In most working environments, there are no hand-written rules surrounding proper email etiquette. Many of us know to avoid the obvious: politically incorrect cartoons, offensive video content, unforgiving language and other questionable materials.

But, it’s often the lapses in communication that result in conflict. For example, by simply pressing “forward” without an explanation or introduction, you leave the message’s meaning up to the recipient’s interpretation. You could quickly offend your recipient and create an unnecessary misunderstanding.

Think about this: While you may think that simply forwarding an article or e-newsletter is a great way to share useful content, if the title of that email is “Ways to Improve Your Attitude,” or “Ways to Stop Wasting Time,” the recipient may immediately see this as a personal attack.

The following 10 guidelines are offered by HR Shield. We encourage you to share them with your office!

  1. Don’t Be Lazy: Clicking “Forward” with no explanation as we mentioned above, can create a great misunderstanding. If you are a manager passing along a task, you may come across as impersonal or rude. If you are forwarding an article, the recipient may think that article is intended for them personally. Long story short, if you’re sending something, provide the reason you are sending it.
  2. Use Spellcheck: There’s nothing worse than tarnishing a powerful message or important email with numerous spelling errors. It reflects poorly upon you, and your business. A quick click to confirm all of your spelling is correct will save you the embarrassment.
  3. Control Your Urge to “Reply All:” “Reply All” is a bad habit to get into. Ask yourself: “Is this message relevant to every single recipient?” If no, don’t waste the time of others.
  4. Confirm Receipt: Did you receive an email this morning that you won’t be able to address until tomorrow? Confirm receipt. Let the sender know that their email is going to be addressed, and did not get intentionally ignored or land itself in the spam filter.
  5. One Subject per Email: Do you have a lot of projects circulating around the office? One subject per email will help keep you and fellow employees organized. It will also make emails and resources surrounding a project easier to find when you are searching for it within your inbox.
  6. Huge Attachment? STOP: Wait a minute, how big is that attachment? There is nothing worse than having your email backed up for a significant amount of time while it’s struggling to download something. If you have a large attachment, resort to other ways of sending it, or at the very least check with your recipient to see if it is okay to send.
  7. Use Caps Sparingly: CAPS= SHOUTING. If something is important, it may be best to bold or italicize it. If it’s very important and the point you are making needs to be stressed, go ahead and use the caps. But use them sparingly!
  8. End Emails With Positive Salutations: The subject of your email may not always be positive, in fact you may be delivering bad news. But, never fail to let people know they are in fact appreciated. Sign off with “Thank you,” “Regards,” “Much appreciated,” or other nice sayings.
  9. Contribute Something: Answering an email with “you too” or “thank you” may seem polite but it adds little to the conversation. Avoid clogging up people’s inboxes with one or two word emails. Support your message with added detail or refrain from sending.
  10. Think Twice: Reread all emails before sending. If the message is not clear, or is left up to too much interpretation, do not send it. Think of a way to reword the message before creating an avoidable miscommunication.

HR Shield is committed to helping improve office atmospheres everywhere.  From HR best practices and basic office protocol to benefits and taxes, we’re here to help. Need more support than our weekly blog? Count on HR Shield for all the human resource support you need—when you need it. Call today to learn about the HR Shield membership options at (877) 636-9525 or contact us for more information.

Could your business survive a financial crisis as big as some of these listed below? A prominent law firm here in Tampa, Morgan & Morgan, shares these scary statistics:

  • $100,000 wage & hour settlement on behalf of pizza delivery drivers not properly paid for all hours worked.
  • $142,500 employee misclassification settlement for 19 construction superintendents who were classified as exempt from overtime.
  • $189,000 illegal tip pool settlement on behalf of waitresses who were forced to participate in an illegal tip pool with non-tipped employees (i.e. kitchen staff, managers, cashiers, etc.)
  • $275,000 unpaid commissions settlement for a real estate broker, who was fired immediately prior to the opening of a condominium project for which he had sold many of the units.

Wage and hour lawsuits can cripple an organization; and your company can fall victim because of something as simple as accidentally misclassifying an employee. But there is good news; these crises are within your control. Why not PREVENT them?

Is your company currently in compliance with all federal and state employment laws? Are you in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act? HR Shield makes it our business to stay up-to-date on changing regulations. While it’s not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card,’ it’s the fastest, surest way to avoid getting zapped with unexpected lawsuits or penalties.

Get all the HR compliance services you need including unemployment compensation, workers comp claims and office training. Sign up now online, call (877) 636-9525 or contact us for more information

 

Source: http://www.forthepeople.com/settlements_wage_and_hour.htm

 

It’s no secret that veterans transitioning out of the military face challenges when it comes to finding employment. As HR professionals, we recognize that it is sometimes difficult to remember all of the important steps to take when recruiting, especially recruiting a veteran.

HR Shield has provided the following list of best practices to help business owners and HR professionals better recruit and hire our heroes.  Feel free to use this as a checklist for your next recruitment and hire!

  1. Job Descriptions: When posting your job, make sure the description is specific and clearly outlines the desired skills and experience. If the job is relevant to someone with military experience, make sure to include that information upfront; this will help veterans more easily find your post. The US Chamber of Commerce also has a website for recruiting veteran candidates – make sure to post available jobs on their site as well!
  2. Have Some Military Background: You don’t have to be a veteran yourself to understand basic military culture. A basic knowledge of the values, structure, policies, challenges, and accomplishments will help establish a stronger relationship with the candidate.  They’ve taken the time to learn about your business and culture; take the time to learn about theirs.
  3. Address Benefits: The military has an extremely easy health care system (in terms of obtaining care). If a military member is sick, injured, or in need of an appointment, they schedule the appointment and go. They may not understand terms like deductibles, co-payments and benefit years. Take your time to review the company’s benefits and answer any questions the candidate may have.  Many veterans will have continued coverage provided through the Military’s primary carrier, TriCare.  Be prepared to discuss how your company’s policies can work in conjunction with current coverage to enhance the overall benefit offering.
  4. Explain Your Structure: Explaining your organization’s structure is often important to a Veteran. Veterans are adept to operating within a chain of command, and delegating responsibilities. Let the candidate know who they will be working for, who will guide them, what their responsibilities are, who they report to, and what an “average” day’s schedule looks like.
  5. Hire for the Right Reason: Many employers are aware that hiring veterans comes with a tax break, but do not hire for that reason. Hire the candidate that is best suited for the job. This will help both the employee and employer grow and succeed.

For more information, questions, or concerns, feel free to contact one of our HR Consultants at HR Shield.

Many industries require workers to have specific training and/or knowledge before performing their job function. When companies employ remote workers or have numerous locations, virtual classrooms become especially popular as an efficient way of delivering information or training. Virtual classrooms can also be used to update employees on HR-related topics or conduct seminars surrounding new policies or standards.

Keeping every employee awake in a virtual classroom is a challenge, especially when it comes to specific training – How do you know if they are paying attention? Here are 3 tips to ensure success for your employee classroom session.

  1. Be Prepared and Organized: Practice or review the virtual seminar beforehand and think of any possible questions that may arise. Be prepared to answer.  Identify the purpose and content of the virtual classroom to your employees before beginning, and enlist the help of an IT professional if you should need assistance delivering the content.
  2. Engage: It’s important to provide your employees with things to do other than just listening.  Build interactive tasks and questions into the session that require responses from all participants. Through “Quiz Managers” and other software available you can even create polls and quizzes that are good for revision, assessment, and reinforcing your message. Through polls, you can display how many people got the answer right, and wrong, without revealing the individual. Think outside the box to get your “students” engaged!
  3.  Take your Own Notes: At the very least, your virtual classroom will always serve as a learning experience for YOU. Always take your own notes so that you can be committed to improving the delivery of employee lessons or information in the future. If there are questions, polls, chat text or any type of interactions, make sure you save them for reference.

With HR Shield, creating effective training or educational content for your employees couldn’t be easier. You’re just a few mouse clicks away from everything you need to create a complete employee performance management system.

HR Shield members are also free to access our comprehensive gallery of training videos that cover every aspect of HR.  When virtual classrooms or seminars are not effective enough for your employees or specific safety compliance requires hands-on/in-person demonstrations, HR Shield can also offer assistance with on-site training.

Call today to learn about the HR Shield membership options at (877) 636-9525 or contact us for more information.

With YouTube and comedic viral videos gaining popularity over the years, it’s no surprise that everyone wants to get in on the fun. There’s nothing wrong with a little light humor and pranking people is there? Well, what if an employee of yours serves as the butt of the joke? What if they are offended? How far is too far?

A few years ago, CBS News released a story on the Top 5 Office Pranks Gone Wrong – While many viewers can’t help but chuckle at a few of these, many of these pranks are unacceptable for a working environment, and can quickly become an HR Manager’s worst nightmare.

Often, employees engaging themselves in office pranks believe the prank is harmless. But it’s often the victims of the prank or coworkers that find the prank humiliating, disruptive, dangerous, or even a form of harassment. Taking that humiliation or inappropriate behavior and posting it on a social media platform such as YouTube, without permission, can introduce an entirely separate set of problems.

Office pranks can violate numerous organizational policies surrounding employee safety, workplace etiquette, sexual harassment, and more – all areas that can result in a lawsuit if a prank doesn’t go “according to plan.”

We know… As an HR Manager or business owner it’s often difficult to play the bad cop. You want your employees to have fun, but your priority is to make sure that all employees are protected, and that “fun” never crosses company moral or ethical boundaries, reflecting poorly upon your organization.

All employees should have received a company handbook, and should be well aware of all existing company policies, but a few helpful reminders can never hurt when it comes to office pranks!

  • Think about what you are doing before doing it.
  • Ask yourself: How would you feel if you served as the recipient of this prank? What could the consequences be? Does this prank violate company policies?
  • “Harmless” or not, is this prank going to disrupt others in the workplace?
  • Never use April Fools as a free pass to try and get away with an inappropriate prank – so long as you’re in a working environment, work policies apply.
  • Never share a prank on the internet, or anywhere for that matter, without the permission of all parties involved. Make sure the company name is not associated with the prank either, as it may reflect poorly upon the organization or violate additional policies.

 

If you are an HR Manager or business owner currently facing a struggle when it comes to separating “workplace fun” from disruptive or inappropriate behavior, please feel free to contact us. You can count on HR Shield for 24/7 access to everything from sample employee conduct reviews to safety management, plus get expert advice from licensed HR professionals who care.