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Cashless worker-motivation strategies for the COVID-19 era

In this pandemic when almost all organizations have scarce and limited resources, what would you advise on the best way to continue motivating workers? What would be the role of the human resource department in making such inexpensive motivational strategies successful? Please let me know. -- Green Submarine.

Employee motivational strategies during coronavirus disease 2019

Now that we’ve been locked down due to COVID-19, what would you advise people managers about motivating workers, including those under flexible work arrangements like work-from-home? -- White Lily.

ILO checklist to help mitigate COVID-19 at work

It appears to me that the authorities have not issued any specific guidelines for companies that may be affected by the pandemic after the lifting of the lockdown. No, we are not talking about financial assistance, but how do we ensure that our workers and managers are protected from the spread of COVID-19 as soon as they report back to work? Could you please help us determine a comprehensive and systematic protocol to ensure the safety and health of our workforce while they’re inside our office and factory? -- Fearful Nelly.

Secondment strategies to minimize layoffs due to COVID-19

We’re a small enterprise with about 200 regular workers, 90% of which have been with us since our establishment 15 years ago. Due to the pandemic, we are looking at the temporary closure of our office for about three months as we don’t have sufficient capital to pay for salaries and benefits. There are only 75 workers who can work from home. Our CEO asked all department managers to prepare for the temporary closure of our office and require employees to go on forced leave without pay. As the head of the human resource department, I believe we can still do something to help the 125 workers who will be temporarily out of work. I pity the workers who have no other means of earning a living. What will happen to them and their families during these three months? Can you please give me your advice? -- Gentle Touch.

Delayed promotion due to COVID-19

I work for a medium-sized retailer. Our department’s vice-president promised my long-delayed promotion as a reward for my consistent excellent work performance over four years. My appointment papers confirming my managerial status was sent to the CEO for approval in the first week of March, just before the lockdown was imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19. With a possible extension of the lockdown, it appears that my promotion might be further delayed, if not lost in the frenzy caused by this global pandemic. What would you advise me to do? -- Disgruntled Anew

Five strategies to avoid cutbacks after the lockdown

As a rich old man lay dying in a hospital, he summoned his nurse and silently told her: “Would you call for me, my lawyer and my doctor, right away?” Within half an hour, both the lawyer and doctor were at his side. The man’s breathing was labored by this time but he remained silent.

Managing a demotivated workforce after the COVID-19 lockdown

We can’t pay the full salaries and benefits of our employees during the Enhanced Community Quarantine unlike major corporations. We applied for a government subsidy and we’re still waiting for its release. This has affected 85% of our workforce. The other 15% were paid their usual compensation because the nature of their tasks allow them to work from home. I’m worried about the repercussions of this. It looks like there’s a storm brewing out there that could adversely affect the motivation of our people. How would you propose to handle our demotivated workforce as soon as they report for work? -- Very Anxious.

Is monitoring work-from-home schemes a good idea?

We are a medium-sized private enterprise. After more than one week of the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve finally realized that work-from-home is an option for some of our employees. Now, my boss is asking me to prepare a policy and a system to help us monitor the performance of our workers. Please give me your advice. -- Jurassic Park.

Productive approaches for workers during Covid-19 lockdown

Our small business can’t be operated through flexible working arrangements like work from home, especially now that we have an Enhanced Community Quarantine on Luzon. Our workers reside in various areas and the strict implementation of the lockdown makes it impossible for us to continue without workers. Therefore, what would you advise us to ensure that all of us remain productive during the 30-day period? -- Anxious Apple.

Six budget tactics on background-checking new workers

We’re having difficulty fact-checking all information and other documents submitted to us by our newly-hired workers. We can’t get the cooperation of the employees’ past employers, their character references, and other institutions. They’re saying we can’t do it under the privacy law. It appears now that we can only do fact-checking through the help of private investigators. Unfortunately, we don’t have a budget for that. What would you advise us? -- White Lily.

Promotion without a salary increase

I was asked by our department manager to handle additional tasks left unattended by a colleague who resigned recently. This brings me to an “underpaid and overworked” situation. He told that I could be promoted in “due time” if I showed excellent performance. It looks like our department is no longer interested in hiring a replacement. The trouble is that I don’t have any formal appointment and am only relying on the verbal instructions of my boss. Two months have passed and nothing has happened. I don’t want to consult our human resource department to avoid antagonizing my boss. I’m beginning to love my job as I’ve already adjusted to it. However, my concern is his apparent lack of concern in a salary increase commensurate to my additional work load. Is this luck in reverse? What is happening? Is there such a thing as a promotion without a salary increase? -- Torrential Rain.

Best approach for celebrating worker birthdays

Our current human resources (HR) practice is to release printed birthday cards to those who are celebrating their birthdays during the month. The cards contain the best wishes and greetings of the boss and their department colleagues. However, I find it a bit corny, if not a robotic exercise for me as the new HR manager. Is there a better way? -- Yellow Rose.

When a clerk’s salary is bigger than his boss’s

I have been out of job for one year after I resigned my human resource (HR) job to put up a goto (rice porridge) business with my girlfriend. Now that the business is going on smoothly, I applied and was hired as an HR supervisor at a small hotel. I was given P30,000 monthly pay during my probationary period. My task is to be the alter ego of the Vice-President for HR which includes supervising four clerical assistants, including “A” who has been with the hotel for more than four years now. My “problem” started when I discovered that “A” is receiving P40,000 a month due to his seniority, many responsibilities and annual merit increases. Is this something that I should be constantly worried about? What can I do now? — Young Wine.

How to analyse high turnover among new hires

I’m the human resource manager of a small enterprise with 210 employees. This past year, we experienced the resignation of 15 new employees who stayed with us only for an average of 10 months. What’s wrong with us? Does it have something to do with our hiring process, onboarding, corporate culture or the style of our management team? Could you please enlighten us? -- Domino Effect.

Management protocols in case of employee resignations

A side from handling disciplinary action, the second most difficult, if not stressful process is how we in management handle resignations of people who are joining other organizations. After all, we’ve invested a lot in hiring, coaching, training, and all the things necessary for us to make our workers perform their job to our satisfaction. But at times, we need to accept the inevitable. With that in mind, we’ve no recourse but to accept the resignations, particularly when we can’t even afford to match the offer of another employer. Is there a certain protocol we can observe for a stress-free process? -- Red Rose.

Performance improvement plan as the Sword of Damocles

Our department head sent me a schedule of what to improve in my work performance days after giving me a failing mark in my annual appraisal form. The PIP includes specific targets, standards, and a timetable and I was given only two months to improve my performance. Is it the right time to resign or do my best under the circumstances? -- Polka Dots.

What’s the best employee benefit package?

I’m the human resource manager at a five-year old company trying to rationalize the benefits package for about 140 employees. As of the moment, we follow only what the law requires us to do, like the granting of five-day service leave, maternity leave, among other statutory requirements. We’re planning to improve our package to help stem the tide of people from leaving the organization as our turnover rate has zoomed to 17% in the past two years. Please give us your advice. -- Water Lily

Employee relations projects are the key to communication

I am a newly-hired human resource manager at a small enterprise with 86 employees. When I was an HR supervisor from another small company, I was tasked to plan and execute all our projects for employees. However, we are only limited to organizing basketball and bowling tournaments. Now that I’m with a new company, I plan to submit to management an annual plan showing all possible activities, except that this time, I’d like to have new ideas. Could you help me with my annual calendar? -- Yellow Bell.

When is the right time to get a promotion?

I’ve been in this job for 10 years now. My last promotion was six years ago when I was appointed operations manager in a medium-size organization. Since then, I’ve not received any promotion but got a meager annual 4% pay increase that corresponds to inflation. I’m wondering about my chances of getting a promotion. My question is about the average time of an employee getting a promotion in any industry. Or is it advisable now to look for a new job elsewhere? -- White Lady.

Family welfare program as a union deterrent

We are planning to organize a family welfare program for the spouses and children of our employees as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is being recommended to us by our consultant who claims that such a program is helpful in preventing unions from knocking at the door of our factory. Is he correct? -- Faulty Experiment.

What employers can do during the resignation months

Late December and the months of January and February are the traditional season for many employee resignations. Obviously, that’s after the workers have received their year-end bonuses. What would you advise management on how to minimize, if not eliminate the resignation of fast-trackers and other workers with hot skills? -- Frantically Wary.

Can’t pay good money to workers? Try this…

I’m the CEO of a small business with 97 regular workers with an average seven years of service, which is how long ago the company was established. I don’t have any subcontractors, temps, and agency workers as I believe in nurturing long-term work relationships with people rather than circumvent the law against “endo” hiring. It’s my own small way of helping the poor. As much as I would like to pay them above-average industry rates, I can only afford to pay the minimum wage and other statutory benefits. However, this brought me to a situation where our turnover rate increased to an unprecedented 10% this year. How do I retain the remaining employees, at least for the next three years? -- Bit Frantic.

Five best ways to reduce product defects

I am the production manager of a medium-sized factory in Laguna. When I assumed the job eight months ago, I was surprised at the high rate of product defects, sometimes as high as 30%. On the average, we settle for a defect rate of about 15%. That means a lot of money for the company in terms of repairing them, if at all possible. If not, they are simply thrown away. When I analyzed the situation, it appears that our workers (more than half are subcontractors) are partly responsible for the problem. I haven’t been able to sleep for weeks trying to think of a solution. I’m not sure if hiring only regular workers would solve the problem. Can I charge the cost of defects to the agency workers? What do you think? -- Deep Blue Sea.

Training techniques for non-training specialists

Our HR manager has challenged me to handle our training programs. It’s an additional work assignment for me as a recruitment clerk which I’ve been doing for three years. My boss tells me that if I can perform better in this new assignment, I will be promoted to supervisor after two years of consistent, above-average performance. Could you please tell me how to do well in this new job? -- Greenhorn.

Employee attrition: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I’ve just received a campaign flyer about a public management seminar on “how to avoid attrition.” In the war for talent, a seminar like this is interesting piece, except I believe there’s something good about having attrition in any organization. Could you help me understand both sides of the coin? -- Pink Torpedo.

Loyalty, not competence is what counts in this company

I work for a family corporation. I am a witness to some issues committed by our management that are technically illegal, if not utterly unethical or immoral. Even the audit manager asked me to keep silent about those issues and told me the owners want everyone to be loyal to the organization. Time and again, we are reminded that the owners would rather keep the loyalists in their fold rather than be saddled with whistle-blowers, no matter if they are competent fast-trackers. What can I do under the circumstances? -- Pink Lily.

When HR becomes the enemy of department managers

I was pirated by our CEO to help in rejuvenating the Human Resources as an equal function of other departments. When I came onboard three months ago, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the former HR manager’s ineffectiveness and incompetence in coming out with engagement programs resulting in poor employee morale. About 7% of our workers are habitually absent and tardy that we would normally incur additional costs in terms of penalties due to late delivery of our products to customers. Many times, department managers refuse to implement disciplinary action against workers due to personnel shortages and fear of ruffling the feathers of the union. I tried to change things, but the department managers, except for one, are very much against the changes. I told the CEO of my problem and he told me it’s my job to handle everything, including my own problem with other managers. What can I do now? -- Prince Albert.

Seven elements of a perfect resignation letter

I’m no longer happy with my job. My boss doesn’t care about my career success. I wish I could stay longer with this major company, but I can’t be patient, especially now that I’ve already secured a lucrative job with a prospective, new boss who appears to be caring and helpful, judging from the feedback of his workers. Is it advisable to list down all of my complaints in my resignation letter so that I can get back to my toxic boss and let the fact be known by the Human Resource Department and other managers? -- Feeling Nasty.

Questions to ask when your boss changes his management style

I’ve been working for my current boss for more than five years now. He’s our department head, while I work as one of his three managers. Two months ago, I noticed a change in how he supervises my work. He has become very strict with my attendance and rejects my work even over minor issues. At times, he drags his feet when my work is clearly superior to that of other managers. This week, he gave me an almost impossible assignment at which others had failed before. I’m worried. -- Is it me or is it the boss?

When workers commit violations in the absence of company policy

We started a new company with 15 workers close to two years ago. Due to our primary focus on selling products, we failed to come out with a formal Code of Conduct to discipline workers. We now have Now, we 23 workers and are dealing with two employees that have incurred excessive absences, tardiness, and also committed theft, with alcoholism emerging as a problem. What would be a good reference policy so we can use legal means to discipline them? -- Not Helpless.

Seven worker-friendly alternatives to retrenchment

Our company is losing money due to poor market conditions. We’re thinking of implementing a compulsory redundancy program to cut our manpower costs. Before we finalize everything, please give me your thoughts on other options that we could take before we implement such plan of cutting our manpower size. We’d like to find out if we missed on other worker-friendly alternatives. -- First Samurai.

When HR becomes the workers’ enemy

We’d like to know your opinion about the style of our human resource department in dealing with workers. It is excessively pro-management does not sufficiently look after the interests of workers. As an example, new employees are required to spend a total of nine months before they assume regular employment status. The first three months are spent for supposed training, in addition to six months of probationary employment. Rather than attend formal classroom training, the employees are required to study on their own, pass a written examination and submit a progress report to HR. How do we manage this kind of work environment that appears to be against the workers’ interests? -- White Lily.

Ten signs workers distrust their managers

We know there’s a problem somewhere if the workers are not happy and motivated to do their jobs. The trouble is that most Filipinos are shy, if not introverted about expressing their feelings. It has become difficult for many managers to discover the real problem. Is this an issue of trust? -- Ms. Vietnam Rose.

How to give task ownership to employees

You have been a long-time advocate of employee empowerment and engagement. The trouble with such an approach is that management and their workers are often sidetracked by their basic priorities. This prevents people from working on special projects that they can do from planning to actual achievement of tangible results, with almost zero intervention from management. Please give me your advice. -- Matt Yellow Submarine.

Managers can’t ignore workers’ personal problems

It’s easy to say for some people managers that employees must not bring their personal difficulties inside the office. However, we can’t avoid the fact that whatever happens, no matter how strong our policy against bringing up those issues with their family, their medical condition, money matters, among others, somehow it could adversely affect the quality and productivity of their work. So, how do you manage this common workplace issue? -- White Flower.

When is the best time to leave a toxic boss?

I’ve been a manager for a major company for five years. I’m happy with my pay and perks package and the working environment until a recent reorganization resulting in the promotion of a colleague as our boss and department vice-president. On his fifth month on the job, he showed an unusual management style that many of his direct reports abhor. For one, he takes credit for our exceptional work and does not bother to commend people who contributed a lot to make it happen. Is this the right time now to leave this company? -- Just Asking

What’s the best employee feedback mechanism?

We work for a medium-sized corporation. You have said that exit interviews are futile and reactive. If that’s the case, then what would you recommend us given the fact that there are so many communication programs that could give the best employee feedback? -- White Rose.

Which is better — Team or individual performance evaluation?

We are in a bind in introducing a new performance appraisal system for our employees. Some managers think it’s best to focus on team performance, while others believe we should prioritize measuring individual accomplishments. In your opinion, what should be the best approach and priority in assessing performance – team or individual? – Serviam.

How to manage an unusually talkative CEO

We work for a small enterprise owned by a family corporation. Our concern is the constant babble of our CEO on his many ideas, sometimes giving us incoherent thoughts in our daily meetings. Many of his ideas are off-topic, if not bordering on braggadocio and showmanship. It’s always a waste of time listening to him. Whenever some of my colleagues tried to bring back the discussion to a higher level, our boss automatically regresses to his old, unproductive ways. Is there a cure for us? – Plastered.

Job interviews should also focus on retention

Soon after we selected some new employees put them through orientation, we unexpectedly received their resignations, while some of them were no-shows on the second day. It’s very disappointing to realize that the time, money and effort that we put into the recruitment process went to waste. What’s wrong with our hiring procedure? -- Without a Clue.

Managing an excessive, toxic workload

We don’t have a strict management policy against absenteeism and tardiness. We use the biometric timekeeping device for security reasons and not for attendance record-keeping. We were told by management that we are responsible adult human beings and therefore should be treated as such. In fact, our work schedule incorporates flextime where everyone must be physically present during the core period from nine in the morning up to four in the afternoon and log in eight hours of work every day Monday to Friday. Despite this ideal set-up, many employees are stressed out due to heavy workloads and stiff deadlines that lead us, many times during the week, to bring our laptops home in order to work overtime. Is there a cure for us? -- Bewildered.

Subtle campaign against militant workers

Our manufacturing company is in big trouble. We have a high rate of turnover, low quality and decreased labor productivity. And our human resource manager has resigned to join another company. Our operational issues are compounded by some workers who are rumored to be talking to some militant union leaders from elsewhere. What can we do in the future? What are your thoughts? -- Frantic Soul.

The Lean Hiring process unknown to HR

I heard that you are advocating the application of Kaizen and Lean principles in the human resource function. Can you tell me how it works, for example in processing the application of job applicants? How should it benefit company management? -- Yellow Submarine.

How to relay bad news to the workers

Our company will be sold to a competitor. The sale may result in a massive restructuring and job losses. Being head of the human resources department, I was tasked to create a communication plan for the employees who may be demotivated because of the impending sale. How should I proceed? What are the things that I must consider to minimize the adverse effects on employee morale? – Deep Blue Sea.

This new CEO thinks he doesn’t need HR

We have a new company president who was pirated by the owner from a competitor. He is a supply chain expert who doesn’t believe in the importance of human resources (HR) as a support function in the organization. In a recent town hall meeting with managers, he told us that everyone can do the work of HR and it need not become a specialist function. Since I am the HR department head, it has become uncomfortable for me to work with him given his critical position against my job. I’ve been in this company for close to 20 years now. And I don’t have any plans of moving to another organization. Please give me your advice. -- Bumpy Ride.