With Fraud Running Rampant, How HR Can Help Prevent It

By taking alert measures, human resources can play a major role to put a dent in the global epidemic of fraud in the workplace.

An authoritative study reveals more than $6.3 billion in actual losses from occupational fraud in 2,410 cases.

The median loss of in fraud cases was $150,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in 2016. Some larger organizations suffered from multiple cases of fraud.

ACFE says the actual fraud losses in the aggregate total in the trillions of dollars.

The typical company suffers a five percent loss in revenue.

Investigators say human resources can help in the fight against fraud with comprehensive pre-hiring background checks including senior managers, as well as being on guard for unusual behavior of workers and using other tactics.

HR managerFrom the most common to the least common, ACFE outlines three broad categories of fraud:

— “Asset misappropriation” such as stealing of cash, equipment and information which includes billing schemes, cash larceny, check tampering, false expenses, phony disbursements, and payroll fraud.

— “Corruption fraud” includes conflict of interest, and bribery and extortion.

— “Financial statement fraud.”

Executive fraud

Executives committed 18.9 percent of the fraud with a median loss of $703,000. They are able to evade controls more easily than other employees.

Managers were responsible for 35.8 percent with a median loss of $173,000.

Subordinates committed 40.9 percent for a median loss of $65,000.

Sixty-nine percent were male fraudsters with a median loss of $187,000. While women fraudsters accounted for a median loss of $100,000.

About half of the wrongdoers had been with their employers for more than five years. Their median loss was $240.000.

Fifty-five percent were between 31 and 45 years old. Those over 40 were accountable for a $250,000 median loss.

Sixty-one percent had a college degree or higher and committed a median loss of $207,000. Less educated fraudsters had a $100,000 median loss.

Early detection

HR can help prevent fraud by being on the lookout for six so-called red flags in behavior of the workforce.

Behavioral red flags include:

  1. Living beyond means – 45.8 percent of the cases
  2. Financial difficulties – 30 percent
  3. Unusually close relationships with vendors or customers – 20.1 percent
  4. Excessive control issues – 15.3 percent
  5. A “wheeler-dealer” attitude involving unscrupulous behavior – 15.3 percent
  6. Recent divorce or family problems – 13.4 percent

In addition to effective financial controls and extensive background checks, ACFE recommends fraud hotlines, job rotation, mandatory vacations, fraud training, and support programs.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

Embezzlement: Guidelines to Uncover and Prevent it — Embezzlement is a widespread nightmare. Here are proven strategies to discover embezzlement, and to prevent from occurring.

Embezzlement Tips to Protect Your Nonprofit or Company Assets —  Embezzlement is a widespread nightmare in business and the public sector. If you surf the Internet using the key word, embezzlement, you’ll find seemingly countless headlines. Upper management commits 18 percent of fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in 2010. ACFE also said accounting department employees commit 29 percent of fraud.

10 Unusual Prevention Tips to Effectively Fight Fraud — If you ever think you might be victimized by fraud, you probably are. Businesspeople are typically victimized by fraud in several ways. The causes will surprise you. Here are simple ways to prevent fraud.

Beware: Small Businesses Lose Trillions to Worker Fraud — Small companies are fleeced by an aggregate in the trillions of dollars from employee fraud — suggesting the need for financial controls.

HR — Avoid the 10 Most Common Background Screening Gaffes — In human resources, all background checks are not equal. It’s important to avoid the 10 most-common background-screening errors.

Risk Management in Hiring: Pre-Employment Screening Tips — Here are two questions about hiring: 1) what’s the biggest mistake companies make in hiring employees; and 2) what’s the biggest legal obstacle employers face in hiring? Here’s what to do about background screening

Best Management/HR Tips: Check References of Applicants — Even if you believe you’ve found an impeccable candidate, you must conduct precise reference checks. If you don’t, you risk paying a high price later.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

“The challenge for capitalism is that the things that breed trust also breed the environment for fraud.”

-James Surowiecki


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

5 Pointers to Successfully Fight Flu Season at Work

Your productivity and operations are susceptible in the wintertime. That’s generally when influenza season occurs.

But the timing can fluctuate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the winter of 1982-1983, flu has been most problematic in February followed by December, January and March.

Flu as well as cold seasons can obviously have an adverse effect on your business operations. Your exposure is enormous – not only from your employees but from their families and your customers.

Plus, it’s worth remembering most employees have a tendency to show up even if they don’t feel well. They don’t want to use up their paid-time-off, lost pay and their thinking that they’re expected to be at work. That increases risks for you and your healthy employees.

So what can you do to fight the flu season?

artur84 memory1. Promote flu shots

Get a flu shot and encourage your staff to get one every year – the obvious first step. There are various strains of flu and they can be different every year.

That’s why flu shots are recommended by CDC for every person six months or older when vaccines are available.

Besides flu-shot immunity deteriorates over time.

So why not take advantage of opportunities that exist in many pharmacies where appointments aren’t required?

2. Encourage telecommuting

If you or your employees experience flu symptoms, consider telecommuting or staying at home. You’ll find that it will enhance your immune system and avert spreading flu germs at your company.

3. Wash your hands repeatedly all day long

Germs exist everywhere – telephones, desks, printers, keyboards, and door handles and more.

So encourage washing of hands in warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Also effective are alcohol-based sanitizers.

Don’t touch your eyes, mouth and nose.

4. Use other good health routines

Drink enough water and juices, get enough sleep, manage stress, eat nutritious food and stay active. It’s good insurance.

So, for that matter, practice these routines all year long.

5. Start an education campaign

Spread the message to minimize contagion of germs. Distribute informative articles and brochures. Provide cleaning products and sanitizers. Share the benefits of flu shots and encourage others to do it, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks for additional reading on health:

Manage Health Costs by Improving Your Culture 3 Ways — Is your company saddled with high health costs? By improving your culture in three ways to minimize stress, your company will improve performance and long-term sustainability.

Monopoly in Health Insurance Hurts Employers, Consumers and Doctors — How do you feel about your health insurance? Fasten your seat belt. More problems have unveiled in America’s healthcare system. Patients, physicians and employers have been in the same boat – skyrocketing health insurance costs exacerbated by a lack of competition caused by ObamaCare. Now comes an eye-opening study by the American Medical Association.

FDA Inefficiency Costs ‘Thousands of Lives and Billions of Dollars’ in Healthcare – Book — ObamaCare is one of the biggest financial headaches suffered by businesspeople. But there’s more bad news for business. Now, a book indicts the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for massive problems that annually lead to the deaths of nearly a quarter of a million Americans and cost an unnecessary $200 billion+ in healthcare expenses.

8 Tips to Stop Healthcare, Insurance Inefficiency and Fraud — Inefficiency and fraud in healthcare and insurance has skyrocketed — here’s what you personally can do to prevent it.

Healthcare Crisis – What the Plight of Doctors Means to You — America’s shortage of doctors is a widespread concern, and the stories you’ve heard about the difficulties experienced by doctors are true. Their difficulties were aptly explained by a study mentioned in an article published by Medscape Medical News.

Why Many Healthcare Workers Cause Medical ID Theft — Medical identity theft is skyrocketing. It’s the fast-growing trend in ID thievery.

“Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.”

-Anne Wilson Schaef


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy artur84 at www.freedigitalphotos.net

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication

Communication skills are critical for managers.

People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home.

businesswoman on phoneGood communicators typically have 10 attributes:

1. Listening

Effective communicators have good listening skills. That includes paying attention to how others speak and their nonverbal messages – AKA body language.

Just as importantly, they clear their minds to focus on what other people are saying instead of just thinking about what to say next.

What counts in communication? Listening skills for discernment and trust.

Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for managerial discernment.

2. Awareness of others

Effective communicators make good eye contact and use the names of people when they talk with them. They ask for opinions and they wait and consider the answers.

In responding, good communicators think about how and what to say. They consider the emotional impact of their words.

3. Empathy

Stellar communicators empathize – they try to understand other viewpoints. In a diverse workplace, it’s important to consider the divergent needs of employees as much as possible. They take into account abilities, attitudes, cultures and past experiences.

4. Inspiration with encouragement

Good managers – in words and action – encourage their teams. They praise performance. They make workers feel appreciated and valued.

They leverage the perspective of employees – their human capital – with strategies to earn their employees’ respect.

5. Humor

When appropriate, good communicators encourage and use humor. Humor helps make work fun.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

-George Bernard Shaw

6. Fairness

Effective communicators treat employees equally. They don’t play favorites in assignments. They’re careful to avoid errors in evaluations and salary reviews.

They avoid confusion, and encourage transparency – open and honest messaging. They maintain confidentiality and respect boundaries.

7. Avoidance of unnecessary conflict

Good managers anticipate problems and resolve issues before they come to a head. They understand all points of view and encourage discussion. They’re unbiased and are good negotiators.

They discourage office politics.

Even if they feel angry, they wait until they’re calm before taking action. It’s not OK to be angry.

8. Positive attitudes

It’s important to be approachable. Even when they’re having bad-hair days, effective managers are friendly and positive. They smile and stay cheerful.

9. Minimal stress

Stress carriers aren’t managers. Stress serves an obstacle to communication. If necessary, good managers train themselves to stop stressing.

10. Courage

Much has been written about preferred skills for managers. We always talk in mundane terms for the need of managers to convey a vision, achieve goals and to foster growth and well-being for a work-life balance.

Seldom do we talk about courage in communication – a critical characteristic of effective managers.

From the Coach’s Corner, here related sources of information:

Why Executives Emphasize Communication Training for Employees — Among human resources training priorities, employee communication is often now more important than skills, say many executives. Two-thirds of executives responding to a survey say communication skills are most needed by certain employees.

Spelling Tips to Enhance Your Communication Skills — Good communication skills start with using proper grammar and spelling. They’re central for your career growth. People who communicate stand head and shoulders above their peers.

A Top Marketing Goal: Enhance Your Internal Communication — Businesses have two communication sources that are expenses that conversely are sources of profit – the external marketplace – and internal, their human capital. But all your money poured into marketing doesn’t accomplish much unless you devote equal resources to employee programs and communication.

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing — Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension means you’re giving away your power, which inhibits your performance.

Listening Skills to Improve Your Relationships and Business Performance — What counts in communication? Listening skills for discernment and trust. Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for discernment. That goes for athletes and management, alike.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

-George Bernard Shaw


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Human Resources: Workaholism vs. So-Called Millennial Attitudes

Stereotypes are often unfair.

There’ve been lots of talk and studies about the challenges associated with Millennials in the workforce – that they’re self-absorbed, want to start at the top and that they lack a strong work ethic.

Often that’s true. But not always. It’s also true that Millennials have a common-sense approach to work-family balance.

woman smilingWorkaholics place too much emphasis on work – it interferes with their personal happiness, health and relationships.

So, here’s the conundrum: Workaholics are most-likely an organization’s most-productive employees. They’re the most-reliable at crunch time.

However, they’re also the most abused by obsessive managers. Workaholics aren’t given opportunities to re-charge their physical and emotional batteries.

Burnout is an occupational hazard. So are stress and psychosomatic illnesses or even heart attacks or strokes.

Workaholism study

All of that’s in the findings of a study on workaholism by a University of Georgia (UGA) study, “All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism.”

Workaholics aren’t given opportunities to re-charge their physical and emotional batteries.

“Similar to other types of addictions, workaholics may feel a fleeting high or a rush when they’re at work, but quickly become overwhelmed by feelings of guilt or anxiety,” said Malissa Clark, Ph.D., an assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at UGA and lead author on the study.

“Looking at the motivations behind working, workaholics seem pushed to work not because they love it but because they feel internal pressure to work,” she added. This internal compulsion is similar to having an addiction.”

Dr. Clark’s co-authors include Jesse S. Michel, Florida International University; Ludmila Zhdanova, Carleton University; Shuang Y. Pui, Safeway Inc.; and Boris B. Baltes, Wayne State University.

Paying the price

Dr. Clark admits workaholism leads to promotions and helps career advancement.  But there is a heavy price to pay.

“Our results show that while unrelated to job performance, workaholism does influence other aspects like job stress, greater work-life conflict, decreased physical health and job burnout that indicate workers aren’t going to be productive,” she said.

“When you look more broadly at the outcomes that were overwhelmingly negative and compare those to other analyses of work engagement, which were overwhelmingly positive, we see that there are two very different constructs,” she said.

“One is feeling driven to work because of an internal compulsion, where there’s guilt if you’re not working – that’s workaholism,” she explained.

“The other feeling is wanting to work because you feel joy in work and that’s why you go to work every day, because you enjoy it,” she asserted. “And I say that is work engagement.”


Dr. Clark said workaholism is almost synonymous with perfectionism and type A personalities.

“We found that, for samples with a greater percentage of women, the relationship between age and workaholism was positive, meaning that older women were more likely to be workaholics than younger women,” the professor said.

“In samples that had more men, the relationship between age and workaholism is negative, meaning that older men were less likely to be workaholics than younger men.”

In conclusion, be a workaholic if you want. But you might pay a heavy price.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles:

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career — If job stress is slowing you down, you can jump start your career with these 10 reminders.

24 Tips to Reduce Stress, Work Happier for Top Performance — You have a 35 percent better chance of living longer if you feel happy. That’s the upshot from a 2011 British study that links feelings of happiness to longevity. So the emphasis is on feelings. Makes sense, right? The study acknowledges some people inherently feel happy.

30 Time Management, Stress Reducing Tips — Tips that will enable you to take bold measures to invest in your future and make money by saving time and reducing stress.

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress — First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse.

Your Career Success is Determined by your Spouse’s Personality — Study — Your spouse’s attitude has an indirect, powerful impact on whether you succeed in your career. That’s the conclusion from an important study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.

“You can’t afford not to take a vacation.”

-Mac Eadie


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

For High Performance, 10 Steps to Manage Conflict

For progress, a business needs human interaction for ideas and innovation. Sometimes, argument, debate and conflict prove to be productive catalysts for high performance.

Of course, such catalysts can be obstacles to success, too.

A perfectly running organization is like a high-performance race car. Like all high-performance machines, well-managed organizations need ongoing attention and maintenance.

ID-10063171 David Castillo DominiciOtherwise, poor morale and teamwork, and conflict lead to losses in profit.

Here are the simplest steps to manage conflict:

1. Be a good role model 

Managers become leaders — in leading by example. The list is long for steps to bolster a culture of mutual respect. That includes good listening skills, using discretion and being respectful. 

Water-cooler gossip must be discouraged. Listen to the complaints and document them. Be fair. Don’t fan the flames of discontent. 

2. Walk the floor twice a day

Managers succeed in part by observing their employees, and engaging them with open-ended questions. Show empathy, and interest in their work and personal lives. Encourage a career/life balance.

A perfectly running organization is like a high-performance race car.

3. Create and use a manual 

This minimizes and helps to prevent confusion and nebulous communication. Make it visible and obvious.

4. Review policies 

If you have teamwork issues, remember you might have problems with the policies not the people. Evaluate practices, procedures and policies. 

5. Examine your performance-appraisal process 

Check to make sure you are fair and accurate in how you evaluate the performance of your team members. That is accomplished by developing a mindset for leadership in performance reviews.

You must conduct regular employee-performance reviews with confidence and take steps to see that employees feel they get valid feedback.

Standards should be explicitly clear. If a team member doesn’t understand job requirements that’s the fault of the manager not the employee. The employee should be told how performance will be measured and recognized.

Team members deserve to know three things:

— What’s expected

— How they’re doing

— What’s in in for them

6. Strive for effective communication and team meetings

When your organization is running well, don’t take it for granted. Regular meetings will help you prevent problems from rearing their ugly heads without your knowledge. Be accessible between meetings.

7. Encourage a positive learning curve for employees

Conflicts occur when there’s not a supportive environment for learning. Invest time in coaching. Make sure each new employee has a mentor for support.

8. Keep your eyes open

Be a good observer — like a private eye or detective. Ask questions, but focus on observing. You’ll learn more that way.

9. Focus on succession planning

You might need to hire people for certain skilled positions. But long term, you’ll be better off if you hire new people to start at lower positions and make it possible for them to work their way up.

Employees will be better able to learn your organization. You will encourage employee loyalty, and you’ll enhance your prospects for strong morale.

10. Continue to observe and listen

Listen to all complaints even from your most difficult employees. True, some employees must be terminated, but some are merely devils advocates who need to be heard.

There might be good reasons for their discontent. Listen to them privately to learn what they think and how they feel. You might be surprised, pleasantly, at what you learn.

From the Coach’s Corner, here more management tips:

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — Questions may arise about human resources. How to properly evaluate employees? Here are the answers.

Easy Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Morale — Employee morale affects performance. Study after study shows a significant percentage of worker morale is mediocre, at best. That’s often the case even for companies that are able to pay competitive wages and benefits. As you might guess, it’s a bigger quandary for business owners that don’t have enough cash flow for raises.

Strategies: If a Valued Employee Wants a Raise, and Money’s Tight — In this economy, whether you operate a large or small company, trepidation of higher payroll expenses can turn your hands cold with perspiration. That’s especially true when talented employees suddenly ask for a raise. Talented workers are an asset – your human capital.

Red Flags You’re Losing an Employee — In employee retention, you never have to be surprised again. There are common traits among employees who are likely to quit — even those who are secretive about their plans.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem. Check your attendance records. Monday is the most-abused day of the week and January is the worst month for absenteeism.

“Kindness is in your power, even when fondness is not.”

-Samuel Johnson


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Workplace Conflicts – Is the ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ a Myth or Reality?

Regrettably, women’s same-sex conflicts in the workplace have long been maligned in books as inherently more problematic than men’s. Hence, the negative stereotypes – the “queen bee syndrome” or worse, “cat fights.”

The typecasting prompted a 2013 academic report, “Much Ado about Nothing? Observers’ Problematization of Women’s Same-Sex Conflict at Work.”

The research concludes it’s nonsense. Two researchers, Leah D. Sheppard and Karl Aquino of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia published a paper in the journal, Academy of Management Perspectives.

Excerpts from an Academy of Management press release:

They researched three workplace conflict scenarios – they were the same except for the names of the individuals involved. In one version they were Adam and Steven; in a second version they were Adam and Sarah; and in a third they were Sarah and Anna.

The authors wrote “when all else is equal…female-female conflict is generally perceived as having more negative implications for the individuals involved…than male-male or male-female conflicts….Observers view female-female conflict as more problematic.”

As the authors put it, “Female participants were just as likely as male participants to problematize female-female conflicts.”

Workplace ramifications

The authors wrote this “could have serious implications for women’s work-related outcomes. For example, a manager might decide against assigning two female subordinates to a task that requires them to work together if he or she suspects that they cannot set their interpersonal difficulties aside.

“This might result in lost opportunities for female employees, given the ever-increasing implementation and importance of teamwork in organizational settings. Women who have had interpersonal difficulties with female coworkers in the past might be overlooked for future career-development opportunities as a result.”

More study results:

  • In the experiment that yielded these conclusions, 152 individuals, 47 percent female, from an online participant pool were randomly assigned to read about a workplace conflict involving two account managers in a consulting firm. The conflict developed when manager A gave orders to an intern working for manager B without informing manager B, as a result of which manager B complained to their common supervisor. This in turn led to an angry confrontation between the two managers in B’s office.
  • Participants were asked to make judgments on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) on three sets of items: 1) the likelihood that the two managers would be able to repair their relationship going forward; 2) the extent to which the conflict would affect the two individuals’ job satisfaction, commitment to the company, and interest in leaving the company; and 3) the effect of the dispute between two of the firm’s 10 account managers on the reputation, morale, and performance of the organization as a whole.
  • On the first question – whether the two managers would repair their relationship – participants judged the likelihood to be 4.1 on a scale of 1 to 7 when the conflict was between Adam and Sarah, 4.2 when it was between Adam and Steven but only 3.6 (roughly 15 percent lower) when they managers were named Anna and Sarah.

This suggests observers are “inclined to believe that women hold grudges against one another and struggle to move on from past transgressions. This perception casts female-female conflict in a particularly shameful and petty light.”

  • On the second question – the extent the conflict would disrupt the account managers’ feelings for the company -participants rated it at 4.0 when the conflict was between Adam and Sarah, 4.5 when it was between Adam and Steven, and 5.0 when it was between Anna and Sarah, a disruption 25 percent greater in raw terms than that caused by male-female conflict and more than 10 percent greater than that occasioned by male-male conflict.
  • On the third question – damage to the organization – there was no significant difference between the effect of female-female conflict and the effects of the other two.

Researchers’ reactions

The researchers hope their findings will persuade “researchers and practitioners to think more critically about the language that is often used…to describe conflict between women at work. For example, we are hard-pressed to think of a term comparable to catfight that is regularly used to label conflict and competition between two men.

“Although this particular term is more common in the media than in academic research, management scholars have widely adopted the queen bee syndrome terminology. This term is troubling because it dehumanizes women and suggests that competition and conflict between women is akin to a disease, when, in reality, moderate amounts of same-sex hostility are natural and expected across male and female members of many species.”


The authors hope for change.

“Hopefully, our findings will have some effect, however modest, in increasing managers’ awareness of this bias when they have to deal with workplace conflicts,” said Dr. Sheppard. “And, although I hate to put the onus on women, it also might benefit them to avoid ruminating with coworkers about their same-sex conflicts, since this study suggests that observers are already inclined to overly dramatize them.”

Amen. The use of labels is often unproductive.

My sense is that’s also why career women often have to be more careful than men in their communication styles – to develop an image of being assertive not aggressive. That’s another obstacle for women to overcome particularly if they management ambitions, so here’s how: 18 Tips for Productive Behavior to Win in Office Politics.

As a former member of the Academy of Management, I highly recommend it as an organization as well as its publications. The organization has 18,000 members in over 100 countries – the world’s-largest group geared for management research and teaching.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional resources:



“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

-Peter F. Drucker


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints

Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices.

It’s true that certain people are identified and groomed for promotion. But a 2011 study by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business would indicate large companies need to be more sophisticated in their human resources programs.

Ninety-two percent of the surveyed senior executives say they’ve witnessed favoritism. Eighty-four percent say they’ve seen it at their companies. But only 23 percent confess using the practice.

Research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted study headed by PSB’s Jonathan Gardner, who is also a grad student at the university.

“This study confirms what many have suspected – that favoritism plays a much greater role in employee advancement than companies normally portray,” Gardner said. “I hope this study will help us acknowledge the prevalence of favoritism in employee promotions so that we can find ways to better understand the role it plays.”

According to the school, 29 percent admitted they only considered one candidate in their last promotion of a person.

“When more than one candidate was considered, 56 percent said they already knew who they wanted to promote before deliberations,” said the school. “Not surprisingly, of that group, nearly all – 96 percent – report promoting the pre-selected individual.”

What were the reasons given for promoting an employee?

The top five answers:

  • Has excelled in current position
  • Leadership potential
  • Job-related skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • History of strong performance reviews

Gardner shows some understanding of the typical executive’s dilemmas.

“Employees should keep in mind,” said Gardner, “that despite widespread favoritism, objective measures such as past performance, leadership potential, and job-related skills are viewed as key criteria by those in charge of promotion decisions, and it is important for young workers to focus their efforts on these factors that are well within their control.”

In our litigious society, however, the risks are great. Not to mention employee morale if word gets out in the rumor mill.

Here’s a basic checklist – what to do if an EEOC complaint is filed:

  1. Be comprehensive with detailed, strategic responses.
  2. Have a paper trail for your HR decisions. Documentation is critical.
  3. Make certain your responses are accurate.
  4. Show your track record’s consistency in fair treatment of employees.
  5. Respectfully education the EEOC about your business – don’t assume EEOC employees understand your actions.
  6. Act with confidentiality. Demonstrate your respect for individuals’ privacy.
  7. Respond promptly. Don’t delay and ask for extensions of your appeal.
  8. Have good lawyer, and seek advice.
  9. Assuming you have insurance including employment-practices liability coverage, keep your carrier in the loop.
  10. Keep all relevant documentation.

So beware.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related HR strategies:

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy? — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

These 13 Red Flags Are Signs Employees Dislike You — Your employees might not tell you that they hate you, but there are many signs that will tip you off.

10 Tips to Plan for Your Critical Discussions with Employees — Careful planning is necessary before you give an employee an appraisal or in advance of terminating the person. Here are 10 tips.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

“Discrimination is a disease.”
-Roger Staubach


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Diverse Age Differences at Work Mean Return to Status Quo in Attitudes – Robert Half Study

Despite the 21st century’s widespread age differences in the workplace, at least one thing hasn’t changed – many attitudes of workers are similar. For example, employees are often most-interested in company stability, according to a 2010 study by Robert Half.

Sadly, for many companies, that might also be why 40 percent of respondents were apt to shop around in seeking a new job.

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“Tere has been considerable focus on the differences among various generations, but our research confirms many similarities,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

“Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” he explained

The study involved more than 1,400 people working fulltime in North America.

The respondents were either college graduates or are in school. Just over 500 were hiring managers.

The demographics included baby boomers, aged 46 to 64; Generation X, 32 to 45; and Generation Y, 21 to 31.

Among the three generations, the study reveals five similarities:

  • Job security was preferred over working for a community-minded firm or even for a shorter commute
  • Salary, company stability and benefits were the most salient
  • Most-prized benefits – healthcare and dental coverage, vacation time and matching 401 (k) plans
  • The Great Recession is the main reason for those planning to work past 65
  • Diversity in work experience is believed to be beneficial

Here are the generational differences:

  • Following the downturn, many planned to job hunt. The breakdown included 36 percent of Generation Ys, 30 percent of Generation Xs, and 24 percent of baby boomers.
  • Among the Generation X, 38 percent planned to upgrade skills and 33 percent percent planned to stay with their employers.
  • For the respondents planning to work past 65, 54 percent were baby boomers, 46 percent were Generation X, and 39 percent were Generation Y.
  • 34 percent of Generation X and 27 percent of baby boomers managed to add to their retirement nest eggs since the beginning of the downturn.
  • Many were concerned about differences in coworker work ethics and balancing career with their lives. That’s 54 percent of baby boomers, 45 percent of Generation X, and 35 percent of Generation Y.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. Compensation reviews also should be conducted to ensure that pay is competitive.”

Well said.

If you want, you can get a copy of the study.

From the Coach’s Corner, more HR resources:

“Never put off the work till tomorrow what you can put off today.”



Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Just When Bosses Learn Social Networks Are a Pain, It Gets Worse

Employers have been sweating over poor worker productivity because they access social networks, and play appointment gaming hosted by Web sites.

All of this exacerbates another issue: The increasing security danger for employers. (See a $1 million lesson for bosses in this article: 5 Safety Measures to Thwart Mounting Social-Network Attacks.)

Yes, increasingly employees are playing appointment or asynchronous games. Encarta defines asynchronous as “relating to or using an electronic communication method that sends data in one direction, one character at a time.”

Ouch. It doesn’t sound productive does it?

ID-100267327 stockimagesWell, it isn’t. It allows your workers to play games with their friends even when they’re not even online.

The games include Café World, Farmville, Happy Aquarium, Pet Society and Restaurant City. The developers are Crowdstar, Playfish, Slashkey and Zynga.

Employees lose a double-digit percentage of their productivity because of such games, according to published reports.

This isn’t surprising news to employers who have already found it necessary to make social networks off-limits to employees.

A Reuters’ published report quoted Rebecca Wetterman at Nucleus Research, www.nucleusresearch.com, who said nearly 50 percent of white collar workers use social networks at work.

The report also attributed a claim by Facebook that one in five of its members play the social networking games during office hours.

If you have to meet a payroll, this is an ominous development. Facebook has more than 1 billion members.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information with solutions:

Web Security Checklist and Warning about Mobile BankingHere is an online security checklist and a stern warning about using mobile online services at your bank or credit union.

How to Enhance Security in Your Company’s Wireless Network — Do you take it for granted that your wireless network is secure? Don’t make that assumption. Wireless routers present dangers. Your router is vulnerable to hackers and, hence, security issues. If you’re really serious about security, WIFI might not be for you. A wired network might be more desirable. 

BYOD, Mobile-Banking Warnings about Security Prove Prophetic — Not to be gauche, but in 2009 you saw the Internet security warning here first – mobile banking is so risky an IT security guru said don’t do it. The warning was prophetic.

Tips For Internet Security to Prepare you for New Cyber Attacks — Do you need more evidence to be diligent in using best practices for security on the Internet? According to a Web security study in 2013, Internet attacks have been impacting businesses, with the majority of them reporting significant effects in the form of increased help desk time, reduced employee productivity and disruption of business activities.

Security Precautions to Take Following Citibank’s Second Reported Online Breach — Citibank’s admission that private information of 360,083 North American Citigroup credit card accounts was stolen by hackers in 2011, which affected 210,000 customers, serves as a warning for all businesses and consumers to take precautionary steps. The bank’s May 2011 security breach wasn’t reported until weeks later. Originally, Citibank said 200,000 accounts were affected.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” 

-Bill Gates


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.