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Mary Beth Hartleb - HCC Human Resource Expert
Mary Beth Hartleb
The Top Five HR Mistakes (And How to Fix Them!)

By: Mary Beth Hartleb, CEOPrism Global Management Group, LLC

You may not get kicked out of school, but it may land you in court. Let's be honest. We are all really busy and what's the harm in using an employment application, handbook or a form from a former employer or an HR library you found online? Well, a lot. Boilerplate forms are just that. They are not customized for your industry or workplace and may not reflect the correct state or federal laws required for compliance. Your business is unique; your handbook, HR forms and policies should be too. 
Over or Under Compliance 
There are over 50 state and federal laws, and more if operations span multiple states. Many times employers are not aware of what laws apply so a "kitchen sink" or "minimalist approach" to policies, employee documents and handbooks are used.   
The "kitchen sink" approach may result in over-compliance; laws that do not apply to an organization but are noted in the handbook and employment policies. The Family Medical Leave Act is a big one. If the organization has less than 50 employees, in most cases compliance is not required yet FMLA policies are often in place.     
Under-compliance or the "minimalist approach" is also risky. Policies and procedures are necessary to address laws that do apply to the organization.   
Not Following Policies/Inconsistency
The handbook and policy are done but no one follows them or exceptions are made for certain "favorites." It is better to not have a policy than have one that is not followed or applied inconsistently.     
Relying on At-Will 
There is a lot of confusion about at-will and what it means. At-will is a common law doctrine that allows the employer the right to terminate with or without cause at any time and the employee the right to leave without notice for any reason. Many business owners believe this is a license to terminate "at-will." With the many anti-discrimination laws, however, employees may be able to challenge an employer's decision to terminate and allege the termination was not "at-will" but based on a discriminatory reason.     
Managing through Insurance Policies
Various types of insurance policies are available to businesses. Some are mandated, others make good business sense. However, taking the approach "we have insurance for that" as it relates to employment decisions such as hiring and firing is not smart business. A better idea is to pro-actively establish best in class HR practices that negate the need to tap into policies.
HR is more than pushing paper. It is a complex and multi-dimensional area of business that rapidly changes. Incorporating HR best practices and policies in your organization and keeping abreast of changes in the law are key to running a successful business.

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