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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Profanity in the Workplace

I ran across this post written by my good friend and fellow HR professional Kevin Epley, SHRM-SCP, SPHR and thought it would be an excellent guest post because I have ran into this problem in the past myself.
As a Human Resources professional have you ever found yourself doing battle with the problem of profanity in your workplace? In my industry, Automotive Retail Sales and Service, there seems to be a “good old boy” and “that’s the way it’s always been” culture that has allowed for profanity. It goes against our goals of culture change, continued diversity and renewed customer service strategies. Besides, it’s simply unpleasant. And, what does “profanity in the workplace” have to do legislative news? I’ll get to that.

Short of becoming the “profanity Nazi” (Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode) or HR as overly parental, I wrestle with the prevalence and the problems of profanity in our workplace. In researching for support, I’ve discovered it’s more common a problem than first thought. It doesn’t help that Millennials, and even younger workers, are increasingly tolerant of profanities presence. Or, perhaps, I’m becoming a “prude” in my advancing years?

So, I thought I’d share a few of the key takeaways I’ve discovered from this topic of Profanity in the Workplace. I’ll begin with NLRB’s role in profanity. It can be considered employee’s protected concerted activity, Hooter’s Restaurant court case. Or not, City of Portland 2013 case, on grounds of religion. The hard and fast rule, of which there are few, profanity may not be in violation of EEO guidelines explicitly related to profanity of a religious, racial, ethnic, and gender-based nature. Companies should also have a zero-tolerance policy for language regarding sexual acts. Stop the “F-bombs”! Another hard and fast rule, one in which many employees have found themselves in disciplinary hot water.

So, what is an employer to do, ignore or develop policy that can lead to their own F-bomb, “Firing”? Policy should consider the type of industry, culture and amount of direct customer contact. Evaluate the context of the profanity. Was it a rare outburst resulting from an unusual negative work outcome? Or, was it part of an ongoing, sustained feud between employees that became intimidating, hostile and could result in a charge of workplace harassment, or violence? Put policy in writing. Be concise, specific and clear about expectations and outcomes from your employees. Train supervisors and managers in handling the subject of profanity. As always, run policy and enforcement issues by company legal to be sure you’re on solid legal footing.

I’ll leave you with a few eye-opening statistics I stumbled upon that help me better understand why profanity may be better left at home, in the car, or fall silent. A recent CareerBuilder survey discovered;

  • 81% of employers believe cursing brings an employee's professionalism into question
  • 64% of employers think less of an employee who swears repeatedly
  • 57% said they are less likely to promote someone who uses curse words
  • 71% of employers said that swearing shows a "lack of control," while 68% says swearing demonstrates a "lack of maturity"
  • Perhaps most interestingly, says spokesperson Jennifer Grasz, is that 54% of employers said that swearing made their employees appear "less intelligent" 
It should be noted that there are some that believe profanity in the workplace is a positive thing. Adam Connors, partner at Spire Search Partners in Hoboken, N.J., disagrees-- he says that swearing in the workplace can actually be a positive or neutral thing, depending on the context. “Profanity, by itself, is not going to keep someone from the promotion they deserve,” says Mr. Connors.

 “After all, the Mythbusters confirmed that swearing helps you to tolerate pain. So, no getting mad at people when they smash their finger with a hammer and let bad words fly.” Nonetheless, I’ve never found profanity to be a positive thing. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's HOT in HR?

I admit, adding #Blogger to any of my online profiles looks like an untruth especially, if you look at the gaps this past couple years with my blogging efforts.  However, I plan to do better going forward starting with this blog I intended to write in August just before I spoke to the Women Entrepreneurs of Central Illinois (WE-CE) at Engrained Brewery Company on Lincolnshire Boulevard here in Springfield, IL.  While it was a fantastic turnout and I delivered my top five HOT HR issues list, I have since had the opportunity to learn more from the following work prep and attendance at various events:

  • HR Management Development meeting with a client in and his team;
  • The start of my fall class line up with two Managing Organizational Behavior (1 Online & 1 Face2Face) and two Human Resources Management (1 Online & 1 Face2Face) courses;
  • HR Audit conducted at a clients client location in Southern IL;
  • Full Day HR Training for another clients client (yes, I sub contract);
  • A speaking Gig at MEI-SHRM with my pal +Dave Ryan ;
  • HR Handbook training in three client locations;
  • A Conflict Management Training at a clients client while another FLSA program I developed was being delivered to my client by a consultant I hired since I couldn't be in two places at once;
  • Another speaking Gig at OHSHRM16 +Dave Ryan while sitting in on a recruiting session with friend +Tiffany Kuehl and an enticing conversation about performance management changes with another colleague; and
  • Finally speaking about HR Metrics and Workforce Analytics in the grand theater at Drury Lane in Oakbrooke Terrace earlier this week at ILSHRM16 in addition to a fabulous dinner and presentation by Ultimate Software at Gibson's Steakhouse.
So it's been a full couple of months of HR intake as you can see with not much time for recording.  Here goes the list I shared at the WE meeting with some additional information learned since then.  
  1. OVERTIME EXEMPTION RULE: The new DOL overtime rule affects all positions that are exempt based on the Administrative, Executive, and Professional duties tests.  Basically, the minimum and maximum dollar thresholds are being changed.  The minimum an exempt employee can make is $46,476 and the maximum is $134,004 as long as all other aspects pass the exemption tests. All employers will have until December 1, 2016 to comply.  I strongly suggest they not only make a decision on the threshold but audit all jobs currently considered exempt to make sure they actually pass the duties tests.  In my work as an HR Consultant, I do a great deal of HR Audits and I have found more so than not organization do not fully understand how to comply and have positions misqualified as exempt.  Just last night the House voted to postpone this DOL requirement but before your put the brakes on what I suggested, remember it has to go through the Senate and White House which is unlikely to be passed.
  2. ELECTION ISSUES: Everyone should pay attention to HR and organizational management issues that will affect them in the workplace.  These include: ACA-Employer Effects, Overtime, Immigration Reform, Retirement Reform, Medical & Family Leaves, Pay Equity, NLRB & Union Organizing, Employee versus Independent Contractor and EEOC Protections.
  3. WORKFLEX: When 8% of the overall workforce and 10% of the IT workforce will entertain a pay decrease to have flexibility in their job according to recent study's, employer's need to give up the old philosophy of "seeing is believing".  In other words, realize employees can be held responsible to get the job done when they are not sitting right out your door.  Programs such as Job Sharing, Hours Changes, Telecommuting, Work from Home, etc. are all options to engage and empower the workplace.
  4. ONBOARDING & RETENTION: The investment we put into our onboarding process as employers makes a huge impact on whether or not the new employee stays or not.  This is a huge problem when skills are so hard to find already with a growing labor shortage and generational impact.  Statistically, over 57% of new employees leave their job within the first 12 months.  If they are in a senior level position, it is likely that 1 out of every 2 will leave within 18 months.  If you calculate the average cost of each hire which starts at $4k minimum, the total cost of replacement can be as much as 150% of each salary.  So for example an employee with an $80K per year salary would cost $120k to replace them.  Fix this alone and your bottom line will see an improvement.
  5. PART TIME STATUS: Make sure your part-time employees are receiving the benefits they are due based on changes in the regulations.  ACA, FMLA, and recent changes to 401k requirements may have an impact.  Also, think about your competition who are starting to offer competitive benefits to their part-timers like Starbucks.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, and I hope to post again sooner than later this time around!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Overtime Rule Published

The DOL has published the long awaited overtime rule and it's effective date is December 1st of this year.  Read more here:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

10 Tips for Managing Conflict at Work or Home

In honor of the GFWC ILLINOIS annual conference at the President Lincoln Hotel here in Springfield, IL today and tomorrow, I thought I would put my suggestions in writing for future reference. I am honored to be asked to speak on Conflict although like most it's not my favorite subject. Nor am I an expert as I have my own unresolved conflict currently brewing that I should take my own advice on. However, in human resources you often have to be a mediator of conflict between coworkers and manager/employee disagreements. 

So unless you are the king of conflict denial or the queen of pushing conflict under the rug, you may have a desire to fix your conflict situation at the earliest possible time. If not you should. Life is too short to live with conflict. If you don't have a desire to resolve, then get ready for the big explosion that is bound to happen sooner or later. You can be sure someone will get hurt post explosion because things are almost always said that is not meant the way it comes out or is taken. 

Some studies say we are about 75% responsible for how others treat us. If the emotion is negative then most likely some of that responsibility is in your reaction to the situation. If you are a person who tends to allow others to treat you in a way that causes inward or outward conflict, it may be time to put them in their place and make them think twice about doing it again. Of course I don't mean to do this in a negative way because what does that do? It feeds the fire and causes more conflict. So here is a quick list of suggestions I recommend based on my own experience, education, and practice resolving conflict. 
  1. Use Your Words - you cannot resolve anything without expressing how it makes you feel. The key word here is you as in "I".  Choose words that will express but not shame or blame the other person.
  2. Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood - this is one of the best Steven Covey habits for exceptional people. If you are always trying to be right and never care to understand the other person(s) point of view resolution is not in your cards.
  3. Understand Differences in Perception - just because you see a situation one way doesn't mean others will see it the same as you. Everyone comes from a life of difference and that may be something you are not aware of.
  4. Remember It's About Impact Not Intent - take responsibility when someone shares that you may have offended them. You may not intend to hurt them but consider where they are coming from and how they took it. If you threw them a baseball but they got s soccer ball then it's your responsibility to help them see it is a baseball. 
  5. Maintain Your Credibility and Respect - this is especially important when your conflict is in the workplace but it can affect family member relationships for years to come as well when reactions go over the line.
  6. What, What and Why? Feedback Framing - this was a tip from a past boss that has always stuck with me and I even use in disciplinary action documentation at times. Explain WHAT happened then go directly in to WHAT could or should have happened in the future (don't focus on past) and WHY this new suggestion is a better response.
  7. Restate What You Have Heard - say "What I hear you saying is..." to help the other person understand how you may be perceiving what you said as well as helping you further dive into #2 above.  It's a clarification technique that slows you down from reacting negatively to something that may not have been intended.
  8. Gain an Understanding of Emotional Intelligence - the higher your EQ is the better able you will be in managing conflict.  The skills can be learned if you know what they are and how to work on them.  Some are above but there are more.  Free EQ tests are available on the internet.
  9. Practice, practice, practice - whether or not you need to practice any of the tips above or something you learn by taking your EQ test, practice it every chance you get.  Set reminders on your phone if you must but keep the ideas on the forefront so you learn to make them a habit when the unexpected happens.
  10. Know when to Give yourself a Time Out - there are times that you heart starts to race or your blood pressure rises and you can physically feel the signs that you are about to blow due to conflict.  This is the time to walk away and let the other person know you need some time.  The time is healthy for both sides of the conflict to help give perspective and determine a plan for resolution.  
Even if these suggestion are just reminders of what you already know, I hope it's a good refresher and can help maintain a relationship that may be on the verge of being broken.  Remember, life is too short to carry conflict for long.  Take responsibility now and move forward.  I have lost several loved one's (mom, dad, and brother to name a few) in my life recently who I wish I had hugged one more time than I had fought with them.  Don't have regrets and make a difference in your life and others. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Highlights from 2015

Well, it's time once again for reflection, documentation, and most importantly improvement.  I have personally had quite a hectic year.  Actually, it's been a couple hectic years with the loss of three of my four family members of origin (dad, brother, and now mom).  My second brother and I are the only one's who are left in the family and we have certainly taken a big hit as the last two were sudden and unexpected.  As a result, my available time for blogging has really taken a hit going from an average of 28 posts since my first full year of blogging in 2011 to 15 and 12 the last two years.  I don't expect this coming year to be any better because my brothers trial should be coming up soon depending on grand jury decision in March.  He was pushed off the road by what we suspect to be a drunk driver.  Later this month on February 27th will be one year since the incident and the person has yet to be arrested or charged.

So getting back to business the first post was a short announcement called Going Live about my 2/2/15 Drive Thru HR blog talk radio show interview.  The idea was to invite my co-speaker Dave Ryan onto the show with me to talk about HR Department of one which was the topic of our upcoming (at the time) SHRM presentation.  However, I really was disappointed at how that talk turned out.  I would not recommend that interview as a good listen because it just didn't flow well nor talk much about the intended topic.

Then of course my annual blogging summary called 2014 A Year In Review followed by a post inspired by a client who had an employee banned from delivering to a client due to a lack of emathy towards one of that customers employees called Employer Mandated Training.  Then I took a few months off to deal with my brothers death.  Upon my return I posted a short post "Blogging: It's Been A While" about upcoming speaking engagements with Dave one HRDeptof1 in Missouri and SHRM15.

Over the summer I hit the blog once a month (or at least someone did).
  • The first post in June was by a student, friend, and UIS SHRM board member Joe Schwiekert about the
  • The second post in July was another guest post by Lisa Green Brady about How Often Does a Background Check Include Social Media
  • I hit it big in August with two different posts about #MOSHRM.  Well I was on the Social Media Blog Squad for that conference in addition to speaking so I better do my job, right? Anyway, the two posts were "Learn A New" or "Snag Some Swag in #MOSHRM15 Exhibition Hall where I tried to encourage attendees to go in with a positive attitude of learning and not shy away due to sales people.  You really can learn a great deal when you make that your goal for attending the exhibition.  I know I have especially about #HRTech.  The second was to share some great ideas about conference planning which I had been a part of since 2001.  #MOSHRM Conference Ingenuity was awesome and definitely worth a shout out.
In September, I had the honor of being interviewed by WTAX radio morning show about the State of the Union Membership in Illinois.  Since I did some research for the show, I didn't want what I had learned to not be shared in other ways so I blogged about the findings. The radio show summary story was Professor: Unions Strong in Illinois But Costly. This interview can be found on Focus 9/13 podcast as well. Start on 15:08 to 21:15 as there are other interviews on this podcast in addition to my interview.

The later September post was dedicated to a good friend of mine, Steve Browne who had just finished two years on the SHRM Membership Council which I too served on the year prior to him. He was running for the SHRM Board and did end up getting elected which was the focus and call to action of my post.  

The last two posts of the year were actually links to personal pieces I wrote on the multi-contributor site I have been writing for since 2010 Women of HR. The first was directed at management for them to get a perspective of what it is like for employee's who only have a minimal amount of berevement leave called Beareavement Leave FAILS When It Comes to Flexibility.  It was a very personal journey of what I experienced after the tragic death of my brother whom I mentioned earlier in this post.  Finally, the last blog post of the year was written as I prepared for an ucoming (at the time) talk for Association for Women In Communications about Getting What You Want In the Workplace.  My advice to this room full of women amounted to five steps that evolved from years of experience:
The post actually referred to several of my past writings such as: The Perfect 10, Credibility Goes Beyond Your Credentials, Bride to Be = Discouraged Employee and Is "She" Really a "BITCH" in the Workplace.