Brinker Announcement Tomorrow 10am PST

After 3 years, the highly anticipated Brinker decision will be announced tomorrow.

http://calchamber.typepad.com/hrwatchdog/2012/04/brinker-is-coming-brinker-is-coming.html

Workplace Litigation Trends Report

This is the 7th year that Fulbright & Jaworski has surveyed senior corporate counsel regarding litigation.  I’m focusing on the responses that affect businesses – and selecting those answers.  The results are illuminating!

In which area is there the most litigation pending in the U.S.?

Contacts: 53%
Labor & Employment: 49%
Personal Injury: 27%
(participants could pick more than one type)

In which area has there been the greatest increase in multi-plaintiff cases whether they be class, collective action, or significant multiple plaintiff action?
Wage & Hour: 46%
Labor Union: 13%
Age: 11%
ERISA: 10%


[What types of cases] will see the greatest increase in 2011?
Discrimination: 39%
Wage & Hour:35%
Labor Union: 17%

ERISA: 5%

Quarterly Newsletter and a Sage Cartoonist

I hope you’ll checkout our HR & Management Newsletter by clicking here.

Also, I note with interest David Horsey’s editorial cartoon from July 21.  Mr. Horsey is a talented cartoonist who’s published through the Hearst Newspaper chain.  (You can see all his stuff here).  After I’ve been writing and speaking so much on this topic – that businesses are finding ways of doing more with fewer employers – a client saw this in the San Francisco Chronicle and gave it to me:

David Horsey – Hearst Newspapers

Workplace Violence: Suicides on the Rise

Recently, I was personally affected by suicide when a neighbor shot himself.  (Fortunately, we were on vacation).  So perhaps that’s why this article at MSNBC.com was so impactful.

Workplace suicides are surging since December 2008 – not only in China (which was well publicized) but in the United States as well.  The US number could be as high as a 75% increase in 2009 from the previous year.

Richard Shadick, director of Pace University’s Counseling Center, an adjunct professor of psychology and a suicide expert, notes some warning signs to watch for:

  • Persistent depression or sadness that lasts for long periods of time and impairs ability to function at work or in relationships.
  • Verbal altercations at work or home.
  • Excessive drinking. 

Workplace violence doesn’t go away.  And it’s clearly a concern for employers.  An article I wrote for this blog 2 1/2 years ago remains the 3rd most visited page in our history.

Pay attention to this – and make sure your employees are aware of warning signs and feel comfortable reporting those signs to management.

    Firing an "At-Will" Employee

    Gina Madsen is one of the really bright small business attorneys in Nevada.  She recently asked me to write an article on a ‘real-life’ situation – and I chose the concept of firing an at-will employee.

    Even though most states abide by at-will concepts (you can fire an employee at any time for any reason – other than a few exceptions), there are many compliance and management principles that should be followed.

    Here’s the blog on her great website – http://www.madsenlawoffice.com/

    The Art of Persuasion

    It’s always a little strange to see your thoughts in writing – especially if they’re being written by someone else.

    I was recently interviewed by students at the USC Marshall School of Business – they are candidates for Master’s degrees in Leadership and Management.  The focus of the interview was how to persuade employees to see your point of view.

    Here’s the paper (and I didn’t edit at all!)

    Background:  Eric Swenson has over 20 years of experience in management, sales, training and marketing. He has managed hundreds of employees and interviewed over 2,000 people in his career. RSJ/Swenson LLC is a management and human resources consulting firm with offices in California and Nevada.

    Interview Summary: Eric shared his insightful thoughts about the leadership and persuasion. For Eric, persuasion is a natural process and he prefers soft tactics. He is always honest to his superiors and subordinates. Eric believes that effective leaders are very expressive when they come to everybody. They are very candid and direct and these personal traits play a key role for persuasion process. According to Eric, the three most important aspects for managing up and down are communication, openness, and setting a positive tone that focuses on the end result.

    Persuasion Strategies:

    • Self Persuasion: “If you were in my position, how would you handle my problem?”
      • You should let team members identify the solutions on their own. You also remind them why they live in the same organization. This especially helps you deal with some conflicts with your members.
    • Logical reasoning: 
      • You use facts, figures, and belief that your idea is correct. You also consider the goals, needs, and interests of your subordinates/superiors you’re trying to persuade. The more they see an idea can help them, the more likely they are to help you.
    • Persuasion Tactics: 
      • Collaboration: You need to work with your subordinates, not at them, in order to get them to enthusiastically support your requests. You collaborate with team members, rather than using authority. You don’t need to overuse that power. The relationship based on the trust is a key for the collaboration.
      • Communication/Honesty: You should facilitate communication and be very honest to your people.
      • Improving Persuasive Skills: Appeal to the subject’s self-interest: You make it sure that what you need align with their best interests.
      • Present strong evidence to support your views/positions: You do intensive research and show the team members an idea that will likely work.
      • Establish credibility: You’re more likely to persuade your subordinates when trust and respect you. You promise to take the blame if it does not go well. This leads you to build up the trust and respect you’re your subordinates.
      • Make your objectives clear: You should get your team understand what you are doing and why are why you are doing that.

    Other key factors:
    Decision making is a collective effort: As a leader, you have to be honest to your team members. If you found you made a wrong decision, you would change the decision. There is nothing wrong with admitting a mistake.

    Managing Social Media in the Workplace

    The impact of social media in the workplace is growing.  Time is being wasted, employees are ‘friending’ each other and liability for these issues is a litigation attorney’s dream come true.

    RSJ/Swenson has prepared a special report on Managing Social Media in the Workplace, based on Eric Swenson’s recent presentation at the CalCPA Employment Practices Conference.  You can download the report here.

    And bosses & managers: Don’t “friend” your employees!

    Leading People In A Down Economy

    Yes, the economy is slow to recover and things are tough all over.

    But now the workforce cuts have largely been made and the question for business owners is – how do I do more with less?

    The following are two major trends I’ve noted in working with small businesses (generally less than 200 employees) in the western United States:

    EMPLOYEES HAVE TRANSFORMED THEIR MENTALITY…
    A few years ago, the typical employee had an ‘entitlement’ mentality – they felt their employer was lucky to have him or her. Unhappy employees could (and did) pick up and leave for a better opportunity at the first sign of disappointment. The typical attitude was not that of a team player – but as an individual who is owed a promotion, salary increases and more attention. This was nowhere more apparent than the “Generation Y” workforce.

    Now, things have changed completely on its axis. Everyone has worked with people and are friends with people who have lost their jobs with little hope for a similar compensation program in a future job. As a result, employees now feel privileged to have their job. Everyone knows that layoffs have been pervasive, and they could be the next to go. This will result – if managed properly – in employees who will complain less, work harder, and become more appreciative of the job they have.

    BUT THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY UNHAPPY…

    Employees are simply grateful to have a job right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy in their job. A survey from Adecco North America, released just this week, shows:

    • Two-thirds (66 percent) of American workers are not currently satisfied with their compensation.
    • 76 percent are not satisfied about future career growth opportunities at their company.
    • Almost half (48 percent) of workers are not satisfied with the relationship they have with their boss and 59 percent saying they are not satisfied with the level of support they receive from their colleagues.

    Workers are also critical of their organization’s brain trust, with 77 percent saying that they are not satisfied with the strategy and vision of their company and its leadership.

    We’ve noticed the number of complaints from workers are way down. People are still being harassed and discriminated against, but they’re afraid to complain because of fear of job loss.

    By the way, most large companies have laid off more employees than small companies; that’s because it’s easier to lay off workers at bigger businesses because employees at smaller companies typically perform multiple tasks.

    That means when the economy starts kicking into gear, and there are more job opportunities, those employees are going to either leave or file major complaints.

    WHAT TO DO?

    Lead. The number one thing that business owners and managers can do is actually lead. You’re a leader. You are on stage. You’re not allowed to show frustration or weakness. Leaders lead – they say “here is the way I believe we need to go,” and then go. This is the attitude you must take when managing change. Virtually any change breeds opportunity – the key is finding the opportunity and act on it.

    Communicate. It is imperative that frequent and clear communication lead the way to your success. There is fear in the marketplace. Employees are wondering if you’re going to cut staff, perquisites, and their free coffee. Employees are heavily invested in the success of the business, and they have a right to know what you’re doing. Even saying, “I don’t know” is preferable to not communicating. And it’s more than a memo or company-wide e-mail; managers and supervisors must be empowered to candidly talk with their staffs as well.

    Performance Management. If you’re maximizing the people you have, you won’t need so many people! You can get more done with fewer people by knowing what your people do best. Evaluate your talent. Carefully consider your need for every one of your employees. Most businesses are not maximizing each and every employee they have. There are techniques available to ensure talent maximization – so find and replicate your best performers.

    In 2009, the business owner and leader who has the ability to honestly evaluate talent, performance and make the decisions necessary to sustain the business not just in the short term, but for the long term, is the leader who will be highly successful both this year and beyond.

    Training New Managers

    Most managers get that role because they’re the hardest worker; the best salesperson; or the smartest person in the office.

    But those traits don’t translate into being an effective manager.  That’s where screening, development, and – most importantly – training – comes into play.

    A new article in HR Executive Online discusses how and why to get managers properly trained as well as establishing metrics for success.

    And yes, I’m quoted in the article.

    Thanks to Scott Westcott and HR Exec Online