Human Resources Management Flash Points (Part 1)

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Human resources management consultant Sandy Seay speaks to an audience duing SEFA’s Southern DryCleaners & Launderers Show. (Photo: Bruce Beggs)

Bruce Beggs |

A checklist to help make sure your drycleaning business is up to date and in compliance with employment regulations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s vital that every business—including drycleaning operations—stay up to date and in compliance with federal and state employment regulations, and that they use “best practices” in terms of policies, procedures, manuals and documents to hire and retain good employees and motivate them to superior performance, according to Dr. Raleigh F. (Sandy) Seay Jr., chairman of Seay Management Consultants.

Seay’s Orlando, Fla., firm has maintained a 30-plus-year partnership with the South Eastern Fabricare Association, providing its members with free or discounted management consulting services.

There are many state and federal employment regulations that govern U.S. businesses. Wages and hours; equal job opportunities; maternity leave; and disability are just a few of the areas always under scrutiny, he says.

“America has more of those regulations than any other country in the world,” Seay says. “When it comes to those regulations, and the decisions that you have to make with your employees, what’s logical is not always what’s lawful.

“It’s possible, and even likely, I would say, to make a … decision that makes perfect business sense but it would be contrary to one of the regulations.”

Speaking during SEFA’s Southern DryCleaners & Launderers Show here late last month, Seay shared a checklist of 20 human resources “flash points” with which every employer should be aware. Here are Nos. 1 through 10:

YOUR EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK

This is your fundamental employment document, because it describes how well you’ll handle the work issues that arise with your employees. It should be comprehensive and detailed, Seay says: “[It’s] got everything in it that you need to have but nothing in it that’ll get you in trouble.”

Some of the policies it should include are:

  • Dress Code — Where once a business owner worried only about an employee coming to work “looking like they just got out of bed,” Seay says, today’s owner has be concerned about things like extreme hair color, potentially offensive tattoos, scents/aromas that bother other employees (such as overuse of body washes/perfumes/colognes) and body piercings, and have policies governing what is acceptable and what is not.

An attendee asked about having policies that differ by department: customer service representative vs. presser or spotter, for example.

“It’s always better to have the same policy for everybody, but if you can’t do that, you can certainly have a different policy for a different department, as long as everyone within that department is treated the same,” Seay says.

  • Cellphone/E-Mail/Internet Usage at Work — If an employee brings a smartphone to work and begins to use it for non-work-related matters such as personal calls, texts and/or e-mails, then that distracts from their productivity, Seay says.

“We need to have a policy which describes the circumstances under which a person can use a telephone like that at work,” he says. But in light of personal security and maintaining the ability to communicate with family members quickly, “I would not want to say, ‘Do not allow your employees to have cell phones at work.’ That would not be my first recommendation. I would say, “Let’s develop some guidelines.’”

It is appropriate to prohibit usage to before/after work, during break/meal periods, and in event of emergency, Seay says.

  • Social Relationships at Work — Seay strongly recommends that business owners have policies prohibiting supervisors from dating hourly employees. “A supervisor dating a rank-and-file employee is T.W.T.H. … trouble waiting to happen.”

SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICY

It’s wise to prohibit or restrict employees from accessing social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) during working time, and employers should be aware that some material that employees post using these sites may be “protected concerted activity,” even if it’s critical of management.

“My recommendation is … tell your supervisors and managers to stay off the personal Facebook accounts of your employees,” Seay says, adding, “It’s going to get us into trouble, and there’s nothing good to be gained by it.”

SEXUAL HARASSMENT AWARENESS TRAINING

Build a wall of protection around your company by having regular training every year to 18 months for your management team and your employees, Seay advises.

ANTI-BULLYING

Where “bullying” once was thought of only in the physical sense, the act has taken on more emotional and relational undertones with the popularity of the World Wide Web, Seay says. Develop a policy that clearly defines bullying of any kind as unacceptable, and make sure you have a way for employees to report abuses confidentially and anonymously.

DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE PROGRAM

Establishing such a program will assist you in resolving potential drug issues at work, and may lower your workers’ compensation premiums, according to Seay.

UPDATE YOUR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLAN

Covered employers (those who have 50 employees and federal government contracts of $50,000 or more) must complete an annual update of its Affirmative Action plan, Seay says.

REPORT SUBMISSIONS

You may want to highlight Sept. 30 on your calendar, as that is the date that certain businesses must submit their EEO-1 Report and VETS 100 reports; companies must do this if they have 100 employees, or if they have 50 employees and an Affirmative Action plan, Seay says.

NEW HIRE REPORTS

Make sure that you report your new hires regularly to your state’s employment agency database.

DETAILED JOB DESCRIPTIONS

It’s important to have detailed job descriptions for every job, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and generally accepted principles of human resources management, says Seay.

MANAGEMENT TRAINING

Consider conducting management training sessions on important subjects such how to counsel employees and dismiss them (when necessary), how to conduct performance appraisals, how to handle difficult employees, how to motivate employees to achieve superior performance, and ethics in the workplace.

Check back Wednesday for the conclusion!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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