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Know the Law: Three New Year's Resolutions for Employers (January 2019)

Written by: Jacqueline A. Botchman

Published in the Union Leader (1/14/2019)

Q: My company’s goal for 2019 is to ensure that we are cultivating a positive and productive environment for our workplace. Having never really been systematic in our approach, what are the top things we can focus on?

A: Good for you (and your employees) for making this a new year priority. Updating policies, training employees, and evaluating employee engagement should go a long way toward meeting your goal.

Review company policies.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your company policies and make sure mandatory posters are up.

Take out your employee handbook and confirm your policies still accurately reflect the law.

Employment law is always fluctuating.

For example, there have been some changes in the areas of wages and hours, discrimination and privacy. Each company has its own unique culture.

Your policies and systems should be tailored to fit your company and to meet the needs of your business. Consider having an attorney assist in the review process.

Implement workplace training programs.

Make a commitment in 2019 to conduct ongoing workplace training. This preventive or risk management tool is a good way for your company to have a legally compliant and productive workplace. With the #METOO movement, you should consider a renewal training for employees and management on anti-harassment and nondiscrimination, but don’t forget about workplace safety, effectively protecting company assets, and diversity training. Companies with consistent training show best results.

Evaluate employee engagement.

Engaged employees stay with their employers and are highly productive because of their level of enthusiasm and connection to the company, so having a pulse on employee engagement is vital to your success. Administering an employee engagement survey is the first step to giving employees a “voice” in the employment relationship. The survey should explore the goals, attitudes, habits and values of your employees. It will help uncover how an employee defines a positive work environment and what employees expect or need to stay motivated.

Through surveys, many companies have learned that employees value flexible work schedules and generous leave policies. Armed with this knowledge, decision makers can take a hard look at what they can do to beef up those benefit areas. Naturally, not every request can be granted, but bridging the gap between what your employees want and need from you as their employer and what you are actually willing to give your employees in return will help.

Like any resolution, remember that it’s following through on your plan that matters most.

Jacqueline Botchman can be reached at [email protected].

Know the Law is a biweekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association, which invites questions about business law. Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to: McLane Middleton, 900 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to [email protected]. Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.

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