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10.3 Cases and Problems

Chapter Summary

  • Performance issues in the workplace are common. Examples of performance issues include constant tardiness, too much time at work handling personal issues, mishandling of proprietary information, family issues, drug and alcohol problems, nonperformance, theft, and conflicts in the workplace.
  • Employees choose to leave organizations for internal and external reasons. Some of these may include a mismatch of career goals, conflict, too high expectations, time-management issues, and a mismatch between job and skills.
  • HR professionals should develop a set of policies that deal with performance issues in the workplace. The advantage to having such policies is that they can eliminate wrongful termination legal action.
  • A mandated issue is usually one that deals with safety or legal issues that go beyond the workplace. An infringement of this type of issue requires immediate attention.
  • A single incident may include a misstep of the employee, and the employee should immediately be spoken with about it, to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  • A behavior pattern occurs when an employee consistently exhibits a performance issue. This type of issue should be discussed with the employee and actions taken, such as providing more training, to ensure it does not continue. A persistent pattern occurs when an employee consistently exhibits a performance issue and does not improve, despite HR’s talking with him or her.
  • At some point during the persistent pattern, disciplinary action will likely need to be taken. It is important to develop consistent procedures on how to record and handle disciplinary issues.
  • Employee separation occurs in one of three ways. First, the employee resigns from the organization. Second, the employee is terminated for performance issues, and third, an employee absconds. Absconds means the employee abandons his or her job without submitting a formal resignation.
  • In some cases, a severance package may be offered to the employee upon his or her departure from the organization.
  • Rightsizing is a term used when an organization must cut costs through layoffs of employees. Development of criteria for layoffs, communication, and severance package discussion are all parts of this process.
  • Employment at will means that an employer can separate from an employee without cause, and vice versa.
  • Even though we have employment at will, a wrongful discharge can occur when there are violations of public policy, an employee has a contract with an employer, or an employer does something outside the boundaries of good faith.
  • Whistleblowing is when an employee notifies organizations of illegal or unethical activity. Whistleblowers are protected from discharge due to their activity.
  • A constructive discharge means the conditions are so poor that the employee has no choice but to leave the organization.
  • The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a law that requires companies of one hundred or more employees to notify employees and the community if fifty or more employees are to be laid off.
  • A retaliatory discharge is one that occurs if an employer fires or lays off an employee because of a charge the employee filed. For example, if an employee files a workers’ compensation claim and then is let go, this could be a retaliatory discharge.
  • The privacy of employees is an issue that HR must address. It is prudent to develop policies surrounding what type of monitoring may occur within an organization. For example, some organizations monitor e-mail, computer usage, and even postings on social network sites.
  • Drug testing is also a privacy issue, although in many industries requiring safe working conditions, drug testing can be necessary to ensure the safety of all employees.
  • A union is a group of workers who decide to work together toward a collective bargaining agreement. This agreement allows workers to negotiate as one, rather than as individuals.
  • The Wagner Act, passed in 1935, addresses many issues related to workers’ unionization.
  • The process of collective bargaining means to negotiate a contract between management and workers. HR is generally part of this process.
  • Interest based bargaining occurs when mutual interests are discussed, rather than starting with a list of demands.
  • Once an agreement is reached, HR is generally responsible for knowing the agreement and implementing any changes that should occur as a result of the agreement. One such example is understanding the grievance process.

Summary

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The author provides a video summary of this chapter.

Chapter Case

Who Goes, Who Stays?

The consulting firm you have worked for over the last year is having some financial troubles. The large contracts it once had are slowly going away, and as your company struggles to make payroll, it is clear that layoffs must occur. The sales staff has not been meeting the sales goals set for them, resulting in incorrect budgets.

It has been decided that at least three people in the sales department should be laid off. You create a spreadsheet with pertinent sales employee data:

Name Title Years with the company Last overall rating on performance evaluation (1–5 scale, 5 being highest) Last year’s sales goal met?
Deb Waters Sales Manager 1 3 N/A as her position is managerial
Jeff Spirits Account Manager 5 3 Yes, 1% over
Orlando Chang Account Manager 3 4 Yes, 10% over goal
Jake Toolmeyer Account Manager 2 4 No, 2% under goal
Audrey Barnes Account Manager 5 5 Yes, 15% over goal
Kelly Andrews Account Manager 1 2 No, 20% under goal
Amir Saied Account Manager 8 5 Yes, 5% over goal
Winfrey Jones Account Manager 4 2 No, 10% under goal
  1. Making reasonable assumptions, develop criteria for the layoffs in the sales department.
  2. Develop a plan as to how layoffs will be communicated with the individual as well as within the company.
  3. Discuss strategies to motivate those sales employees who stay with the organization.

Team Activities

  1. In a team of three to four people, discuss each of the situations and determine if you think the employee should receive immediate termination or a progressive discipline process, and provide justification for your responses:

    1. The employee stole one pack of office paper, stating he would be using it at home to perform his job.
    2. An employee posted how boring her job is on a Facebook status update. You know she is Facebook friends with several clients.
    3. The employee groped a colleague in the break room.
    4. You saw the employee’s résumé posted on LinkedIn, stating she was looking for a new job.
    5. The manager has told you the employee is difficult to work with and not liked by his colleagues.
  2. In teams of three to four, discuss the following situation: Your marketing manager has just told you she plans to dismiss her administrative assistant for nonperformance and needs help designing a severance package. The administrative assistant was with the organization for two-and-a-half years and his current salary is $35,670. What would you suggest he be offered? Discuss and be prepared to share your ideas with the class.