So I was standing in line to get my morning coffee when I overheard a conversation between two people in front of me about President Trump’s comment to the Democratic Congresswomen that they should stop complaining and just go back to where they came from. I expected this to evolve into a political conversation until a middle aged man interjected, “All I know is that if I said something like that at work, I would be fired.” “Me too,” chimed in the person next to him. “I work for [BIG CORPORATION] and I would be gone by the end of the day!”
Suddenly my HR mind began to churn. Until that moment I had not considered our President’s comments in the context of a work environment. Yet these comments went straight to the point. What would a company do if an employee, let alone its President, made a comment like that to another employee or group of employees? More importantly, what should a company do? Having worked for large corporations, I know how they all have employee handbooks, company policies and procedures and trained human resources staff to address, investigate and resolve this type of event, but what about small businesses?
The sad truth is that most small businesses would be completely unprepared for something like this. Entrepreneurs most often want to avoid big corporate bureaucracy and create more of a family type atmosphere at their companies. They avoid implementing policies to remain flexible in how they manage their work force and trust that their employees will appreciate this approach and not take advantage of it. However, as they continue to grow and hire more and more employees, eventually there will be one who takes advantage of this flexible work place. If not addressed quickly, the issues that are created and spread through the organization to negatively impact morale, productivity even the company culture.
So what should a small business do if faced with this situation? Ideally, it has an employee handbook and established company policies and procedures that address this type of racist comment. However, even if it does not, management must take quick action to conduct an investigation to determine the events that transpired and then take appropriate disciplinary actions. Lastly, it should communicate to all employees that this and other types of racist comments are unacceptable.
Still, most small businesses do not have the expertise to develop these policies, conduct an investigation or draft a communication that will properly address the situation and not make it worse. This is where Total Team Solutions can help. We work with many small businesses in Connecticut and New York to assist them with these and many other human resource related needs, such as drafting employee handbooks and other policies, conducting investigations, addressing employee performance issues and ensuring compliance with the myriad of federal and state regulations with which all companies must comply.
For more information on how Total Team Solutions can help your small business, contact John Morlock at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 1-800-836-9678, ext. 5.