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  • Small Business Briefcase: HR Policies - Dealing With The Tough Stuff

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    Expert answers to human resource issues
    HR issues can be complex and ever-changing, prompting plenty of questions on a wide variety of topics. We asked for answers to just a few from a local who’s in the know, Sharleen Smith, the Director of Troy University Continuing Education and Outreach.
    What does it mean to “onboard” an employee, and are there key actions that I should take both legally and professionally?
    Onboarding is the process of bringing on a new employee and preparing them for employment. This includes specific new hire paperwork, including but not limited to forms for immigration, insurance, citizenship, tax and payroll that must be attended to. However, onboarding means more than paperwork. Onboarding done well helps you set the stage for a positive first impression. Here are some recommendations for the first few days. 
    • Spend time acquainting the employee with his/her job responsibilities.
    • Introduce the new employee to others in the office.
    • Walk the new employee around the building(s) to include copy and supply room, human resource office, supervisor or director’s office and more.
    • Review the employee handbook with the employee. Remember to allow them to ask questions and have them sign a form stating policies and procedures were reviewed.
    I have less than 50 employees, so we are not bound by the Family Leave Act, but I don’t want to lose a great employee because she wants to take time to be with her baby after the birth. What are some options?
    If an employer is not under the purview of FMLA, they should have some type of maternity leave. It may include time before or after the birth. Of course, an employee can be allowed to take unpaid leave or even a combination of paid and unpaid leave. Please note two important aspects of this answer:
    • Whether you create a maternity policy or not, all women who are pregnant must be treated similarly, and any policy must be administered consistently.
    • Allowing an employee to have more generous maternity leave could give your company a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees. 
    It has come to my attention that an employee who was recently disciplined (written reprimand) has posted a less than favorable comment on social media regarding my company. Should I:
    1. Hold a discussion with the employee immediately.
    2. Leave the situation alone because the comment is on the employee’s personal social media.
    3. Check to see if my company has a policy or procedure covering social media comments.
    4. Seek a copy of the post.
    5. Come to the Small Business Briefcase Live panel discussion on January 21, 2020 to find out the best practices for this situation.

    Want More Expert Advice?
    Learn more about all of these topics and others – like “me too” matters and interviewing do’s and don’t’s – at the first Small Business Briefcase Live event on January 21, 2020. This event, and others throughout 2020, will feature a panel of local experts who’ll be sharing tips and best practices for common issues faced by small businesses.
    Sharleen Smith is the Director of Continuing Education and Outreach at Troy University. She has more than 30 years of experience. Her training includes more than 250 topics, and she has presented to more than 300,000 people at 15,000 conferences, workshops and seminars.
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