When Cupid Strikes in the Workplace

Whether HR knows about it or not, romantic relationships happen in the workplace. According to a Vault.com annual office romance survey, more than half of American professionals say they have participated in an office romance. Of those who have dated a coworker, 16% married.

In my days in the hospitality industry, I saw couples live happily ever after and others … well, let’s say, not so happily ever after. Let’s face it, if 62% of the workers in the hospitality and tourism industry say they’ve had a romantic relationship with a coworker, 46% didn’t live happily ever after according to my math.

If two employees tell you that they are dating, first express your appreciation they came forward to let you know of their workplace romance and of course, be happy for them! Follow your handbook policies. If you allow dating in the workplace, review your organizations’ workplace harassment policy and remind them that as long as the relationship is consensual, it aligns with your policy. Remind them there is no need for public displays of their affection while at work. Most importantly, remind them that if one party decides they no longer want to be in the relationship, the courting must stop, otherwise it may by perceived as workplace sexual harassment. You may also want to have individual conversations with each person to make sure it is consensual and there is not a more serious situation occurring.

When the couple doesn’t notify HR, but HR hears of the romance through-the-grapevine, does HR have the same responsibility as if the couple came forward? Yes, talk to the individuals using the same framework as above.

If there happens to be an internal conflict of interest – supervisor and direct report – you may need to ask one of the individuals to transfer to another department or position, that is, if you are a big enough organization. Otherwise, one of the individuals may need to leave the organization to eliminate the conflict. It is best to have a written policy addressing this.

Executives and others in sales or key relationship building roles may also want to consider how professional partnerships may create a conflict of interest, actual or perceived. Most recently, the CEO of REI was asked to step down because he did not disclose his romantic relationship with a leader of another organization in the outdoor industry.

Bottom line…if you are going to date in the workplace, tell HR or your supervisor, avoid PDA in the workplace, and, if one person wants to end the relationship, you must end it. If the relationship ends well, it’s easy to continue the relationship as coworkers. If it doesn’t, the tension will spill into the workplace and coworkers will feel the tension, and so may your former sweetheart.

Remember, we are handling matters of the heart. Be kind. Be respectful. It takes courage to show love. If you need help navigating a workplace romance or drafting a policy, reach out to the Lake Effect HR & Law team.

It’s Not Exactly a Snow Day

Here in Wisconsin, the USPS is not delivering mail, schools, government offices, malls and restaurants are closed, and UW has cancelled classes…Nobody is going outside to work or play in -50° F wind chills, except for those who are keeping us warm and safe! If we aren’t going to work or playing outside, how many of us are working remotely today?

If many of your employees are taking advantage of remote work today, this may be a great time to create or update your Inclement Weather Policy. Over the years, we have been very fortunate in Wisconsin to have not had many reasons to close our offices other than snow, until last year when we saw state-wide flooding. Consider expanding your inclement weather policy to involve other emergency closings, an explanation of how employees will be paid and factors to consider when working remotely.

The Lake Effect team is here to help you draft a compliant inclement weather policy and other employment-related policies aligned with your organization’s culture, concern for employees’ safety, and your operational productivity goals. When reviewing your policy consider the following:

  • Parameters to determine when the office will be closed
  • Mechanisms to communicate office closures, keeping in mind possible power outages at home
  • Determination of which employees will have the ability to work remotely
  • Consideration of Wage and Hour laws and regulations
  • Compensation of employees for working remotely -- or not working
  • Employee use of paid time off
  • Impact of weather-related absences on attendance records

Contact the attorneys or HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law to help guide you through the storm.

New Year’s Resolutions

As we turn the calendar page to January 2019, it's the perfect time to review your company's HR policies and practices to make sure this year is an even better one for your employees and your organization as a whole. Lake Effect HR Advisors and Employment Lawyers are here to support and advise your team and you throughout the year!

Here are our recommended HR Resolutions for 2019:

  1. Annual Employee Handbook Update – Make those changes you have been mulling over for the past few years. While you are at it, have an HR and legal review to:
    1. ensure compliance with all states in which you now have employees;
    2. incorporate current trends that fit your organization;
    3. bring new life to your handbook so that it reflects your organizational culture, voice, mission and strategic vision.
  2. Anti-Harassment & Respectful Workplace Training - Review your anti-harassment policy and procedures and educate your team on the updated policy, including reporting procedures, possible outcomes, the pitfalls of retaliation, acceptable workplace conduct, appreciation, and respect.
  3. Personal Professional Development - Develop a coaching & development process that supports your culture, mission, vision and organizational goals. This investment benefits the employee, the team and the entire organization in the short and long term.
  4. Group Professional Development - Develop a training curriculum that strengthens your team’s people skills; develops their management skills; and reflects your policies, procedures and expectations.
  5. Employee Engagement – Strengthen communication in your workplace using myEverything DiSC to create a common language your team members can use to understand one-another's motivators, priorities and reactions to conflict in the workplace.

For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us today.

Tick This Off Your To Do List: Anti-Harassment Training

Since Harvey Weinstein had his great fall, nearly every one of our Client Employers have said to us, “I know we really need to schedule some anti-harassment for our staff.” Then, work gets busy, and then the quarter is wrapping up, and then a big project takes over, and on and on. This is not an issue you can avoid. You can’t bury your head in the sand and think it is going away. The single best thing you can do as an employer to provide your employees with a workplace free of harassment and discrimination is to train your staff. Now is the time to schedule the training!

At Lake Effect HR & Law, our attorneys and HR professionals are all experienced and engaging trainers on Anti-Harassment Practices. Our approach is not a secret, but our delivery is. We really are that good. We get your team talking, laughing, feeling comfortable about the uncomfortable. People tell us they dreaded the training, but ended up, actually, having fun. Hard to believe, right? Schedule a session and you will believe us.

So what is our approach? Here is what we do every time:

  1. Provide a legal review and suggested updates to workplace policies and practices. We look at not only your actual Anti-Harassment policy, but also the policies that connect to it: social media, behavior and conduct, use of electronic systems and networks, confidential information and more. We also reflect off your industry and culture, and reflect on how this supports your mission and vision. How we provide this training at a bank differs from an arts non-profit.
  2. Provide an in-person training to your team. A webinar means people are checking emails. A video means people space out and don’t participate.
  3. Engage everyone in attendance in the dialog. No one is allowed to slouch in the corner or avert their eyes.
  4. Deep dive into your organization’s anti-harassment policy and the related policies. Teach your team where all of the answers are within your policy. What is harassment? Who is protected? From whom? How do you report? What is retaliation? What happens in an investigation? What are the possible outcomes?
  5. Review real life situations, pertinent to your industry and culture. Some offices are huggy, while others are not. Some offices are serious and quiet, some are not. Some have board members and volunteers regularly in the mix, others don’t. All of those factors and many more affect your office culture and employee workplace interactions.
  6. Answer questions that your employees have about what is OK and what is not – and what is dependent on the situation and presentation.
  7. Spend extra time with your managers to review their enhanced responsibilities as supervisors. Clearly, being a manager is not as glamorous as it appears. We give them some more tools to help address these difficult situations as and when they arise.

If you are ready to schedule your Anti-Harassment Training, contact any of the attorneys or HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law. We are ready to help you tick this item off your to-do list.

The Benefits of DiSC in the Workplace

We have all been in a meeting or working on a project when someone was too assertive in expressing their opinions, not contributing enough, too chatty, or too hesitant to make a decision. These individuals were most likely not intending to be difficult in the meeting or in the workplace; they were simply working from their preferred DiSC style. Although we can all adapt our styles, during stressful times it does not come naturally. Having a common language to address these types of situations and work through the barriers provides your team an opportunity to leverage each person’s strengths, resolve interpersonal conflict or simply gain awareness of their own innate reaction to workplace situations.

By understanding the different DiSC styles and each styles’ priorities, motivators, fears and limitations, your team gains a better understanding of how their coworkers are communicating in the workplace. The Everything DiSC model is the simplest, most robust tool for creating a common language at all levels of an organization.
At times, every organization has a need to improve communication, strengthen a team, resolve interpersonal conflict or simply develop team members’ interpersonal skills. Lake Effect HR & Law is uniquely qualified to manage your HR needs. We are an Authorized Partner of Everything DiSC with over a decade of experience working with the DiSC model. With several personalized reports to choose from, we can find a solution to address your needs that reflects your culture or what you want your culture to be.

To learn more about how DiSC can help your team, contact any of the attorneys and HR Professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law, www.LE-hrlaw.com.

Be Good and Kind

Sadly, being good and kind is a dying art. I think about this a lot as I look around our world today. I think about it in the context of raising three sons and talking with them about how to handle situations in their lives and how to be good brothers, friends and teammates. I discuss this with friends whenever we get together to catch up on our lives. I say this several times each week to our clients in the context of advising them on employment policies and employee issues. I hear others in our office say the same.

At Lake Effect, we want to help bring back Being Good and Kind. As lawyers, we are tasked with helping our clients avoid risk and liability. We have seen time and time again that if our Client Employers approach the workplace and their employees being mindful of what is good and kind, being respectful and thoughtful, everything falls into place. Tension in the office dissipates. Workplace issues get resolved. Collaboration infuses the environment. Managers connect with their direct reports. Employees are more engaged and productive. Risk diminishes. Culture begins to define itself. Mission permeates the actions of all. The organization thrives, as does each and every employee.

This mindset is reinforced by the video short, "Mr. Indifferent", designed for Emirates NBD Bank, by Aryasb Feiz, the production company Hanzo FZE, and the agency Leo Burnett, Dubai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxpkjDKMyzg

To be part of the movement to bring back Being Good and Kind, contact any of the lawyers and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC, www.LE-hrlaw.com

Lake Effect HR & Law Makes a Splash

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC, to provide comprehensive HR and Employment Law Services

Managing the full spectrum of HR and Employment Law needs for our clients.

MADISON, WI – Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC, has launched in Madison, Wisconsin, providing the full spectrum of HR and Employment Law services to its clients.

Lake Effect HR professionals provide traditional HR administration and strategic guidance, benefits administration and design, HR investigations and workplace trainings. Clients can take advantage of their long-standing payroll partner, a local organization owned and managed by CPAs. Lake Effect attorneys advise on specific employment law issues or provide ongoing advice and counsel on all facets of employee relations, employment agreements, handbooks and policies, wage and hour compliance, employment law-informed trainings, labor relations, and related litigation. In so doing, Lake Effect’s team assists and advises throughout the entire employee life cycle, from recruitment to end of employment.

Led by founder, Jane Clark, has gathered a team with vast experience from decades of experience working together in the fields of strategic human resources and employment law. Jane is joined in this new venture by the core of the team from the former Clark & Gotzler law firm: Kathleen G. McNeil, Attorney; Sheila M. Conroy, Attorney; Tricia Perkins, Senior Strategic HR Advisor; and Leann Ploessl, Strategic HR Advisor. Their extensive and unique melding of management, business and litigation experience helps clients navigate the maze of employment and human resources challenges.

“We are a woman-owned and operated firm. Our experienced team has worked at law firms, private businesses, our own businesses, and state agencies. We serve and have served on a wide array of non-profit boards,“ Clark said. “We bring that experience, along with our concierge-style customer service, to bear for our clients.”

“The Lake Effect attorneys and HR professionals coach clients to be good employers who are able to maximize their employees’ potential and create a culture of support, encouragement and growth,” McNeil added. “In the end, each of our clients strives to do the right thing and fulfill its mission, vision and values. When that is accomplished, organizational success and employee engagement are sure to follow,” concurred Perkins.

For more information on – Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC, contact us today.

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

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