If you've ever been an Human Resources practitioner, your office has probably been referred to as the "Principals Office", the dreaded place where wayward students go to receive their punishment. Often, this is because employees have associated this office and the HR position as with the place they go and the person they see to discuss disciplinary action. As leaders in your organization, it is important recognize that this practice can have detrimental effects on the effectiveness of your HR team.
Depending on the culture/process within your organization, you have likely heard something along the lines of "if you have any concerns, please bring them up with HR" and left it at that. Now put yourself in the shoes of the employee who has something to say, wants to report it, but fears that going to the HR department out of fear of being "on the radar" of HR. This can lead to under reporting and potential productivity issues if problems go unchecked.
HR should be used as a tool in the conversation with employees to establish your expectations, whether it be disciplinary in nature or not. You may want to include your HR rep if you are giving positive feedback, providing a coaching session with that employee, or reviewing their career development plan. Not only does this help keep the HR team informed of your conversations, it helps to reinforce that HR is their to support the employee.
As HR providers, we must also remember to be frequently checking in with employees and looking for these positive moments to provide our support and not necessarily waiting for our invite.
Employers must have "change fatigue" this year with Bill 17 (Fair and Family Friendly Workplaces Act) , Bill 30 (Act to Protect the Health & Well-being of Working Albertans) and now Marijuana becoming legal tomorrow October 17, 2018. All of these changes have required employers to revisit their policies and procedures and communicate with their employees.
It appears employers are not ready for legalization of marijuana according to Global News. The article suggests that employers are using the "head in the sand" technique hoping it won't effect them. We know that employers are so busy that they may not have time to amend their policies and get up to date with best practices regarding marijuana in the workplace.
A blanket statement of "zero tolerance" does not cover employees who may have a medical prescription. On the flip side employees who hold a prescription should provide their employer with this information. Common questions we have been asked are:
How do I handle dependance issues?
Can I test for marijuana in the workplace?
Can an employee smoke marijuana on his/her break now?
What should I do if I catch an employee in possession of marijuana?
How do I handle someone in a safety sensitive position?
These are all questions we have the answers to. Contact us for a consult or a comprehensive policy to cover all these topics.
Biases, that part of us that decides how we perceive things.
Every time you make a decision, your social background, personal and cultural values, and life experiences influence your reasoning. This is beneficial for helping you make day-to-day choices that align with your goals, but in HR it can lead to unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, which unfairly influences how we interact with employees. Everything from performance reviews, to recruiting, to layoff decisions, can be influence by these biases.
Type of Biases
Affinity bias refers to when you unconsciously prefer people who share qualities with you or someone you like. For example, if an applicant went to the same school as you or they share similar hobbies, you’re more likely to prefer them over other candidates.
We all unconsciously notice people’s appearances and associate it with their personality. Appearances are important, particularly in a workplace setting, as they reflect on professionalism and self-awareness. However, many of us judge others too harshly based on their physical attractiveness.
Other times, you may unconsciously dislike certain features in a person. Maybe you think they’re too short, that they have poor posture, or they don’t have an expressive face. These may stem from a subconscious, stereotypical view of what a successful or friendly person looks like.
Conformity bias happens when your views are swayed too much by those of other people. It occurs because we all seek acceptance from others – we want to hold opinions and views that our community accepts.
Confirmation bias refers to how people primarily search for bits of evidence that back up their opinions, rather than looking at the whole picture. It leads to selective observation, meaning you overlook other information and instead focus on things that fit your view. You may even reject new information that contradicts your initial evidence.
Gender bias is simply a preference for one gender over the other. It often stems from our deep-seated beliefs about gender roles and stereotypes.
The halo effect occurs when we focus on one particularly great feature about a person. You view everything about the person in a positive, ‘halo’ light, which makes you think they’re more perfect than they are. Similar to affinity and confirmation bias, this makes us overlook other information. It skews our opinion of other aspects, including negative ones.
The horns effect is the opposite of the halo effect: you focus on one particularly negative feature about a person, which clouds your view of their other qualities. For example, if a person uses a particular turn of phrase you dislike, you may suddenly dislike everything else they say.
The recency effect occurs when we make a decision or judgement based only on the most recent memory or interaction. For example, if a sales employee recently made a large sale, we may base our assessment of their performance on this sale as opposed to looking at the data from the past year.
How to Overcome Unconscious Bias
Recognizing these biases are the first step in overcoming them.
Use the following strategies to counter your unconscious biases:
Bill 17 (The Fair and Family Friendly Workplaces Act) brought in many changes for Alberta Employers. It is important that employers have implemented changes from the Bill as it came into effect in January 2018. Contact us if you need advice or assistance in implementing changes into your company.