Concerns With Fellow Employees At Work
Violence at Work
By: Abigail Taylor – Updated: 12 Jun 2019 | *Discuss
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) define work-related violence as 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.' This includes verbal abuse and threats, as well as any form of physical abuse.
Those most at risk are employees who work with members of the public. However it is important to remember that violence can also be perpetrated by fellow employees.
Duties of employers
Employers have a responsibility to their employees to make sure that they are reasonable safe at work.
Often when considering this duty, employers consider the need for work premises and any machinery to be safe. Whilst these are important considerations, employers must also consider the risk posed by other people employees will meet during the course of their employment.
Higher risk jobs (e.g. workers in care homes for adults suffering from mental illness) would be expected to have specifically assessed this risk and have specific policies and procedures in place to try to reduce the risk of and prevent violent incidents occurring. All employees should be trained on these procedures. If you have concerns, speak to your employer.
It is important that these procedures are reviewed regularly. Any accidents or near misses should be reported to your employer so that they can review whether any amendments are needed.
First steps following an incident
- If an incident occurs, promptly report it to your manager.
If they don't investigate the incident, make sure that you make notes of what happened, write down the names of any witnesses, and take photos of the area and any injuries
- If you wish to pursue the matter as a criminal offence, ask your employer to report it to the police.
If they don't do so, you can call the police yourself. (For non-emergency calls, contact the police on 101.)
- If you have concerns about the incident being repeated, discuss ways to prevent this with your manager
If any violence (from a member of the public, customer or colleague) is committed against you, consider whether it is a criminal offence. Forms of violence which constitute a criminal offence may include:
- Use of racially abusive language
- Threats to kill
- Physical violence (e.g. punching / kicking, especially if injury is caused)
You may want to consider a civil action against your employer in the form of an employment law claim or an injury claim:
1. Employment law claim
If an employer fails to prevent violence at work, and you have to leave your job as a result, this could constitute a breach of contract and may result in a constructive dismissal claim.
For example: Your employer knows that a fellow employee regularly threatens you and does not take action to prevent the abuse. You are unable to work in those conditions and quit your job.
This could be constructive dismissal and you could be entitled to compensation.
Seek advice from an employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you are considering making an employment claim.
2. Injury claim
If you are injured as a result of violence at work, you may be able to make an injury claim against your employer. Injuries may be physical (e.g. bruising / broken nose) or mental (e.g. a diagnosed psychological condition such as anxiety or PTSD).
Your employer is responsible for ensuring your reasonable safety at work.
If they have not taken appropriate action to do so, they may be found to have acted negligently and so be responsible for your injury. Employers are responsible for the actions of other employees, even if criminal.
Therefore if, for example, another employee assaults you at work, your employer will be liable to compensate you for any injury suffered as a result.
If you are considering this route, speak to an injury law specialist or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Work-place violence: Everybody's problem
As you will see from the above, violence at work is a serious issue for employers. Not only can work-place violence lead to injured employees requiring time off work, but employers may end up with civil claims against them.
Employees can be assured that the law is very much on their side in terms of ensuring their safety at work, which extends to protection from violence. If you have any concerns, speak to your employer and hopefully you can work together to prevent any incidents occurring.
However if any incident does occur and you are not happy with your employer's response to it, remember that you have several legal options open to you in order to resolve the situation.
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Disciplining an employee
This guide is UK law. It was last updated in June 2011.
All employers need to know how to discipline their employees fairly. Mishandling disciplinary issues gives rise to a huge number of employment tribunal claims every year including for breach of contract, unfair dismissal and discrimination.
This Guide sets out the basics of how to discipline fairly for misconduct, but employers should always be careful to comply with their own procedures if they have them.Employers should also follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (16-page, 57KB PDF) which Tribunals take into account when assessing the fairness of a dismissal.
Failure to do so could result in any compensation awarded in a subsequent claim brought by the employee being increased by up to 25%.
When can you discipline an employee?
An employer should follow a proper disciplinary process if it believes that an employee may be guilty of misconduct. As far as possible, the aim of the disciplinary procedure should be to improve conduct, rather than simply to punish wrongdoing.
Sometimes it will be clear that an allegation of misconduct is being made.
For example, if an employer believes an employee has been emailing trade secrets to a competitor, this is an allegation of misconduct and any action taken should be in line with proper disciplinary procedures.
If an employee is underperforming at work however, this should normally be treated as a capability issue and disciplinary action will rarely be appropriate. Instead, the employee should be taken through a capability process designed to improve performance.
Similarly, absence because of ill health is not a disciplinary offence, unless the employer has some evidence that the employee is malingering, and the employer should follow an absence management process, rather than disciplining an employee who has been absent from work. It is therefore essential to distinguish between capability issues which should be dealt with under a capability process and true disciplinary matters. Only allegations of misconduct should be dealt with by a disciplinary process.
What should you do before disciplining an employee?
Before any disciplinary hearing is convened, the employer should appoint an Investigator to investigate the allegations on the employer's behalf. The employer's disciplinary procedure may specify who this person should be, but wherever possible it should be someone relatively senior who will have an understanding of the issues.
The investigation should be conducted without unreasonable delay before memories fade and should ascertain the facts with a view to recommending whether there is a disciplinary case to answer.
The Investigator should speak to the employee concerned and to any witnesses and should review any documents (such as emails, notes, CCTV) which may be relevant to the allegations. Wherever possible any witness interviews should be conducted face to face.Statements should be taken and witnesses should be asked to sign and date them.
The Investigator should also explain to witnesses that they may be required to attend any disciplinary hearing. Once the Investigator has completed the investigation they should report on whether they consider there is a disciplinary case to answer. It may be that the matter can be dealt with informally or that no action is necessary.
How should you convene and hold the disciplinary hearing?
If the Investigator recommends that there is a disciplinary case to answer, a disciplinary hearing should be convened without unreasonable delay while giving the employee proper time to prepare.
The employer should appoint a senior employee to act as the Chairman of the hearing.
If at all possible, the Chairman should be someone who has not been involved with, or acquainted with, the facts of the case and in any event should not have acted as the Investigator.
The chairman should be and be seen to be as impartial as possible. The employer's own disciplinary procedure (if it has one) may specify the person who should chair such a disciplinary hearing.
The Chairman should then write to the employee convening the disciplinary hearing (within any time limits specified in any internal procedure) providing:
- full details of the allegations that have been made and why the conduct is not acceptable, what will be discussed at the hearing, including a clear indication that the hearing is a disciplinary hearing and that depending upon the outcome of the hearing, disciplinary action may follow;
- the date, time and place of the hearing;
- details of who will be present and what their function will be, including details of who the company will be calling as witnesses;
- confirmation that the employee is entitled to be accompanied at the hearing by a fellow worker or trade union official;
- confirmation that if the employee intends to have fellow employees as witnesses, they will be given reasonable time off work to attend the hearing;
- any relevant evidence, including witness statements from company employees; and
- an assurance that no conclusions have been reached or will be reached until the hearing has taken place.
The purpose of this letter is to ensure that the employee against whom the allegations have been made has a proper opportunity to put their side of the case and to respond fully to any allegations which are being made. This may require the attendance of the employer’s witnesses to answer questions from the employee, although in many cases it will be possible simply to use their statements.
In cases where a witness does not want to be identified and does not therefore want to attend the hearing to give evidence (such as if the matter is extremely sensitive or the witness fears for their safety), it may be possible to use anonymised witness statements. However, as this will limit the employee’s ability to question the evidence, employers should be wary of going down this route and should seek legal advice.
At the hearing, the Chairman should:
- explain the purpose of the hearing to the employee, identify those in attendance and their role and explain the allegations which are being made;
- ask the Investigator to state the case against the employee (including calling any witnesses and explaining any documents on which the company is relying);
- allow the employee and their companion to ask questions about the company's case;
- invite the employee to put their side of the story across, including by calling any witnesses they have and explaining any matters they want the Chairman to take into account by way of mitigation (for example an apology, or other circumstances of which the company was previously unaware); and
- ask the employee whether there is anything further they wish to say.
After he or she has heard all the evidence, the Chairman should consider his/her decision. If the Chairman has reached an honest belief in the employee's misconduct reasonable grounds, then disciplinary action may be justifiable.
It is important that the disciplinary action taken is proportionate to the misconduct which has occurred so before deciding whether to impose a disciplinary sanction and what sanction to impose (e.g.
first warning, final warning, dismissal), the Chairman should consider carefully all the background to the case, including what the employee did; the impact of their actions; any action previously taken in similar cases; and the employee's former disciplinary record.The ACAS Code recommends that employees should be given at least one chance to improve before a final written warning is given. Employers should only dismiss without giving prior disciplinary warnings for cases of serious misconduct.
The Chairman should also carefully consider whether any other action, such as training, might be more appropriate than disciplinary action.
Unless the employer's own procedure specifies otherwise, the Chairman does not have to give a decision at the hearing and he will normally adjourn to consider the decision.
In any event, the Chairman should write to the employee (within any specified time limits) to inform them of the decision which has been made.
If the Chairman has decided that disciplinary action is required, the letter should also give the employee details of the right to appeal against the decision. The employee should be told to whom such appeal should be directed and any relevant time limits.
What if the employee wants to appeal?
The employee should be given a right of appeal against any disciplinary decision. Indeed, appeals can be a very useful tool for employers who may have made mistakes in the early stages of a disciplinary process, to remedy any errors they have made.
Once the employer has received an appeal from an employee they should appoint a chairman to hear the appeal. The Appeal Chairman should, wherever possible, be someone who is senior to or at least as senior as the original Chairman and ideally they should not have been previously involved in the matter concerned.Unless any new evidence or circumstances have come to light since the original investigation, it will not normally be necessary to hold a fresh investigation. Rather, the Appeal Chairman should review the original Investigator's report and all the documents relating to the case.
He should then invite the employee to an appeal hearing without unreasonable delay to discuss the grounds of the appeal. Again, the Appeal Chairman should write to the employee specifying:
- the date, time and place of hearing;
- who will be present at the hearing and what their role will be; and
- that the employee has a right to be accompanied.
At the appeal hearing the Appeal Chairman should ask the employee to explain the grounds of the appeal and to introduce any new evidence that has come to light. The original decision-maker should be asked to comment and to explain the reasons for the original decision
Once the Appeal Chairman has decided whether or not to uphold the appeal, he should write to the employee giving his decision and specifying whether or not the employee has any further opportunity to appeal. If the company's internal procedures give employees this right those procedures should be followed.
13 Ways To Improve Communication At Work
Consider good communication to be the secret ingredient in a successful, performing team.
Communication plays a crucial role in building authentic relationships, generating ideas, and helping a team overcome challenges and face difficult conversations.
In this post, we share 13 actionable tips for you to improve the quality and quantity of communication on your team, starting today. But knowing that each employee is different, and that no team is the same, you might want to take a deeper dive into understanding your own team’s communication dynamic.
- Create A Communication-Friendly Space
- Keep Communication Constant
- Offer A Platform For Anonymous Feedback
- Hold Weekly Town Hall Meetings
- Ask For Your Employee’s Feedback
- Communicate Face To Face
- Master Your Body Language
- Don’t Over-Communicate
- Take Time To Listen
- Personalize Your Communications
- Be Authentic
- Incorporate Team Building Games
- Try The One Up, One Down Exercise
1. Create A Communication-Friendly Space
It’s your role as a manager to make sure that there is always a clear and constant flow of communication on your team. Speaking up about feelings or sharing ideas and initiatives should never be taboo. You need to encourage your team to express themselves by creating a communication-friendly environment.
Tips to create a communication-friendly office
- Set the example: Always be communicating. Say good morning to your team to raise spirits and get the conversation flowing from the moment the day begins. Ask questions, challenge ideas, communicate your feelings, etc.
- Encourage social interactions: Prompt and inspire employees to eat away from their desks during lunch hour so they have a chance to communicate with one another and build relationships with their colleagues.
- Keep your door open: If you claim to have an open-door policy, really, keep it open as often as possible. On a less literal level, the proverbial open-door policy can be imparted by just reminding your employees often that you’re there for them to talk whenever they need.
2. Keep Communication Constant
Instead of relying on annual reviews to communicate with your employees, schedule monthly one-on-ones so that you can keep up to date on where your employees are at, how they are feeling, and what they might need from you to best contribute to the team.
Schedule one hour every month to chat. You’d be surprised how much your employees have to say that they might not bring up if you didn’t initiate these slotted talking times.
3. Offer A Platform For Anonymous Feedback
This concept of anonymity in communication is crucial to consider in all work environments. Often, employees won’t share feedback with their managers because they are hesitant about making a complaint, or sharing their feelings openly. While we’re all for transparency and vulnerability, the anonymous feature facilitates the process of sharing feelings.
Having a tool Officevibe allows you to keep track of important issues in real-time, know how your team is feeling with honest feedback and enables you to solve problems before they become too big.
4. Hold Weekly Town Hall Meetings
In addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, it’s important to schedule the same sort of initiative but for the whole team, in an open forum.
At Officevibe we hold a Town Hall meeting once a week, where employees can ask questions and share concerns, and managers can fill employees in on new projects coming up, OKRs and goals.
Including everyone in these sorts of conversations is a great way to keep your team engaged.
They’ll feel a greater sense of belonging and feel part of something bigger, which will reflect in their performance.
Some employees may feel shy speaking up in a public forum, so try passing around some post-it notes and pens for people to send in their questions anonymously.
5. Ask For Your Employee’s Feedback
Communication should never be solely top-down, or only one way. Regardless of the means through which you are communicating, always solicit your employees to share their thoughts, offer feedback, and get involved in a discussion.
For example, in a review, ask your employees to communicate their feedback on your performance as a manager:
I’d love to know how you think I have been doing as your manager. Do you have any tips, suggestions or feedback you can share with me? I hope to improve as well, so your insight would be really appreciatedOr, if you are sending a company-wide email with some big news, at the end of the message, encourage everyone to communicate their thoughts.
After sharing this news, I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this big change. If you have any questions, concerns or insights, feel free to pass by my office anytime. I’d be happy to talk and hear your thoughts.
Our biggest breakthrough with our software was finding a way to allow managers to respond to the feedback that their employees send in, ensuring that communication is always a conversation, not just a one-way street or a dead end.
6. Communicate Face To Face
Using tools Slack and email are often the most efficient, however, it’s important to remember that face to face communication has a great amount of value in terms of sincerity and authenticity.
Part of communication is human interaction, so as much as you possibly can without disrupting workflow, try speaking instead of typing. It will resonate more.
7. Master Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication is also important for leaders to consider. Your body language has a huge impact on the people around you.
Try to communicate with a positive physical presence and ensure that your body language is open and approachable.
- Keep your arms uncrossed.
- Maintain an upright posture.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Put your devices away.
8. Don’t Over-Communicate
Ideally, there’s no such thing as too much communication, but too much of anything isn’t good.
After work hours, keep the number of emails you send to employees to a minimum. While your communication is ly very important, it can also most probably wait until the following day.
In a perfect world, people know to power down after work hours and stop checking their emails, but the truth is that most of us are so connected to our jobs and our devices that not checking seems unnatural.
If you promote a healthy work-life balance, help them make that possible.
9. Take Time To Listen
Listening to employees allows them to have more space to give honest and transparent feedback.
In this article by Forbes, they recommend empathetic listening:
Try to feel excited when the person you’re listening to is excited, or concern when the other person is concerned. Reflect the other person’s emotions not only verbally, but also with your facial expressions.
Tips to help you listen better:
- Be comfortable with silence
- Be present
- Take the time to repeat
Try to remain a little more silent when you’re talking with someone. These gaps give people time to reflect and think about what else they have in mind. You never know, they may end up sharing something they wouldn’t have.
It may seem obvious, but listening is also completely focusing on the interaction you have with the person. Try to not look at your phone or any other distractions.
Try to repeat what the other person said. Not only will they feel you were truly listening, but it also makes sure that you are both on the same page, and that there are no misunderstandings.
10. Personalize Your Communications
Knowing your audience means changing the way you communicate to fit the personality of the person you’re talking to. It goes deeper than just the way you express yourself. It’s also the way you listen, how you empathize, and how you can understand how they think. It’s also how you can build common ground and a real connection in your conversations.
Tips to your communication with your audience
- Have visuals
- Give room for some improvisation
- Have an example
Having visuals will always help your audience to understand what you’re saying. It also allows you to have a much clearer communication.
Try to ask questions to your audience that will make them think, and adjust your communication according to their answers. While you still know what you will talk about, give some room to improvisation to be able to adjust your conversation and make it a little more natural.
It’s definitely not easy to improve, but try to find someone in your entourage who you think embodies one of these aspects. It’s also something you need to practice continuously.
11. Be Authentic
This one goes without saying, but still, so many conversations and communications can sometimes feel rehearsed. In a great talk given by Sheryl Sandberg called The Importance Of Authentic Communication, she explains that to have more authentic conversations at work, it starts with the mindset.
She explains that in a conversation, you shouldn’t assume that what you are saying is the ultimate truth, don’t try to always convince the other person.
Simply say what you think, and allow the other to do the same. By not having a preconception or a belief, you allow the other person to express themselves freely.
“There is your truth, there is my truth, and everything is subjective.” – Sheryl Sandberg
12. Incorporate Team Building Games
Team building activities and icebreaker games are always good ways to encourage communication in a team.
Not only do the team members get to know each other beyond the context of work (don’t talk about work-related stuff), they also have fun and get to break the ice ;).
One activity that we really is sharing something completely unexpected about ourselves with the rest of the team.
Write it down on a piece of paper, throw it into a hat and everyone will try guess to whom the post-it belongs. We’ve learned some pretty interesting things about our colleagues!
13. Try The One Up, One Down Exercise
At the end of our meetings, we started using the “One Up
How to be a Good employee at Work: 25 Employee Qualities
How do you distinguish a bad employee from the good one? You must be thinking what kind of a stupid question is this, it’s simple
A good employee portrays qualities punctuality, dependability, a perfect team member and most importantly a very hard worker. The bad employees are just the opposite.
In the office, we all want to be a good employee and inspire others to be one, but there are certain personality skills of a good employee that you must possess in order to become a good employee.
Moreover, these days the methods of assessing a person’s success are changing. So, now more than how much you earn, people are looking into other good employee qualities to measure how successful you are in your career.
Money is important and it will follow you anyway, if you can become a good employee. When you are pro-active and take initiatives in completing some of the tasks that others deny, it will fetch you some brownie points in your appraisal, which in turn will earn you higher incentives.Most senior employees are seen complaining about the way juniors are working, they think that they lack a sense of responsibility and that is the reason deadlines are not met on a regular basis. Even when it comes to taking the onus on them, they back out and keep putting the blame on others.
So, you must be curious to know the personality traits and good work qualities of a good employee!
1. No risk, no gain:
The good employees are always ready to take chances. They love to take up the challenges irrespective of how hard things turn up to be.
The thought process of the best employee is somewhat if you do not take challenges, then how come you will know how much potential you have.
It might happen that they are unsuccessful but at least their courage is appreciated that when nobody was willing to take the job, they tried to accomplish the job.
In most cases, when they accept challenges, they end up being successful in their venture. Stagnant employees never think of taking the plunge, they are happy sitting in one corner and clapping for their fellow colleagues.
2. Possesses leadership position:
There will be traits of potential leader in them and in the absence of manager, will be able to handle the team efficiently.
Self-confidence, ability to decide on his own and managing the team members without showing off the power are some of the leadership and good qualities of an employee.
We all can name hundreds of negative and positive things about others, but when it comes to point out some of our own personality traits, then we all are dumbstruck mostly.
Here is where the good and productive employees differs from the rest, they know where they need to improve and in case they are not able to figure out correctly, they don’t hesitate in seeking the help of their co-workers or the manager at all.
4. Flexibility is the key:
Good employee will display the immense amount of flexibility and would be ready to accept any kind of job that is offered to him.
He carries a positive attitude and is eager to provide his best to the work that is on his hand. A good employee is never afraid of taking on new responsibilities.
5. Knows his job well:
When the employee is allocated a job, then the manager expects him to work on his own without asking hundreds of questions at every step.
The manager has his own work to handle, therefore, if the individual keeps on asking him the question, then it is of no use to delegate the job to him, instead the manager would have completed all the work by himself.
In this case, a good employee will take the job and will complete it without asking too many questions.
6. Is fun to work with:
As a good employee, you are the role model of almost everybody out there on the floor, so your behavior and action must be that way only.
Others must enjoy your company and must look forward to work with you.
7. Self – motivated:
In order to grow at workplace the good employee makes it a point to motivate themselves to learn more about the job.
Keep up themselves with the latest updates about the work and gives complete dedication to their job. They don’t look up to someone else to motivate instead the work they do acts as an inspiration.
8. Manages the boss:
He knows the nerve of his boss very well. He knows whether his boss s more of verbal communication or relies more on the mail.
Depending on the orientation of his boss, he communicates the necessity to his boss. He knows better on when and how to break the bad news to him.Make arrangements of the meeting as per his preference and also make the boss to make him accept the unprecedented in a good way.
By doing so, he soon becomes one of the trusted employees of his manager and gaining the advantage in his team with sheer hard work and presence of mind.
9. Organized completely:
As a good employee, you are expected to know your role and the responsibilities you will have to share.
So, after the completion of those, the good employee will be proactively helping their managers with their share of work as it will help him gain knowledge of the responsibilities that a manager has.
10. Knowledgeable about the goal:
The quality of a good employee is that he works with the future goals in mind. He works towards achieving the goal of the project on a broader aspect.
11. Focusing on details:
There is always something that generally employees overlook, but if you have a good employee in your team, you will see how he takes care of everything to make the project successful.
In order to be the best and have that creative edge over others, the good employees strives hard and spends time in doing things which the others don’t pay heed to.
12. Get your work done:
If you are a good employee, then you must have enough support to make things done with support from others.
When required, others will help you in completing your task just because you have also helped them in the time of their need.
13. Positive energy:
Good employees always have positive aura all around them and you will enjoy working along with them.
They are always ready to provide their useful suggestions in getting things done and at times they hide away from limelight and do their work quietly.
No matter how they are doing it, but the important thing is that they are getting it done successfully.
14. Love what they do:
If you are not doing things that you love, then there is no way you can give your best to the job.
Therefore, this is one trait that differentiates a good employee from others. You have to love your job completely in order to be the best in it otherwise you won’t be able to perform better.
15. Patient in nature:
Doesn’t get hyper if something goes wrong, instead keeps his cool during the period and solves the problem without creating a fuss.
The good employee will never repeat his mistakes and will not go on back foot just to escape the situation. He would rather go all his way to solve the issue.
16. Managerial attitude:
No matter which rank you hold, you must have managerial attitude and qualities all throughout, if you really want to reach that stage at some point of time in your professional career.
In order to prove the managerial skills of yours, you can manage the expectations of your colleagues, including your boss and others in the department and try to accomplish the work provided to you within the stipulated time frame.
If you want to stand out as a good employee, then it is important that you take interest in making progress report even when you are not asked to without hampering your work responsibilities.
17. Time management:
In order to be good at what you do, you really need to manage your time very well by prioritizing the work you have on your hand.
You must not postpone any work that involves more than one department in it because that means due to your fault, all other departments will also suffer.
It is not only about managing your time well, instead you must be able to manage the time of your boss effectively too.
18. Open to discussions:
When you are sitting in a closed place, it doesn’t mean that you will close your mind too, instead if you keep your mind open to interesting conversation, then it will make the workplace environment even better.
19. Know what’s going on:
They are completely aware of the latest trends and enjoy sharing the details with others too.
It is not only about the local trends; instead they keep a tap on what is going on in the world as well. In order to make things happen a little bit of research is required over the weekends.
20. Stands by the co-workers:
They will not only look at what is best for them, but will also stand by others, raise concern, communicate the benefits and also help you take leaves when required.
21. Have an answer for everything:
When you will go up to them for a solution, then they will have just the perfect answer for your query.
They would provide you with a solution right there on the spot and this happen because they are completely aware of the pros and cons of the job being a master in it.
22. Honesty is the best virtue:
Lie won’t take you anywhere, instead it will harm your reputation a big time.
Therefore, if you are trying to get into the shoes of a good employee, then it is important that you be an honest speaker and try to keep the managers and the customers happy with your true words only.
23. Good Personality:
A good employee always fits with the team allocated to him without any chaos or problems. His personality would be very pleasing and will be welcomed and loved by most.
It doesn’t mean that whether he is good looking or not, instead, he must be presentable in front of the client.
He is representing your organization; therefore he must be good in communication and must have enough knowledge of the job, so that he can impress the client and bring in more business.
You will never see a good employee boasting about how good they are at their work, instead, they will be down to earth and modest about their body of work.
What you can and can’t do when employees discuss wages
Can your employees discuss their salaries or wages with their co-workers? Yes. Even if you have a company policy against it? Yes.
In fact, having a policy against it could get you in hot water with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because such policies generally violate federal labor law.
The National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to discuss conditions of employment, such as safety and pay even if you’re a non-union employer. The NLRB calls these discussions “protected concerted activity” and defines them as when employees “take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.”
For example, the NLRB issued a complaint against a diaper supply company in St. Louis that fired a worker after she discussed wages with another employee. The employer had a handbook policy against discussing wages, but it was found to be unlawful by the NLRB. As a result, the employee was given back pay and offered reinstatement, and the employer changed its handbook.
This case illustrates a common misconception — that employers can forbid employees from discussing their salaries.
Repercussions from these kinds of conversations can ripple throughout the entire company. The more you know about what you can and can’t do, the better you can protect yourself and your company.
What employers can’t do
You cannot forbid employees – either verbally or in written policy – from discussing salaries or other job conditions among themselves.
Discussing salaries is protected regardless of whether employees are talking to each other in person or through social media.
What employers can do
Of course, discussing salaries can be problematic. Conversations can evoke feelings of jealousy and inequity among co-workers who most ly are unaware of the reasons for salary differences, including education, experience and training. Suspicion, distrust and other negative emotions often result from salary discussions and seriously affect company morale.
The best way to head off those problems is to foster a positive working relationship with your employees. Consider instituting strategies these:
- Pay people fairly in the first place: Review your own records and make sure your salaries are competitive in the marketplace.
- Encourage a workplace where employees are comfortable approaching management or HR personnel with questions or observations about salaries or working conditions.
- Help employees understand their salary ranges and job potential, and inform them how additional skills, training or certifications could possibly affect their growth within your company.
- Provide resources and training for management so they are aware of labor rulings and know how to respond to employees’ questions and requests.
- Put together a complaint resolution procedure for your company that allows employees to be heard.
- Conduct internal surveys that monitor your company’s general climate, employee engagement and compensation perceptions.
Have a compensation strategy
To help give a framework to your employee compensation, your company should detail how pay decisions are made. Having a system of checks and balances can help keep wages in line with your company policies, job descriptions and industry standards.
If you discover there are employees with salary rates disproportionate with your policy or the market, it could be seen by employees as unfair.
Sometimes positions have a significant strategic importance and the pay rate can be defended as acceptable. However, these inconsistencies should be documented as part of a pay structure analysis.
It’s easier to defend a claim of unequal pay if you have objective criteria for how you base your pay decisions.
You may want to hire a third-party vendor to conduct a salary survey, which analyzes data a job description, experience, education and geography. It will give you similar jobs in the market and the pay scale – a place to start when determining what you’ll pay your employees. Repeat the salary surveys periodically to check that your wages are still in line with industry standards.
When determining compensation, there are a number of variables to consider. It can be many things:
Pay equity is a hot topic and is driving some companies to be more transparent in their compensation, from posting pay ranges (minimum to maximum) to indicating pay grades (without discussing exact figures) for jobs. Being transparent can help remove mystery regarding wage decisions and improve employee trust in management and morale.
Guidance for hiring managers
Once you determine how and what you’re going to pay employees for specific work, that information should be documented and used by hiring managers.
While you want to empower them to weigh in on salary decisions, those decisions can’t be made in a bubble. There should be a layer of approval.If the salary will deviate from your policy, document the reasons for the exception, and have someone up the chain review and sign off on it.
Some states and cities across the country have laws in place that prohibit asking a job candidate about salary history. The thought is that your company should pay workers your formal compensation strategy, not their pay history. By relying on your company’s pay rates as the guide, it creates a more equitable pay structure.
How your HR staff can help
When an employee brings up the question of pay, consider bringing in your HR staff, which should be equipped to ask more questions and find out what an employee’s actual concerns are. It could be something other than just a matter of pay rate.
It could be a personal problem: For example, an employee’s spouse has lost a job and they’re in a bind and need more money.
It could be a matter of an employee hearing that others are getting paid more, and the issue of gender inequality could enter the discussion.
Having human resources involved sends a message to the employee that their concerns are taken seriously, and takes into consideration that additional employee assistance and support may be needed.
If you’re most companies, your employees are the backbone of your organization. Mutual trust and the feeling of being valued can go a long way in heading off problems before they escalate. With the guidance of your HR representatives and management, you should be able to handle whatever issue comes along.
How can you get the scoop on employment laws that apply to your business? Download our free e-book, Employment law: Are you putting your business at risk?