Your List of HR Dos and Don’ts to Survive Spooky Season
It’s Halloween season, and while we’d love to believe managing it in the workplace is as simple for employers as mobile-ordering their favorite fall drink from Starbucks (#PSL)—we know better. So in the spirit (pun intended) of the season, we’ve compiled a list of our HR Advisors best guidance for keeping things lively and lawful during the holidays, including Halloween.
3 insights to expand inclusivity
Holiday celebrations tend to have deep personal meaning and connection to people, so it’s important to use workplace observances as a way to amplify the diversity and inclusion among employees. Here are three ways to do just that:
- Ask your employees what they want. Survey your employees to find out which holidays they want to observe and what those observances in the workplace ideally look like. Observing a holiday doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll close up shop for the day, which you’ll want to make this clear to employees when asking for their preferences. When considering their suggestions, make sure you’re treating everyone equitably—especially around workplace decorations, celebrations, and paid time off.
- Open the door for all to celebrate. Once you know which holiday employees want to observe and how, mark the company calendar and let employees know specifically how to do so appropriately—even if it’s a holiday they don’t personally celebrate.
You might, for example, encourage employees to share how and why they observe certain holidays with colleagues via online chat or a company newsletter. Allowing for time and space to talk about religious practices—both celebratory and somber—helps employees understand why a coworker may be fasting, lighting candles, praying during the workday, wearing special attire, or taking time away from work.
Observing multiple holidays throughout the year also makes it less likely any will feel exclusionary.
- Remember inclusion year-round. Inclusion doesn’t take a break at the holidays. On the contrary, holidays—whatever time of year—present a great opportunity to promote inclusion and belonging.
6 strategies for navigating social media
If we’ve learned anything from the information age, it’s that everything does not belong on the internet—especially when it comes to the workplace. Here are key dos and don’ts to make sure social media is a treat not a trick this Halloween and throughout the holidays.
- Maintain control over company social media accounts. Employers own these accounts and have a right to access them, even if an employee or outside party is assigned to manage and maintain them.
- Respect employee privacy. Even publicly viewable social media accounts are part of employees’ personal lives. Monitoring their social media accounts indicates mistrust, and can be viewed as an invasion of privacy.
- Encourage employees to be respectful and to avoid statements that could be interpreted as threatening, harassing, or defaming. Employees can be told not to present their opinions as those of the company and prohibited from sharing confidential company information on social media. Notify that you may request to see their social media activity if it’s relevant to an investigation of misconduct, which is generally allowable under state law.
- Examine or follow employees’ or applicants’ social media accounts. If you were to learn information about an employee (particularly one who is in a protected class or engaging in a protected activity), then made an adverse decision regarding that employee or applicant, they could claim retaliation or discrimination. Additionally, it’s generally best that employers and supervisors not be online “friends” or “followers” of their employees.
- Restrict concerted activity. According to the National Labor Relations Board, employer social media policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit (or would appear to discourage) protected activities under federal labor law, such as discussing wages or working conditions with colleagues.
- Ignore the laws. While state laws differ, they share some general themes. First, the laws prohibit employers from requiring or requesting that employees or applicants disclose social media credentials (usernames and/or passwords). Second, employers can’t require or request that an employee or applicant access their personal social media in an employer’s presence or add the employer to their contacts/friends list. Third, the law prohibits employer retaliation. For example, disciplining an employee for refusing to show you their social media timeline, or not hiring an applicant who refused to do the same, is a violation of the law.
4 ways to avoid workplace harassment
First and foremost, make an organizational commitment to diversity, inclusion, and respect—and establish policies and procedures to hold people accountable to that commitment. In addition, follow these three guidelines to maintain an anti-harassment culture, at Halloween and all year:
- Establish a sense of urgency and seriousness about preventing workplace harassment; spend appropriate time and resource on anti-harassment training and other prevention and response activities that clearly indicate prohibited behavior, empower responders, and impede retaliation.
- Avoid rewarding managers for minimum complaints across their team, as doing so could suppress reporting.
- Discipline in proportion to the offense.