Here are five questions that a company, either through its managers or human resources department should be asking its employees on a routine basis:
1. Are you aware of the company’s open-door policy?
If the employee is not aware of the policy, explain it to them, and document the conversation. If done right, this can go a long way in making employees more comfortable in voicing concerns or making complaints. As I always explain to clients, it is better knowing the bad facts and issues sooner than later.
2. Can you explain the company’s meal and rest break policy?
See if the employees can explain the policy. If they can, great – document the conversation. If they cannot, explain the policy to them and go over any questions they have and document that this was done. Then follow up with the employee to ensure that they have been able to take all of their meal and rest breaks.
3. You have not had any complaints in the past, do you have any now?
Proactively asking employees if they have any complaints can help address issues before they become problematic. This is taking an active approach to the open-door policy. I like to call it the active-door policy – you are actively engaging employees to talking with the company and given them an opportunity to voice any concerns. These conversations should be documented.
4. Are there any employees you simply do not like working with?
Some employers might feel that this is too direct, but I think the question may draw out potential areas of conflict between employees. While workplace conflict is not illegal in and of itself, the quicker employers can address and resolve conflict greatly reduces the likelihood of litigation. If the company can address these concerns, and potentially deal with or move employees so that they do not have to work with others they do not like, it could be a solution to a more productive workforce.
5. Would you recommend that your friends should work here?
If yes, then ask for the recommendations. The answer is no, ask follow-up questions about why. Again, the quicker the employer can address potential problems, the better.
As noted above, these discussions should be documented. The documentation will be good evidence that the company has an open-door policy and is effectively dealing with employee’s complaints on a timely basis. This could be essential in defending many types of claims that could arise through litigation.