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Productivity / Performance

Focus on productivity and ROI: Vision benefits gain value as workforce ages


Maybe it’s that the screen of a BlackBerry is just too small to read—or maybe the eyesight of your aging workforce is beginning to dim. As screens get smaller and employees spend more time looking at them, encourage employees to have their eyes checked regularly.

Evaluating employee before return to work? Know difference between medical, agility tests


Under the ADA, employers aren’t allowed to subject employees to medical tests unless they can prove that the examinations are job-related and consistent with business necessity. However, they can ask employees to perform agility tests. The line between the two is difficult to find. But get it wrong, and you may have an ADA discrimination case on your hands.

Discipline ‘protected’ employee—but document why you treated similar offenses differently


When it comes to discipline, the primary rule is to treat similar rule violations alike. That means you’ll have to punish all kinds of people for misbehaving, even if they’re members of a protected class. Don’t hesitate to do so if their behavior warrants it.

OK to terminate employee who is psychologically unfit to perform stressful job


When stress is a built-in part of the job, it stands to reason that sound mental health is a prerequisite. Someone whose psychological disorder interferes with the ability to perform such a job isn’t qualified and can be terminated.

Virtual call center cuts turnover, boosts productivity


Customers who phone the call center at Ascend One, a debt management company in Columbia, Md., are likely to talk to an employee who’s dressed in pajamas. Since 2006, the organization has allowed its call center employees to work from home, and about half of them—300 or so—have accepted the offer.

Document employee response to negligent work


If you employ licensed professionals such as nurses or pharmacists, the time may come when you have to report shoddy practices or ethical lapses to the Ohio board that issues and maintains their licenses. To avoid a lawsuit over whether your report was malicious and therefore not covered by an employer privilege, carefully document the acts and behavior that you believe are negligent or unprofessional. Be sure to let the employee respond to your concern.

Let the sun shine in—or you could wind up facing ADA liability


The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to enable employees to perform the essential functions of their jobs. While the types of reasonable accommodations required can vary greatly depending on the employee’s medical condition and the particular job, it was not until recently that a court found that permitting an employee to work in natural light might be a reasonable accommodation.

How to set challenging but realistic goals for employees


Goals are the heart of any pay-for-performance system. They set the standard against which employees’ progress is measured—and on which bonuses and raises are based. But goal setting can be a tightrope act. To establish goals that improve organizational performance, ask these eight questions, developed by the Harvard Business School:

OK to label attendance an essential function


It seems logical—employees who can’t come to work won’t be able to perform the essential functions of their jobs. It may be possible to accommodate some disabled employees by letting them work from home, but that’s not true of most jobs.

When promotions are on the line, follow your criteria and beware supervisor bias


When promotion processes bypass qualified candidates, discrimination lawsuits are almost sure to follow. That’s because employees can easily poke holes in complex candidate-ranking systems, and supervisor bias emerges when promotions are on the line. If you have set criteria for promotions, make sure you follow your own rules.