Is It HR’s Job to Encourage Employee Complaints?

Yes, HR does want to encourage employee complaints. If you don’t, the complaints will go to the agencies and the lawyers, and then you’ve moved into a different ball game that’s being controlled by someone else. When the complaints come to you first, you can take action.

Yesterday’s Advisor covered the watchdog role as part of the HR job description; today, ways to enhance your early detection of problems, and some good news about all your job descriptions.

Living up to the watchdog role (see yesterday’s issue) is made easier if you establish some systems to help:

Establish Avenues of Communication

It’s necessary to have at least two separate avenues of communication for employees to use in reporting harassment, discrimination, illegal activity, and other problems. At least one avenue must operate outside of the normal chain of command. Many employees are reluctant to approach their bosses with complaints, and especially, of course, if the boss is the perpetrator, or if the perpetrator is a friend or colleague of the boss.

Conduct Regular Audits

If you just go up to a manager and say, “I want to check over everything you do to see if you are you doing things right,” or “We had a complaint about how you do things,” you’re going to offend the manager and get little cooperation. But a routine audit is just part of the territory at work. People may grumble, but no one’s offended, and you can get detailed information about how things are being done.

Require HR involvement

Make it a matter of policy that whenever managers are about to take significant steps (for example, terminating an employee, or denying a request for accommodation), they must check with HR first. These situations are so much easier (and cheaper) to deal with before the inappropriate action takes place. Once it’s done, it’s very hard to manage your way out of it.

HR may want to delay the action (“Manager, if we slow this down, we can likely take care of it without much risk of a lawsuit.”) or may want to just change some wording (“Instead of saying ‘You’re guilty of illegal sexual harassment’ let’s say ‘Your behavior was inappropriate under company policies.'”).

In any event, HR intervention can often spell the difference between an agreeable resolution and an expensive lawsuit.

Set that keyboard aside! Your job descriptions are already written. Click here to see why thousands of managers have a permanent place in their offices for BLR’s classic Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

When the Boss Is the Problem

It’s certainly a special challenge when the alleged bad actor is the boss or any “higher-up” In your organization. The recent situation with Mark Hurd, the HP CEO who resigned after making two trips to “interview” a person for a relatively low level part-time position. It must have been clear to many people that what he was doing was inappropriate.

Not many want to tell the president he is doing something appropriate, but a softer approach might be “It will have the appearance of being inappropriate, and that could expose us to expensive lawsuits, and bad press including an 8% drop in our stock price.”

So, HR people, corporate watchdog is part of your job description, whether you like it or not. Now how about the rest of your job description, and how about everyone else’s job descriptions—do they have all the elements they should have? Duties, responsibilities, essential functions clearly delineated? And all up to date?

If not—or if you’ve never even written them—you’re not alone. Thousands of companies fall short in this area.

It’s easy to understand why. Job descriptions are not simple to do—what with updating and management and legal review, especially given the ADA requirement of a split-off of essential functions from other functions in the description. Wouldn’t it be great if your job descriptions were available and already written?

Actually, they are. We have more than 700, ready to go, covering every common position in any organization, from receptionist right up to president. They are in an extremely popular BLR® program called the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

First created in the 1980s, the “JDE” has been continually refined and updated over time, with descriptions revised or added each time the law, technology—or the way we do business—changes.

Prewritten job descriptions in the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia now come with pay grades already attached. Click here to try the program at no cost.

Revised for the ADA, Pay Grades Updated

There was a major revision, for example, following the passage of the ADA. In fact, BLR editors reviewed every one of those 700 descriptions to ensure they were ADA-compliant.

Another enhancement was the updating of pay grades for each job. According to our customers, this is an enormous time-saver, enabling them to make compensation decisions even as they define the position. You can see a sample job description from the program by clicking here. (Yes, it is the one for HR Manager—Pay grade: 38.)

The BLR Job Descriptions Encyclopedia also includes an extensive tutorial on setting up a complete job descriptions program, and how to encourage participation from all parts of the organization. That includes top management, the employees, and any union or other collective bargaining entity.

Quarterly Updates, No Additional Cost

Very important these days, quarterly updates are included in the program as a standard feature—key at a time of constantly changing laws and emerging technologies. We’ll send you new or revised descriptions every 90 days. And the cost is extremely reasonable, averaging less than 43 cents per job description … already written, legally reviewed, and ready to adapt or use as is.

You can evaluate BLR’s Job Descriptions Encyclopedia at no cost in your office for up to 30 days. Get more information or order the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

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Download list of job descriptions included

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