HR in summer: sun, fun and workplace headaches

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007

FlipFlops.jpg

While our daily weather is not always an indicator, summer is just around the corner. It’s this season that can cause employers some of their greatest challenges.

People want to take time off during the next few months, but for some organizations, the summer months are busy, which makes letting employees go on vacation very difficult.

Finding the right balance between granting vacation time to employees anxious to play in the sunshine while meeting the organization’s needs is often tricky.

Work attire is another summertime headache. Employees, reveling in the warmer weather, find business-casual dress codes restrictive. Employers struggle with questions about bare legs, shorts, sleeveless T-shirts, midriff displays, and flip-flops.

How much skin showing is allowed?  Can men work without a shirt? Are sheer tops appropriate? Are cropped pants acceptable? Can employers have one standard for the office and a separate one for the plant? (The answer to this last one is “yes.”) According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com, the worst work apparel mistakes during summer months are: denim shorts, short skirts, revealing tops, flip-flops, workout attire, beach wear and concert T-shirts or shirts with offensive slogans or logos.

Then there are the temperature fluctuations and how to address them. What if someone is too cold and others are complaining of the heat? There seems to be no perfect air-conditioning setting.

That situation is far easier to resolve, however, than those in which employees are subjected to much higher heat levels because of their work. Employees in bakeries, foundries, maintenance shops or on construction sites or road crews can be in harm’s way just doing their job during the summer months.

Employers must be proactive about preventive measures to ensure that heat stroke, fainting and heat rashes are avoided. OSHA (www.osha.gov/STLC/heatstress/index.html) provides a wide variety of tips and materials that can be helpful to employers in planning how to respond to the summer heat when it arrives.

Summer activities are also an employer’s concern. Is the organization going to sponsor an employee baseball or softball team? How will injuries that occur be handled? Without a specific waiver, are they likely to fall under workers’ compensation? Will there be a company picnic? How will any injuries resulting from the water balloon toss or the extended stretch by a usually sedentary employee for that errant volleyball be handled? Will alcohol be served or allowed?

The potential for em-ployer liability for accidents or incidents, both at the picnic and on the drive home, associated with any provided or allowed alcohol can be a major concern.

Summer is supposed to be a fun time, the time when everyone’s spirits are a little lighter and more upbeat. But for employers, the season presents a whole set of issues.

Being thoughtful about what concerns exist, determining how best to protect the business, and being clear with employees about what is and isn’t acceptable in advance will go a long way to ensuring that everyone can enjoy the warmth and opportunities that come with the pleasant weather.

— Judy Clark, SPHR
CEO, HR Answers
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Shifting Ground

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Bans on genetically modified crops create uncertainty for farmers.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS