training improves employee morale and productivity AND lessens the likelihood or severity (cost) of lawsuits, says attorney Franck Wobst. That’s a good return on investment.
Wobst, who is a partner with Porter Wright in Columbus, Ohio, made his suggestions at the Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, held recently in Las Vegas.
New supervisors and managers need to know that they are in a new role with new, big responsibilities, says Wobst, who offers several key roles of the supervisor:
- Help: Help staff members perform their jobs in a safe and effective way.
- Encourage: Encourage staff members to grow and develop skills through training and coaching.
- Know: Know company policy (or know who to ask when you don’t know).
- Enforce: Consistently enforce company policy and rules.
- Notify: Immediately notify line management and HR of any issues regarding suspected violations of policy or law, including discrimination or harassment.
- Create: Create a positive work atmosphere that boosts productivity.
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In addition, make sure new supervisors know:
- This is a new job, quite different from the old one.
- As a supervisor, you are an agent of the company, and that means two important things:
- You may be held personally liable under certain federal and state laws for your actions if you interfere with employee rights.
- If you know something, the company knows it, so it’s important not to sit on information that the company should be taking action on.
- They need to be careful what they say on social media.
- They can tell subordinates, “I don’t know the answer (but I will get it).”
One often-overlooked supervisor training topic is retaliation says Wobst. It’s the hidden danger. Thirty-eight percent of charges filed with the EEOC last year were (or included) retaliation claims.
Wobst concluded with a quote from one plaintiff’s lawyer:
“It’s been my experience that it’s often easier to convince a jury of a retaliation claim than a discrimination claim. My totally unscientific theory is that people understand the impulse to retaliate—if someone does something that makes you angry, you hold it against them—and they can understand that employers and their managers may do that, too.”
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