Affinity HR Questions & Answers


This is the time when we get snowstorms. We have a new office network which enables access to the network remotely. Some of our Customer Service Representatives live far away. Can we let them work from home on an ad-hoc basis?

Customer

Question: In the northern States, this is the time when we get snowstorms. We have a new office network which enables access to the network remotely. Some of our Customer Service Representatives live far away. There’s nothing about it in our handbook – can we let them work from home on an ad-hoc basis?

Answer: Sure, flexible work arrangements are increasingly prevalent and can help minimize the office disruption that can occur with inclement weather occurrences. A couple of things to keep in mind, though – first, always require approval for ad-hoc work changes. You will need to decide if this new flexibility is a right or a benefit. If the latter, it should require approval and be well managed. Second, hourly, non-exempt employees (which is how most Customer Services Representatives should be classified) will need to be paid for all time worked – even after hours. Be sure to arrange in advance how you will track each CSR’s hours when working from home. Finally, you should take the time now to establish what your work from home policy is so that you are not inconsistent in your approach or management going forward.

We have a valued and cherished employee who has suddenly developed a serious medical condition. We are a small company with 17 employees. We would like to extend time off with pay to her, but it’s not our standard policy. Can we do this for her?

Customer

Question: We have a valued and cherished employee who has suddenly developed a serious medical condition. We are a small company with 17 employees. We would like to extend time off with pay to her, but it’s not our standard policy to do so. Can we do this for her?

Answer: As a business owner, you can certainly do as you wish, and she would benefit from the consideration you are giving her. One word of caution: in granting her this benefit, you are setting a precedent. Should other employees face a similar situation, would you treat them similarly? Treating one “special” employee uniquely does leave you open to potential claims of preferential treatment and discrimination going forward. Just be sure to consider the precedent you are setting when making accommodations for your “special” employees.

We want to maintain a safe workplace, free from discrimination and harassment and free from violence. Do you have any recommendations on where to get that training?

Customer

Question: We want to maintain a safe workplace, free from discrimination and harassment and free from violence. Do you have any recommendations on where to get that training?

Answer: Of course, we at Affinity HR Group are happy to provide assistance with any training that you may need! Other excellent sources of training materials include your local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the national SHRM (www.SHRM.org). They can often recommend in-person training and online options as well. Also, for harassment and anti-discrimination training, your local attorney can often provide such training. Finally, for workplace violence and safety training, we recommend contacting your local police department to see what type of business partnerships they can provide. They can often visit onsite to provide ideas on how to create a safe and violence-free workplace.

I am new at my company. I have learned that our interview process is very lose – there is very little structure to what we ask and how we ask it. Do you have any recommendations?

Customer

Question: I am new at my company. I have learned that our interview process is very lose – there is very little structure to what we ask and how we ask it. Do you have any recommendations?

Answer: Yes! The interview is a critical piece of the recruiting process and, if handled correctly, it can be effective. If not, it can be worthless or, worse yet, illegal. Here’s what we recommend:

       1) Know in advance who will be on the interview team and what questions will be asked.

       2) Use a panel interview where multiple people are interviewing the candidate at the same time.

       3) Ask the same or similar questions of all candidates.

       4) Stick to the script – try not to get off track or be influenced by non-work related questions or conversations.

       5) Most importantly, avoid prohibited interview questions. You can find a list of them here.