This is Not Working— I Cannot Sleep, Let Alone Eat or Work!
A client called the other day seeking counsel on an employee relations matter. The client hired a new employee who had been tested and shown to have a real aptitude for the line of work that the client had the employee performing. Unfortunately, the employee had worked for the firm for almost 5 months, but had not yet become a profitable employee–i.e., the employee was generating more revenue than the employees compensation package.
Our client held a employee progress counselling session with the new employee, identified what steps the firm expected and what the employee was supposed to be doing. The employee acknowledged understanding and indicated that employee performance would meet company expectations. Unfortunately, the employee failed to meet corporate expectations, even after more encouragement and performance counselling.
Our first question that was asked regarded the development of a job description for the task of the employee. No such job description was available. The second question asked was the availability of an employee procedures manual, commonly known as an employee handbook. Unfortunately, the client did not have an employee handbook either.
In today’s employment environment, a job description and employee handbook are paramount even if you have one employee and he/she is a family member. OK, you say, we don’t need that stuff for a family member. Well, I am going to say that you do, however, I’ll pass on one employee, however, you definitely need both job descriptions and employee handbooks if you have more than 1 employee.
In the state where this client is located, state law allows for employee termination within the first 6 months of employment if there is no job description or employee handbook. Fortunately for our client, the employee was beginning month 5. Interestingly, the employee figured out that the corporate expectations were more than the employee could perform and submitted his resignation in lieu of termination.
Our client stated that we would have an engagement to help develop an employee handbook and job descriptions for all corporate staff. I told our client that this experience turned into a very good teaching lesson. The client agreed, however, was not enthused to have to go through this, even once.
Making hard human resource decisions is difficult for many individuals, especially if you have a friend or family relationship with the employee. However, employee’s must be profit centers, not cost centers. Careful, strategic planning coupled with a clear set of expectations for each employee will negate many human resource problems.
Job descriptions and employee handbooks are tantamount to better human resource management. Even if your firm only has one employee, the time to develop and write job descriptions and employee handbooks is time well spent.