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SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY IS KEY TO YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE

By Your Employee Matters

In our nation’s tumultuous environment of skyrocketing unemployment and plummeting home values, saving up for an emergency fund or retirement might be the farthest thing from your mind. Considering the sad state of our economy, most consumers are happy to just make ends meet. Although some economists encourage consumers to spend to stimulate the economy, most financial experts say saving is still as important as ever.

Is saving money a lost art? Recently, Bank of America Merrill Lynch conducted a study to determine whether Americans are saving enough. In the four decades after World War II, the average American saved between 6% and 10% of their after-tax income. However, around 1985, that number started to decline, dropping below an average of zero in 2005. That’s when consumers started spending more than they earned with the help of easily accessible credit cards and loans.

For the most part, the average American has saved less than 3% of their income during the past five years. That number has increased slightly to 4% as gun-shy Americans scramble to save in this depressed economy. However, many economists say that’s still not nearly enough. It almost seems as if saving has become a thing of the past, but consumers run the risk of serious financial turmoil if they don’t start saving for a rainy day. And then there’s the retirement issue. Without a healthy nest egg, far too many retirees will outlive their money.

A mountain of debt. Of course, a lack of savings isn’t our nation’s only financial problem. Most families are facing a mounting load of debt, as well. In 1960, the typical American family’s debt equaled about 55% of their after-tax disposable income. Today, the average debt-to-income ratio (DTI) for a U.S. household is a whopping 125%. Of course that’s better than 2008, when household debt reached an all-time high of 130%.

Financial experts say that a 100% DTI is a healthy debt ratio. Let’s say you and your spouse earn $150,000 a year, but you owe a total of $200,000 on your house, car, student loans and other financial obligations. If you want to reach 100 percent DTI, you should try to pay down your debt by $50,000 to reach a “healthy” DTI.

Slowly rising savings rate. As mentioned, the savings rate has inched up to about 4% recently. Some economists say that as the savings rate continues to slowly rise, U.S. consumers will use about 80% of their savings to pay down debt and the other 20% to invest in interest-earning assets. Although this is certainly a financially responsible move, some experts point out that the U.S. economy depends on consumer spending. Therefore, if consumers stop spending as much and saving more, the economy will not bounce back any time soon.

Based on a study by Federal Reserve economists Reuven Glick and Kevin Lansing, the savings rate would need to climb to 10% within the next eight years for U.S. households to lower their debt to normal levels. Reuven and Lansing say that would shave 0.75 percentage points off economic growth each year, which could lead to a continued depressed economy and a lack of new jobs.

Saving is still important. Regardless of these new theories about “saving too much,” most financial experts say that saving is still critical. After all, your financial well-being depends on it — now and well into the future. Although the idea of saving less and spending more is a popular one, it’s probably not the smartest move for most consumers. First of all, saving is absolutely necessary if you want to ensure a comfortable retirement. Secondly, financial experts say consumers should also save up for an emergency fund. Think about it this way: What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow? What if you suffered from a severe illness and faced thousands of dollars worth of medical bills? Could you afford it? Probably not. And that’s precisely why you should keep between three and six months worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.

Unemployment Benefits For Seasonal Layoffs

By Your Employee Matters

The slow winter season may lead certain employers to lay off employees for a few weeks or months.  If you’re affected by a layoff, you could file for unemployment. Understand this coverage and how to file for it so you can receive financial benefits as you wait to return to work.

What are Unemployment Benefits?

Most employers pay unemployment insurance so employees who lose their jobs or are laid off can receive temporary unemployment benefits. While your state administers the benefits, you are responsible to file a weekly claim for the benefits.

How to Qualify for Unemployment

Every state sets different guidelines for unemployment eligibility. Typically, you may receive benefits if you are laid off seasonally, and these benefits will last up to 26 weeks or until you return to work. However, you may need to meet certain employment qualifications. For example, in some states you must work for your employer for a certain number of weeks or earn a set income per month before you can apply for unemployment. You also must receive a W-2 from your employer, which means independent contractors or freelancers will not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Check with your Human Resources department to ensure you qualify for unemployment benefits. In most cases, you’ll receive details about your eligibility and information on how to file for benefits before your layoff starts.

How to File for Unemployment

It may take a week or longer to begin receiving unemployment benefits, so file a claim for benefits as soon as possible. You can sign up online or over the phone, and you will need your:

  • Social Security and driver license number
  • Complete mailing address and daytime phone number
  • Names and addresses of all employers from the last 18 months
  • Information from your W-2 form

After you file the initial claim, you will file for benefits weekly either online or through the automated phone system. Be prepared to answer questions about how many days you were willing and able to work that week. To continue receiving benefits, you also may need to prove that you’re actively looking for work even if you expect to be rehired in the near future.

Amount of Benefits you will Receive

Your state’s unemployment program and your job history affect the amount of unemployment benefits you receive. Typically, you can expect to receive up to half of your regular wages. Weekly benefits are capped, however, so you might earn less than half if you are a high-earner.

Unemployment benefits provide financial income if you’re laid off for a season from your job. Discuss your specific benefits with your Human Resources department to ensure you understand the specific benefits you can receive.

OFFICE SAFETY AND SECURITY: WHAT WORKERS NEED TO KNOW AND DO

By Your Employee Matters

Although most people think of business places as safe and serene, in fact they’re rife with risks, both inside and outside the building. Security experts recommend taking these safety precautions:

Parking Lot Security/Lighting. 

Because crime flourishes in the dark, implement a “buddy system” to ferry workers to and from their cars. Limit parking lot access to controlled points and have the lots as well lit as possible. In fact, light is such a deterrent to crime that it’s wise to keep your entire facility lit, inside and out, during non-business hours.

Entrance Area Safety. 

Make sure a receptionist is on duty at all times. Provide a registration system for all visitors (even if they wear the uniform of contract cleaning or other service personnel). Have all doors, windows, and locks checked frequently for proper operation. Use badge or other photo ID systems, with frequent checks of entry code systems. Never let employees prop open a door with a chair so that it doesn’t lock behind them outside on a break.

Suspicious Activity. 

Urge employees to report any suspicious persons or activity around the building. Never allow employees to open suspicious packages. Instead, report them to the authorities for proper search and disposal.

Information Safety. 

Unfortunately, it’s increasingly easy for computer hackers or disgruntled employees to steal your organization’s vital business information. To guard against this threat, use the latest security software for your entire system, updated frequently, and make sure to have regular backups for this information. Shred paper documents with critical information as soon as they’re no longer needed.

Equipment Security. 

Keep an inventory of all your critical equipment, hardware, and software. This is especially important as electronic devices keep shrinking in size, making them easier to conceal and remove. Having an inventory (many experts suggest taking photos of important items) will also make it easier for your insurance carrier to process any claim if anything “goes missing.”

Employee Valuables. 

Provide secure places, such as lockable drawers and closets, for employee property and encourage their use. Valuables, especially any item that reveals personal information, should be locked away during company gatherings or breaks.

Safety Team. 

Set up a group of managers and employees who meet regularly with a set agenda. Our experts would be happy to work with you in creating a comprehensive workplace safety program. Feel free to give us a call.

Work Resolutions That Improve Your Health

By Your Employee Matters

With the launch of a new year, you may resolve to improve your career and expand your skills, mentor someone or climb the corporate ladder. Have you considered workplace resolutions that improve your health? Stay strong, fit and active and succeed on the job with several resolutions.

Learn Something New

Stimulate your brain function, improve memory and stay young when you learn something new. Study a new language, take a college or professional development class or engage in a new hobby during your work breaks as you expand your mind and improve your health.

Change Your Eating Habits

Skipping breakfast, chowing on donuts in the break room and eating fast food for lunch cause you to gain weight, feel sluggish and struggle to focus at work. Resolve to make dietary changes as you improve your health. Prepare portable burritos or egg muffins for breakfast, bring nuts and fruit for snack time and pack a balanced lunch. These simple eating habit changes assist you in staying healthy at work this year.

Move More

Your body and your brain need movement to function properly. Adequate movement improves your physical health, focus and sleep, so plan to walk at least 10,000 steps per day with these tips.

  • Hold walking meetings.
  • Pace your office as you talk on the phone.
  • Stretch every 30 minutes.
  • Walk during breaks.
  • Join an intramural sports league with your coworkers.

Reduce Stress

Stress affects your motivation, productivity and morale, and it can cause health problems like headaches, obesity and depression. While you can’t remove all stress from your work day, resolve to identify unhealthy stressors and reduce those challenges. That may mean transferring to a different department, addressing problems with your boss or rethinking expectations and saying no to extra projects as you lower stress and improve your health.

Achieve Better Work-Life Balance

Productivity, creativity and problem-solving skills actually decrease as your work hours increase because your brain and body need downtime to relax and recharge. Instead of working over your lunch hour, take a walk, read a book or call a friend, and turn off your phone at home. With work-life balance, you actually relax, improve your health and perform better at work.

Get Social

Strong relationships reduce health problems, improve sleep and increase longevity, so resolve to cultivate beneficial relationships with your coworkers. As you get social and chat more, improve collaboration and spend time together during breaks, you build relationships that help you live longer.

With these work resolutions, you can get healthy this year. You may also talk to your doctor or health insurance agent to discover additional resolutions that improve your health in 2018.

Managing Mental Disabilities

By Your Employee Matters

It takes the EEOC 56 pages to define a “mental disability.” Approximately 58 million Americans, one in four adults, experience a mental health impairment in a given year (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2007). One in 17 individuals lives with a serious mental health impairment, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008).

Common mental impairments include:

    • Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, “is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and occasionally even in children.” An estimated 10 million American adults have bipolar disorder.
    • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is “an often misunderstood, serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self image, and behavior. It is a disorder of emotional dysregulation. This instability often disrupts family and work, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity.” It’s estimated that 1% to 2% suffer from BPD.
    • Major depression is “persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health. Among all medical illnesses, major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and many other developed countries.” There are approximately 15 million American adults with major depression.
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) “occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life.” Estimates indicate that 2% of American adults have OCD.
    • Panic disorder occurs when a person “experiences recurrent panic attacks, at least one of which leads to at least a month of increased anxiety or avoidant behavior. Panic disorder may also be indicated if a person experiences fewer than four panic episodes but has recurrent or constant fears of having another panic attack.” Approximately 2% to 5% of American adults suffer from panic disorder.
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is “an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror. While it is common to experience a brief state of anxiety or depression after such occurrences, people with PTSD continually re-experience the traumatic event; avoid individuals, thoughts, or situations associated with the event; and have symptoms of excessive emotions.

      People with this disorder have these symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the traumatic experience; however, they sometimes occur months or even years later.” It’s estimated that 2% to 9% of adult Americans (including 15% to 30% of veterans) have PTSD.

    • Schizophrenia “often interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly; to distinguish reality from fantasy; and to manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. Some 2 million American adults are schizophrenic.
    • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is “characterized by recurrent episodes of depression — usually in late fall and winter — alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.” Note: SAD is not regarded as a separate disorder by the DSM-IV (APA, 1994), but is an added descriptor for the pattern of depressive episodes in patients with major depression or bipolar disorder.

Here’s a quick overview of some job accommodations that might be useful for people with mental health impairments.

Maintaining Stamina During the Workday:

  • Provide flexible scheduling
  • Allow longer or more frequent work breaks
  • Allow employee to work from home during part of the day, or week
  • Provide part-time work schedules

Maintaining Concentration:

  • Reduce distractions in the work area
  • Provide space enclosures or a private office
  • Allow for use of white noise or environmental sound machines
  • Allow the employee to play soothing music using a portable player and headset
  • Increase natural lighting or provide full spectrum lighting
  • Plan for uninterrupted work time
  • Allow for frequent breaks
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals
  • Restructure job to include only essential functions

Staying Organized and Meeting Deadlines:

  • Make daily TO-DO lists and check items off as they are completed
  • Use several calendars to mark meetings and deadlines
  • Remind employee of important deadlines
  • Use electronic organizers
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals

Dealing with Memory Deficits:

  • Allow the employee to tape record meetings
  • Provide type written minutes of each meeting
  • Provide written instructions
  • Allow additional training time
  • Provide written checklists

Working Effectively with Supervisors:

  • Provide positive praise and reinforcement
  • Provide written job instructions
  • Develop written work agreements that include the agreed upon accommodations, clear expectations of responsibilities, and the consequences of not meeting performance standards
  • Allow for open communication to managers and supervisors
  • Establish written long term and short-term goals
  • Develop strategies to deal with problems before they arise
  • Develop a procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodation

Interacting with Coworkers:

  • Educate all employees on their right to accommodations
  • Provide sensitivity training to coworkers and supervisors
  • Do not require employees to attend work-related social functions
  • Encourage employees to move non work-related conversations out of work areas

Handling Stress and Emotions:

  • Provide praise and positive reinforcement
  • Refer to counseling and employee assistance programs
  • Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for needed support
  • Allow the presence of a support animal
  • Allow the employee to take breaks as needed

Maintaining Attendance:

  • Provide flexible leave for health problems
  • Provide a self-paced work load and flexible hours
  • Allow employee to work from home
  • Provide part-time work schedule
  • Allow employee to make up time

Dealing with Change:

  • Recognize that a change in the office environment or of supervisors may be difficult for a person with a mental health impairment
  • Maintain open channels of communication between the employee and the new and old supervisor in order to ensure an effective transition
  • Provide weekly or monthly meetings with the employee to discuss workplace issues and productions levels

To learn more, visit the Job Accommodation Network’s Accommodations Ideas for Mental Health Impairments.

Which Dependents You Can Add To Your Group Health Insurance Policy

By Your Employee Matters

Open enrollment for employee health insurance plans begins in November. You may wish to add dependents to your current policy as you care for your loved ones. Here are the details about who you can add to your group health insurance policy.

    • Spouse

      Many group health insurance plans allow you to add your spouse to your plan during open enrollment or within 30 days after your marriage. You may also add a same-sex spouse if your state legalizes same-sex marriages and your plan allows this provision.

    • Dependent Children

      You may add biological children to your health insurance policy even if they don’t live with you. If you give birth to or adopt a child or if your child loses insurance coverage through Medicaid or CHIP, you have a 30-day window to add that dependent to your group health insurance plan.

    • Spouse’s Children

      You may add stepchildren to you health insurance plan if they’re under the age of 26. You may add them during open enrollment seasons or within 30 days of your marriage.

    • Grandchildren

      You may add a grandchild to your coverage if you have legal guardianship of that child and they reside with you. If a dependent child or dependent adult child on your current health insurance plan has a baby, you may also be able to add your grandchild to your policy. However, most states do not have this provision, so be sure to read your policy for details.

    • Dependent Parents

      Some health insurance plans do allow you to add dependent parents to your policy. However, the federal government doesn’t mandate this coverage, and it’s an uncommon practice.

    • Boyfriend/Girlfriend

      A small minority of group health insurance plans allow you to add a boyfriend or girlfriend to your policy. You may need to prove that you share a domestic partnership and have a history of living together.

    • Domestic Partner

      In some cases, you can add a domestic partner to your insurance policy. State, carrier and employer guidelines vary, so discuss your options with your HR department.

    • Separated or Divorced Spouse

      If you separate or divorce from your spouse, you typically cannot keep them on your health insurance policy. A separation or divorce does qualify your ex-spouse for COBRA benefits, though.

Paperwork Required to Add Dependents

To add a dependent to your health insurance policy, you may need to prove that they are legitimate dependents. Provide a marriage license, birth certificate and other documents that prove your dependent relationship.

This November, choose the health insurance plan that meets your needs. Add any dependents, too, as you provide health care coverage to your loved ones.

The Importance of Disability Insurance to Workers and Their Employers

By Your Employee Matters

The need for Disability insurance is all too often underestimated. Although most people wouldn’t dare forgo necessary evils such as Homeowners insurance, insuring a new car, or even obtaining Life insurance, the need for Disability insurance is far too often underestimated. Underestimating the value of insuring earning power, especially considering the rate of personal savings in the U.S. is at an almost unprecedented low, could spell disaster if a disabling event was to occur.

Disability Insurance from a Worker’s Perspective. If you’re one of those who think you don’t need to purchase Disability insurance because you figure it’s unlikely you’ll ever become disabled, prepare yourself for some alarming statistics. According to government studies, younger individuals have a one-in-three chance of suffering a disabling event before they reach 65-years-old. Older individuals have a one-in-six chance of the same fate.

Others might be counting on alternative sources of income, such as Social Security Disability Benefits, to replace their income if they become disabled. Although this benefit is available after a disabling event, it comes with many rules and regulations. For example, the SSA will consider your ability to perform any type of work, not just whatever your previous line of work was prior to the disabling event, as they are determining your eligibility for benefits.

Furthermore, Social Security Disability Benefits are only available to someone that’s totally disabled and that has a disability expected to result in death or last longer than one year. Those suffering a short-term or partial disability don’t qualify. The SSA has a very strict definition of disability and assumes that working individuals who become unable to work temporarily will have access to alternative sources of income to support themselves until they return to work.

As mentioned above, alternative sources of income such as personal savings are at all-time lows. In fact, data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that personal saving rates have been in the red for several years now, with lows of -1.6. This essentially means that many individuals are living paycheck-to-paycheck or spending more than they earn and simply don’t have emergency savings to carry them through their period of disability.

Now that we’ve established why workers need Disability insurance, you might be curious how you can purchase it. Most individuals generally find purchasing their Disability insurance through their employer to be the most cost-effective and simple source.

Disability Insurance from an Employer’s Perspective. Offering Disability insurance in the workplace makes good business sense for employers; after all, employees are one of your business’s most valuable assets. Employers can offer Disability insurance on a voluntary basis, which allows employees who desire the coverage to elect it and pay the entire premium themselves, or provide a base amount and give employees the option to pay for supplemental coverage on their own. Supplemental or voluntary, either option allows employees to pay the premiums conveniently through payroll deductions and allows them to benefit from reduced group rates.

Since lost work time from injury or illness has a substantial cost to employers, plans that include return-to-work and rehabilitation services might be a strong consideration when selecting a plan. Other attractive features to consider are the proactive management of disabilities through regular early contact with both the disabled employee and his/her physician; a reduced benefit for disabled workers able to return to work on a part-time basis; and working with the employee, employee’s physician, and employer to find creative and flexible ways to get the employee back to work.

Disability insurance plans have long been a highly-valued and appreciated benefit offering, but in today’s economy, such offerings are more important than ever to employees and employers

How To Handle Stressful Jobs In Nine Steps

By Your Employee Matters

We know that certain dangerous, demanding, detailed and repetitive professions are stressful, but every job includes stressors. Stressful jobs can cause physical, emotional and mental problems for employees. They also affect company safety, productivity and morale. Take nine steps as you learn how to handle stressful jobs and stay healthy.

Identify the stressors.

Numerous factors contribute to stress. Are you overwhelmed with responsibilities, frustrated with co-workers or bored? Identify your stressors as you consider your stress-management options.

Modify your job.

A simple modification like different work hours or a new work station can decrease your stress level. Talk with your supervisor about modifying your job and improving your health.

Talk to someone you trust.

Find a network of listeners who will support you when you need to talk. A friend, co-worker, job coach or therapist can be a sounding board, offer empathy and help you discover a different perspective.

Say no to extra responsibilities.

You may take on extra responsibilities to get a raise or keep your job. Too much work can increase stress, though. Instead, say no to responsibilities you can’t reasonably handle. If saying no isn’t an option, investigate ways to drop or delegate duties.

Organize your day.

Prioritizing tasks, setting a definite quitting time and cleaning off your desk are three simple ways you can organize your day. These steps can also help you feel more in control and less stressed.

Take a break.

Some companies offer flexible time off, so take a day or more when you need it and reboot, relax and unwind. You can also use break time to recharge. Take a walk outside, find a quiet place to meditate, listen to music or read a book.

Change your mind-set.

Maybe you demand perfection from yourself or are stuck in a pattern of negative thinking. Change your mind-set. Give yourself permission to do your best or meditate on inspirational quotes that change your thinking and reduce your stress.

Advocate for yourself.

You may find that nothing helps and your stress levels are still unhealthy. Advocate for yourself and better working conditions. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor, and calmly address the stressful factors. Be prepared with details of the challenges you face and possible solutions.

Find a new job.

A different job or position in your company could relieve your stress. If this switch isn’t possible, you may need to change companies or careers as you protect your health.

Stress on the job can affect your health and work environment. Take these nine steps as you learn how to manage stressful jobs and stay healthy.

Workplace Fraud

By Your Employee Matters

A Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners provides a wealth of valuable information for any company. According to the report: Organizations with fewer than 100 employees have a higher rate of fraud exposure to billing, check tampering, skimming, expense reimbursement, cash on hand, payroll, and larceny than their counterparts do.

Conversely, employers with more than 100 employees have a greater exposure to corruption and non-cash theft. The most common anti-fraud controls include audits, codes of conduct, management review, hotlines, and training.

Companies with 100 or more employees are almost twice as likely as smaller organizations to employ anti-fraud controls.

It generally takes some time to detect fraud. Financial statement fraud had a median duration of 27 months. Check-tampering, expense reimbursement, billing, and payroll scams 24 months; corruption, cash on hand, skimming, and larceny 18 months.

The list of fraud examples is instructive:

  1. Skimming a small percentage of cash payments or assets.
  2. Accepting payment from a customer, failing to record the sale and instead pocketing the money.
  3. Stealing cash and checks from daily receipts before they can be deposited into the bank.
  4. Creating a shell company and billing employer for services not actually rendered.
  5. Purchasing personal items and submitting invoices to employer for payment.
  6. Filing fraudulent expense reports for personal travel, nonexistent meals, etc.
  7. Stealing blank company checks, and making them out to themselves or an accomplice.
  8. Stealing outgoing checks to a vendor and depositing them into their own account.
  9. Claiming overtime for hours not worked.
  10. Adding ghost employees to the payroll.
  11. Fraudulently voiding a cash register sale and stealing the cash.
  12. Stealing inventory from a warehouse or storeroom.
  13. Stealing or misusing confidential customer financial information.

Nearly one in five frauds were exposed by tips from fellow workers. Many organizations provide employee-tip hotlines. Perhaps you should too. Click Here to read the report.

How To Address Work Complaints

By Your Employee Matters

Four of the most common work complaints include theft, harassment, discrimination and violence. Employees have the right and responsibility to report anything that affects health, safety or culture in the company. However, if these issues are handled improperly, your business could face serious consequences, including fines or penalties. Learn how to address work complaints the right way as you reduce liability and create a positive work environment.

Establish a protocol for reporting complaints.

Every employee should know how to report a complaint. It can be done in person, over the phone or online. Usually, these reports are filtered through the Human Resources department, but plan a reporting system that works best for you. Also, be sure employees have options that allow them to report to someone other than their direct supervisor.

Get full details.

The employee with the concern should fill out a complete written statement or form with details about the complaint. The form should include the:

  • Description of events
  • Names of the individuals involved, including witnesses
  • Times and dates of the incident/s
  • Other relevant details

Determine if you should formally investigate the incident.

While you must take all complaints seriously, an odor in the break room or an employee who doesn’t work well with others do not require formal investigations. You should investigate reports of theft, harassment, hostility or discrimination, though.

Investigate promptly.

Investigate complaints as soon as possible. Interview the complainant, the accused and witnesses, and gather supporting documents that substantiate the complaint, including memos, emails, photos or voicemails. If you are a party in the complaint, ask a neutral party from another department to oversee the investigation.

Insist on confidentiality.

The complainant, accused and witnesses should maintain confidentiality rather than spreading any details or rumors about the complaint. Also, remind them that they should not retaliate or tolerate any type of retaliation.

Conclude the investigation.

After you interview the relevant individuals and collect the documentation, notify the complainants that the issue is resolved. Share, too, if the complaint was substantiated or not.

Take appropriate action.

The complaint may warrant employee discipline, further training or referral to your employee assistance program. If so, recommend these steps and monitor the employees involved to ensure the incident does not happen again.

Hire a mediator.

In certain cases, you will need to hire a mediator. He or she will provide conflict resolution, training or other services that improve future interactions between employees.

All workplace complaints should be handled properly as you protect employees and your company. For more assistance, talk to your Human Resources manager.