Improving Your Human Resources Department with Carmen Torres

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 In this week’s episode of The Law Practice Doctor, Sam Gaylord interviews Carmen Torres, who has more than twenty years experience creating equitable and safe collaborative workplace environments for both employers and employees. Carmen has successfully helped small to mid-size businesses establish reliable and stable human resources departments. Her approach involves a 360-degree analysis of human resource functions that result in job descriptions, policy procedure manuals, training and development, employee retention, and employee communication. During the show, Sam and Carmen discuss how law firms can improve their human resources departments and align for success.

Main Questions Asked:

  • What does a Human Resources Coordinator or Manager do?
  • What is an I-9 file?
  • What is the best resource for basic HR materials?
  • How does one know what HR documents are necessary?
  • What organization audits HR departments?
  • How do you figure out what kinds of HR problems a company has?
  • What are common problems you regularly see employers have difficulty keeping track of?
  • What are practical tips for terminating an employee?
  • If an employee is driving me bonkers, can I just get rid of him?

Key Lessons Learned:

HR Basics

  • A human resources representative is someone who manages all employee files.
  • If the company offers benefits, the HR representative becomes the employee contact.
  • An I-9 is the form required to determine whether an employee is eligible to work in the USA. This is required to be completed within 24-hours of the employee being hired.
  • New hire orientation packets include the employee application, background checks, emergency information form, and offer letters.
  • The offer letter provides the employee start date, salary or hourly rate, position name, who they will be reporting to, and the official hours of employment.
  • Employee evaluations and requests for time off are examples of documents that would be kept in the personnel file.

HR Audits

  • The Department of Industrial Relations is the department that audits HR in California. This is the Labor Commissions Office, which is also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. This department was established to adjudicate wage claims, investigate discrimination, and enforces labor codes statutes.
  • Each state is different but has their own agency to do investigation on such matters.

Diagnosing HR Problems

  • The best way to start is to analyze where the business is and determine how long the business has been in operation, the number of employees, and current documents on file.
  • Creating an employee handbook is an important step for employers to provide so policies can be made clear on things such as vacation, sick days, and benefits.
  • Carmen recommends organizations doing ‘self audits’ on HR so a plan of action can be constructed.

Common HR Problems

  • A lot of employers don’t know how to deal with employee relations matters.
  • Employee relations issues can include communication between an employee and a supervisor or conflict between employees.

Tips for Terminating an Employee

  • Determine if other corrective actions have already been provided to the employee.
  • Provide a timeline of when management has spoken to that particular employee regarding that situation.
  • The employee needs to be aware and understand where they are at fault and have a timeframe to correct the behavior.
  • A plan must be provided outlining actions they must maintain in order to continue with employment with the organization.
  • If you decide to get rid of an employee, you need to consider their age and if the reason you are getting rid of them could be misconstrued or looked at as retaliation.
  • As an employer, you have the right to terminate an employee at anytime with or without notice, but it is in your best interest to always look at the records before making any decisions.

Prescription for HR Success

  • If you put in place the appropriate HR management steps from the beginning, as your company grows, you won’t have to go through a major revamp as you’ll have been doing it the right way from the beginning.
  • If employees are not open to making changes, you need to be ready to make immediate decisions.
  • It’s important to address issues when employees come to you about one individual.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes!


Links to Resources Mentioned

Carmen on Facebook

My HR Specialist


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Need tips for terminating an employee? Get HR advice from Carmen Torres & @gaylordpoppllc

What are the secrets to human resources success in your business? find out w/ Carmen Torres & @gaylordpoppllc

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