At the recent FPDA Summit in Lake Tahoe, Calif., HR expert Pam Krivda of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP moderated a fascinating panel on human resources issues that manufacturers and distributors may face. Here were two of the topics discussed, on opposite ends of the age spectrum.
What to do about older employees who might be suffering from early signs of dementia? What is the legal requirement associated with somebody like this who is making a lot of errors?
Krivda explained that whatever is done has to be handled with dignity and sensitivity.
“Dignity and sensitivity do not mean that you have to keep a non-performing employee forever,” she said. “Sometimes we find people who have gotten angry with you, because the industry has changed, technology has changed, and you’re expecting them to change, and they’re just pissed off. But sometimes you find people who genuinely can’t do it.”
The panel felt that, for somebody with cognitive impairment, that would likely fall under the protection afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or protections that many states offer. There is an interactive process when someone has a cognitive impairment that in their active process is difficult to manage. The best case is to have an HR professional or a labor attorney help script the discussions. That way, you’ll be doing everything required under the law, but you will still eventually be able to hire someone who can do that job.
The other key is consistency. You should be having consistent development and performance discussions with your team. Then often those discussions about where the employee would want to go in their career — and potential challenges — are coming up. Even if there was an acute performance issue at age 65, you’ve been having semi-annual discussions regularly. If you’ve had any kind of developmental discussions with someone, then having the next one is that much easier.
Attendees also discussed potential issues with hiring Millennials.
Some companies look at hiring Millennials as an opportunity. It’s a good idea when interviewing to have candidates take fit or personality tests. Sometimes that will weed out less than ideal behavior to see if they will be able to fit with the company culture.
Another key is developing a training program for new college graduates. It can encompass what is expected at work, how to dress, how they should approach a dinner, how they approach contacts. And consistency is key here, too. If there is consistency and a process throughout the organization, then either a Millennial or a Boomer can respond very well to a well-defined process. If you have the right fit, then the generation is not as critical. Psychological testing, cultural testing, and fit testing are perfectly lawful and are vastly underused tools. These tests range from relatively inexpensive to quite pricey, but they are legal, extremely useful and defensible.