New Year's Resolutions!
Updated: Feb 24
Speaking against my best interests, I can tell you 2022 will be happier if you don’t have to call the labor lawyer. These New Year’s resolutions will help you dodge legal disputes, and maintain a peaceful workplace:
Resolve to be generous. Don’t cut corners with worker pay or benefits. Spend the money and effort to create a pleasant working environment, with well-compensated employees. Happy employees do not file lawsuits.
Resolve to listen. Employees are going to complain from time to time – it’s just part of running a business. These complaints can constitute valuable feedback, even if the words sting. Take the time to listen, and don’t get defensive. Make changes where it is reasonable to do so. Employees who feel heard do not run to find an attorney.
Resolve to speak truth. It’s tempting to avoid hard conversations. An employee is underperforming, but the manager is reluctant to say anything. The business is underperforming, but the owner is afraid to share bad news. However, procrastination in these circumstances – or outright lying – will only make things worse. Speak the truth early, and in kindness. That way, everyone has the opportunity to work together for change. Employees who are always in the dark can become suspicious and litigious.
Resolve to build up. When I was a child, my parents made me memorize Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This is not just good moral advice, but also good legal advice. Many disputes arise from words spoken in jest or anger. These careless words can create legal exposure both for the employer and the employee. Use your words to encourage and build up, not to tear down.
Resolve to put your heart into your work. Employers can tell when an employee is not fully engaged. Perhaps you are wasting time on your phone, or lingering around the coffee pot, or just not using your best efforts. This leads to mistakes, dissatisfied customers, disciplinary action, and frustration for everyone. In contrast, when you work with your whole heart, your employer will likely respond favorably. A positive feedback loop is within your power to create, one that will help you and your employer avoid costly lawsuits.
Wishing you a happy and attorney-free New Year,
Laura, the Labor Lawyer
Please note that this post does not constitute legal advice on your specific situation, and you do not have an attorney-client relationship with Laura. If you have questions for Laura, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Such questions may be used for general edification in this column.