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March 31, 2020

DON’T BE AFRAID TO HIRE SOMEONE WHO’S CURRENTLY UNEMPLOYED

It’s easier to get a new job when you already have a job. We all intuitively know this to be true, but why is that the case?
If you ask recruiters and hiring managers why they don’t hire individuals who are unemployed when they apply for a role, it’s usually because they’re basing their decision on some preconceived notions and biases:
  • If you’ve been fired from one job, there must be something wrong with you.
  • If you quit without a new job lined up, you must not be a dedicated employee.
  • If you stayed at home with your kids, you’ll always be running out the door early.
  • If you were out for health reasons, you’ll get sick again.
In reality, most of these reasons are excuses for hiring managers to avoid critically evaluating all applicants and opting instead for the easy route. Ultimately, hiring managers prefer to recruit and hire employed versus unemployed candidates simply because they assume someone else already evaluated them, hired them and values their work enough to keep them.
But this is not a good reason to overlook the currently unemployed. This mentality can cause you to miss out on a great employee who could be unemployed for a number of completely valid and understandable reasons. Sure, some people lose their jobs because they’re bad workers, but more often than not it’s layoffs, medical problems or the need for child care that can cause someone to lose or leave their job.

Three Ways to Get More Open-Minded About How You Hire

What can you do to make sure your unconscious biases don’t keep you from hiring the best person for the job, even if he or she is currently unemployed?
1) Seek—Don’t Avoid—the Unemployed   
It’s a tight labor market right now with a relatively low unemployment rate. This is great for the economy, but tough for recruiters. Try adding a note to your job description that says, “People who are currently unemployed are encouraged to apply,” so you can reach people who were nervous about filling out the application. Then, if an unemployed individual applies, interview them! Don’t focus on why they are unemployed — but do ask. Chances are you’ll learn that their current situation is a result of an unfortunate circumstance or a personal choice, rather than previously poor job performance.
2) Consider the Value of Personal Experience
You may be tempted to exclude a stay-at-home-mom or dad for a job because they’ve been out of the workforce for ten years, but this is a missed opportunity. Rather than dwelling on skills they’ll need to catch up on or learn, ask instead about their strengths and what they’ve learned about themselves over the years. Someone with the right attitude and history of success will get up to speed quickly and could bring a passion or desire to learn that you might not find in a worker who hasn’t had any time away from a nine to five.
3) Have Some Compassion
You could be the next person to get laid off. Your mother could break her hip and not recover well, and you’ll need to take two years off to take care of her. You could have a baby and want to stay home. And someday, in each of these scenarios, you may want to return to work. Look at the candidate as a whole— not just the past few years.
Hiring is hard, but excluding a large group of qualified people because they are currently unemployed makes it even harder. Beat out your competitors by looking for the best candidate— not only the most obvious one.
March 30, 2020

DEAR REWORKER: WHEN SALARIED EMPLOYEES TAKE TIME OFF FOR MEDICAL REASONS, WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR PAY?

Dear ReWorker,
I have a new (two-months-employed) salaried exempt employee that has been taking between three and six hours a week to go to doctor’s appointments. He says that this will not continue forever and should soon stabilize to a monthly appointment. He has expressed to me multiple times in writing that he does not expect to be paid for the hours that he is taking off. Can you shed some light on any laws that I should know about for salaried employees and taking time off?
Sincerely,
Stumped About Sick Time
________________________________________________________________________
Dear Stumped About Sick Time,
First of all, your new employee sounds incredibly thoughtful. He recognized that his medical appointments impact the business and volunteered to forgo pay.
Second, you have to turn down his generous offer.
Being paid on a salary basis means he receives a predetermined amount of compensation that must stay the same every pay period, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is true regardless of how many days or hours he puts in, as long as he has completed some work, with very few exceptions. You can dock his paid time off (PTO) for the missed time, but you can’t dock his pay.
You can only dock an exempt employee’s pay for absences in strict circumstances—for instance, if these absences were covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees certain employees of companies with 50 or more workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year (with no threat of job loss) to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from an illness themselves. In this case, however, because he’s a new employee, he does not qualify for FMLA, which requires individuals to have been employed for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours over that time.
Other exceptions would include if he takes a full day off work for something other than illness or if he’s exhausted all his PTO and needs a full day off for medical reasons. But neither of those applies here.
If you have 15 or more employees, you’re subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act. Unlike FMLA, which requires an employee to have worked for a set period of time to access coverage, there’s no eligibility period for this protection. The ADA requires that you make a reasonable accommodation for any qualified employee. I’d assume that his condition qualifies (though that’s just a guess, since I don’t know the specifics), but you should ask him to fill out paperwork regardless. In most jobs, taking three to six hours off per week for a relatively short period would be seen as a reasonable accommodation.
You could, of course, require him to make up the time, which he may be anxious to do anyway. But here’s what I would do if I were you. I’d have him fill out the ADA paperwork and agree to this accommodation based on the doctor’s timeline (since he’s indicated this a temporary situation). Then I’d help him in any way that you can.
Why? Because not only is this good for the employee, it’s also good for your whole office. Workers now know that if they get sick, you’re going to back them up and give them the support they need. Turnover is insanely expensive—in fact, it costs employers 33% of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement if they leave—so giving someone flexibility when they need it saves you a fortune in the long run.
A company that supports people through medical problems is the type of place people like to stay. When you allow exempt employees to truly take care of themselves, that will come back to you through improved performance at work. As long as this guy isn’t an entitled jerk (and since he volunteered to take the time unpaid, I’m guessing he’s not), he’ll appreciate the kindness you showed to him. And that’s worth whatever sacrifices you have to make in the short run.
Sincerely,
Your ReWorker
March 29, 2020

HOW TO INCLUDE YOUR REMOTE WORKERS IN HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, offering employees a flexible schedule and saving them time and money that is usually spent on commuting. Studies show that telecommuters are more productive than their office counterparts. According to a FlexJobs report, 65% of workers believe they’re more productive at home than in a traditional office. However, there’s also a downside of remote work: Many remote workers suffer from FOMO, or fear of missing out. While their in-office colleagues are spending time together, remote workers are often removed from the social aspect of their jobs.
These feelings of isolation are especially apparent during the holiday season, with events like holiday parties and secret santa exchanges. If your remote workers are local, then you can surely invite them into the office for an annual party and exchange some home-baked cookies. But when you have employees that work from locations all across the country (or around the world), it is unlikely that you’ll be able to fly all of them in for these festivities.
So how can you include remote workers in holiday traditions? Here are some ideas for getting get them involved.

1) Virtual Secret Santa

Instead of exchanging gifts with fellow coworkers during Secret Santa, make the activity about donating presents to those in need. Set a budget and assign every employee a theme (i.e. “math game” or “princess item”) and set a time for everyone to gather around—via video call and in-person—and share the presents purchased. Then, donate the gifts to a children’s charity of your choice.
This activity is budget-friendly, makes for great conversation and benefits children in low-income communities during the season of giving. And, of course, it’s a great way for employees to build relationships virtually.

2) Give Your Remote Workers Time Off

If your office staff party is during working hours, give your remote staff an extra half-day of vacation time to use in December. They may not get to sample Suzanne from HR’s famous vanilla fudge, but at least they will get some time back to spend with family or buy holiday gifts. 

3) Offer Dinner on the Company Dime

On the flipside, if you’re having a party in the evening and you’re serving food, consider sending your remote workers a gift certificate for a local restaurant. Make sure the amount on the card is enough for two people to get a nice meal. This thoughtful gesture will send your remote employees the message that you appreciate them just as much as their in-office colleagues.

4) Throw a Virtual Party

Set up a time, send everyone party hats and a box of treats and host a virtual holiday party on either a video conference call or a Slack channel. Let people chat, hang out and eat their snacks. Make sure to include your remote employees in on conversation—kick things off by going around the room and having everyone share their holiday traditions or moderate another inclusive conversation. This event gives virtual employees the opportunity to get to know their colleagues in a social setting.

5) PowerPoint Karaoke

Scour the web for PowerPoint presentations that are completely unrelated to your area of business. For example, if you work for a financial services firm, you might choose slides on classic 18th century novelists or Physics. Then, ask employees to give a presentation based on these slides. You’ll be laughing as your employees try to talk through slides on topics they are completely unfamiliar with.
Of course, the most crucial aspect of a holiday party is letting your employees know that you care about them. They may not be present for an in-person celebration, but it’s important to show your appreciation for them—regardless of where they work.
March 28, 2020

DEAR REWORKER: AS A MIDDLE MANAGER, HOW CAN I IMPROVE THE TOXIC CULTURE AT MY COMPANY?

Dear ReWorker,
I took a new job in middle management. The company culture isn’t great, and my staff is unhappy. I can’t change policy, and I can’t fix the CEO. How can I make it a better place to work when I don’t have any real power?
Sincerely,
Stuck in the Middle
_________________________________________________________________________
Dear Stuck in the Middle,
The bad news is that a terrible CEO (and a board that refuses to act) is almost impossible to fix from below. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to protect your staff. But, there’s one essential thing you need to remember:
You’re not obligated to sacrifice yourself for your team.
Yes, a good manager makes sacrifices to help lead people, but there is a limit, and that limit is sacrificing your health (mental and/or physical). I give this caution because good people at bad companies tend to want to make everything better, and so they try so hard that they end up burning out. If the CEO is toxic and you feel like you need to get out, you’re under no obligation—legally or morally—to stay. This is a job. You are under at-will employment. Leave if you’re miserable. Your employees can do the same.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s figure out what you can do to potentially make things better for workers.

Determine Why Your Staff Is Unhappy

You say the culture isn’t great, but the first thing you need to do is figure out what specifically makes it not great. Is the CEO super picky about arrival times? Is the culture such that people who deserve to be promoted aren’t recognized, while those who don’t necessarily deserve it get ahead?
Depending on the issue, you may be able to drive some change. For example, if promotions are being handed out unfairly, recommend formalizing the process. Highlight the problems to the CEO and offer to create criteria that employees can work towards before they can be eligible for a higher title.

Don’t Be Afraid to Confront the Toxicity

No matter how “toxic,” the CEO hired you because he (presumably) liked what you had to offer. So, do what you were hired to do and bring problems to his attention. But, the way you do it matters.
Try saying something like this: “I’ve noticed that X is common. I’m going to give Y a try, and I’ll let you know how it goes.” Notice that you’re not asking permission. You’re just doing it. Trust me—the CEO will say no if he’s opposed.
Now, of course, you can’t do this with everything. “I’m going to give my staff six weeks of vacation,” probably isn’t the best start. But something like this might be more effective: “I’m going to focus on outcomes rather than facetime, so if you see my staff coming in a little late or leaving a little early, they have my blessing.”
Unless you get a hard “no” to these suggestions, go ahead and start making the changes you see fit. And be sure to be transparent with your team—explain to them that you’re going to try to do things differently and would appreciate their open mindedness. At the very least, they’ll appreciate you trying, which can boost morale in and of itself.

Report Back on Positive Change

Hopefully, your efforts will help change your department for the better—despite an overall lousy company culture. And then, you can go to your boss and say, “Since we started doing X, we’ve seen Y as a result.” Sometimes all people really need is evidence that there are better ways to do things.
If you’re lucky, it might kick bigger, cross-company changes into gear. It’s worth a try.
Sincerely,
Your ReWorker
Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady
Image via Creative Commons
March 27, 2020

WANT TO DIVERSIFY YOUR WORKFORCE? YOU MAY NEED TO RETHINK THE INTERVIEW

The data is clear: When an organization hires a diverse workforce—people who represent different races, income levels, nationalities and genders—it performs better. Bringing these varied perspectives to the table results in more creative thinking. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, diversity is a key driver of innovation, and companies with diverse teams produce 19% more revenue than their competition.
When it comes to increasing diversity at their organization, many HR teams look to diversify their candidate pool. But while this is an important step, it's only part of the solution. Actually hiring those diverse candidates means adjusting the interview to make sure that it's not putting them at a disadvantage.
Beyond determining who is most qualified, here are some ways companies can encourage diversity—and guarantee a quality hire.

Pay Attention to the Time 

Traditionally, recruiters conduct interviews during times when they are in the office. For most companies, that tends to be between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm.
There is a problem with this timing—it’s also when most of your candidates are working at their current job. Many senior executives with flexible schedules, they can say “I’m working from home” and disappear or shut their office door and instruct their administrative assistants to tell people they are busy. Easy enough.
But employees that are more junior have much less flexibility. So many of them end up calling in “sick” or lying to their current employer about having a doctor appointment, to make it to the interview. This increases a candidates stress level and detract from their ability to interview confidently.
These challenges are intensified when applied to candidates who belong to marginalized communities, including people of color, disabled workers and women. WayUp, a company that specializes in recruiting and screening, found that when they offered candidates the chance to interview as late as 11:00 pm, historically underrepresented groups took them up on this offer. Ninety percent of candidates who choose to do phone screens between 7 pm and midnight are Black, Hispanic or women. If you’re looking to make your workforce more diverse, those are probably some of the main groups you’re trying to target.

Reducing Unconscious Bias In the Interview Process

Another problem that can arise during the interview process is unconscious bias. While many companies have invested in unconscious bias training and are generally becoming more open-minded, these incidents still occur. Mitigating unconscious bias in the interview process could be as easy as changing up your technology. Instead of one-on-one, in-person interviews, asynchronous video interviews (where the manager records the questions and candidates can answer them at their own convenience) are a worthy alternative.
According to Sonru, one of the leading developers of automated video interviewing software, this technology helps decrease unconscious bias. As Adam Gretton, Regional Development Manager at Sonru, explains, every candidate gets the same experience. “Can you truly claim that with telephone or face-to-face interviews? Does each candidate get treated exactly the same? If someone has a different culture or background to the assessor, will they get as warm an experience as someone who is ‘just like them’? They may not consciously be aware of treating people differently, but it will be felt by the candidate, and they may not perform as well, as a result.”
Sometimes just changing a few things about how you conduct your interviews can have a significant impact on who you hire. You want to hire the best person for the job, but that person may not be able to get time off work to take your phone screen during the day. The best person may be someone who you would have subconsciously discouraged in a face to face interview.
This is not to say that you should conduct all interviews at 11:00 pm via video. People can feel awkward recording an interview, and daytime interviews are more convenient for many people. But giving candidates the option can be a gamechanger.
The key here is consistency and flexibility. Remember, the point of interviewing someone is to fill the position. If you can make it easier for the candidate to succeed, why wouldn’t you?
March 26, 2020

DEAR REWORKER: WHEN SALARIED EMPLOYEES TAKE TIME OFF FOR MEDICAL REASONS, WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR PAY?

Dear ReWorker,
I have a new (two-months-employed) salaried exempt employee that has been taking between three and six hours a week to go to doctor’s appointments. He says that this will not continue forever and should soon stabilize to a monthly appointment. He has expressed to me multiple times in writing that he does not expect to be paid for the hours that he is taking off. Can you shed some light on any laws that I should know about for salaried employees and taking time off?
Sincerely,
Stumped About Sick Time
________________________________________________________________________
Dear Stumped About Sick Time,
First of all, your new employee sounds incredibly thoughtful. He recognized that his medical appointments impact the business and volunteered to forgo pay.
Second, you have to turn down his generous offer.
Being paid on a salary basis means he receives a predetermined amount of compensation that must stay the same every pay period, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is true regardless of how many days or hours he puts in, as long as he has completed some work, with very few exceptions. You can dock his paid time off (PTO) for the missed time, but you can’t dock his pay.
You can only dock an exempt employee’s pay for absences in strict circumstances—for instance, if these absences were covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees certain employees of companies with 50 or more workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year (with no threat of job loss) to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from an illness themselves. In this case, however, because he’s a new employee, he does not qualify for FMLA, which requires individuals to have been employed for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours over that time.
Other exceptions would include if he takes a full day off work for something other than illness or if he’s exhausted all his PTO and needs a full day off for medical reasons. But neither of those applies here.
If you have 15 or more employees, you’re subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act. Unlike FMLA, which requires an employee to have worked for a set period of time to access coverage, there’s no eligibility period for this protection. The ADA requires that you make a reasonable accommodation for any qualified employee. I’d assume that his condition qualifies (though that’s just a guess, since I don’t know the specifics), but you should ask him to fill out paperwork regardless. In most jobs, taking three to six hours off per week for a relatively short period would be seen as a reasonable accommodation.
You could, of course, require him to make up the time, which he may be anxious to do anyway. But here’s what I would do if I were you. I’d have him fill out the ADA paperwork and agree to this accommodation based on the doctor’s timeline (since he’s indicated this a temporary situation). Then I’d help him in any way that you can.
Why? Because not only is this good for the employee, it’s also good for your whole office. Workers now know that if they get sick, you’re going to back them up and give them the support they need. Turnover is insanely expensive—in fact, it costs employers 33% of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement if they leave—so giving someone flexibility when they need it saves you a fortune in the long run.
A company that supports people through medical problems is the type of place people like to stay. When you allow exempt employees to truly take care of themselves, that will come back to you through improved performance at work. As long as this guy isn’t an entitled jerk (and since he volunteered to take the time unpaid, I’m guessing he’s not), he’ll appreciate the kindness you showed to him. And that’s worth whatever sacrifices you have to make in the short run.
Sincerely,
Your ReWorker
March 26, 2020

WHAT CAN HR DO TO HELP PREVENT BURNOUT?

Have you ever felt just... done? Overwhelmed, utterly exhausted and detached or unmotivated at work? If that feeling persists for longer than a day or two, you may well be suffering from burnout as a result of chronic stress (often tied to your job).
In fact, the World Health Organization recently categorized burnout as an official health condition — and it’s not one to be taken lightly. In a systematic review of studies, burnout was found to be a significant predictor of numerous health problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, respiratory issues, insomnia and depressive symptoms, among others. And companies with burned-out employees don’t fare well, either. According to a Gallup studyemployees suffering from burnout are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job, 63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. That’s in addition to the expected nose dive in productivity and engagement.
But there are many things businesses can do to help reduce burnout. (They cannot, of course, always prevent it. Family stress, financial problems or illness can all contribute to burnout, even if your job is fantastic.)
The Mayo Clinic identified these six causes of workplace burnout, and proper management and good HR can improve all of them: 
  1. Lack of control (over workload, schedule, assignments, etc...) 
  2. Unclear job expectations 
  3. Dysfunctional workplace dynamics 
  4. Extremes of activity
  5. Lack of social support
  6. Work-life imbalance
Let’s take a look and see what we can do to make it likely in your office.
Employees need control over their responsibilities. My kids have to do the dishes after dinner every night, and the goal is clean dishes. I don’t dictate whether they clear off the plates or the cups first. I don’t even care how things are arranged in the dishwasher as long as they get clean. There are some places where I, as the manager/mom, step in. Yes, you must scrape the dishes. That’s non-negotiable and will be corrected. 
Employees often have managers who focus on the order of plates versus cups, and it makes them feel out of control. If you couple this with a dysfunctional workplace, it can be a disaster. Can you imagine being the child with a mom who yells at you if you clear the cups first, but a dad who flips his lid if you start with the plates? Managers need to be crystal clear about what’s expected of their direct reports (including their priorities) and avoid micromanaging; trust employees to get their work done without unnecessarily picking apart the process. 
Both dull jobs and chaotic ones can lead to burnout. If certain work is more monotonous, allow employees to listen to music or podcasts to help break it up, if possible. Other jobs are just hectic by nature—for instance, a trauma surgeon will never have a perfectly scheduled day. But you can work with your employees to come up with suggestions for making things better in both cases. Listen when they tell you that it’s too stressful and examine ways to reallocate—or possibly eliminate—tasks to help ease the burden. 
Make sure your employees have a good work-life balance and the chance to build a social support system outside of work. If they’re putting in 12-hour days, they can’t possibly have a life outside of the office. All the perks that the big tech companies have—free meals, onsite gyms, onsite haircuts and everything else under the sun—sound amazing. But they trap employees to a degree. If those individuals aren’t encouraged to walk out the door, they can’t develop the strong support system needed to keep them grounded and happy.
Burnout isn’t entirely preventable, but well-managed offices will see less of it, and making a concerted effort can provide a massive difference to your employees.
March 26, 2020

DEAR REWORKER: WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN AN EMPLOYEE COMES TO ME WITH A PERSONAL PROBLEM?

Dear ReWorker,
What do you do when an employee comes to you with a personal problem? I’m not a therapist or lawyer. I don’t want to send people away from my office, but am I supposed to do anything with this type of information? People tell me about divorce, abuse, financial issues, kid problems — everything! Help!
Sincerely,
Overly Involved
_________________________________________________________________________
Dear Overly Involved,
This is a common problem for human resources managers. We are the people employees go to when they need to take time off for a health problem, so it makes sense that they want to discuss their health with us. We are the people they go to when they need help managing their relationship with your boss, so why shouldn’t they mention their marital problems?
When workers come to you, you need to divide everything into two categories: issues that call for you to act and those that don’t. Here is what goes where.

When You Need to Act

Health problems: If a condition qualifies for FMLA or ADA coverage, you’ll need to act immediately. Provide the employee with the necessary paperwork and instructions on how to speak with their doctors.
If the employee needs an accommodation, begin the process immediately. Yes, you can technically wait for the ADA paperwork to come in, but many accommodations are easy and you should be looking for a way to say yes. Helping employees when they are sick is not only the right thing to do, but it also ultimately benefits the business and reduces the likelihood that employees will leave down the road.  
Often, employees don’t know the laws that protect them, so they may not know when they come to you, say, upset about a spouse’s cancer diagnosis, that they may be eligible to take time off to care for their partner. Make sure you let them know.
And remember: Mental health issues can be covered by FMLA and ADA as well. Never discount a mental health problem. 
Domestic violenceFMLA can cover injuries resulting from domestic violence, including PTSD. If your employee is a victim of domestic violence, you’ll want to ask about security measures (transferring the employee to another site, changing phone numbers, providing a special parking spot close to the building, or any other number of measures), especially if the employee is in the process of leaving an abusive partner. Domestic violence may seem like personal drama that you’d prefer to keep out of the office, but ensuring the safety of all your employees should be a top priority.
Some states have laws specifically to protect the jobs of domestic violence victims. Make sure you know the law in your state.

When You Should Not Act

Finances, legal issues and therapy: Never give financial or legal advice. You’re neither a lawyer nor a licensed financial planner. You do represent the business, and if someone acts on your advice, you could put the company at risk.
You are also not a therapist and should not offer counseling. “Refer, refer, refer” should be your mantra. If you have an employee assistance program (EAP), direct employees to call for help from a specialist. You can coach an employee on how to interact with a supervisor, but you should advise the employee to seek out a marriage counselor to deal with communication problems at home. 
You can arrange a company-sponsored pay advance, but you should never loan an employee money out of your own pocket. If the company wants to give an advance to help with a financial issue, then it needs to be according to policy with the proper documentation and plan for repayment.
You can be a listening ear, but make sure you set proper boundaries and avoid the urge to jump in with friendly advice based on your own personal experiences. 
You want to have an open-door policy, but sometimes that open door means you learn things you didn’t want to know. Try your best to be professional, act when you’re required to and send people to the proper experts for everything else.
Sincerely,
Your ReWorker
March 26, 2020

DEAR REWORKER: IS THERE EVER A CASE FOR REHIRING SOMEONE YOU ONCE FIRED?

Dear ReWorker,
We had a long-term employee who was unreliable—coming in late, calling in sick often, leaving early—who we eventually fired. Now, three years later, he’s applied again. My boss says it’s better to hire him, as we won’t have to train. I’m hesitant to rehire someone who we fired in the first place. What do you think?
Sincerely,
Skeptical of Second Chances
_________________________________________________________________________
Dear Skeptical of Second Chances,
Let me get right to it. 
Rehiring people who you fired for poor performance, unreliability or cause? Probably not the best idea. 
This individual, in particular, was a long-term employee who repeatedly showed you who he was. You have no reason to believe that he’s changed. If you rehire him, chances are he’ll call in sick, come in late and leave early. (I am assuming that he didn’t call in sick, but “sick” and didn’t have a genuine disability or illness that would be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family Medical Leave Act. If that’s the case, shame on you for firing him!). And you’ll likely want to fire him all over again.

Does rehiring former employees make sense?

Yes. It can make a lot of sense. Some companies even have alumni groups to encourage people to remain in contact and eventually rehire those people. You send your employees out into the world; they get training and experience elsewhere and can come back and contribute to your business on a higher level. It’s a great benefit to the company.
Rehiring people who you laid off for business reasons (not performance reasons) is also a great idea. You know what they can do, they know your business and it can be a great fit. If you’ve had layoffs in the past couple of years and need to hire, you can start by targeting these former employees. It can save you time in recruiting and training. 

But in your situation, why is rehiring this person a consideration?

I suspect that hiring might be difficult for your business right now. That’s not unusual, as unemployment is at record lows. Bringing on someone who you’ll want to fire in a few months isn’t a solution to that.  
What is the solution? Change. Check your salaries. Are you paying market rate? Do you need to bump them up? (Remember, don’t just increase wages for new hires, but for your current staff as well.) How does your PTO look? Do people have a sufficient amount of vacation and sick time? How is your health insurance? Does it compare to your competitors? 
I know you (probably) don’t have spare cash for all of this, and it’s easier just to hire this guy. But think of all the money you’ll spend managing him, coaching him, training and retraining him. Consider your overall turnover. Every new hire costs more than just their salary. You can save money in the long run by making your business a more attractive place to work now.

Are there times when you should consider rehiring someone you fired? 

Sure. For instance, the goof-off intern who is now 30 and has both experience and maturity is worth another shot. The person who was going through a terrible time in their personal life and explains how things are under control now? Sure. People can change.
But, as a general rule, rehire the people who left you or who you laid off—not the people you fired.
Sincerely, 
March 26, 2020

HOW TO RECOVER FROM A DECADE OF LOST EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Despite years of effort by HR professionals, Gallup’s latest findings indicate that 70 percent of the U.S. and 87 percent of the global workforce are disengaged or emotionally disconnected from their work, costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Little progress has been made on the state of employee engagement since 1999, when the Gallup Organization’s groundbreaking work First Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently took the industry (and New York Times bestseller list) by storm. 
How is this possible?
Interestingly, a 2014 survey of HR leaders found the top three methods currently used to promote engagement are recognition, work-life balance and wellness. In the survey, retention was the most frequently used metric to gauge the effectiveness of engagement programs. Recently, I was pleased to see a Forbes post recognizing that corporate leaders are concerned that engagement has not been improving, then surprised to find its recommended solution: hosting “fizzy Fridays,” a random day for pizzas, or mid-day ice cream deliveries at the office.  
Though building a positive workplace is a worthy goal, employee satisfaction is not enough. We must be careful not to confuse workplace fun and contentment with engagement. Likewise, let’s not assume that improving retention increases engagement. Statistically, we are more likely retaining disengaged employees. (Blessing White would refer to them as “free loaders,” those who are content and deriving maximum satisfaction from the job but contributing little to the organization). 
So what are we missing? Gallup, CEB and White all point to the critical role of the immediate manager. Eleven of Gallup’s 12 engagement indicators are under the direct control or influence of the manager. CEB identified the “Top 50 Levers of Engagement,” 43 of which are controlled or influenced by the manager. 
Great. So let’s make sure all of our managers are engaged in engaging their employees, right?
But that brings us to the root cause of the problem. CEB found that 57 percent of managers would have opted for non-management roles if there was an option. Even more alarming, 65 percent of managers would “opt-out” of a management role if given a chance to take another equally attractive role. A CEB study of 9000 managers concluded that only 19 percent were both committed and effective at managing. Given the current state of management, we shouldn't be surprised that employee engagement levels remain stagnant. We have been solving the wrong problems!
In Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workforce report, CEO Jim Clifton states, “The single biggest decision you can make in your job — bigger than all of the rest — is who you name manager.” I couldn't agree more. Organizations must develop what I call "manager effectiveness systems" that include programs and processes for selecting, assimilating, developing, assessing, recognizing, rewarding and promoting managers to the next level. The role and expectations of a manager must be clearly defined. Those organizations who dedicate the necessary effort to manager effectiveness will reap the rewards of a more engaged workforce, an improved leadership pipeline and sustained competitive advantage. 
March 26, 2020

STAR EMPLOYEES AREN'T ALWAYS MANAGEMENT MATERIAL – AND THAT'S OKAY

My colleague once shared a story about managing that I will never forget. At the conclusion of her company’s performance management process, one of the new manager’s evaluations were the most thoughtful, honest and actionable she’d ever seen – despite it being his first time providing formal feedback. Unfortunately, it was also his last time. Upon realizing the effort required to manage people, the employee decided to relinquish his managing role and return to his passion as a software developer. 
I love this story because it highlights the importance of truly understanding people management. "Manager" is a responsibility – not just a fancy title – that requires a special set of skills and immense effort. And it's not for everybody: It should be okay for ambitious high performers to decline the management career path.
The many consequences of ineffective and uncommitted managers take a high toll on organization effectiveness. Far too often, top individual contributors transition into management roles for the wrong reasons and without knowing what the role truly entails. In a previous post, I shared some alarming data from the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Corporate Leadership Council research:
  • 57 percent of managers would have opted for non-management roles if there were an option.
  • 65 percent of managers would “opt-out” of their management roles today if given a chance to take another equally attractive role.
  • 31 percent of managers were neither committed nor effective at their management roles.
  • Only 19 percent (out of 9000 managers studied) were both committed and effective at managing.
In order to avoid the mediocre management syndrome, human resource professionals need to provide career path alternatives, help high performers consider alternatives and then carefully select qualified and committed managers. Below are three ways to cultivate the best managers for your company and determine the best paths for your employees:
1. Offer alternative career ladders
Commonly found in technology industries, dual career ladders allow those not well-suited or interested in management to advance their careers up a comparable professional ladder. “Distinguished engineer” might be the job-level equivalent of a senior manager or director, for example. And an engineering or scientific “fellow” may be the equivalent of a vice president.
2. Mentor aspiring managers
You can design a set of tools, programs and experiences to help top performers gain an understanding of the management path – and make an informed decision about whether it's right for them. At 2020 Talent Management, for example, we developed a one-day program to mentor aspiring managers in Bangalore, India. During the pilot program, two engineers approached me after lunch, having already decided management was not right for them. This was a true win-win – the engineers avoided accepting an ill-fitting job and the company avoided appointing disengaged managers.
The next time I delivered the program in Boston, I shared the Bangalore story with the group. By 11:00 a.m. that morning, one of the participants told me he did not have to wait until after lunch – he already understood management was not the best fit. 
3. Design a comprehensive selection process
Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of Gallup Inc., said, "The single biggest decision you make in your job – bigger than all the rest – is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision.”  
Establishing a formal process for selecting new managers is critical to the future success of your organization. While the hiring manager is ultimately responsible for any decision, the smartest hiring choices are made in consultation with others (i.e. HR, Leadership Development, current colleagues). When selecting new manager candidates, consider their skills and experiences, such as leadership on informal teams or projects, collaboration and ability to establish relationships beyond their immediate team, as well as their personal motivation and commitment to being a manager. Consider utilizing standardized tools that assess attributes that correlate with manager/leader success, such as Emotional Intelligence and Learning Agility.

If you offer a mentorship or self-selection management program as described above, did the candidate take advantage of it? You can also ask candidates to work through a manager-oriented case study, such as the HBR case studyIs the Rookie Ready.
Great leaders foster engaged teams that deliver great results. By carefully selecting and developing effective and committed managers, you can enhance your organization’s competitive advantage and ensure a sustainable future for your company.