Making employment decisions in difficult times
Managers encounter very difficult situations in the course of their work. At times, they have to do certain things they don’t agree with in the course of their job operation. A good example of a manager’s dilemma in regard to making difficult decisions is the case of Gita Bhandari. Bhandari is an employee who has dedicated her time and resources to serve the company. She even foregoes many great opportunities to join this startup company and she was promised compensation in the form of nominal salary and option. As operating costs of the company are skyrocketing, the manager is faced with the task of finding ways to reduce operating costs. Laying off some employees is one possible way to reduce costs. In this case, the manager is considering laying off Bhandari, which is an option he should not follow.
Laying off employees, in this case, Bhandari, is just one way of reducing operating costs. However, it should be the last option that managers should consider. They should first consider other alternatives which may include restricting. It includes the closing of absolute branches or plants that are part of the company. This helps to reduce the operating cost of running these parts of the business that are not profitable. Improving internal processes is another example of restricting. It advocates, managers to improve the working conditions of the employees so as to increase their morale and motivate them to work harder.
Moreover, managers can consider hiring freeze. As most companies lay off employees from certain departments such as technical employees, they hire employees in the departments they feel are necessary for the company to succeed. Other that firing some and hiring more, managers should consider an internal shift of the current employees to cover those responsibilities that are open. Communication with employees about the company situation before firing them should also be considered. Employees are very initiative when it comes to generating ideas, especially with their jobs on the line. They can give the manager great ideas on how to handle such a difficult situation which the manager can implement later.
Threatening Bhandari to surrender some of her options unwillingly is not an option open to the manager. It is illegal for employers to do such a thing. They cannot just threaten employees due to their lack of similar mindedness. Employees have the legal right to sue employers with such kind of conduct. As such, the manager should not threaten to fire Bhandari. Other than a possible lawsuit, threatening employees destructs their comfortable working environment, thus reducing employees’ morale and productivity which has negative effects on the company.
If Bhandari is terminated, she can sue the company on the basis of wrongful termination. Most employees are employed on the basis of at-will employment. They thus can leave their workplaces at will, provided a notice is given to the employer. Employers, on the other hand, can fire employees provided they follow the legal guidelines provided by the state. Bhandari and her employer have a covenant of good faith. It is the agreement they made whereby she was to be compensated for joining the company’s labor force. She was to obtain compensation in forms of nominal salary and stock options. Covenant of good faith is an exemption that forms a basis of wrongful termination lawsuit which Bhandari can enforce. As such, she can prevail and win the case against her former employer.
The manager could have avoided the potential lawsuit by first communicating with Bhandari. When communication is exercised, employees feel that their opinion is valued by the employer. Together, they would have agreed whether Bhandari can be terminated and compensation she could receive or other terms. This would have prevented her from suing the company as the termination would have been agreed upon by both the employer and employee.
Can jokes create a hostile environment?
Jokes are one of the ways through which employees use to encourage motivation among each other. At times, managers use the same criteria to encourage their employees to work harder and increase their productivity. When properly used, jokes can encourage employees to work harder, but managers should be careful as to which level the joke accelerates. However, some jokes can become intimidating and bring about a hostile work environment. Though some employees don't complain, they may fear losing their jobs or becoming victims of hostile treatment by their coworkers whenever they complain about bad jokes.
Catherine Van Order is one of the employers who has realized that black Americans in his organization fear to communicate. The fear is mainly attributed to fear of loosening their jobs as well as becoming victims of hostile treatment by coworkers. The first thing she should do as a manager is to inform these employees of their rights and freedoms. One of the rights is having a free working environment. Though afraid of being a victim of their coworkers, they should speak up other than just follow other people's decision. They should not be afraid to talk about their problems. The manager should assure them of absolute confidentiality. She should not use what they tell her to address directly with the problem. Rather, she should find a creative way to handle the issue without mentioning them or directly referring to them to avoid victimization.
Moreover, the manager should assure them that they would not lose their jobs if they speak up. Management can achieve this through reassuring them of the reasons why the company needs them. Managers could assure them that they cannot be laid off as they have the skills and professional qualifications the company requires. They could also inform them of the wrongful termination lawsuit that employees can file as a result of being terminated without legal cause. This would motivate them to communicate and complain to the management if they were uncomfortable with anything happening in the company. By so doing, managers would be able to find a basis to address the issue.
Managers can also create a means of communication that do not address the names of those who pass information to the management. Such methods include complaints and compliments boxes as well as suggestion boxes around the company. These allow people to speak freely without being mentioned or branded as whistle-blowers by their co-workers. The method helps managers, such as Catherine Van, realize whether their intercession is needed. When employees complain, she should find a way to inform other employees how much their bad jokes are affecting other employees both in terms of productivity and personal lives. However, she should not directly address that stereotype jokes affect black Americans. Rather, she should address the issue wholesomely not just affecting black Americans, but people of different races and not a specific race as they are the ones that complained.
Catherine Van Order should also consider that she may be wrong. It could be that her vision is blurred by the fact that she views, jokes that incorporate race as inappropriate. She should first observe and see how such jokes affected the employees as compared to when the jokes were not here. If the employees are not affected, she should consider not addressing the matter any longer as it is redundant. However, if they do affect some of the employees, she should find a way to address the issue without victimizing anyone. One best way is to find another source of motivation that the employees can use other than jokes. It would replace the bad jokes without affecting the productivity of the employees and without victimization.
Rauramo, P. (2015). Preventing and Handling Inappropriate Behaviour in the Workplace. The Centre for Occupational Safety, Private Service Sector Group.
Young, S., & Herendeen, T. (2010). Preventing Wrongful Termination Employment Claims. Flame(4), pp. 52-53.