Workplace Culture

Why Can’t we all Get Along: Lessons from Yahoo, FMLA

I have been fortunate to be part of a LinkedIn group discussing risk management and employment law related topics. One of the members recently posted this article as it brings together the recent news of Yahoo’s restrictive telecommuting policy with the thought of FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) practices. The commentary from this group went something like this: Good intentions of the law → unreasonably complex administration process for employers → abuse by employees → lawsuits and risk management issues→ let’s not forget the human in human resources, etc. I posed to the group the question of what alternatives there might be.

Let’s look at the reality. There will ALWAYS be SOME employers who abuse their positions as employers and treat employees in an unethical, unfair, and, at times, in illegal ways. Conversely, there will ALWAYS be SOME employees who take advantage of their employers and, at times, in illegal ways. I learned many years ago to not use such absolute terms as “always” and “never.” That said, I would suggest this topic rises to an exception to this rule to go along with the commonly used exceptions of death and taxes. While we can never completely eliminate these outliers, most people fundamentally want to do the right thing.

To be more clear, most businesses want to meet/exceed their profit goals and work with their employees toward that common goal; most employees want to make money for their personal reasons and do a good job for their employers so they can “earn” their income. So why then do businesses struggle with things like employee FMLA leaves or telecommuting issues? While the full answer requires peaking under the covers of each individual business, a starting point may be found in the culture of their organization. How engaged are the employees to the business strategy? Do employees see the connection to their role as it relates to executing on that business strategy? How engaged is management with their employees to make sure the management team is helping their employees be as successful as possible?

When businesses implement work environments that C.A.R.E.™ organizations are able to mitigate the challenges with administering policies such as FMLA. Companies subject to FMLA requirements still need to administer this effectively, however many of the challenges that come into play are created from poor communication, risk management concerns and the concept that employees and employers are on opposing sides of a team.

Bringing these teams together will greatly aide these processes, reduce legal exposure, and put employees more at ease.

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