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30 Minute Guide to HR: A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused


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Download your own copy of this free 32-page guide here: and start building your HR to-do list by evaluating your HR functions, including: compliance, compensation, employee relations, recruiting, training and development, job descriptions, various laws and more.

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30 Minute Guide to HR: A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused

  1. 1. The 30-MinuteGuide to HRA Quick Guide to Success inHR for the Busy and Confused©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 2The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and ConfusedAs an individual with HR responsibilities, every time you turn around someone is talking about FORWARDcompliance. If you read the papers or listen to the news at all, you can easily figure out that complianceis getting tougher, the fines and penalties are getting stiffer and everyone is a target. We’re going to takesome of the complexity out of employment law and help you focus on the things that will really make adifference.In today’s world, compliance with employment law is critical to any organization, regardless of its size orsector. The law continues to change and increase in complexity, including modifications to laws such asthe Family Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act that have been on the books for manyyears. Failure to obey the law will generate expensive penalties that will ultimately affect the operationsof any organization, taking money from the budget that could be used to grow operations or fundmission-based projects. Compliance is not an option; it is the law.This guide focuses on key compliance areas that organizations should have in place as a protectionagainst both fines and penalties and employee claims. Some items that we will cover are basicorganizational protections as mentioned; others will help your organization promote good employeerelations and ultimately make your organization less vulnerable to employee claims.How you approach these various items will depend on your specific needs and resources. A simplesolution can be as effective as a high-priced, complex solution.We’re going to give you a flavor of how you might want to look at what you’re doing. We’re not goingto cover every possible area of compliance, but we’re going to cover enough to get you pointed inthe right direction. You’re in the best position to determine priorities based on your knowledge of yourorganization. Use that knowledge to kick it up a level! We’re there behind the scenes to help. So read on! ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  3. 3. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 3What Laws Apply toYour Organization?   By way of a quick disclaimer, know two things: 1. You will have specific compliance requirements based on your sector 2. You have compliance responsibility for both state and local lawsThe list that follows is a high-level overview of key federal laws on which organizationsof various sizes need to focus. Remember that while you are responsible forcompliance at the federal level, if your state or local laws are more stringentthan federal law, the benefit goes to the employee. Generally, whatever is moreadvantageous to the employee will be the law with which you will comply. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  4. 4. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 4Why is HR important?Let’s face it—handling human resources is one of the toughest Manpower Planningin-house jobs and often the one that gets little credit when things & Strategic Servicesare working smoothly. In smaller organizations, the responsibility Recruiting & Compliancefor HR is often lumped together with a lot of other administrative Onboarding Servicesor financial tasks, leaving little time for the responsible partyto truly get comfortable with the breadth and depth of HRresponsibilities. Performance Organizational Management Development HR Key HR concerns include: Outsourcing � aintaining a high level of compliance and educating the M Training Compensation organization and its supervisors about employment law Development � Promoting fair and consistent employee relations � Supporting organizational effectiveness and success Benefits Communications EmployeeSound simple? Maybe not. It is critical that those responsible Relationsfor human resources have a solid understanding of ever-changingemployment laws and employee relations. Many organizationsare choosing to outsource all or part of their HR activities dueto the complexity of human resources. At a minimum, manyorganizations have chosen to engage an HR professional onan as-needed basis to provide advice and counsel in the manyareas of HR. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  5. 5. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 5Let’s lay out some very basic Throughout this guide, we willtenants for HR that help bring life take a look at the key areas ofto the ideas mentioned before. human resources including:HR needs to provide for: � Recruitment .................................................................................... 8 � Basic protections, by having solid HR practices in place to � Orientation .................................................................................... 13 help organizations eliminate unnecessary lawsuits � Compensation ............................................................................... 14 � Consistency, both in organizational operations and in the � Benefits ......................................................................................... 16 way employees are treated. Inconsistency is one of the major � Training and Development ........................................................... 18 drivers of employment suits. For example, clear policies that are � Performance Management .......................................................... 19 communicated to both employees and supervisors through your � mployee Relations, including employee handbooks .............. 20 E employee handbook help employees understand what is expected of them. And these same policies help your supervisors hold � Compliance, including I-9 forms ................................................. 25 everyone to the same standard � Administration ............................................................................... 27 � Fairness, because employees want to be treated fairly and � Continuing Education ................................................................... 28 consistently. HR is in the forefront of this concern, coaching, � Various Laws ................................................................................. 29 counseling and educating supervisors and managers about the law and their role in sound employee relations. It is HR’s When we think about these various functional areas of HR, responsibility to make sure that fairness is a reality we are basically looking at the life cycle of an employee, from the employee’s recruitment into the organization through the employee’s departure. After reviewing the information in this guide, you may find that you’re in good shape. In that case, congratulations and keep up the good work. If you find a few areas that could use improvement, start building your to-do list right now. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  6. 6. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 6Job Descriptions PlanningThe first step in many of the functional areas we listed is creating a sound You should constantlyjob description. Your up-to-date job descriptions are the basis for recruiting. ask yourself…There’s a much worn saying in recruiting—“If you don’t know what you’relooking for, you’re sure to find it.” Sound familiar? Your job descriptiondefines the requirements of the position in terms of experience,education, technical and interpersonal skills, and a myriad of otheritems that you need to consider when hiring. “ How does this candidate match up to my “ requirements?The job description also sets the stage for both orientation and training. Itprovides a yardstick by which you match the skills, experience and talents yournew employee brings to the table against the requirements of the position. Thisanalysis provides you with a ready-made, individualized training tool for a newor newly promoted employee. It serves the same purpose for underperforminggroups, allowing you to measure against a real set of standards.A good job description allows you to competitively compare your salary andbenefits package to the market. Most organizations want to pay competitivelywithin the means of the organization and it is impossible to do that withouthaving a sound job description to compare with similar positions in the market. What makes a good job description? ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  7. 7. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 7Your job description is also critical in all aspects of performance management, fromsetting and communicating the objectives and goals of the job through preparing An effective job descriptioneffective performance appraisals to equitably handling discipline and termination. The will help you define whatjob description outlines the key responsibilities of the job and in tandem with that, many you are looking for and cansupervisors and managers have developed a strong set of performance expectations be used to create screening and interview questions. Itkeyed to the responsibilities of each position. By creating performance expectations, can also help you focus onsupervisors and employees can be on the same page. Employees can self-manage their the experience that is neededperformance and seek training help, and supervisors are able to give sound feedback that for the consistent to their job and responsibilities. Once you know what you are looking for, you need to If you don’t have job descriptions or haven’t updated them have a plan as to how you in a while, now is a good time to start. A good job description are going to fill the position. is the backbone of your compliance efforts as you will see in more detail as we move ahead.They also form the basis of hiring plans, and are therefore critical for a number of reasons.A good job description outlines the key responsibilities of a position and should give theemployee a clear picture of what the job entails. As an individual with HR responsibilities,it is your job to see that the new employee learns everything he or she needs to knowabout the new job. The job description is also your guide—it includes key responsibilities,reporting relationships and decision-making authority, as well as requirements from theAmericans with Disabilities Act, such as the amount of time standing, how much thisposition may need to physically lift and environmental factors. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  8. 8. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 8RecruitmentSourcing Screening Internal job postingsIn today’s world of recruiting, there is no single source of candidates anymore and are also a good way tono one process will work for all organizations. Match your recruiting process to source candidates. Thethe needs and resources in your organization—create a process that is efficient, internal posting providesmaking the best use of limited resources, training supervisors on good interviewing an opportunity fortechniques and providing appropriate tools to assist supervisors in getting your employees to self-successful interview results. nominate and provides your organization with an opportunity to promote It is important to cast a wide net to attract top talent to your qualified candidates organization, so think about all of the places you can go to from within. Internal recruit candidates. In addition to using job boards, determine postings also alert your which networking groups and associations may provide employees to recommend qualified candidates. Whether unemployment is high or low, external candidates that top-quality candidates are hard to find. have effectively been pre-screened by the individuals who know your organization best—yourMany organizations use pre-screening questions that highlight the must-have’s of own employees.the position, thus saving time by eliminating candidates who do not meet your basiccriteria. Specifically, using pre-screening questions over the phone can save youand your hiring managers a substantial amount of time and allows them to reviewmore candidates in a smaller timeframe. This provides you with a pool of candidatesthat you know meet your basic criteria. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  9. 9. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 9Recruitment Process (Part 1)After sourcing and screening candidates, you will have a select few that will move Double-check your currentforward in the recruitment process. Have all these individuals—whether they are application to make sure thatapplying for entry-level or executive positions—complete an application. it contains a well-written disclaimer. Your disclaimerThe application is important for a number of reasons. First, it shows that a candidate should include:can follow the simple directions needed to complete the application. Writing “seeresume” for work history isn’t acceptable. Second, statistics show that up � A statement around the to 40 percent of candidates lie on their resumes, so the application provides a organization’s right to modify,second check on employment facts for you. Check dates on the application against change, add or delete policiesdates on the resume—you may be surprised to find sometimes they don’t match up. � A statement including at-will language Plan for finding candidates � The applicant’s acceptance of the policies as they are stated now and as they might change in the future, and the applicant’s commitment to Update job comply with those policies Job description/ Develop screening Interview top questions candidates Candidates hiring criteria � A release for drug testing, reference checks and background checks � A statement that an applicant Present may request any needed Successful Deliver offer Prepare reference most qualified accommodations Hire! letter checks candidates for hiring manager review � A statement explaining that all employees will be required to verify©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved. that they are eligible to work in the United States � A statement that an applicant is not required to disclose expunged or sealed criminal records ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  10. 10. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 10Many organizations have chosen to include pre-employment testing as part of their interviewprocess. This testing can include behavior or predictive testing that provides another look at The importance of athe candidate in addition to the information generated from the interview process or reference strong professionalchecks. Pre-employment testing can be a cost-effective addition to the recruiting process, reference check cannotand when the right assessment is selected and used consistently, can provide a wealth of to be overstated. It’s becoming an unfortunateinformation. Pre-employment testing; however, is not a be-all, end-all in itself. It should never state of affairs, butbe used as a hire/no hire decision-making tool by itself, but rather must be used in conjunction people are regularlywith the interview and reference/background checks. misrepresenting salary,Reference checks are critical, though many organizations choose not to do them, using job responsibilities, andthe excuse that they can’t get information from previous employers. Your reference check start and end dates ofshould include only requests for job-related information, and it should be directed only to employment.the candidate’s supervisor, as this individual will best know the candidate’s work. Personalreferences are rarely an effective source of information because they typically cannot provideinformation about the candidate’s work performance. Keep in mind that some states mayWhen you’re thinking about your process, make sure that you implement the kinds of testing/ have differing lawsbackground checks that appropriately support the common positions in your organization. regarding certain typesOften times, a good background check provider is a solid investment because the provider of background checks,should have the experience and resources to do effective checks of education, criminal history, so understand thosecredit, professional licensure, etc. specific laws before making any moves. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  11. 11. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 11Recruitment Process (Part 2)After your number-one candidate passes all background and reference checks, it’s time to formalize Have you ever lost athe offer and complete the recruitment process. Write an offer letter, continue communication with candidate between the timethe candidate until his or her start date, and report the new hire if your state requires it. you made the offer and the Before you complete the recruitment process, time they started? Even if find out if your state requires the reporting of the candidate is starting new hires. Make sure you are up-to-date on in two weeks, a lot can Offer Letter potentially change in that these requirements. If you are using a third- time. Make sure you and ne party payroll vendor, they should be doing this to clearly outli others in the organization offer letter is for you, but it doesn’t hurt to double check. The purpose of an t of employmen stay in close contact with d conditions the basic terms an ibility the new hire until he or pervisor, elig te, salary, su incl uding start da she starts, as it helps keep g and other s, drug testin the new hire engaged and da te for benefit also ion. It should eck informat shows you are excited to ba ckground ch t- ployment is “a have them on board. candidate’s em incl ude that the ey will information th are paid, the will,” how they mpletion oll (i.e., I-9 co aced on payr need to be pl should be e offer letter tation), etc. Th and documen ed in the the copy plac new hire and signed by the dgement fer acknowle ’s file. The of new employee e it itical becaus particularly cr as mentioned is offer and ptance of the ndidate’s acce verifies the ca letter leaves A good offer its terms an d conditions. retation. om for interp little to no ro ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  12. 12. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 12Other ConsiderationsYou don’t need to make things complicated. Consider these fourpractices for your organization’s recruitment process:1. utlook is a simple way to keep track of resumes, and there O are many other applicant tracking systems that are easy-to-use and affordable. Your metrics can be as easy as time-to-hire or as complex as multiple levels of metrics around quality-of-hire, time- to-productivity, hiring manager satisfaction, etc.2. rain your employees to always think like a recruiter. Teach them T how to “sell” the great aspects about your organization to anyone outside the organization. Not only is this key to recruiting quality people into your organization, but it is an effective sales tool that can help identify potential customers.3. Your employee referral program can be as simple as regular notifications to your employee base about current openings, including anything from a small treat to a complex internal marketing campaign with large rewards. If you’re using cash rewards to employees who recommend qualified candidates that you end up hiring, remember that your rewards don’t have to be the same for every position. You may have large rewards for positions that you’d normally fill using a search firm, and negligible rewards or no reward at all for positions that are relatively easy for you to fill.4. Pipelining is a must in any economy. Keep track of those individuals who you felt at the time would be a good fit for your organization. Maybe you didn’t have the right position available or they were the bride’s maid, but still a good, quality candidate. Find simple, easy ways to stay in touch with them. Think about sending regular communications that keep them up to date on what is happening within the organization. This can also be effective for temporary or seasonal hires. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  13. 13. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 13OrientationWhat does every new employee need to know about your organization in order to bean effective worker and colleague? Find out by examining your culture, performanceexpectations, client service expectations and more. You have one chance to make a goodimpression on your new hires; one chance to make sure they get started on the right foot.Don’t lose that opportunity by being unprepared. Remember that these employees havemade a commitment to your organization. They want to be successful and they want theorganization to be successful. Give them the tools and information to make that a reality.Document what you talk about during orientation in each employee’s file. Using an orientationchecklist can help support all processes and procedures, as it provides documentation ofwhat was discussed upfront while introducing the employee to the organization.The checklist should clearly define the employee’s first 90 days with the organization and theprocess that surrounds getting them acclimated and trained in their job responsibilities. Thefirst week will cover key items such as new hire paperwork, benefits, the employee handbookand other key policies and procedures, as well as the job description and expectations. Besure to include touch points along the way so that you know how well the employee is gettingsettled. Time spent here is a valuable investment in long-term retention.The document should also include a checklist for the employee’s direct supervisor, whichmay help ensure that the employee is receiving the right information and follow up during thecritical first weeks and months of their probationary employment. It also serves as a referencetool to monitor their probationary period. When creating your orientation checklists, drawyour supervisors into the process. They are most knowledgeable about potential issues andstumbling blocks. The checklist will help keep their training and mentoring on point. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  14. 14. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 14CompensationPlan DesignPaying people competitively and equitably is critical to any � Exempt/non-exempt evaluation is critical regardless of the size organization that wants to retain top talent. While we’d like to of your organization. The Department of Labor recently hiredbelieve that our employees do not know what others are making, more investigators to look closely at organizations to ensurewe would be woefully mistaken. Pay is seen as a measure of they are classifying employees correctly. Remember, when youhow the organization feels about an employee. When employees classify positions as exempt or non-exempt, you have a dutyperceive that there are significant pay differences for positions that to use the tests for the various classifications. Keep in mindare similar, we sow the seeds for dissatisfaction and turnover, and that it is job responsibilities—not job titles—that determine thepotentially wage claims. classification of any position.Compensation has a lot of moving parts, and you should � Conduct regular surveys to know and understand where you maintain focus for all of these parts: fall in your market space. From developing relationships with others in your competitive area to participating in external salary� What is your organization’s compensation strategy? Where surveys to administering your own large-scale surveys, you have do you want to fall in the market place? Do you want to pay at many opportunities to find competitive information. Find out what the top of your market or somewhere in the middle? Is it okay your peers are using and go from there. for you to be considered the lowest-paying organization on the compensation spectrum? Your philosophy is important as you � If you have a formal pay structure, make sure you have a process go to market to compare salaries for key positions. in place to incorporate new positions within the organization. The Department of Labor wants to see that you have an effective,� Job descriptions are critical for all positions. Again, these don’t consistent, regularly used process for making decisions around have to be long documents. They can be as simple as 10 bullets the placement of positions in your salary structure. explaining the key job responsibilities. � Strong incentive plans clearly � Your formal pay structure can be a system of grades and define what behaviors are ranges, or it can be a documentation of current positions and rewarded and then are regularly an informal ranking. This is even more critical now with the tested to make sure those Ledbetter Act in place. You need to be able to explain your behaviors are indeed being pay decisions and a formal system can help do so. A formal rewarded. Incentive programs compensation system also gives credence to your desire to pay don’t have to be expensive nor fairly and equitably. Employees want consistency and they want made up of all cash. Get creative! to feel as though they are paid appropriately for the job they do. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  15. 15. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 15Compensation continued...ComplianceCompliance continues to be a critical area for all organizations. Make sure your processessupport good compliance through three things: Timely and accurate changes, confidentialityof information and supervisor training on basic compensation practices.First, you should have proper checks and balances to ensure that payroll changes are timelyand accurate. Payroll entries should always have a cross-check by a second party to maintainthe integrity of the system. Also, make sure your employees understand the importance ofkeeping their personal information updated and notifying you when there are changes.Second, all employee files and salary information should remain confidential. Make sure thatyou are keeping this info under lock and key, only allowing access to that information to asupervisor/manager on a need-to-know basis.Finally, train your supervisors on the basics of compensation. If you have a formal salarystructure, make sure they understand the basis of the structure and how they should use it togive raises, etc. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  16. 16. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 16BenefitsPlan Design CommunicationMany of the things that we say about compensation also apply to benefits, including having a clearstrategy and knowing what’s competitive. Successfully design and communicate your organization’sbenefits plan by taking the following six steps:1. Partner: Start working with a good benefits broker who has your organization’s best interest in mind. A good broker will be responsive to your needs throughout the plan year and will act as an advocate for the organization when there are issues and during renewal periods. A good broker will also help you communicate so your employees get the most out of their benefits. Additionally, they will work with you to create a plan design that will work for your organization.2. Strategize: Know where you want to position your organization in the market. What benefits do you want in order to attract the top talent you need? Your benefits broker can often be helpful.3. Research: Your broker can also help conduct regular benefit surveys in their sector to determine whether what your organization offers is competitive.4. Communicate: Open enrollment time is not the only time to communicate with your employees about benefits. Make sure they know what benefits are offered and how to get the most out of what you are offering. Many organizations choose to communicate around the value of the benefits, including statutory benefits that employees receive. It’s often very eye-opening for employees to see exactly how much their organization has invested in them. This can actually positively impact turnover.5. rovide accessibility: You have an obligation to provide Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) or advise P employees how to access them if they are online, and health care reform is going to provide even more obligations for employers. For example, health care reform regulations are going to require that any plan design changes are communicated at least 60 days prior to the changes taking effect.6. Update: It is your responsibility to ensure that your plan documents are up-to-date, as these are the documents that are the last word in how your plans need to run. Make sure your broker provides the appropriate amendments when you make changes to the plan design. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  17. 17. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 17Benefits continued...ComplianceCompliance is equally critical in the area of benefits and it is an area that is continuallyunder scrutiny by the government. As an individual with HR responsibilities, it is essentialfor you to:� Input timely and accurate benefit deductions into your organization’s system � Provide COBRA notices during the orientation process and within 14 days of termination from the plan. These must be sent to participants and family members covered under the plan, and must be sent via U.S. mail� Protect employees’ health information by limiting the number of people who can access medical files and deal with claims issues. Ensure that files are secured and you have both a policy and process that is HIPAA compliant� File 5500 forms each year by the specified deadline for 401(k) plans � Administer the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leaves properly by knowing what you must provide to employees, documenting any leaves and getting the appropriate documentation� Train supervisors on benefits and leaves so they understand FMLA and other leaves, as well as processes associated with these leaves ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  18. 18. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 18Training DevelopmentTraining and development activities help support your compliance � Have a clear idea of what licenses and certifications are efforts by showing that you have provided the right kind of training necessary for your employees to function—this will vary fromfor the positions in your organization. Training can be an adjunct to organization to organization. All licenses and certificationsthe discipline and termination process. Additionally, training helps typically have an expiration date. If they are necessary foryou meet any requirements that you have in the area of safety. compliance purposes, make sure you have identified an internalCareful documentation of training received by employees is critical individual who can track the terms of the documents and provideto support compliance in many areas. Training and development reminders to those involved.should include these aspects: � After every training program, evaluate its effectiveness. Take a � A needs assessment doesn’t have to be complicated or few minutes to talk with supervisors and participants about what cumbersome; spend some time with your supervisors, managers worked and what didn’t. Sometimes waiting a week to do this is or executives talking about where performance could be useful so that you get information about what people have been improved and then figure out if there are training components able to use. Remember that we want to look at the impact of that would be useful. What are you required to do from a training. Did the training help the participants be more effective in compliance standpoint that training can support? their jobs?� Everyone could use on-the-job training and coaching, and � Supervisors are your first line of defense—what skills could you it could be a good opportunity to use a mentor approach by help them improve through supervisory training? Whether using some of your supervisors or key employees as trainers, that might include harassment prevention training, interviewing you can keep it simple and cost effective. Be sure to document skills training or discipline and termination training, what a attendance at any training activity for your files. supervisor says and does may be critical to defending against an employment claim.� Take an inventory of any potential safety concerns in your organization and work with your insurance broker to figure out � Whether you have two employees or 2,000 employees, you what safety training is available on the outside through your must conduct harassment prevention training on a regular carriers. If a claim is filed, demonstrating that you’ve provided basis and document training attendance. If an employee brings appropriate training will pay dividends. a harassment claim forward, it is important that you can show training has been provided to your employees. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  19. 19. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 19Performance ManagementConsistent, well-planned and executed performance reviews, has demonstrated that employees typically rate themselvesdisciplinary interviews and terminations are critical in protecting lower than their supervisor does. The self-appraisal is a goodyour organization from employment claims. The spectrum of jumping off point for a solid conversation about an individual’sperformance management activities should include: performance.� Performance standards and expectations: Managers and � Pay for performance: Pay decisions should be linked to supervisors need to articulate what constitutes good work. If they performance ratings. This presupposes that the performance can’t do this, they can’t expect to see top performance; however, appraisals are valid looks at performance. Since your employees who fully understand what is expected of them can performance review should focus on the responsibilities and perform at the level required with proper training. Performance expectations of the position, a strong performance review system expectations also provide the groundwork for concrete should be able to clearly differentiate levels of performance. discussions about performance, both positive and negative. � A consistent disciplinary process: Similar disciplinary � Appropriate evaluation tools: Use a consistent tool to evaluate situations should be treated in a similar way, and you should performance—one that is used to evaluate everyone on the have the flexibility in your discipline system to match it to the same criteria as related to their job. Consider working with incident. A rigid system ties you into a certain action for a certain a professional to develop competency-based performance situation. Leave yourself room to choose the disciplinary action appraisals that focus on the competencies necessary for that you feel fits the situation. success in the specific job and organizational culture. � Discipline training for supervisors: Supervisors need � Regular performance reviews: Your evaluation tool training on your process to ensure that they are creating should focus on the expectations of the position that were accurate reviews and documenting performance properly communicated to the employee and should be used to provide for disciplinary purposes.   feedback on a regular basis.� Employee self-appraisal: Are employees asked to rate their own performance? Self-appraisals can be a valuable tool to help employees put their own performance in perspective. Experience ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  20. 20. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 20Employee RelationsEveryone wants to work in a great place where teamwork and � Supervisory training: Supervisors need to understand how thecommunication are strong, employees feel that they have organization expects them to deal with problems and employeethe necessary resources and are treated fairly, and everyone relations issues, especially harassment prevention. Trainingunderstands what is expected. Some ways to ensure effective provides an affirmative defense for the organization if there is aemployee relations include: claim filed—showing that you did harassment prevention training will help your case.� Employee training: Employees need a clear understanding of the “rules of the road.” What do we expect of employees and in � Employee communications: Other ways to ensure good turn, what can employees expect from the organization? Many of employee relations include communications such as newsletters those items are also outlined in the employee handbook. and state-of-the-organization communications that keep employees updated.� Communication processes: Make sure you have clearly defined communication channels for employees’ problems—who should � Temperature surveys: Get a pulse on the organization by finding someone go to if they have an issue? You also need to make out what employees think. Make sure you are prepared to act on sure there is more than one person to whom the employee can some items brought up, or you may lose credibility. reach out. For example, if the supervisor is the problem, to � Exit interviews: Obtain feedback from someone who has left the whom else can the employee take his or her concerns? This aspect is especially critical when talking about harassment organization by conducting exit interviews. In addition to giving or discrimination, as the courts look to see whether you have the employee closure, these also give the exiting employee a a process for handling employee issues and whether those chance to share valuable feedback that will allow the organization processes were followed. to improve. Consider using a third party, which could allow for more candid comments. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  21. 21. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 21HandbookWhat is an Employee Handbook? em·ploy·ee hand·book (noun): Your handbook is one of your best organizational protections and is the cornerstone of compliance and employee communications. It is a set of expectations and a “rules of the road” compilation, so make sure that it is regularly updated; has required federal, state and local compliance language; and is widely disseminated to everyone in your organization. The handbook is also a supervisory tool, so your supervisors should also receive training on the content and their related responsibilities. The handbook—which should be clear, consistent, available and well-organized—should be distributed to all employees and everyone must sign an acknowledgment stating they received the handbook, which should be placed in their file. You also need to make sure that the employees understand all polices in the handbook—this starts with orientation. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  22. 22. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 22Employee Handbook ChecklistMust-Have’s Setting the stage for employment Paying employees correctly Proof of authorization to work Disclaimer Employment status Equal Employment Opportunity Statement Overtime Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Compensatory time (public entities only) Americans with Disabilities Act H andbook acknowledgement: Must be signed and dated by employee, and placed in employee file by the employer Harassment Prevention Policy Other critical policies Employment at-will Confidentiality Access to employee records Managing required leaves of absence/time off Family Medical Leave Act Managing breaks Lunches and breaks Good job B reak Time for Nursing Mothers This will be a great addition (update to FLSA under PPACA) Way to go the extra mile! ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  23. 23. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 23Employee Handbook ChecklistShould-Have’s Workplace basics Cell phone use/texting Hours of operation Employment verifications Work schedule Open door policy Parking Communicating about benefits Building access Benefits Non-solicitation Types of benefits available Acceptance of gifts Eligibility Smoke Free Workplace Paid time off – vacation, sick, personal, holidays Introductory period COBRA eligibility Reporting absences Jury duty Dress code Reporting time When employees must leave the organization Termination process Managing to great performance R eminder of important policies including at-will, Performance reviews confidentiality, etc. Salary reviews Terminable offenses Communicating effectively Good job Inter-organization communication This will be a great addition Computer use/email policies Social networking/social media Way to go the extra mile! ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  24. 24. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 24Employee Handbook ChecklistNice-to-Have’s Creating a great culture Organization background History Mission, vision, values Good job This will be a great addition Way to go the extra mile! ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  25. 25. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 25ComplianceWe’ve talked about compliance opportunities throughout this � Employee classification: Make sure that all your employees are guide, but there are a few other compliance-specific items to think properly classified as exempt or non-exempt. Exempt employeesabout for your HR functions: are not subject to the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, but it is the individual’s job responsibilities that� I-9 forms: There is considerable governmental activity determine whether or not they are exempt. surrounding I-9 forms, and many organizations have had these audited. Make sure yours are correctly and completely filled � Independent contractors: If you use independent contractors, out and that you have an updated form for everyone in your make sure you have a specific contract that stipulates the workforce with appropriate documentation. Audit your I-9 forms work to be performed and make sure you have checked the before someone else does, and ensure you purge them on an requirements for classifying someone as an independent appropriate schedule. Find more detailed information on I-9 contractor. If they don’t meet the requirements, you may be audits in the next section of this guide. putting the organization at risk, as the Department of Labor and IRS are going after organizations that misclassify workers.� Tax forms: Have appropriate tax forms on file for each employee and be especially careful for those employees working out of � Required posters available: Employers in the United States are state. Not all states require state tax forms, but if they do, make required to have their employment posters visible in high-traffic sure they are current. areas. Visit the Department of Labor website to obtain copies of all posters for free.� Overtime: Overtime is owed for all hours worked over 40 hours in a seven-day pay period, and you must pay for all hours � Workers’ compensation: If a worker is injured, get a detailed worked even if the individual did not get approval for extra hours. report of what happened and fill out the first report of injury, Overtime is time-and-a-half of the individual’s regular hourly rate which is a standard form used by workers’ compensation of pay. Compensatory time is not an acceptable pay practice in carriers. You also have to post the OSHA 300 log each year in the private sector. February for the previous year. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  26. 26. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 26I-9 AuditsWhat can you do to prepare for a potential I-9 audit? organization uses E-Verify, it must be utilized forHere are 10 steps to take: all new hires, not selectively. Employers can enroll Overall, it is online for E-Verify at good HR practice1. ake sure your organization has a completed I-9 form and the M to train one or appropriate background documentation for all employees hired 5. Employees who indicate they are “aliens authorized two individuals after November 6, 1986. Copies of the most recent I-9 form can be to work” should specify their status and to manage the downloaded from the government website, All classification on the I-9 form. Employers must then I-9 forms and documentation submitted as proof of citizenship must be unexpired establish a system to follow up on any conditional process. This or it will be viewed as invalid by the auditors. Spanish I-9 forms can authorizations before the expiration date. will help ensure be utilized for translation purposes; however, the English version is that all forms the form that must be retained for records purposes. 6. Be proactive and audit your own files, which will are completed in give you the opportunity to correct any I-9 forms. a timely fashion2. ew hires should have their documentation and form N Refer to the federal government’s manual on I-9 and completely completed by their first day on the job, and at least one piece forms for more details, which can be downloaded filled out. of documentation presented must include the employee’s from their website at  photograph. By law, new employees have up to three business days from their first day of hire to provide the appropriate 7. After you have audited your files, place a note in your I-9 documentation, and they must use physical addresses, binder indicating the date that the files were audited. This adds not P.O. boxes. transparency to any corrections made on the documents.3. he federal government does not require you to copy the T 8. I-9 forms must be retained for as long as the employee is working documentation presented; however, it is good HR practice to do for you. After the employee leaves your organization, you must so, saving much time if you need to verify any documentation retain his or her I-9 form for at least three years after the date of at a later date. Further, all completed I-9 forms and any copies hire, or one year after the employment termination date, whichever of identification documents should be kept separate from timeframe is longer. employees’ personnel files. Store the documents in binders 9. -9 forms can be retained on paper, microform or I in alphabetical order by employee last name. This way, if you electronically, but electronic records must comply with the are audited, all you need to do is hand the auditor your binder Department of Homeland Security’s standards and must be easily of I-9 records. accessible by auditors. Review the federal guidelines for properly4. any organizations are also utilizing E-Verify, which is the Web- M uploading I-9 forms for electronic storage, particularly the steps based verification companion to the I-9 form. E-Verify is a free required for the signatures and electronic signature protocol. program that provides an automated link to federal databases, 10. eview each I-9 form to make sure that all information is R helping employers confirm the employment authorization of new completed in its entirety. Fines will be assessed for incomplete hires. In essence, it shows that your organization has taken all information, and can range from $110 to more than $1,000 per steps available as part of the new hire verification process. If an violation and perform. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  27. 27. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 27AdministrationAs with all other aspects of human resources, administration also has its general best practicesthat can help move the HR department forward more effectively. Among those best practices are:� Clearly defining the positions of all who support the HR function and ensuring they understand the expectations� Creating a checklist that will allow you to audit your files periodically to ensure that the information contained in those files is appropriate� Including a policy in your handbook that states the process for requesting a review of file. Be aware that some states have specific requirements for employees to review their files. In some situations, these requirements may cover how quickly the file must be produced, what can be withheld and whether the employee can make copies of any documents� Establishing clear guidelines of how long you are will retain files and who is responsible for purging those files. Records retention periods will vary by type of document� Maintaining confidentiality in all situations by all those involved in HR ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  28. 28. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 28Continuing EducationThe world of human resources changes often with the addition of new employment regulations,updates to existing laws and new interpretations. If you have responsibilities in your organization’shuman resources department, it is critical that you continue your education to develop professionally.It isn’t easy staying updated on the latest changes and developments with employment laws. Keepyour knowledge fresh by attending training sessions and legal updates for all the latest news andchanges. You may want to also consider getting a professional certification. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  29. 29. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 29Various LawsThe following list is a sampling of the federal laws governing employment matters. This list should not beconsidered all-inclusive nor a complete review of the specific law noted. Remember, organizations arerequired to comply with state and local laws as well. It is your responsibility to determine with the lawswith which your organization must maintain compliance.Employers with 2+ Employees� Equal Pay Act of 1963: This act requires employers to pay employees fairly and makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace.� Fair Labor Standards Act: This act regulates overtime, minimum wage and child labor laws. � Immigration and Nationality Act: This act requires employers to verify eligibility of all employees hired. � Occupational Safety and Health Act: This act requires employers to maintain a workplace that is safe and healthful for its employees.Employers with 5+ Employees� Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act: This act requires that employers provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for an infant. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  30. 30. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 30Employers with 15+ Employees� Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s organization. An amendment also makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. • W orkplace harassment deserves special mention here.  Harassment can include sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature; however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.� Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: This law prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s organization.� Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  31. 31. The 30-Minute Guide to HR:  A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused :: 31Employers with 20+ Employees� Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967: This act prohibits age discrimination against individuals who are 40 years of age or older.� Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA): Employees who have lost coverage under their group plan due to certain “qualifying events” must be given the option to purchase the same health coverage available to active employees. Note that employers with fewer than 20 employees are subject to state laws, where applicable.Employees with 50+ Employees� Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees because of the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a child or family with a serious health condition or because of the employee’s own serious illness. ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.
  32. 32. Have we covered every possible compliance concern that you shouldhave? Of course not. Our intent is to provide you with a framework tobegin looking at your organization in the context of the employmentlaws and best practices that are relevant to your organization. Take amoment to start a to-do list for yourself so that you can begin lookingat the people-side of your organization in a focused way. You can’tchange everything at once, but know what you need to look at andtake it one high-priority item at a time. Contact UsJoyce GrenisSenior Vice President,Human Resource Consulting  Find us on Facebook @sikichllp Follow us on Twitter #sikichllp Visit our Blog ©2012 Sikich LLP. All Rights Reserved.