October 2023 TogetHR Times

Human Resources and Documentation

by Kim Keene

Thorough documentation ensures consistency, efficiency and standardization when managing employee performances. Keeping records of job descriptions, feedback and results may help managers guide and coach employees. It might also inform decisions about promotions and personnel changes. It can also benefit employees who want to learn more about their performance, identify any opportunities for improvement and track their goals. This may lead to a more engaged, effective team.

Most businesses have a set of internal policies that guide behavior from employees and leadership. HR documentation helps management understand if employees are following these policies and if they’re benefiting the organization. For example, if the employee handbook mandates that employees arrive for work no later than 15 minutes after their start time, HR may want to know if employees are abiding by this rule. Noting repeated tardiness in formal documentation may help them better enforce this rule and meet organizational goals.

Proper documentation can help a business defend itself if legal issues arise. Legal guidelines may require companies to execute particular actions like accommodating disabilities and allowing reasonable medical leave. Keeping thorough, prompt records of all communications with employees can help prove that an organization complied with all federal and local laws. Comprehensive records can help businesses protect themselves from financial audits and safety hazards, too.

Did you know, there are four different types of documentation that HR utilizes?

The basics, each new hire should have these documents:

  • Job applications
  • Resumes and cover letters
  • Verifications of employment and education history
  • Employment contracts
  • Personal identification documents
  • Contact information
  • Bank account information
  • Compensation structures
  • Signed employee handbook acknowledgment forms
  • Relocation agreements

Covering performance, both good and bad should be included:

  • Job descriptions
  • Training records
  • Disciplinary action reports
  • Attendance records
  • Performance improvement plans
  • Policy violations
  • Self-assessments
  • Recognition and awards

Medical, kept separate from personnel file:

  • Disability accommodations
  • Records of medical leaves
  • Doctor’s notes for absences
  • Emergency contact information

Termination of employment docs:

  • Resignation or termination letter
  • Exit interview records
  • Insurance information
  • Remaining paycheck information
  • Grievance information

Best Practices for documentation:

  • Define expectations. It’s important to have a written, accessible statement of the company’s expectations for employees so they’re aware of the rules, policies and goals.
  • Be specific. Always be thorough and specific when preparing documentation, including dates, times and evidence wherever possible.
  • Involve the employee. When documenting an incident, policy violation or conflict, it’s crucial to include the employee’s perspective to explain what happened and why they made the choices they did.
  • Request and save feedback. Including feedback from supervisors and peers can make an employee’s file more comprehensive and provide better data for decision-making.
  • Remain objective. It’s important that feedback and reports be objective and fact-based, so focus on an employee’s actions and outcomes rather than their character traits or relationships with others.

Reference: SHRM, www.shrm.org


Reigniting Employees Passion for Work!

by Christine Muller

The past several years have been tough for employees!  What can employers do to boost employee engagement and improve morale after the Covid pandemic way of life?

Spread Joy – Operationalize fun!  Divide business leaders into groups and assign each leader a month to bring the fun into the workplace.  This will help ignite passion, energy, connection, and joy again!

Value Employees – Have fun everyday!  Make staff feel they are cared about.   Offer degrees of flexibility to facilitate work/life balance.  Ensure each staff member has a clear career path.  Provide appropriate training opportunities for professional growth.  Keep employees in the loop on important matters.

Try a Little Kindness – donate time, effort, or dollars to community events – donate gift cards to sheriff’s employees, sponsor an adopt a pet event, provide baby food or snacks for children living in local shelters.

Show Gratitude – Offer different gift options to employees to choose from, for example:  vouchers for clothing, work shoes, pet care, wellness activities, etc.

Stay Connected – Keep virtual employees engaged and happy!  Provide activities to encourage teams to get to know each other and learn about their coworkers.

Laugh a Lot – some companies have been rolling out trainings during onboarding on stand-up comedy.  This helps integrate humor into the company’s DNA and facilitates collaboration!  Laughter creates a chemical reaction in the brain that can elevate one’s mood, leading to increased productivity, reduce stress and anxiety and so much more!

Encourage Self-Care – Strengthen mental well-being through companywide mental health days and wellness hours!

Create a Culture of Caring – provide employees with self-care days.  Detach from work and take care of themselves for a day!

Relax and Recoup – Offer cultural and health awareness events designed to focus on the health and well-being of your team!

Resource:  HR Magazine, Fall 2023.  Dori Meinert


What Is Artificial Intelligence & How Is It Used In The Workplace?

by Christina Carmona

Artificial intelligence is computers or computer-controlled machines that can simulate human intelligence in various ways. These machines can range from a laptop or cellphone to computer-controlled robotics. Software programs, which give directions to control the behavior of the machine, are specialized to mimic human intelligence and capabilities. The coupling of hardware and this software brings about artificial intelligence.

AI is being used in multiple ways in today’s workplaces, often focusing on the integration of human thought and innovation with the patterns AI can find within large amounts of data.

Employee support and assistance

Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana are virtual assistants used in the workplace to read texts and e-mail aloud, offer reminders to follow up on e-mail, schedule meetings, and find time in your schedule for focusing on certain tasks.

Chatbots are being used in numerous ways, including in helping employees find company policies or benefits information; implementing wellness programs; engaging with job candidates during the recruitment process; and supporting employee learning and development by recommending courses, tracking goals, sending reminders and answering frequently asked questions.

AI is everywhere

While there are some concerns about automation replacing human workers, AI is most successful when coupled with a human touch—or at least some human oversight. AI will likely play a large role in the future of work, but rather than replace employees, AI technology will change what type of work employees perform.

The reality is that AI is all around us, and its applications and usage will continue to grow. The following are just a few additional examples of how AI is commonly being used daily.

Content creation: Generative AI, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, allows users to ask questions in a conversational manner to find answers or to create or edit written content. For example, a manager might ask the bot to write an employee recognition letter, or to draft a job description. While the output from generative AI programs can be impressive, human review and final editing is almost always necessary.

Spam detection: Most employers are likely using AI’s text classification abilities to scan e-mail and identify text patterns that indicate spam attacks. Reviewing any junk folder will show how much of this e-mail is weeded out by these programs on a daily basis.

Machine translation: Multinational companies use this technology to quickly translate e-mail, presentations and other documents into multiple languages to enhance internal communication. Following global industry developments through the translation of news releases, advertising campaigns and patents is another useful application. Where more attention to specific nuances are needed, human translators are still required.

For online retailers, machine translation allows product reviews to be translated instantly to help consumers decide on purchases. Entire websites can also be translated into another language with the click of a button for ever-increasing access.

Sentiment analysis: Also known as opinion mining, this AI technique analyzes large amounts of text to determine if the data is positive, negative or neutral. For example, companies may use sentiment analysis to review social media posts and online reviews to inform marketing and product development.

Text summarization: This technique extracts key information from original texts to create easily consumable summaries. Online news outlets and news aggregate apps use it to provide brief summaries for users to consume information quickly, and research databases use it provide abstracts of dense material.

Robotics: Not all robots use AI, such as those long used in manufacturing to complete repetitive tasks. More and more AI robotics are entering the workplace, however, as this field continues to grow. Examples include:

  • Delivery robots (self-driving vehicles) that navigate streets autonomously, delivering packages and food to customers.
  • Security robots that patrol and scan areas, collect video evidence, shine a light, and give audio warnings when appropriate.
  • Recycling robots that detect differences in materials and make sorting decisions at high speeds.
  • AI-based drones that identify, record and analyze objects on the ground.

Source: SHRM – Society for Human Resource Management 


2023 Payroll Year-End Checklist

by Rhonda Anderson

Employee and Employer Data

✓ Confirm employee names, address changes prior to year-end reporting

✓ Employer business name, legal address is current

Wage, Tax and Benefits Data

✓ Taxable fringe benefits submitted for the year

✓ Verify employer state unemployment insurance rates and taxable wage limit

✓ Third-party sick pay – is the third-party issuing a W-2

✓ Personal use of company vehicle reported

✓ Non-qualified moving expense reimbursements recorded

✓ Schedule special bonus payrolls for the current year

✓ Ensure adequate payroll forms including Forms W-2, 1099

✓ Confirm all manual checks written have been accounted for in the payroll system

Special procedures

✓ Remind employees to fill out a Form W-4 if their situation has changed

✓ Benefit enrollment updates, changes and open enrollment

✓ Update payroll system with new benefit deductions

✓ Update payroll system with new tax rates and wage limits if any changes

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