November 2017 - MVHRA Connections
Being Thankful in the Workplace
By LaTonia McCane, SHRM-CP, PHR, GBA
In the U.S., this is the month for giving thanks. We give thanks for the love of our family and friends and for the joy of life’s bounties. It is a wonderful holiday – one without the pressure of giving gifts. In so many ways, it is a time for real reflection and appreciation. And that would be enough, but then there is that work thing. So each year during the Thanksgiving holiday season, I try to find a few tidbits about work for which we can be thankful.
The first Thanksgiving was, after all, a lesson in workplace cooperation – or so we are taught. When it comes to workplace thanks, it is easier for some to be thankful than others. But as always, we all have some things to be thankful for when it comes to the workplace. Of course you’re grateful for meaningful work and collaborative colleagues. This year, we can all be thankful for the love of our family and friends, our health and if we have meaningful work too, what a bonus. So put the smartphones down, even if for a minute, and enjoy it.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll toast family and friends and give thanks for all the good things that occurred this year. But when you return to work, think about the things that may seem like obstacles, but that actually make you a stronger, smarter and more awesome professional.
For example, I'm thankful for:
1. Limited resources. I work for a nonprofit and there are never enough hours in the day to conquer even half of the to-do list. But limited resources sharpen the mind, causing us to set priorities nearly every day. So we're forced to focus on the most important things--and let other stuff go.
2. Big, gnarly, seemingly impossible challenges. As my dad says, if it were easy, customers/clients would do it themselves. So I love it when someone calls me with an enormous problem that seems to have no conceivable solution. Or when the challenge would be a piece of cake if we had three weeks, but we only have three days (or hours!). We don't always hit the solution out of the park, but we always do our best.
3. Small wins. Thank goodness, not every elevation is Mt. Everest. We need little hills to climb, too--and the opportunity to lift our feet off the pedals and coast down the other side. Otherwise, work would be too burdensome. I recently kicked off our benefit reenrollment for my staff, it felt so good to check that small task of getting it started off the list.
4. Quirky colleagues. Imagine how boring work would be if everyone were just like you. (Some companies hire that way, which is very scary.) I give thanks for my coworkers' peculiarities. Their unusual perspectives. Even their silly jokes. All our eccentricities make every day more interesting. And it's great to know that by combining our strange brains, we can work together to come up with ideas that none of us could ever conceive separately.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
And of course it goes without saying that we here at MVHRA are thankful for YOU. Wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday season!
MVHRA HOLIDAY PHOTO CONTEST!
Please click the link for more information about MVHRA’s Holiday Photo Contest: http://mvhra.org/LATONIASPHOTOCONTEST.pdf
Check out these exciting Human Resources job opportunities:
THIS MONTH'S ARTICLES
Member Spotlight: Bridget Pooler
You may recognize MVHRA member Bridget Pooler from her role greeting fellow members as they sign in at MVHRA’s monthly luncheons. However, we’ll also know Bridget now as the newest Senior HR Manager at Hubbell, located in Mason, Ohio.
Although she has 11+ years of HR experience, Bridget is a rather recent addition to MVHRA, having joined as a member-in-transition to network and broaden her HR knowledge base while searching for her next HR position. She reports that she was “amazed” at how everyone welcomed her into the group and shared their valuable experiences from being members of MVHRA. From day one, Bridget says, she felt welcomed and part of a team. She described joining MVHRA as one of the best professional decisions she has made. Bridget also noted that while attending the monthly MVHRA luncheons and complimentary webinars, she has picked up valuable additional knowledge in areas such as workplace flexibility, workers’ compensation, FMLA, and OSHA.
Bridget is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, majoring in Communications with a minor in Human Resources, and the University of Phoenix, from which she received her MBA. She is currently attending Wright State University’s SHRM-SCP study course. Outside of work, Bridget enjoys spending time with her family and working with women and youth in her church, where her husband is the pastor and she stays very involved. She also volunteers at Dayton Christian School.
She advises new HR professionals to take pride in their work and value others, and to identify and develop their HR skills so that they can progress and help develop their organization, too. Bridget also recommends that they expand their network as often as possible, because “who you know can develop what you know.”
Holiday Party Pointers for Employers
By Steve Watring, Auman Mahan & Furry
An employee holiday party can be a great team building event that benefits all involved. It can also be a breeding ground for a variety of claims against your business, or even you personally. If problems occur, the positive benefit you were trying to gain from the party can quickly turn negative. By taking appropriate precautions, employers can promote both the safety of participating employees and a positive working environment. Additionally, in a current environment in which employers seem to be under a microscope especially when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment, such precautions can help minimize the risk of employee claims.
Legal standards are different in the workplace than in a social setting. An employee holiday party seems more like a social setting, but legally it is just an extension of the workplace. Despite that, the natural tendency of many may be to act as one would in a social setting, forgetting the legal restrictions applicable to the workplace. Supervisors and managers may let their guard down in the spirit of the occasion. Co-workers may engage in conduct that they would not even dream of engaging in at work. Combined with the loss of inhibition that can accompany alcohol use, which occurs at many such parties, you may have a recipe for disaster.
Many people are reluctant to be the "party pooper,” so inappropriate activity may go on unchecked. An employee who appeared to willingly participate, or at least to acquiesce in certain activity, may be heard to complain the next day. Even worse, sometimes the complaint surfaces months or years later, when the employment relationship sours or when other accusations of sexual harassment occur. What seemed to be taken as harmless fun at the time may sound like a horror story when retold by a disgruntled employee – with the support of allied coworkers and maybe even photographs or recordings to back up the story. These days, almost every employee has an excellent recording device right in their pocket, and this must not be forgotten.
The concerns are not limited to sexual harassment claims, however. Some may see ethnic, racial, sexist, or ageist “jokes” or comments as fair game in an informal party setting, even though they never would be made during a normal workday. Such comments may be used to support discrimination or harassment claims later on. Incidents that may have been long forgotten by managers may be remembered, and perhaps even documented, by an employee.
Workers' compensation claims also can arise out of such parties. Alcohol use increases the chances of injury. Under normal circumstances, an injury at a company sponsored recreational activity will be compensable under workers' compensation laws. While this can be avoided by requiring employees to sign recreational waivers, the disadvantages of such waivers often can outweigh the advantages. Injuries to employees while traveling to and from the party also may be compensable under some circumstances, and can be more serious.
Furthermore, an employer that furnishes alcohol to an employee and then does nothing to dissuade them from driving may be looking at other forms of liability. An employer that knowingly exposes an employee to a dangerous condition may face an intentional tort claim by the employee who is injured as a result. The employer may not be insured against that risk, and will not be insured for the punitive damages claim normally associated with that type of lawsuit. Additionally, the employer almost certainly will be a defendant in a lawsuit by a non-employee who is injured in the process. This is particularly true for an employer who furnishes alcohol to an employee who is underage or visibly intoxicated. In certain circumstances, criminal charges can result as well. Beyond the risk of claims, employers also should take into account the risk of adverse publicity that can arise out of the any of these incidents.
There are various ways that employers can help control these risks. Here are a few ideas:
1. If in doubt, check your insurance coverage, and structure your party accordingly.
2. Consider not serving alcohol at the party. While this may not be feasible for all employers, more employers are making this decision. Make sure not to underestimate employees’ reaction to such a decision, and consider other entertainment or activities that will make the absence of alcohol less conspicuous.
3. Consider alternatives for limiting alcohol use. Providing drink coupons or tokens, or closing the bar at a designated time, are possible techniques. Under no circumstances, however, should you charge for alcoholic drinks unless you possess a liquor license.
4. If alcohol is being served, have the party away from your place of business. State liquor laws can impose liability on the owner of the premises where alcohol is served.
5. Contract with another entity to provide the alcohol and a bartender. This helps transfer responsibility for legal compliance and some of the associated liability. Additionally, if it becomes necessary to refuse to serve someone, it can have the benefit of making someone else be the "bad guy."
6. Avoid furnishing alcohol to employees that are under 21 years of age. If you have employees under 21, consider discussing the issue with them in advance. Make sure the bartender is aware of the problem, and consider asking some supervisors to help monitor the situation.
7. Arrange and offer safe transportation for employees that are believed to be intoxicated.
8. Make sure that you have in place a state-of-the-art workplace discrimination and harassment policy, and that you have effectively communicated that policy to your employees. Among other things, your policy is outdated if it is limited to sexual harassment and if it does not spell out reasonable procedures for employees to follow if they believe that they have been a victim of workplace discrimination or harassment.
9. Prior to the party, consider briefing supervisors about issues of concern. While it is unfortunate, supervisors should know that they are subject to the same legal standard as in the workplace. They need to conduct themselves accordingly. Under Ohio law, supervisors can be held personally liable for discrimination or harassment. Caution supervisors about the overuse of alcohol, and that a disgruntled employee can use anything the supervisor says or does at the party against them in a lawsuit later. Supervisors should know how to handle common or anticipated situations, or at least the person to consult if needed.
10. Consider a subtle reminder to employees prior to the party to avoid problems during the party.
11. Be prepared to step in if a situation starts to get out of control. If you handle the situation promptly and properly, you can avoid potential problems. Furthermore, most employees will respect you for it in the morning.
12. If you believe that an employee was subjected to inappropriate conduct, apologize promptly and make sure that the employee is satisfied with your follow up action.
13. If you do receive an internal complaint after the party, conduct a prompt investigation, and take prompt action to remedy the complaint.
14. Consider asking for employee feedback. You may be surprised what you learn.
In today's world, almost all employment decisions carry some risks. The decisions associated with an employee holiday party are no different. Employers who throw a party, but take a few simple precautions, can both enjoy the benefits and limit the risks.
Successful Job Shadowing Event Held with Wright State
Submitted by Betsy Brown, College Relations Committee Chair
A job-shadowing event was held for the Human Resource Management majors at Wright State University. MVHRA’s College Relations Committee (CRC) worked in collaboration with the officers of the university’s Human Resource (HR) Club to make this event a true success. The job-shadowing event provided the students an opportunity to be paired with an HR professional for either a half of day or a whole day. The students learned about and experienced the HR professional’s job duties and responsibilities first hand. In addition, it provided time for students to ask about the HR profession.
There were both 18 HR professionals and HR majors that participated in the event over a two-week period. The MVHRA members that participate provided a fine sampling of industries, which included education, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, non-profit, staffing, and technology. Specific companies included Dayton Foundation, Dupps, Edison, Goodwill/Easter Seals, Kettering Health Network, Kodak, McGohan Brabender, Oerlikon, Red Roof Inns, Select, Staffmark, Tyler Technologies, and Woolpert.
The feedback received from the students was very positive. They believed it gave them realistic insights into what HR professionals do on a day-to-day basis, and what they learn about in class was being put into practice. The students stated this was a valuable experience and recommended that all HR majors should participate.
For those HR professionals who volunteered their time and allowed a HR major to shadow them at work, a survey will be forthcoming. You will receive an email with the link to participate.
A special thank you to Linda Dean, the CRC program sponsor, who is the driving force behind this event. Job well done, Linda!
Reminder: MVHRA Legal Services Plan Now Available
MVHRA has reached an agreement with local attorneys to provide a legal services plan for MVHRA members (the “Plan”). The Plan is now available and is included as part of your current membership at no additional charge. Further details available at http://mvhra.org/myMVHRA/legal-services.cfm
Note: You must be a MVHRA member AND logged into mvhra.org to access this service within the "MY MVHRA" link at the top of the page. Not an MVHRA member? Consider learning more about MVHRA Membership by clicking HERE.
2018 Marks MVHRA’s 100th Year Anniversary!
2018 is a very exciting year for MVHRA! 100 years of education, relationship building and managing changes related to HR functions, facilitated by the Miami Valley Human Resources Association. In honor of this momentous event, we want to celebrate, but we need your help! Below you will find a quick survey to complete regarding ideas on how you would like us to celebrate together. Please take a few minutes to answer this short survey and send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your feedback, and I look forward to celebrating with you!!
We want to purchase everyone an honorary, logo gift! Please number your preferences with 1 being the most desired to 4 being the least desired:
____ Power Charger for Phones
____ Tervis Cup
____ Tote Bag
____ Leather Portfolio with pad of paper and pen
If we had additional items available for sale, would you be interested in purchasing additional?
Which would you prefer/most likely be able to attend:
a. A breakfast event
b. A luncheon event
c. An evening event (during the week)
d. None of the above
Please comment with any additional ideas/preferences that you may have.
UPCOMING MVHRA MEETINGS AND EVENTS
December 12, 2017
MVHRA Luncheon: Motivation, Inspiration and Manipulation: The Intersection Between Workplace Conflict and Workplace Culture
Speaker: Judson Laipply, Award-Winning Speaker and Inspirational Comedian
Location: Sinclair Community College
Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Time: 11:15 AM to 1:00 PM
Also during the December Luncheon . . .
Clothes Collection for Clothes That Work
In recent years, our Chapter has partnered with Clothes That Work in different ways and this year we would like to aid in their Workplace Clothing Program and would like to encourage your generous support of this year’s MVHRA Holiday Charitable Giving Program.
At the December Luncheon, we will be collecting both interview and workplace clothing to assist the Clothes That Work Interview and Workplace Clothing Program. Please remember those in need in our community and make a donation. You can bring work appropriate donations that are in good condition. Please donation guide below for suggestions: http://mvhra.org/2017-Clothing-Donation-Guide.pdf
MVHRA Annual Wine Cork Pull Fundraiser for the SHRM Foundation
At MVHRA we take great pride in providing funds and supporting The SHRM Foundation. The SHRM Foundation is a catalyst for thought leadership. They offer unmatched workforce knowledge for progressive leaders, with a total focus on studying and reporting management practices that work. The SHRM Foundation also provides members with scholarships for Certification training and testing, as well Graduate and Under Graduate learning.
The MVHRA SHRM Foundation Committee is hosting the Annual Cork Pull Fundraiser at the December Luncheon. A gift of several corked bottles (wine and olive oil) will be raffled off at the December luncheon. Each cork will be sold at $5 apiece, or you can buy 5 corks for $20. Remember to bring your business cards to wrap around the corks, as you do not need to be present to win, and cash or check to participate! Thank you in advance of your support!