Managing Employees-The Balancing Act

As a business owner, you have to balance your vision for your business with handling employees. You  want employees to behave in certain ways, but you also want to refrain from exercising too much control over their behavior for fear of alienating them and, perhaps worse, violating the law. Here are some aspects of control you may want to think about.

Personal use of cell phones

Of course you would like employees to be working on business during their time on the job. But it’s a reality that employees use their own phones for various personal matters while they’re on the clock. They may be shopping online, playing games, or just surfing the web.  Or maybe they need to communicate with their children or spouses on important matters throughout the day.  Where do you draw the line on what is appropriate and was is not?  What can you do, or should you do anything?

Most companies recognize that the use of cell phones during business hours was a distraction, but a policy that allowed cell phones to be used only for work-related or critical, quality of life activities (e.g., contacting a babysitter or a doctor). Best practice is to create a policy, communicate it with your employees and enforce it.

Discriminating on the basis of appearance

Federal Law bars employers from discriminating on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color, or sex. There are also bans on discrimination based on age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, and pregnancy and maternity.

The laws in your state may go even further. For example, states are starting to ban discrimination based on height and weight. Michigan, for example, permits workers to file actions if they have been discriminated on the basis of height and/or weight. For now, there are no laws that govern personal appearance such as what you wear, how you do your hair, etc.  Best practice would be to create a Dress Policy for your office that outlines what is considered appropriate work attire for your office and communicate this policy to your employees. 

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