Part Six:
Managing Employee Behaviour
Issues
This section covers the following information from the
Knowledge Base:
Behavi...
Introduction 107
Discipline Process 107
Performance Problems 113
Investigate the Performance Issue 113
Conduct the Perform...
Introduction
Organizations have rules that define and govern the expectations and conduct of
both management and employees...
Describe standards of behavior or performance expected or required.
Potential consequences should the behavior or performa...
Figure 4-1. Elements of a Discipline Process (Dessler 2008)
Each pillar is described in more detail in the sections to fol...
A 2010 study conducted by Kronos/Mercer found that unplanned absences cost
employers a large part of their payroll budgets...
System of Progressive Consequences
A system of progressive consequences is the second pillar of effective discipline.
To e...
Figure 4-2. Example of a Suspension Form (Society for Human Resource Management,
Discipline: Notice of Suspension 2010)
Fo...
employees have the opportunity to challenge information used to issue
disciplinary action. The purpose of this process is ...
Conduct the Performance Meeting
Conduct a performance meeting in a quiet, private location with no interruptions.
Bring re...
Document Results
After the meeting, document corrective actions. Be sure to include the following:
Outline organizational ...
Figure 4-3. Example of a Performance Improvement Plan Format (Society for Human Resource
Management n.d.)
© 2014 SHRM 116
The manager‘s supervisor and the human resources department should review the
plan to ensure consistent and fair treatment...
Investigating a Complaint
The following steps are part of a thorough investigation and should begin as soon
as the employe...
Step 6: Conduct interviews: The investigator should remain objective
throughout the interviews. The investigator should av...
Be sure your organization includes policies and procedures on monitoring
employee communications and that these policies a...
ADR Strategy Description
Peer review
Arbitration
Arbitration
A panel of employees, or employees and managers,
works togeth...
Attempts at conflict management must be conducted within these legal
restrictions.
Dealing with Workplace Violence
The def...
Provide counseling to the aggressor/assailant.
Aid employees in job relocations.
Following a violent incident, HR may need...
Managing Employee Conflicts
It is inevitable: conflicts arise at work. And when they do, parties involved
usually turn to ...
The difference between these types of conflict suggests that to arrive at the best
conflict resolution approach, one must ...
Case Study: Employee Conflict
The Realizing the two levels of conflict, the team leader
intervention approaches each membe...
Cultural prejudices: Conflicts may derive not from any personal
differences or specific events but from attachments to spe...
of the conflict. In this context, a partial insider may be more appropriate,
someone both sides know and trust (Leeds 1997...
The following items may qualify as termination for cause:
Breach of a fiduciary responsibility
Disclosure to unauthorized ...
Constructive Dismissal
Constructive dismissal (also known as constructive termination or constructive
discharge) is an imp...
Voluntary Terminations
Resignations: An employee may decide to leave for better pay or career
opportunities, to relocate, ...
The timing of the meeting is important. While some employees discharged for
cause should attend an exit interview immediat...
Practice Questions
Directions: Choose the best answer to each question.
1. A fair and just discipline process is composed ...
4. What is the purpose of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies?
a. To provide employees with an alternative to ...
Practice Question Answers
1. a (p. 107)
2. a (p. 111)
3. b (p. 119)
4. c (p. 120)
5. a (p. 114)
6. b (p. 124)
7. d (p. 128...
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Human Resource Management - G.O.L TEAM by Mr. Sherif Osman

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This is Human Resource Management Training organized by G.O.L and hosted by US Embassy in Cairo

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Human Resource Management - G.O.L TEAM by Mr. Sherif Osman

  1. 1. Part Six: Managing Employee Behaviour Issues This section covers the following information from the Knowledge Base: Behaviors: 05. Respond to employee‘s questions or concerns about workplace issues (for example, employment concerns, company HR policies, complaints, retirement questions, payments) 06. Enforce HR policies and procedures (for example, explain and make sure that employees comply with the employee handbook) Skills & Knowledge: 04. How to handle conflicts (for example, addressing the problems of individual employees and knowing when to involve senior staff) 06. Issues of behavior in the workplace (for example, absences, discipline, workplace violence, or harassment) 07. Methods for investigating complaints or grievances Source: HR Certification Institute
  2. 2. Introduction 107 Discipline Process 107 Performance Problems 113 Investigate the Performance Issue 113 Conduct the Performance Meeting 114 Take Corrective Actions 114 Document Results 115 Complaint Review, Investigation and Resolution 117 Complaint Review 117 Investigating a Complaint 118 Alternative Dispute Resolution Process and Procedures 120 Dealing with Workplace Violence 122 Escalating Issues 123 Managing Employee Conflicts 124 Interpersonal versus Task Conflicts 124 The Cultural Components of Conflict 126 Handling Employee Terminations 128 Types of Terminations 128 HR Responsibilities with Termination Activities 131 Exit Interviews 131 Practice Questions 133
  3. 3. Introduction Organizations have rules that define and govern the expectations and conduct of both management and employees. Sometimes laws define and regulate what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. When the rules are not followed, organizations must rely on discipline processes to encourage employees to behave sensibly and to discourage unwanted behavior. For HR, having a discipline process in place helps guide the course of action when issues arise. While it is impossible to anticipate every employee issue, HR professionals who understand the basic concepts will know how to diffuse issues, manage the employee relationship and formulate fair outcomes. This section examines the following: Discipline processes Processes for complaint review, investigation and resolution Performance problems Methods for managing employee conflicts Handling employee terminations Discipline Process In the context of HR, discipline is not punishment; rather, discipline refers to the methods of management used to communicate and enforce appropriate workplace behavior. Applying discipline in HR means clearly communicating to an employee four important elements of information: Employee‘s behavior or performance is not acceptable. Employee‘s behavior or performance must change. © 2014 SHRM 107
  4. 4. Describe standards of behavior or performance expected or required. Potential consequences should the behavior or performance not change. Informal discipline usually involves verbal communication or written documentation that is not kept in the employee‘s file. More formal forms of discipline usually involve more detailed documentation and mutual acknowledgement that the discipline has in fact been clearly communicated and understood. In all cases, the goal of discipline is to change behavior for mutual benefit, not to punish. Progressive discipline refers to a strategy of increasing the consequences when an employee fails to change his or her inappropriate behavior. Plus, it also means that the discipline applied should fit the seriousness of the situation. Because progressive discipline requires systems and processes that are predetermined, clearly articulated and applicable to all employees, progressive discipline is seen to be fair, not arbitrary. The ultimate consequence of discipline is the termination of employment. If, however, the organization has followed and applied a progressive discipline process, the positive outcome is that the organization‘s culture will value the fair and respectful treatment provided to the employee, and in most cases the organization will be able to defend its actions if the matter were eventually challenged from a legal perspective. A fair and just discipline process is based on three pillars as illustrated in Figure 4-1. © 2014 SHRM 108
  5. 5. Figure 4-1. Elements of a Discipline Process (Dessler 2008) Each pillar is described in more detail in the sections to follow. Clearly Defined Rules and Regulations When an employee is hired, he or she should review and agree to the organization‘s rules, policies, procedures and code of conduct. Rules and policies should be clearly defined along with terms that could be misinterpreted. Terms such as ―poor performance‖ and ―gross misconduct‖ may require additional definitions. For some issues such as absenteeism, it is worth the effort detailing the organization‘s policy and various procedures, so employees can differentiate between paid time off, sick days, vacation days and unplanned absences. © 2014 SHRM 109
  6. 6. A 2010 study conducted by Kronos/Mercer found that unplanned absences cost employers a large part of their payroll budgets each year. Here are two statistics from the study: The total costs of all major absence categories, including direct and indirect costs, average 35% of base payroll. These costs range from 29% for exempt employees, 36% for nonexempt salaried, 39% for nonunion hourly and 38% for union hourly. Incidental unplanned absences also result in the highest net loss of productivity per day: 19% versus 13% for planned absences and 16% for extended absences (Kronos Incorporated 2010). Proper attendance management begins with clearly, defined policies and centralized, sophisticated record keeping to eliminate favoritism, lax standards and compliance issues. When defining attendance and absenteeism rules, HR may want to include the following in policy manuals or employee handbooks: Expectations for employee attendance Definition of absenteeism Standards for lateness and absences Procedures for unplanned absences Attendance incentives Laws related to attendance and hours worked To supplement written policies and employee handbooks, HR may offer supervisor training for managing employee attendance. © 2014 SHRM 110
  7. 7. System of Progressive Consequences A system of progressive consequences is the second pillar of effective discipline. To ensure fair and equitable management practices, follow a progressive approach to discipline. The approach may include a range of actions as outlined below: Coaching or counseling: Efforts are made to ensure the employee is clear on what is expected. Retraining: Sometimes training can help employees correct the problem. Verbal warning: A verbal warning serves as a notice of the specific acts for which the employee is being reprimanded. Documenting the verbal warning is always good practice. Written warning: A written warning documents the history of the problem and the previous actions taken by the employer. A written warning should state the consequences of an additional violation. The employee should sign the warning. Suspension: In most cases you should suspend an employee before terminating an employee. Sometimes suspension is also referred to as last chance agreement (LCA). Suspension is evidence the employee was aware of the criticality of his or her offense. Suspension actions should be documented and stipulate the employer has grounds to terminate. An example of a suspension notice is provided in Figure 4-2. Termination: At this point in the progressive penalty process, the employee is choosing not to comply, and the employer is following protocol. A termination session may be required and will necessitate detailed planning. (Muller 2009) © 2014 SHRM 111
  8. 8. Figure 4-2. Example of a Suspension Form (Society for Human Resource Management, Discipline: Notice of Suspension 2010) Formal Appeals Processes In addition to clearly stated rules and progressive consequences, the disciplinary process should have an appeals procedure. Through an appeals process, © 2014 SHRM 112
  9. 9. employees have the opportunity to challenge information used to issue disciplinary action. The purpose of this process is to offer insight into other circumstances that may have contributed to the employee‘s performance or conduct issues (Dessler 2008). Performance Problems An employee stealing from an organization is a different issue from an employee with poor performance. Handling a performance improvement situation works best when the HR department and line managers work together. A manager may not always perceive an employee‘s behavior accurately, and the HR department can provide an impartial view of the circumstances and help the manager prepare for and conduct a performance improvement meeting. Corrective action for performance problems should not be thought of as punitive in nature. It is an opportunity to correct unacceptable behavior and to reestablish the relationship between the employee and the organization. By taking corrective action early, an employee can improve performance, stay with the organization and become a valued member of the organization. Investigate the Performance Issue Thorough investigations begin the process and precede corrective actions. During the investigation, an HR representative and the line manager should talk with witnesses and gather the relevant facts and specific details. They should also review any related files and documents. It is important to maintain objectivity and to keep the details of the investigation private and confidential. © 2014 SHRM 113
  10. 10. Conduct the Performance Meeting Conduct a performance meeting in a quiet, private location with no interruptions. Bring relevant information related to previous problems or actions. When conducting the meeting, do the following: Present the facts in a straightforward fashion. Clarify the specific performance issue and its significance to the organization. Give the employee a chance to explain his or her performance and explore the reasons for the unacceptable performance, but do not argue with the employee. The focus of the first part of the meeting should be discussing the existing situation and explaining how it violates the performance and behavior standards of the job. Take Corrective Actions The second part of the meeting should address corrective actions. The employee must understand that the current performance is unacceptable, that the behavior must change, and that negative consequences will occur if the behavior does not change. The manager and the employee should work together to develop and agree to a corrective action plan. The plan should include provisions for follow-up or monitoring of progress. The employee should also be advised of the organization‘s appeal process. © 2014 SHRM 114
  11. 11. Document Results After the meeting, document corrective actions. Be sure to include the following: Outline organizational expectations. Supervisors should document specific expectations, so employees understand what is required of them. State specific changes employees need to make. Outline the conduct that needs to change. Focus on the behavior, not the person. Include the employee’s story. There are always two sides to a story. Good documentation records both the employee‘s side and the supervisor‘s side of a situation. Outline a plan. Effective documentation maps out specific goals and how the employee is going to achieve them. The case is reviewed for potential exceptions to employment at will and potential tort or other liability. List possible consequences if improvements are not made. Specifically state the possible consequences if the employee fails to make the necessary improvements. Establish a time frame. Managers should use a realistic time period when creating a timeline for improvement. Follow up on documentation. Use follow-up sessions to gauge progress, to offer feedback, and to make additional recommendations for continued improvement. A performance improvement plan (PIP) may be developed as a part of the performance improvement meeting. The manager, with input from the affected employee, develops a plan that will help the employee attain the desired level of performance. Figure 4-3 provides an example of a format for a performance improvement plan. © 2014 SHRM 115
  12. 12. Figure 4-3. Example of a Performance Improvement Plan Format (Society for Human Resource Management n.d.) © 2014 SHRM 116
  13. 13. The manager‘s supervisor and the human resources department should review the plan to ensure consistent and fair treatment of employees across the organization. The supervisor will monitor the plan and provide feedback to the employee. Complaint Review, Investigation and Resolution HR should treat all their employees equitably and fairly. Disciplinary procedures should ensure that employees have the opportunity to explain and defend their actions against charges of violation or misconduct. Complaint and disciplinary procedures should be conducted in a private manner. Disciplinary actions are never a simple matter. There may be a combination of factors in addition to the specific violation that warrant careful consideration. Concerns about protected classes and workers‘ compensation are only a few examples. Complaint Review When an informal or formal complaint is made, the employer should take immediate steps to stop the alleged conflict, protect employees involved and begin investigations. Under many laws, employers are legally obligated to investigate certain complaints, such as workplace violence, in a timely manner. Responsiveness to a complaint and an investigation will not only yield the best information and evidence, but it will also enhance both the investigator‘s and the employer‘s credibility (Society for Human Resource Management, How to Conduct an Investigation 2010). © 2014 SHRM 117
  14. 14. Investigating a Complaint The following steps are part of a thorough investigation and should begin as soon as the employer receives a verbal or written complaint. The severity of the complaint will determine the scope of investigation. Step 1: Ensure confidentiality: The employer should explain to all those involved in the investigation that all information gathered will remain confidential to the extent required for a thorough investigation. Step 2: Provide interim protection: If there are security issues related to the complaint, actions should be taken to protect all those at risk of harm. Step 3: Select the investigator: HR is the most common choice but can only be effective if HR professionals possess the following skills: Ability to investigate objectively Interpersonal skills for building rapport with the parties involved Ability to pay attention to details Ability to maintain confidentiality Respect of employees Understanding of the law and the organization‘s policies and procedures Step 4: Create a plan for the investigation: The type of the complaint will drive the plan for investigation. A complete plan should include an outline of the issue, the development of a witness list, sources for information and evidence, interview questions targeted to get crucial information and details and a process for documentation. Step 5: Develop interview questions: Good questions are relevant and designed to draw out facts without leading the interviewee. Questions should be open- ended to elicit as much information as possible. © 2014 SHRM 118
  15. 15. Step 6: Conduct interviews: The investigator should remain objective throughout the interviews. The investigator should avoid pushing the investigation in any particular direction and should never offer any opinions. During the interviews, the investigator should take notes. Step 7: Make a decision: The investigator, members of management and legal counsel, if necessary, should make the final determination of any employment actions that are warranted based on the investigative report. In the final determination, the employer must consider all parties involved as well as the organization‘s processes, not just whether the accused is at fault. Step 8: Close the investigation: Once a decision is made, the employer should do the following: Notify both the complaining employee and the accused of the outcome. Take corrective action that is appropriate to the situation, such as discipline or even termination. Step 9: Develop written summary investigation results: HR should operate on the premise that every investigation of a serious nature could potentially be reviewed by a court. With this mindset, HR should keep accurate documentation and evidence (Society for Human Resource Management, How to Conduct an Investigation 2010). Employee Monitoring Many countries and regions have laws that regulate monitoring and seizing any wire, oral or electronic communications. For example, in some countries, the law requires employers to obtain written consent or provide notification to employees that e-mails may be monitored. © 2014 SHRM 119
  16. 16. Be sure your organization includes policies and procedures on monitoring employee communications and that these policies are understood by employees. These policies should cover the following topics: Telephone practices and voice mail Internet use, including accessing private e-mail accounts and websites while at work Workplace searches Surveillance Alternative Dispute Resolution Process and Procedures Alternative dispute resolution has developed as a way to prevent the escalation of actions, like discipline and termination, into lawsuits. The purpose of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is to provide employers and employees with a fair and private forum to settle workplace disputes. In the last several years, ADR has gained popularity, because it often reduces the number of simple disagreements that could wind up in court or in formal arbitration. Using ADR processes, organizations can diffuse and resolve disputes and ultimately avoid bad feelings, high turnover and costly litigation. Figure 4-4 outlines several ADR strategies. ADR Strategy Description Open-door policy Employees have the opportunity to meet with supervisors and managers to discuss issues. Third-party A neutral third party, from inside or outside the investigations organization, confidentially investigates workplace complaints and proposes resolutions. Figure 4-4. ADR Strategies (continued to next page) © 2014 SHRM 120
  17. 17. ADR Strategy Description Peer review Arbitration Arbitration A panel of employees, or employees and managers, works together to resolve employee complaints. A process in which a neutral third party, after reviewing evidence and listening to arguments from both sides, issues a decision to settle the case. Figure 4-4. ADR Strategies (concluded) If the organization determines that arbitration is the best dispute resolution strategy, HR should work to ensure arbitration is perceived as a helpful tool for resolution and not as a corporate strategy for suppressing troublemakers. A fair program should include an arbitrator whom all parties see as neutral and fair. In many cases, arbitrators can award whatever relief would be available to the involved parties if they were to settle the dispute in court, including compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and reinstatement. The arbitrator should provide a written opinion and include a summary of the dispute, damages and other relief awarded, and a statement about the disposition of any statutory claim (Society for Human Resource Management 2001). Know the Law Remember that methods of dispute resolution such as grievance procedures may be defined in collective bargaining agreements, and while arbitration may be used to resolve some conflicts, it does not preclude legal action in some countries. In the United Kingdom, the Employment Act of 2002 describes statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures. Failure to comply with its requirements can result in a finding of unfair termination and an increase in compensation awarded. © 2014 SHRM 121
  18. 18. Attempts at conflict management must be conducted within these legal restrictions. Dealing with Workplace Violence The definition of workplace violence varies and often includes any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse that occurs in the work setting. Examples of workplace violence include but are not limited to the acts listed below: Psychological trauma due to threats Obscene phone calls An intimidating presence and harassment of any kind Acts that result in damage to company resources or capabilities Assaults, threats or other actions by outside parties with whom employees have relationships and that occur at the workplace To reduce liability and to maintain safe work environments, organizations must comply with related laws and know what preventive measures are necessary and what actions are required when a violent act occurs. HR’s Response to Workplace Violence The law and the organization‘s policies will determine how to respond to workplace violence. Responses range from immediate termination to counseling to warnings. The following list provides ways in which HR can respond to violent incidents: Provide counseling for victims. Provide debrief session for employees. Provide counseling for employees not directly involved in the incident. Allow employees to take a leave of absence. Institute new policies to prevent future acts of violence. Provide counseling for the victim‘s family. © 2014 SHRM 122
  19. 19. Provide counseling to the aggressor/assailant. Aid employees in job relocations. Following a violent incident, HR may need to adjust organization policies, procedures and security measures in order to prevent another incident. Depending on the incident, HR may also want to institute the following preventive measures: Arrange access control on a regular basis. It can take various forms, including sign-in sheets and surveillance. Communicate to employees the reason for security procedures and that precautions extend to even persons familiar to the employer, such as an employee‘s family members or friends. Identify to all employees the point person or office for communicating any potential workplace violence, threat or concern (Society for Human Resource Management, Dealing with Violence in the Workplace 2010). For more information on maintaining a safe work environment, please see Module 6: Health, Safety and Security. Escalating Issues HR professionals need to know what they can solve themselves and what must be referred to a higher authority. For example, workplace violence issues are serious offenses and should be handled by more senior personnel. In these instances, it is important to have an escalation process in place and to know when to contact more senior personnel, the organization‘s leadership, security, law enforcement and other resources that can help you respond appropriately and prevent liabilities. © 2014 SHRM 123
  20. 20. Managing Employee Conflicts It is inevitable: conflicts arise at work. And when they do, parties involved usually turn to HR professionals for their expertise and guidance. HR should use the framework of law, policies and procedures to mediate disputes and act in consultative manner. In managing conflict, it is crucial to first understand the source of the conflict. Is the source based on clashes of personality and style, differences in vision and procedure or a cultural misunderstanding? Most conflicts can be categorized as interpersonal or task conflicts, also referred to as work-related conflicts. Interpersonal versus Task Conflicts The word conflict is laden with negative connotations, but many organizational experts believe that conflict is not uniformly bad. In the study Types of Intragroup Conflict and Affective Reactions, Francisco Medina and his colleagues distinguish between relationship or interpersonal conflict and task conflict. The two conflict types are illustrated in Figure 4-5. Figure 4-5. Types of Conflict (Medina, et al. 2005) © 2014 SHRM 124
  21. 21. The difference between these types of conflict suggests that to arrive at the best conflict resolution approach, one must first thoroughly understand the source of the conflict. Consider the case study outlined in Figure 4-6. Case Study: Employee Conflict Background Two members of a global product development team end information every team meeting locked in conflict. The team leader assumes that some of their differences come from their disciplines: One is an engineer and tends to think in a logical, step-by-step manner, while the other is a designer, known for an intuitive understanding of the relationship between aesthetics and user interfaces. They bring distinctive experiences to the team. The conflict They have each been involved in different projects that tried different strategies with different levels of success, and they now have definite opinions about what works and what doesn‘t. However, they also just don‘t like each other. One seeks risk, while the other avoids it. One displays emotions openly, while the other appears dispassionate. Figure 4-6. Case Study: Employee Conflict (continued to next page) © 2014 SHRM 125
  22. 22. Case Study: Employee Conflict The Realizing the two levels of conflict, the team leader intervention approaches each member separately and talks about their different styles as something that can‘t be changed but that can be controlled through some ground rules. During meetings, the team leader acts quickly when an interpersonal conflict arises, reminding the team members of the ground rules and directing them to the more productive aspects of their disagreement and the pros and cons of the approaches each is proposing. Figure 4-6. Case Study: Employee Conflict (concluded) Even when a conflict involves just a task, a certain amount of investigation is required to determine the actual disagreements and to find common ground. The Cultural Components of Conflict Cultural differences and misunderstandings drive many conflicts for organizations with a global presence. Even when the roots of a conflict are related to personality, the resolution of the conflict can be complicated by cultural differences. Different cultural norms can prevent managers and employees from recognizing conflicts. Understanding cultural differences can help HR and those involved find an approach that leads to resolution. Consider the following: Cultural differences in values and perceptions: For example, a manager from a more task-oriented culture is assigned to a subsidiary in a country with a more holistic, relationship-oriented culture. Problems immediately result as the manager quickly proposes new and completely different processes. His colleagues resist implementing the new processes. © 2014 SHRM 126
  23. 23. Cultural prejudices: Conflicts may derive not from any personal differences or specific events but from attachments to specific groups, such as religious, ethnic or clan groups. These conflicts can occur between members of a workplace that appear completely homogenous to an outsider. Cultural attitudes toward conflict: In a high-context culture , maintaining dignity can complicate the resolution of conflict. For example, consider a situation in which two members of a cross-cultural team come from countries with different contextual needs such as high- and low-context cultures. The team member from the low-context culture continually interrupts and corrects the team member from the high-context culture, who is offended but says nothing. The first team member is not aware of the problem until a third party points it out. Then this team member makes matters worse by bringing the issue up in front of the entire group and apologizing, thus embarrassing the team member from the high-context culture. Using the wrong conflict resolution technique: HR professionals should become aware of the cultural filters that may influence their own choice of conflict resolution methods. For example, an HR professional from a culture with few differences between male and female roles needs to recognize that women from cultures with significant differences in gender roles may not want to participate in dispute resolution that requires open discussion of problems. Similarly, inviting employees in conflict to discuss their differences in an equal manner may work in an individualistic society but not in a collectivist culture. An effective mediator may need to be assertive and powerful. Many forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) involve impartial intermediaries or observers. Some experts have noted that neutral outsiders are more effective in Western cultures. However, a rational dissection of a dispute may be seen in an Arab culture as dismissing the emotional dimension © 2014 SHRM 127
  24. 24. of the conflict. In this context, a partial insider may be more appropriate, someone both sides know and trust (Leeds 1997). Handling Employee Terminations Types of Terminations Employment relationships, like any other type of relationship, sometimes come to an end. This section deals with issues related to the termination of employees. Whether voluntary or involuntary, it is important that terminations are conducted legally, with sensitivity, and that the rights of the employees and the organization are upheld. Terminations generally fall into two categories: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary Terminations For cause terminations: For cause terminations occur when an employer discharges a particular employee because of things the employee has done wrong. Four common reasons for discharge are poor performance, attendance problems, violations of organizational policies and serious misconduct. Legal cause is a very specific application of the broader concept of cause. Whereas the word and concept of ―cause‖ can simply mean ―to have a reason,‖ to have legal cause actually means that the reason must fit within a very specific and legally defined group of actions or behaviors, often quite serious in nature. Frequently in employment contexts, the word ―cause‖ is used without including the preface legal. In all cases, care needs to be taken to ensure that the proper interpretation and application of the word ―cause‖ is being used and that the definition is not simply assumed to be understood. © 2014 SHRM 128
  25. 25. The following items may qualify as termination for cause: Breach of a fiduciary responsibility Disclosure to unauthorized persons of proprietary information regarding the business or operations of the organization Failure to report to or perform work for any significant period of time Willful misconduct or gross negligence in the performance of duties Willful and repeated refusal to perform duties that have been delegated or assigned Commission of a crime resulting in loss to the organization, including theft, embezzlement, fraud or commission of any felony that brings the organization into public disgrace No fault terminations: Another type of involuntary termination occurs when employees are dismissed due to no fault of their own. Common reasons for such terminations include the following: Mergers and acquisitions Downturn in business Organization goes out of business Reorganization or restructuring Financial difficulties Plant obsolescence or relocation Technological developments Possible alternatives to labor reductions include asking employees to sustain pay cuts or to accept a reduced work schedule or offering voluntary retirement with additional benefits. © 2014 SHRM 129
  26. 26. Constructive Dismissal Constructive dismissal (also known as constructive termination or constructive discharge) is an important legal concept for HR practitioners to understand. While not all jurisdictions have this law or precedent, it remains an important HR concept to know in terms of employee morale and motivation. A constructive dismissal may occur when the employer changes the employee‘s work or work environment in a fundamentally negative manner so as to have breached the terms and conditions of the original undertaking of employment. To be valid the change must be applicable in a legal sense, not simply based on the employee‘s own personal interpretation of unfairness or harassment. To be initiated, constructive dismissal usually requires that the employee resign shortly after the change in his or her work or workplace has occurred in order to validate and acknowledge that a breach of contract has occurred. Legally or motivationally constructive dismissal is a significant HR concept because it has the potential to create numerous unintended consequences. From a legal and financial point of view, a constructive dismissal may trigger expensive severance packages, wrongful dismissal claims and extended legal conflicts. From a motivational point of view, employers need to be aware that arbitrary or wilfully fundamental changes in employment conditions can often have a serious de- motivational effect on employees. Examples of actions by an employer that may trigger a constructive dismissal include the following: arbitrary demotions, reassignment to a remote geographic work location, harassment, bullying or humiliation and unilateral changes of substance to the terms or conditions of employment. © 2014 SHRM 130
  27. 27. Voluntary Terminations Resignations: An employee may decide to leave for better pay or career opportunities, to relocate, to return to school or to retire. The organization may request but generally should not require that resigning employees give a minimum amount of notice. Employers may decide to give pay in lieu of fulfilling the notice period when there are good reasons to do so, such as cases when the employee is not trusted to stay at the organization. Job abandonment: Job abandonment occurs when an employee fails to call in or report to work for a period of time. HR Responsibilities with Termination Activities While each employee‘s direct manager is usually responsible for the termination action, HR must help support lawful terminations by providing coaching and counseling to the manager and by ensuring the following is in compliance: Is documentation of the situation in accordance with related laws? Are wages and compensation decisions in compliance with related laws? If eligible, is the employee aware of any opportunities to continue in the organization-provided health insurance plan and other benefits at the employee‘s own cost? Are employee references provided in accordance with organizational policy? Exit Interviews For the organization, the exit interview is a valuable source of information about the employment experience. It is also used to handle administrative issues, such as delivery of the final paycheck and collection of organizational property, and gives management a chance to address employee questions. © 2014 SHRM 131
  28. 28. The timing of the meeting is important. While some employees discharged for cause should attend an exit interview immediately after notification of termination, it depends on the reason for termination. Most organizations do exit interviews only in connection with voluntary termination. These interviews are typically conducted on the employee‘s last or next-to-last day. The interview is best conducted by a neutral party who is not in the employee‘s chain of command. Employees are more likely to provide candid input if they know that their comments will be kept confidential or anonymous. The employer should make the effort to treat the exiting employee with compassion and respect. The manner in which the severing of the employment relationship is conducted can have a huge impact on how the employee copes with the termination and whether or not the employee chooses to sue the employer. Protecting Your Organization’s Reputation Disgruntled employees may spread negative misinformation that can damage an organization‘s reputation, especially after a termination. Social media is sometimes the outlet for an employee‘s anger, which consequently may prevent new talent from considering employment at your organization. Websites such as Hallway.com, Jobitorial.com and Glassdoor.com allow people to anonymously share salary details about specific jobs or talk about the interviewing and hiring experience. HR should be aware of the negative impact but should also consider the feedback as another way to reevaluate practices and to improve employee relations (Overman 2010). © 2014 SHRM 132
  29. 29. Practice Questions Directions: Choose the best answer to each question. 1. A fair and just discipline process is composed of which elements? a. Clearly defined rules and regulations, a progressive discipline process and an appeals process b. Clearly defined rules and regulations, an appeals process and employee feedback c. Clearly defined rules and regulations, a progressive discipline process and employee feedback d. Clearly defined rules and regulations, manager involvement and an appeals process 2. If possible, why should you suspend an employee before termination? a. Provides evidence that the employee was aware of the criticality of his or her offense b. Allows the manager time to reconsider the disciplinary action c. Allows the employee time to think about the criticality of his or her offense d. Demonstrates to other employees that there are consequences to certain behaviors 3. What should you consider before starting the practice of monitoring employee e-mail use? a. Whether monitoring e-mail use is in line with your organization‘s culture b. Whether there are laws regulating the practice of e-mail monitoring c. Whether the employees would be offended d. Whether monitoring is exclusive to certain employees © 2014 SHRM 133
  30. 30. 4. What is the purpose of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies? a. To provide employees with an alternative to appealing a disciplinary action b. To provide employers with a course of action for offenses breaching the law c. To provide employers and employees with a fair and private forum to settle workplace disputes d. To resolve disputes in a court of law 5. A performance meeting allows the employer and employee to discuss the facts and how the employee‘s performance is affecting the organization. What else should be part of a performance meeting? a. Steps for corrective action b. Peer review c. Discussion with senior leadership d. Dispute resolution 6. What is interpersonal conflict? a. Internal conflict that arises when an employee is assigned certain tasks b. The type of conflict that arises when personalities clash c. The type of conflict that arises when there is a disagreement in viewpoints or ideas d. The type of conflict that arises when a manager and employee disagree 7. Which of the following describes ―for cause termination‖? a. Termination that occurs when an employee fails to call in or report to work for a period of time b. Termination that occurs when an employee is dismissed due to no fault of his or her own c. Termination that occurs when an employee resigns from his or her position d. Termination that occurs when an employer discharges a particular employee because of things the employee has done wrong © 2014 SHRM 134
  31. 31. Practice Question Answers 1. a (p. 107) 2. a (p. 111) 3. b (p. 119) 4. c (p. 120) 5. a (p. 114) 6. b (p. 124) 7. d (p. 128) © 2014 SHRM 136

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