Is your employee under the influence? What to do?

What does Management or HR do if an employee shows up for work under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

It happens, in fact in the world of HR anything and everything happens. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in New York City, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the US. In fact, 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence.

So what do you do if one of your employees shows up for work under the influence of drugs or inebriated? Here are some steps that can help in those situations.

  1. Remove the employee from the work area. That doesn’t mean physically, just verbally request he/she come to your office. However, if the employee refuses, is causing harm to other employees or equipment or supplies or if you believe they are dangerous to themselves or others, you will need to call security, another supervisor for assistance. In extreme cases you may need to call the police. The goal is to cause as little disruption as possible to the other employees, their workplace and their production. It is your first responsibility to provide a safe workplace for your employees so whatever you need to do to make sure that happens, do it.
  2. Take the employee aside so you can have a conversation with them about their behavior. You can have a confidential conversation with them but make sure you have a witness to the conversation. Talk with them about the behavior you notice without diagnosing the problem. For example, you might say that others have observed their slurred speech or difficult walking. It may be that they have taken a new prescription drug and is causing a reaction, or they are having a health issue. Don’t accuse and don’t diagnose! Tell the employee you are concerned about them. Listen to their answer. If there is a reasonable cause, you should request that the employee take a drug test. Reasonable cause would generally mean slurred speech, impaired mobility, an odor of alcohol, or an incident that may have been caused by substance abuse.
  3. If the employee refuses the drug test, that is likely grounds for immediate dismissal. If they agree, make sure the employee is given a drug and alcohol test immediately. Do not allow the employee to drive themselves at any point, not to get the drug test and not to drive home. Have a supervisor drive them to the drug test site and wait for the results. If the results are positive for drugs and/or alcohol, drive them home. It is not a good idea to have a conversation with the employee about their employment at that time. Do not engage in any conversation regarding their future with the company while they are under the influence. They will likely not be able to recall the conversation, they may get agitated and cause more disruption or even harm. In any event, this employee is not in the condition you want them to be in while having those conversations. Set a time for the next day for them to come to your office to discuss their future with the company. That gives you time to plan the next step.
  4. What does your policy state? Some policies have a no tolerance regarding drugs and alcohol on the job. If that is your policy, the employee should be terminated immediately. If your company has a policy that allows for rehabilitation and if you have an Employment Assistance Program this is a great resource for you as a manager, employer or HR. Contact them and get their guidance on how best to handle the situation. Take the time while the employee goes home for the day to determine your next step and the message you will communicate at the meeting the next day. Most of all, follow your policy and treat all similar situations the same.
  5. Communicate the plan to the employee’s manager and/or supervisor so that you can plan for their absence if necessary. Do not communicate to other employees about the situation. Talking to an employee’s peer about another employee’s performance, disciplinary action or reason for dismissal is very unprofessional. It leaves employees uneasy and will lose any trust they have in you.
  6. Document, Document, Document. Make sure you document the behavior as well as the events that took place. The documentation may come in handy if the employee complains how they were treated or of others felt unsafe and complain. And if necessary, the documentation will come in handy if the employee files a law suit.
Ever made a bad hiring decision?

Ever made a bad hiring decision?

Most of us have made the wrong hiring decision. Maybe we were up against a wall and needed someone right away. Maybe we ignored signs that they were not the right fit. Or maybe we thought it would all work out, he/she is a really nice person and needs a job. You are not alone in making these mistakes. According to a survey done by Harris Poll, here’s what employers said when asked about hiring the wrong person:

35% thought that while the candidate didn’t have all the needed skills, thought they could learn quickly.

33% found out the candidate lied about his or her qualifications.

32% took a chance on a nice person.

30% were pressured to fill the role quickly.

29% had a hard time finding qualified candidates.

29% focused on skills and not attitude.

25% ignored warning signs.

10% lacked adequate tools to find the right person.

10% didn’t do a complete background check.

7% said they didn’t work closely enough with HR.


While it is nice to know we have company in making bad hiring decisions. The bad news is that the average cost of making those bad hires is around $15,000. That is a lot of money, by any company standards.


Here’s a few tips on making better hiring decisions.


  1. Have multiple people interview the candidate. I suggest the interviews be separate, no ganging up on the candidate. Get different perspectives.
  2. Spend more time with the candidate, get them to talk in the interview. The candidate should do 70% of the talking. Are you talking too much in the interview?
  3. Post the job on Indeed, Career Builder or another job sit. Don’t just hire someone’s friend because they need a job. And please don’t just wait until someone walks in to fill the job. Be proactive!
  4. Spend some time on exactly what you think the candidate should know, what skills they need and other behaviors that will have them be successful in the job.
  5. When you interview the candidates, ask them specifically to talk to you about how they have used those skills in past jobs. Or better still have them demonstrate those skills so that you can make sure you have more than just their word on whether or not they possess the right skills.
  6. Finally, run a background check and check references of previous employers.



Chances are good that you are going to hire a new employee in 2018. Lots of employees are moving around to new jobs this year and new jobs are being created. Good Luck!

A New Take on New Year’s Resolutions

A New Take on New Year’s Resolutions

If you haven’t already, it is now time to set some goals for 2018. When I look at my goals, they are mostly based on habits that I want to change or begin. If they are not specific habits, the success of the goals hinges on my habits. For example, if I want to lose 20 pounds, I will need to change my diet and exercise routine; That requires habit changes. If I want to look for a new job in 2018, I will need to begin the habit of spending more time networking, or carving out some time during the week to do the research and apply for jobs online. So you get the drift, the goals or resolutions, as we refer them at this time of the year, either are new habits or changed behaviors or they require new habits to support the desired outcome. It is true that it takes 21 days, give or take, to develop a new habit. If we round that number up to 30 days, just to give ourselves some wiggle room, that means that we could – if we only changed one habit per month – effectively change 12 habits in 2018!. Wow, that is really
amazing. That is life changing. According to the book, Switch, changing habits is like building a muscle. The more you do it, the more muscle memory you have and the easier it gets. So here is the challenge, write down your goals for 2018. Remember the SMART goals rule, be, Specific, Measurable, Actionable (make sure you are in control of the outcome), Realistic (okay, at least 50% realistic) and Timed. Now take a step back and really look at your goals. What habits do you need to create or change in order to make those happen? Perhaps you will phase in different habits every 30 days in order to meet your goal. For example, maybe for the first 30 days you skip deserts on weekdays. The second 30 days, you ramp up your exercise. The next 30 days you change to whole foods eating plans. Whatever it is that gets you to your ultimate goal.
What you can accomplish by changing one habit at a time is remarkable! Good luck! Have a wonderful, healthy, successful 2018.

Strategic HR – Why it Matters

Strategic HR – Why it Matters

Employers depend upon their employees to provide the products and services for their customers. In most cases, employers would not be able to provide those services if not for those employees. Thus, employees are very critical to the success of the businesses.

When you look strategically at what is next for your business in 2018 – I encourage you to consider what is next for your employees. What is happening in your industry that requires change in your company? What is happening at a broader level, economically or possibly national trends that impact your business?

Breaking down HR into it’s “parts” helps to understand what HR is and why HR Strategy is critical to the success of your business.

  1. Getting the Right People on the Bus – hiring the right people is one of the single best things you can do for the success of your business. Figuring out what avenues to use to locate the employees and then identify the right candidates is a big task and it is necessary to get that right. If you are not able to find the talent for your jobs, you may need to create an apprenticeship or find an employee who is interested and wants to learn the skill you need.
  2. New Hire Orientation and Training. Many companies don’t spend the necessary time in this space. Employers tend to move directly from hiring to expecting the employee can read the minds of the supervisors. It is a great investment of time to talk about the culture of the company, the company rules and the expectations of the employee both from the larger company standpoint and of the individual job role.  An employee handbook can begin to identify the culture, the work rules, and policies. That is a great start. In addition, you’ll  need a specific, detailed job description for the role the new employee is filling. Take the time to review the job description and the handbook with the new employee.
  3. What is in the future for the company? Where do you expect to grow? New location? New skills necessary? What is the plan for growing the employee workforce as the company grows? Perhaps you have employees in place that you see moving up and taking on more responsibilities. If you do, you will want to begin now (or soon) to provide stretch assignments for those employees to test the waters.
  4. Is your company compliant with the laws and regulations, there are many trust me, that surround employment. If you are not keeping up, you’ll need to plan for addressing that risk by hiring a professional. Consider Wise HR, an employment attorney, or hiring a full time or part time HR certified employee to keep up with the changes and get your company into compliance.
  5. Manager/Supervisor training – what will your employees need to be successful in the next year? Are there new skills that you have identified that will be critical in the next few years for the success of your company? If there are, have you identified current employees who can learn those new skills? Make sure to plan ahead for the budget needed to train your employees.

In strategic planning it is always good to identify strengths,weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your company. Set goals at the beginning of the year, and don’t neglect them throughout the year. Set smaller goals to make sure you get to the bigger goal for the year.


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5 Mail Deliveries You Can’t Ignore

5 Mail Deliveries You Can’t Ignore

When I sort the mail, I often sort into 3 categories.

The first pile is mail that I plan to toss into the recycle bin right away – probably won’t even bother to read, like the latest credit card offer or a promotion that I have no  interest in.

The second category is for mail that I may take a closer look at but will likely go into the first category – a promotion that I might be interested it, but need to consider or look at closer.

The third category is the most important – bills I need to pay or a check or bank statement. For business owners and HR folks, this third category should also include mail that you must not ignore. Because ignoring it would probably cause great harm to the business or frustration to my employee. Here are a few things that would be included in the very important category.

5 Documents you might get in the mail that you should NOT ignore

Wage Garnishments

Wage garnishments are sometimes delivered by a process server but often just come in the mail. Garnishments are a court order. Employers are required to garnish wages from your employees for the purpose of repaying a debt. The debt may be owed to the IRS, child support payments, a landlord or other creditor. Employees who have garnishments against them are protected under the law – so make sure you do not fire the employee for the trouble associated with the collection of the wages. Follow the instructions on the garnishment, including the time frame for the garnishment and call if you have a question.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

If your company receives an official complaint from the EEOC do not ignore it – respond in the required time frame. The complaint may be from an applicant that did not get the job and felt they were discriminated against. It may be from a current or terminated employee who felt they were treated unfairly. And it may be a current employee that feels that his manager did not respond appropriately and didn’t know where to go to have the complaint heard. In any event, investigate the complaint and respond with the documentation and position statement. It may be helpful to call upon an outside source to investigate (Wise HR can help with the investigation) and either Wise HR or an attorney to develop the position statement response.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance request have a required time limit to respond.  Employees who have been discharged will likely receive unemployment pay, even if they were not doing a satisfactory job. However, depending upon the length of time they were employed and the reason for their leaving – you might have a chance to have the claim not be against your company. Answer the questions on the form and return it – you have a short window to return the completed form, so don’t delay!

Department of Labor

Similar to the EEOC claim, a claim from the Department of Labor is serious and should be responded to honestly and within the time limits on the claim. You may need an HR professional like Wise HR or an attorney to help you respond appropriately and in the best interest of your company.

Verification of Employment and Wages

Request for verification of wages and employment. If your employee is buying a house or applying for credit for other reasons, they may be waiting for your response to the request to finalize their plans. Don’t hold up their dream of purchasing a home or even refinancing – complete it and put it in the mail immediately. It is just good for employee moral and good manners.

If the document appears to be “official and important” and you don’t know what to do – don’t set it aside. Instead, reach out to someone who can help you, Wise HR, your attorney or even call a number provided in the document and ask some questions.

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