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The SESCO Report – December 2013

Harassment — A Daily Concern for Employers

Given all of the awareness, training, lawsuits, penalties and fines you would think that an issue such as workplace harassment would be declining as a liability for employers and managers. However, harassment, namely sex harassment, is an issue that occurs in the workplace on daily basis. It's a human resource liability that is here to stay given our culture.

One of the more common workplace phenomenons that results in workplace harassment is workplace or office romances. A recent survey conducted by (which is an annual romance survey oddly enough) revealed:

• 39% (4 out of 10) of workers said that they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career
• 17% reported dating co-workers at least twice
• 29% (3 out of 10) of workers dated someone in management
• 16% admitted to dating a boss

The issue with dating within the workplace is that very few relationships end up "happily ever after" – re: married and with a continued productive working relationship. Most who date within the workplace "break up" affecting not only others in the workplace but potential family members or other relationships outside the workplace. Subsequently, relationships sour and many times end up in a harassment complaint.

As such, it behooves employers to consider no dating policies or a more popular trend of once a relationship is developed and confirmed, the organization would have the "couple" sign off on a dating agreement which:

• Confirms both parties have entered the relationship consensually;
• If the relationship affects the workplace negatively the employer will address the inappropriate behavior and take appropriate action; and
• That neither party will pursue a harassment complaint or lawsuit/EEOC charge should the relationship not workout.

Of course in these situations, managers as "agents" are held liable equally as the company or corporation. As such, managers and supervisors should avoid at all cost any type of dating or romantic relationship with any employee they manage or for that matter any employee within the organization.

As a reminder, all organizations are required to:

• Conduct annual training for managers and supervisors;
• Should provide training to employees not only on their rights but also responsibilities such as reporting any issue or complaint;
• Listen to and take all complaints seriously to include properly investigating; and
• Implement policy and open-door procedures.

SESCO's staff represents employers before the EEOC regarding harassment charges, conducts investigations on behalf of the employers and conducts annual training. Contact your SESCO consultant to ensure that you reduce the organization's liability by properly educating and investigating all manager and employee complaints.

4 Key Benefits of Using Pre-Hire Assessments in Your Organization

Assessments are valuable tools that provide insights into candidates for managers, especially when used in the pre-hiring process. Pre-hire assessments can determine how an individual will fit in a specific job, identify their thinking and reasoning styles, and highlight relevant behavioral traits.

Finding the right employee is very difficult, especially in the following industries: manufacturing, retail, healthcare, leisure and hospitality, automotive and professional services. With so many people applying for jobs who are either out of work, underemployed, or looking to switch employers, hiring managers have their work cut out for them to make the best hire possible.

When filling an open position (whether hiring someone new or promoting from within) you want to select the person who is the best fit for the job and team with the right skill set who can be effective and productive the fastest. To assist in that process, managers can use assessment results to:

• Match employees to work culture.
• Look beyond the resume.
• Place employees in appropriate jobs.
• Create "fact patterns" for people in similar positions for future hiring practices.

1. Cultural and behavioral fit
. Knowing your organization's work culture as well as that of your own department or team is an important aspect of making successful hires. If they strive for innovative ideas and productive employees, balancing among their employees is in managers' best interests. However, certain personalities and behavior styles will not be productive together.

Managers can use assessments to determine what unique traits new hires bring to the team, and where differences in individuals may cause conflict. A skillful prospect could be tempting, but if they won't gel with their co-workers, you risk a lack of cohesion (and thus wasted productivity) and possibly sabotaging the entire group. When hiring new employees it is important to choose someone who will easily mesh with existing team members. Pre-hire assessments can help managers hire the best fit for the group and the position.

2. Look beyond the resume. Research has shown that the majority of résumés are not as accurate as one would hope. The market is extremely competitive, and those in the job hunt are trying to find advantages wherever possible. Assessments can help hiring managers look beyond the résumé, and discover deeper traits of each interviewee. A shining résumé can often mask someone who is not an adequate fit for the job or the team. Assessments can uncover the person behind the résumé to give managers a clearer picture of each potential employee.

3. Match skills and behaviors to your open positions
. Managers have a tendency to hire people similar to themselves, or become enamored with a particular type of person. But this is not always the best option for the team. Using employee assessments can help managers determine who has the knowledge, skills, and natural inclinations for a position.

To put it another way, a baseball team doesn't need three (3) starting first basemen nor do most bands need more than one drummer. Objectively assess your needs and the skills necessary to perform the job, and hire for them. If you keep hiring the same type of person, you could end up with a team of first basemen who can't adequately fulfill the other roles on the team.

4. Establish patterns of success.
A final benefit of using pre-hire employee assessments is the ability to create "fact patterns" or "performance models." Assessments can be used to chart who has been successful in each position and identify common traits related to their success. Building a performance model involves using the results of previous top performers to create a model of where future applicants should fit if they are going to be successful at the job.
Specific positions require certain innate skills and behaviors. Performance models can make those attributes more obvious to hiring managers and help to set a standard for future employees seeking that job.

The available talent pool is extremely diverse. This is cause for businesses to reconstruct their hiring practices. Using advanced tools, such as pre-hire assessments, can easily distinguish who has a true aptitude for the open position, and who will fit with the team.

Assessments enhance the hiring process by adding quantitative data to a typically unquantifiable practice. Every hiring manager should strive to match prospective employees to the culture of the company, place them in appropriate positions, and use fact patterns to predict future success. Assessments are helpful in the pre-hire phase, and offer the opportunity to continually simplify hiring practices.

SESCO provides assessment tools specific to positions and industries. The following are several tools for use in various industries. Please call SESCO to access our tools.

Suggested assessment tools:
• DiSC Personality Profile
• Risk Assessment Profiler
• Employee Screening Questionnaire-2
• Microsoft Excel and Word
• Administrative and Clerical Questionnaire
• Office Skills Battery
• SkillCheck Accounting

OSHA Names Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal Year 2013

OSHA has released the top 10 most frequently cited standards for the time period extending from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013 (fiscal year 2013), based on federal OSHA worksite inspections. Fall protection is at the top of the list.

The federal agency publishes this list annually to alert employers to these commonly cited standards so that they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA arrives to inspect their worksites. The list is as follows:

(1) Sec. 1926.501 – Fall Protection;
(2) Sec. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication;
(3) Sec. 1926.451 – Scaffolding;
(4) Sec. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection;
(5) Sec. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods;
(6) Sec. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks;
(7) Sec. 1926.1053 – Ladders;
(8) Sec. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout;
(9) Sec. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements; and
(10) Sec. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding.

Should your organization need compliance/audit or other OSHA/safety and risk management services please contact SESCO at 423-764-4127.

Special Thanks to New SESCO Clients!

Missouri Alliance for Home Care
Jefferson City, MO

Sentry Equipment Erectors, Inc.
Forest, VA

Forest Family Care
Wytheville, VA

Apothecary Enterprises, Ltd.
Coeburn, VA

Atsumi Car Equipment (ACE)
Wytheville, VA

William M. Handy, MD
Abingdon, VA

SESCO Client Feedback

"We appreciate you taking the time to speak to our group. We've heard great feedback from attendees and all have requested future sessions! I will send the evaluation compilation once I have them complete.

We'll definitely be in touch regarding a future webinar and/or speaking opportunity at our next Annual Convention in Montreal, October 2014."

~ Kathy Ritsmon, Education Programs Manager
National Precast Concrete Association

SESCO Client Inquiry — Staff Response

Question: "One of our employees came to work with her lip pierced. Can we prohibit body-piercing jewelry in the workplace?"

Answer: Yes. Even in our litigious society, employers retain certain rights. One of them is to expect that employees will be dressed, will be groomed, and will behave in a manner appropriate for their jobs, their workplace, and the community in which they work. If an employee's personal appearance or hygiene is such that it causes offense to co-workers or customers, it is appropriate for an employer to address the problem. However, a company without a written dress code will have difficulty defending its position. A dress code policy should focus on the business reasons for the standards in place. It is generally considered more reasonable to require strict adherence to a dress code in situations where employees have regular customer contact or where safety or hygiene is of particular importance. An employer's dress code might prohibit body-piercing jewelry other than earrings. It might also state that visible tattoos are to be covered during working hours. Employers should be aware that it may be necessary to make exceptions to their dress code to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs.

Mery Christmas and Happy Holidays from the SESCO Staff

We at SESCO wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. May the warmth of your heart, the joy of your spirit, and the brightness of your mind enlighten those around you and change the world like the Christ child so many years ago. Happy Holidays!

SESCO Announces New Service

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