The Importance of Employee Reviews

Having employees assumes the daunting task of employee reviews. Some employers dread giving their employees reviews. But employee reviews are not entirely a bad thing. It’s a time to assess performance goals, address problems, and set your employees up for success in the future.

Giving employees quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews can benefit not only the employee, but your company as a whole. “Employee reviews are a process that should happen all year long,” says Paul Falcone, author of 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews. “How much do you value me as an employee if out of the 2,080 hours I work, and—Lord knows it’s more than that—you only give me one review? It’s just not enough.”

This performance review should be a mutual sharing of perceptions regarding the employee’s accomplishments as well as areas that can be improved upon. The employer should provide the employee with a copy of the review form ahead of time to enable them to read it and reflect on it. Have the employee complete the form prior to the review to determine where the employee sees their productivity and success in the company. Encourage them to emphasize areas both in which they did well and areas in which they need further growth and development.

Some may view reviews as a time when the employer informs the employee of everything that they are doing wrong. Quite the contrary. This can be a time where the employer informs the employee of everything that they are doing right. It can be a time of praise for all of the hard work and effort that the employee has put forth in the company. It can also be a time to let the employee know where they need room for improvement. Constructive criticism, if done correctly can be a positive influence on anyone. This can be a time to make the employee aware of the things that they may have not known that they needed improvement on. Having this conversation and the positive feedback will better the overall productivity of the employee, and thus have a greater effect on the company. Both the employer and employee must agree on future goals that will lead to their success, along with setting milestones during the coming year to measure accomplishments.

Having documented employee reviews can also be a benefit to the company in the instance where they need to terminate the employee. Having documented proof that the employer discussed where the employee was lacking in performance and needed to make improvements will be essential if the employee decides to challenge the termination. The employer can refer back to these documents as justification for the termination of the employee.



How to Cope with Jealousy in the Workplace

Jealousy in the workplace is all too common. Receiving acknowledgements or promotions in the workplace is a joyous occasion, there are others in the workplace that may not take to kindly to the advancement of others. The green eyed monster can rear its ugly head in the form of office gossip, rude or unwarranted negative comments and attempts to sabotage a person’s career.  If the problem persists, it can lead to conflicts in the workplace, professional reprimands and termination.

There are ways to cope with jealousy in the work place.

Causes of Jealousy

Jealousy is the feeling of resentment toward another person due to the person’s rivalry, success or advantages. It is also driven by fear and insecurity. Jealousy occurs in the workplace due to the emotions of people who think that “it should have been them” vs the other person, feeling as though the person did not deserve the promotion or feeling as though they were not afforded the same opportunities to prove themselves in order to receive the promotion or acknowledgement. There are many reasons for jealousy to manifest itself in the workplace; competing for scarce resources or limited budgets, and lobbying for prestigious assignments or appointments, are common situations that can cause jealousy in the workplace.

Ways to Manage Workplace Jealousy

Although you want to fit in at work and not seem like an outcast, staying to yourself is not a bad idea. Clichés at work can cause unwanted tension, stress and unprofessionalism in the workplace. You can avoid this by:

  • Not engaging in office gossip
  • Maintaining a professional attitude
  • Maintain productivity
  • Accept others and their flaws, as they are human
  • Consult with Management or HR if necessary
  • Set aside your negative feelings about the jealousy
  • Prove that you were the right candidate for the promotion

Leaving a job due to tension in the workplace is not always the right move. After all, there will be jealousy in any workplace regardless of where you are. Do not allow the negative feelings of others to stop or delay your career or success with an organization. Keep in mind that you earned that promotion and the company saw something in you that could assist the company in moving to the next level. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments and do not allow your career to be jeopardized due to the jealousy of others.

Managing Jealousy in the Workplace

It is important for management to understand that jealousy in the workplace is alive and well and extremely common. Although Managers cannot totally alleviate the feelings of others and their jealousy, there are ways to manage it before it gets out of control. When considering a candidate for a promotion or other acknowledgement of their success and contribution to the company, make sure that it is well deserved. Nothing causes tension worse in a workplace then promoting someone that truly did not earn it. To ensure that you are being fair with your selection, it is important to be able to prove or document the contributions, savings, obstacles that the person has conquered, successful implementations, etc. This will eliminate any speculation of unfairness in the workplace.

Communication is also very important in the workplace. Making objectives, standards, roles and requirements is very important. This will provide all employees with the opportunity to prove themselves and allow their work to speak for them. Once the promotion has occurred and an employee still feels jilted from the selection, this is the opportunity for mentoring, training and development to occur. Have a one on one with the employee to go over their accomplishments or lack thereof with the company and set out a game plan for improvement to enable them to be a viable candidate for the next promotion. Provide them with the tools that are needed to ensure that they reach the next level. Set the employees up for success within the organization. This will not only benefit the company, but it will ultimately allow the employee to work more diligently and make them feel good about themselves that they are contributing something toward the company.


Your Employees Are Your Biggest Asset….Yeah Right!!!

Having a successful business often times depends on having the right individuals in place to help a business grow. Employees are often thought of as being the backbone or foundation of a business. Employees are the biggest asset that an employer can have…..Yeah Right!

Having the RIGHT employees in place is a company’s biggest asset. Just the mere fact of having employees does not make them an asset. There are good employees, bad employees, and the employees that are there just to collect a paycheck. If an employee is not vested and believe in the overall culture and vision of the company, are they really being an asset? An asset is defined as a useful or valuable thing, person or quality. The right employee that is an asset will bring added value to your organization. Their contributions will ensure the success and grow of the company.

Calculating the value of our employees is difficult because they are not like any other asset; they are simultaneously the greatest potential asset and the greatest potential liability that an organization has at any given time. The type of employee that you have in place can literally make or break your company. Having the wrong employee can potentially cost a company thousands of dollars in potential lawsuits, loss of business, lack of production and the cost associated with terminating and replacing that employee.

The right employees choose to join your company, stay with your company, grow with your company, and the most important factor of all is, contributing to the success and overall growth of your company. Company leaders should make the company brand personal to employees, engage and motivate them to cultivate it each day, then your company will be able to bring to life the achievable goal of making the right employees their greatest asset. The right employees not only have to have the necessary skills and qualifications that is required to do the job, they must also whole heartedly believe in the goals and visions of the company. They have to be willing to live by and uphold the visions of the company.

Great employees are rarely satisfied with the way that things are and is constantly looking for ways to make improvements. They may rework a timeline, adjust a process, tweak a workflow or make process improvements. Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to, but because they want to be a part of the overall success and growth of the company. Being able major player in the success of a company not only puts an employee in a great position for growth or promotions within that company, they can also add it as an accomplishment on their resume.

Rewarding and recognizing exemplary employees who are assets to a company shows that the company acknowledges and is appreciative of all of the hard work and effort that they have put into the company. This can be rewarded with bonuses, trips, awards or company wide acknowledgement of a job well done.

How to Resolve Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is something that occurs in almost every business institution. Even though people may not be able to avoid it, there are ways to cope with it and resolve the conflict. Conflict occurs because individuals can be envious, lack proper communication skills, are suffering from anxiety or conflict in their personal life or any number of reasons. It is important to know how to deal with workplace conflict. If two people find out that they cannot resolve the issues themselves, they should involve management or human.

Sometimes having someone involved who is not party to the conflict is a good way to get an unbiased opinion of someone that can really help. Be sure that the person is management or trustworthy to minimize the amount of gossip throughout the office. Listed below are a few ways to deal with conflict in the workplace. Both parties should be sure to keep an open mind when trying to resolve their issues.

1.  Determine the root cause of the conflict- The real issue of the conflict may not be what the argument is really about. Through discussion, make sure that both people know exactly what the conflict is about. People often times take things the wrong way or out of context, they may even exacerbate an issue that really is not there. Taking the time to be honest and discuss exactly why the conflict exist can be extremely beneficial. It may just all be a misunderstanding.

2.   Accept the other persons view of the issue-If you do not listen to the other person’s side of the story or at minimum try to understand why they feel the way that they do, you will not be able to move forward in resolving the issue. Validating the other’s perception does not mean agreeing with them, it means that you are mature enough to understand that other opinions exist other than yours.

3.   Be specific about your issues-Giving broad statements about the way that you are feeling is not helpful. Be sure to be as specific as possible when discussing your conflicts to ensure that nothing is left out. Being specific is also a good way to avoid thinking that someone should have known what you meant, or pulling terms and statements out of thin air hoping that the other person will “catch your drift”. This will ensure that the same actions that caused the initial conflict, will not be repeated down the road.

4.  Use discretion- A workplace that thrives on gossip is a recipe for disaster. Often times, employees will take sides with one another during conflict. This just adds fuel to the fire. This leads to more chance of false statements being made, accusations being thrown at one another, and others getting involved who had absolutely nothing to do with the original issue. Have discreet  one-on-one talks with the other person, or if necessary, management or HR. Establish an understanding before the resolution talks begin that what is said between the parties will be kept confidential.

5.  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate- Good communication can solve or prevent almost any conflict. Being able to communicate with someone in a way that does not offend them, is of the utmost importance. There are ways to communicate professionally without making someone feel inferior or inadequate. Constructive criticism is a good way for co-workers to give their professional opinion about the work habits of someone. Just be sure to give constructive criticism that is meaningful and meant to uplift the person and help them to grow professionally. It is also good to be mindful of communication styles when dealing with someone of a different culture. Their way of communication can be totally different than what you are accustomed to. The last thing that you want to do is cause conflict with someone unintentionally because you were not aware of the culture difference between you to and how things may come across to them.

6.   Agree to Disagree Agree to let each other say everything that is on your minds. Once both parties have been able to express their issues, you should agree to disagree. This just means that you both acknowledge that there is or has been a problem and you have addressed it and will move forward on a positive note. It does not mean that you have to become best buds in the office. It means that you agree to be professional, work well together and avoid causing future confrontations.

7.   Document the action taken. Both parties should agree to have it documented that they attempted to resolve their conflict. This probably should be mandatory if management or HR is involved. Documentation is important, it allows each person to hold each other accountable for their part in resolving their differences. Documentation will also be important if the problem persist and unfortunate legal action arises stemming from this issues.

Putting these steps into action should resolve any workplace conflict. Other steps may be necessary depending on the complexity of the issue.

Unintended FMLA Retaliation?

Author- Casey Sipe

The Family Medical Leave Act is nothing new, and neither are the difficulties, issues and paperwork that comes with it.  Most likely, at one point or another, the FMLA has caused a problem for you and your company.  Maybe you had questions about paying an exempt employee when they take intermittent FMLA leave after using up all of their vacation and sick leave.  Or maybe you had a “difficult” employee take FMLA leave just as you were getting ready to terminate them, leading to questions about when and how to go about the termination (or maybe you just let them go and are currently looking down the barrel of a retaliation lawsuit).

The FMLA forbids an employer from retaliating against employees that takes FMLA leave.  It seems fairly simple that you cannot terminate an employee because your employee took FMLA leave to take care of a sick child, undergo back surgery or have a baby.  Unfortunately, things are not always that cut and dry.  And frankly, with the FMLA, they are almost never cut and dry. Continue Reading

About the Author:

Casey Sipe and I am a management-side labor and employment attorney with Scaringi & Scaringi in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. If you would like to contact me, I can be reached at (717) 657-7770

Employers- Are You Accurately Classifying Your “Employees”

Running and maintaining a business is a critical task. Although business owners attempt to do everything correctly with running their business, shortfalls may occur. One of the main tasks that business owners want to get correctly is the way that they classify their employees. There are a two ways that individuals can be classified. They can either be classified as independent contractors or employees. Independent contracts and employees are not the same. Knowing the distinction between the two will assist you in determining what your hiring strategy should be. It will also affect how you withhold several taxes.

It is imperative that you correctly determine whether the people providing services to your business are classified as employees or independent contractors. Generally, you must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on the earnings that are paid to an employee. You do not generally have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors. Also, the amount of responsibility that you give a person and whether or not you control their duties is a factor as well.

How To Determine If Individuals Providing Services To You Are Employees Or Independent Contractors

Before you can determine how to pay for the services that are provided to you, you must first know the business relationship that exists between you and the person performing the services. The classifications are listed below:


Under common-law rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.

Independent Contractors

The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. The earnings of a person who is working as an independent contractor are subject to Self-Employment Tax.

Statutory Non-Employee

There are three categories of statutory non-employees: direct sellers, licensed real estate agents and certain companion sitters. Direct sellers and licensed real estate agents are treated as self-employed for all Federal tax purposes, including income and employment taxes. Read more

Statutory Employee

If workers are independent contractors under the common law rules, such workers may nevertheless be treated as employees by statute (statutory employees) for certain employment tax purposes if they fall within any one of the following four categories and meet the three conditions described under Social Security and Medicare taxes. Read more

The IRS uses three characteristics to determine the relationship between businesses and workers:

  • Behavioral Control covers facts that show whether the business has a right to direct or control how the work is done through instructions, training or other means.
  • Financial Control covers facts that show whether the business has a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job.
  • Type of Relationship factor relates to how the workers and the business owner perceive their relationship.

In determining whether the individual providing services to your company is an employee or an independent contractor, consider all of the information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence that the person has. This will better assist you in making the determination. If your company is not ready to hire someone on full time, or you may just need a person for a short amount of time, consider hiring someone on a temporary basis.

Many small businesses relay on independent contractors for their staffing needs. There are several benefits to outsourcing individuals’ vs hiring employees. These benefits include:

  • Savings on labor costs
  • Flexibility to determine when you will hire or terminate someone without having them on your payroll
  • Elimination of the taxes associated with having an employee

Regardless of your hiring needs, it is crucial that you correctly determine whether the people providing services to your business are classified as employees or independent contractors.

Employers – Are You At Risk For A Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

The decision to terminate an employee is almost never an easy one. Once the decision is made, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of an employee filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against you. As the majority of states are “Employment at Will” states, that does not restrict a former employee from filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against you. Under that law in most states, if there is no employment contract, workers are employed on an “at-will” basis. This essentially means that employers have the right to terminate employees at any time for any reason other than discrimination, and rightly so, employees have the right to leave the organization at any time.

The decision to terminate an employee should not come without prior warnings. The steps leading up to the termination should be documented in the personnel file of the employee. This should include the employee’s signed statement that they received a copy of the employee handbook detailing the company’s policies and procedures, verbal and written warnings, performance evaluations, and any other materials that the company deemed necessary to show disapproval of the performance, actions, or behavior of the employee.

Having this information can become very useful to establish a pattern that the employer has tried to counsel the employee for the better. The EEOC requires that employers keep all personnel or employment records for one year. If an employee is involuntarily terminated, his/her personnel records must be retained for one year from the date of termination.

Regardless of the decision and the documentation that has been made for the employee, they may feel that they were unjustly targeted and still try to find other ways to justify a wrongful termination. Once the decision to terminate has been made, there are several factors that employers should consider before executing the decision.

The employer should consider whether or not the employee:

  • Has filed a workers compensation claim?
  • Are they pregnant or have recently given birth?
  • Are they over the age of 40?
  • Have they taken any type of leave in the past year?
  • Their racial or ethnic background?
  • Have they recently filed a grievance or made a complaint about something?

Considering these factors could put employers in a better position to defend themselves against a wrongful termination lawsuit. Be sure to have all documentation in place to prove the termination was not based on one of the above factors. After the matter is finalized, be sure to protect the interest of the company by securing all equipment and codes given to the employee. You can read more about ways to protect yourself against Employee Sabotage.