It is a new year, 2017. As of January 20th we will have a new administration. Does that mean the world of HR is going to be different? There certainly will be some changes with Republicans in control of the Federal government. The FLSA rules may not go into effect the way they were supposed to in December 2016. The Affordable Care Act may have some alterations made to it and the NLRB will most likely be less union friendly. From a day-to-day perspective the world of HR will not change much in 2017.
Watching the various college football bowl games the last several days it became evident how important the basics are if you are going to have a winning game plan. Blocking and tackling are fundamentals to the game of football. Without mastering those basics it does not make that much difference how great a star player is. HR is the same way. If you are not performing the basic and fundamental actions you are not going to have a winning team. What are the basic and fundamental aspects?
No one learns how to block and tackle all by themselves. Coaches teach players, yet in business we expect supervisors, managers and even employees to learn the rules by themselves. We may publish the rules and expect people to read the rules, but learning doesn’t occur just because the words are on a piece of paper. Managers and supervisors have to be shown how to handle interactions with employees in disciplinary situations.
There is only one sport I know where they let players fight for a period of time before they break it up, hockey. All the other sports have an official step in quickly to effectively handle the conflict. HR often has to play the role of the official who has to step in and break up the fight or handle the dispute. The quicker conflict is handled the more minor the consequences. Disputes that are allowed to continue can end up in court.
Consistency of treatment
One of the biggest complaints fans have in a game is if they feel the other team is receiving preferential treatment. Fans prefer consistently good officiating. They will even prefer consistently bad officiating over treatment that seems biased in favor of one team, especially the other team. Employees are the same way. They would prefer that everyone is treated well. Next they would prefer if everyone was treated the same, even if this means treated poorly. Where the biggest problems occur is where people are treated differently, typically because of a protected characteristic.
The basic of basics in good HR is good documentation. Nothing gets proven in a court of law without good documentation. It is the basic practice that allows a company to score a win and keep others from scoring against you. It is how you show that consistency of treat. It is how you show the business justification for the actions taken. HR needs to coach the managers and supervisors on not only the reason for good documentation but how good documentation looks.
Although there may be some changes in 2017 they will not alter the fundamentals of how companies protect themselves. Use these basics to craft an effective defense for the coming year.
A hat tip to Marilyn Moran of FordHarrison for the inspiration for this post.