It’s time to get back to basics under a Trump presidency
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Donald Trump will soon be our 45th president. A lot of uncertainty is swirling around what changes his administration may bring in the world of labor and employment law. As discussed last month, we expect to see changes in a wide range of areas, including judicial appointments, immigration, wages and hours, labor relations and more.
In light of this, our advice is to get back to the basics. You can then wait and see what changes you need to make later in the year. This article outlines some of the changes to expect and a basic action plan for employers in the first half of 2017.
Update policies: Review and update your handbooks and policies to comply with current state, federal and local laws and regulations (which changed drastically over the past eight years).
Solve employee problems: Publish a step-by-step grievance or problem-solving procedure — with a "special" bypass procedure for EEO, harassment or retaliation claims — and use it to solve employee concerns effectively and in a timely manner. Employers who fail to have an effective problem-solving system will see employees turn to unions, government agencies, civil rights groups or other external means.
Promote open communications: Revitalize and open allchannels of communications. If you already have the basic channels in place, consider advanced methods such as employee hotlines, properly-formed employee committees, surveys or social media channels. Your communication program should include a comprehensive education program as well.
Make safety a priority: Stress your commitment to a safe workplace. Consider hiring a safety professional to spearhead your safety program. Review and update your written safety rules, publicize your commitment to safety, orient and train employees about safe practices, reward safe behavior, evaluate employees and supervisors on safety habits, and form an employee safety committee.
Make "fair" employment decisions: Treat employees with respect and dignity, communicate rules, standards and expectations, enforce rules and standards consistently, give employees notice of deficiencies, always investigate before acting, use progressive discipline (but don't promiseit), consider using "appeal" procedures, and provide employees with advance notice of changes.
Hire the "right" employees: Hire employees who are self-directed, team-oriented and focused on performing their jobs well. Evaluate your referral sources. Conduct thorough reference checks and train your interviewers to use appropriate pre-employment screening methods.
Keep pay and benefits competitive: Make sure you comply with all wage payment laws, minimize use of status symbols to distinguish groups, explain pay plans to employees, promote the favorable aspects of your benefits program, resolve employee pay issues promptly and regularly survey pay and benefits to insure they are at least competitive.
Develop contingency plans: Have basic contingency plans in place for crises that may occur, such as allegations of theft, harassment, discrimination, bullying, drug or alcohol issues, workplace violence or an active shooter. Plan your initial response to natural disasters, pandemics, terrorist acts or similar catastrophes. Don't be caught off-guard and unprepared for such crises.
Constantly evaluate your human resources program and adapt it: Change is inevitable, and successful employers will constantly be "self-critical." As appropriate for your company, consider periodic climate or attitude surveys, focus groups, 360 surveys or assessments by outside entities.
During the transition period from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, there will be great uncertainty in the area of labor and employment law. Rather than worrying or being paralyzed into inaction, be calm and focus on the tried-and-true, basic activities listed in this article that build positive employee relations and engagement.
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