Two pieces examine how owners of business should deal with their employees when it comes to two issues that are especially liable to be prominent in the coming weeks and months. We refer to talk of politics, sure to reach fever pitch with Barack Obama's impending inauguration and efforts to enact an agenda, and to illness, which is never worse than in these winter months. (Yay?)
In sum: both politics and sick people should not have to cross the office door.
The Washington Post recommends trying to keep political tension--which is to say, any political talk, which more or less inevitably will lead to tension--to a bare minimum. One trick is to think of political talk that risks hindering the workplace environment as simply another type of performance issue, to be dealt with ably but firmly by a manager or human resources employee. Should it become clear that there is a broad and strong need for some sort of political discussion in the workplace, then the manager ought to provide a clear channel for it, the Post adds. Such a channel, or space, would all the more clearly limit political discussion outside of its confines.
Meanwhile, the AP runs a very good article (nothing like a typical straight-news AP article--it's definitely worth your time) on dealing with sick employees as the flu season, bless its little heart, gets into gear.
First: know the law. Sick paid time off is not required by federal law or by most state laws; federal law does generally require unpaid sick leave, depending on circumstances. Check out the U.S. Department of Labor's info here.
But there's what's legal, and there's what's smart. And the fact is perks such as paid time off and paid sick time are a classic way to get the best and the brightest to come work for you rather than for some other guy, which is why the AP suggests either providing specific paid sick days or factoring a few sick days into more broadly defined paid leave days.
One other note is that you shouldn't want sick people coming into the office to make the rest of your employees sick--which is to say, less productive and generally less happy. One more reason to provide paid sick days; and one more reason to invest in business infrastructure that makes it easier for your employees to telecommute, thereby letting them keep their germs to themselves.
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