states the company gained nearly $3 back for every dollar spent on its health and wellness programs.

Not only do the businesses and insurance companies benefit from the programs, but employees do too. John Hancock, the life insurer, offers discounts on premiums for customers who sign up to wear a fitness tracker and share their results with the company, according to CNN Money.

A study conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health and cited by Harvard Business Review found firms with employee wellness programs retained staff members at a higher volume than those that did not have one. 

Nowadays, more companies such as Ikea and BP are getting into the act by suppling their staff members with wearable technology like pedometers that can track the number of steps walked in a day as well as the wearer's quality of sleep, according to The Washington Post.

BP offers cheaper health insurance plans to employees if they walk a certain number of steps, allowing staff members to save approximately $1,200 on deductibles a year, The Washington Post reported.

"It's an investment in our co-workers' health and well-being," Jacqueline DeChamps, Ikea U.S.'s human resources manager, told The Washington Post.

The international furniture retailer asked employees what kind of holiday gift they'd like to receive and after tabulating the results gave all 14,000 U.S. employees a Jawbone fitness tracker.

New programs
Meanwhile, other companies are going one step further and working with different fitness tracker manufacturers like Fitbit to integrate their devices into employee wellness programs, CIO reported. Some businesses, previously, gave pedometers and other health trackers away as a way to encourage healthy lifestyles, but they're now working in conjunction with Fitbit and other pedometer makers.

The Fitbit allows employees at any stage of fitness – from regular runner to someone just going for a stroll – to gauge their daily health, allowing human resources programs to be flexible. 

A few years ago, human resources departments wanting to launch a wellness tracking and incentive program for staff members had their work cut out for them in the form of collecting and indexing results and paperwork for employees, according to CIO. On top of that, the programs worked via honor systems with companies marking down the results an employee reported.

"This is still very much a new area," Jonathan Collins, an analyst at ABI Research, told The Washington Post. "Each company decides to draw the line where it wants to – what its HR department will be comfortable managing and what end users will be willing to sign up for."

Some programs start organically with a CEO or the head of human resources using a fitness tracker and challenging their employees to match the number of steps they take in a day, according to CIO. So far, the strictly voluntary health and fitness programs are receiving rave reviews as employees continue to use the wrist bands in and outside of the office.

How to reject candidates the right way

8 Sep

When companies hire or an open position, they focus on finding the right person for the job. That means the majority of people who apply for the position will get rejected. To human resources, this is just a fact of life, but applicants who toiled over their applications and had their hearts set on the job may have a different perspective. Candidates want to be acknowledged. When companies fail to respect job seekers, they damage the business's brand.

Candidates want respectful treatment
It's important to handle rejections tactfully. Many people who are excited to apply to a job at your company are your biggest brand advocates. You don't want to turn them off. Unfortunately, many companies fail to deal with the rejection process adequately, and this creates problems.

According to the 2015 Candidate Behavior Survey from CareerBuilder, 52 percent of companies respond to fewer than half of applicants. Moreover, candidates say only 40 percent of their applications receive any kind of response. Needless to say, candidates aren't happy about this. And these frustrated job seekers are likely to take some kind of action against the brand. Almost 60 percent say they are less likely to buy from a company that never responded to an application. Close to 70 percent will think twice before they do business with a company if they had a bad experience during the interview.

On the other hand, candidates who don't make the cut won't be upset if they feel they've been treated with respect throughout the application process. In fact, 69 percent of job seekers who had a positive experience are more likely to do business with the company in the future.

It's clear that providing a positive candidate experience, even to job seekers who don't make the cut, has benefits for the company. Here are some tips for turning down candidates (nicely): 

Respond to everyone
Even if the candidate was 100 percent unqualified for the position, it's polite to send a response. A quick form letter is adequate in the early stages. If you can, use a personalized salutation rather that something like "Dear Applicant." Email marketing solutions make it easy to send a response to everyone, so don't leave candidates hanging.

Consider the relationship
Depending on the relationship the candidate has with the company, companies will need to respond differently. If the person made it to the interview stage, you may want to consider a phone call to make the message more personal, according to Zip Recruiter. If you send a letter, be sure to add a personalized message.

Be honest
If the candidate is someone you would consider hiring in the future, let the person know you've kept his or her name on file in the company's employee management software and that the candidate should try again in the future. If the candidate lacked a specific skill, you can let the person know. This information will help candidates in the future and even turn the application process into a useful learning experience.

Be timely
According to Social Talent, it's polite to not leave candidates hanging for too long. Most recruiters wait until they've found the right person before they let applicants know they've been rejected. Instead, let each candidate know as soon as you know. If you screen out a candidate right away for lack of experience, send the person a message immediately; there's no point in waiting until the end of the process.

With the combination of email marketing solutions and an employee management system, it's not hard for HR staff to make the application process respectful to all applicants, even the ones who don't make the cut. Rather than damage your company's brand, be responsive to everyone.

Tips for conducting internal investigations

8 Sep

Most human resources managers hope they will never have to deal with a workplace investigation. Unfortunately, investigations are often a crucial part of HR's job. Whenever an employee files a complaint, whether it's related to discrimination, harassment, theft or failure to comply with workplace laws, the organization needs to conduct an internal investigation. If companies fail to do a good enough job, it can be a problem for the company. For instance, if a company doesn't adequately respond to serious allegations, the event could come back to haunt the brand and result in a diminished public reputation. 

Why investigations are important
Aside from protecting the business against liability, internal investigations have a number of other important benefits. According to "Practical Tips for Conducting Workplace Investigations," from Gibbons P.C., workplace investigations demonstrate to staff that rules and policies aren't just for show. When employees cross boundaries, there are real consequences. Conducting these investigations also may make employees more likely to come forward with an issue because they see their employers actually respond.

Just carrying out the investigation isn't always enough; it needs to be done thoroughly. An ineffective investigation can be used against the employer in court. Also, if employees notice the investigation is subpar or being carried out in a lackluster manner, they may not take the rules as seriously as they otherwise would.

For instance, James Castelluccio, former IBM vice president, won a case against his previous employer, arguing he was wrongfully terminated because of his age, the Society for Human Resources Management wrote. He won $4.1 million in the lawsuit. The judge criticized IBM for how it handled Castelluccio's discrimination complaint.

Here are some tips for conducting an investigation and avoiding a similar faux pas:

Know the laws
In some ways, being an HR professional is more complicated now than ever before because the laws change so frequently, and employees are increasingly aware of their rights. HR professionals need to stay up to date with any legislation that could impact their workplace. This can help them prepare quickly in case of an incident.

Have a plan
It's important to have a written plan in the event an employee files a serious complaint. When no plan is in place, there is a greater likelihood that HR departments will forget a key procedure or simply fail to do an effective job. Before jumping into the investigation, you outline who will investigate, what you will investigate, what evidence will need to be collected and who will need to be interviewed, SHRM suggested. It's also important that everyone understands the full scope of the investigation and why it is taking place.

Develop great interview skills
Interviews are at the center of every workplace interview. HR needs to track down everyone involved or anyone who may have witnessed the incident. In an interview with SHRM, Natalie Ivey, an expert on internal investigations, noted that investigations require great interview skills because interviewers need to confront liars as well as convince some reluctant witnesses to share their stories. Interviewers should thoroughly plan their questions but plan to ask follow ups that encourage interviewees to open up.

Remain objective
While it can be difficult for investigators to remain impartial, it's important for HR to be objective to ensure the investigation is fairly carried out.

Follow through
When finishing up an interview, HR practitioners should ask the person if there is anyone else who they should talk to. It's important not to leave anyone out or overlook key evidence. According to SHRM, failing to follow up with those involved is one of the top investigation mistakes that organizations make.

Proper documentation throughout the investigation is key. HR staff should use employee management software to store any information they learn in the course of the investigation. This data may be useful in future cases, as well. Any workplace investigation may involve reviewing previous incidents with specific employees, according to HR Hero.

Workplace investigations are tricky. Having the right HR management software ensures that companies are able to document every step of the procedures and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

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