Transcript: Episode 74 – SHRM Resources
December 23, 2019
Show Notes: Episode 75 – Onboarding and Equipping Your Employees for Success
December 30, 2019

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Susan 0:11
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. Today’s topic is onboarding and equipping your employees for success. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my co-host and dear friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. JoDee, in January of 2019, Jan Dewar, wrote an article on Sapling HR, that’s S-A-P-L-I-N-G HR dot com, entitled “10 Employee Onboarding Statistics You Need to Know in 2019.” Jan cited different stats from a variety of sources. I’ll tell you, I think onboarding probably is one of the most important things we do as HR professionals, right?

JoDee 0:54

Susan 0:55
If we don’t make that transition into our company really good and really easy, I think we can run the risk of never getting that employee to be engaged, don’t you?

JoDee 1:03
Right, right. We have to get them at the very beginning or it can go downhill from there.

Susan 1:08
Yes, it can. So why don’t we share Jan’s thoughts about those top 10? If you wouldn’t mind, let’s start with our first one.

JoDee 1:14
Number one, research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. We could stop right there, and that would be enough.

Susan 1:32
It would be. Let’s, let’s improve our onboarding. Number two on her list, research by HCI said that most organizations stop their onboarding after one week. What do you think? One week of onboarding? Is that enough, JoDee?

JoDee 1:44
Well, I think most people take about half a day, so I’m excited to see at least some people make it extend for a week. But yes, that’s clearly not enough.

Susan 1:56
No. I was reading somewhere that they said that onboarding really is up to a year. It’s that person coming in, getting really comfortable and getting to know everyone, understanding their job, getting a chance to have some successes. So we need to think about onboarding, I think for – with a focus a lot more than half a day or just even a week. So, number three on her list, Digitate said that employees who had a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for other career opportunities in the future.

JoDee 2:26
Yeah, not surprised. Number four, HCI says 47% of companies assign a buddy or a teammate to help assimilate the new hire. But 87% of organizations that do assign that ambassador or buddy during the process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency. So 87% who are doing it say it’s working, but only 40% of companies are doing it at all.

Susan 2:59
I do think it’s a real opportunity. Back when I was working at Bank One, a bank that no longer exists, but it was really big in the Midwest, when we merged with First Chicago NBD, our HR department, our HR director said, we’re going to have – we’re going to be Bank One buddies to the people at FCNBD so that the HR people there have somebody that they can talk to other than their boss. And it was really, really fun. And to this day, Brenda, if you’re listening, you’re my Bank One buddy. And really, for all the years we worked together, she always said, called me buddy, after that. Was really, really fun.

JoDee 3:31
I like that, you know, I have to admit, in the first organization I worked at, we had a buddy program. And I never liked that word, “buddy.” And I thought that was just internal to my own company. And then when I left there, and when someone else I found out that that was a universal term that I tried really hard to change to the word “ambassador,” but it never seemed to stick. People seem to like that word, “buddy.”

Susan 3:59
I think “ambassador,” there’s too many syllables. “Buddy,” it’s quick. It’s easy. Interesting.

JoDee 4:04
It does seem – “buddy” seems less formal. And that’s what it’s intended to be, I think is less formal. So.

Susan 4:11
Yeah, probably right. So number five, Jan mentions only 27% of companies, according to HCI, invest in “crossboarding,” and they define “crossboarding” as a well planned assimilation process when people inside the company transfer into a new role. What a great idea. I’ve never heard of crossboarding before.

JoDee 4:32
I haven’t either, but I love it.

Susan 4:34
You know, when you move across an organization into a new department, you have all those same jitters about, you know, bonding with the people, learning your new job. I think that is really wise.

JoDee 4:43
Well and there’s an assumption there, I think, that oh, they’ve worked here for a while. They already know everything. So we forget to pay attention to the things they might not know.

Susan 4:56
Yeah, I think that’s fair.

JoDee 4:58
The biggest onboarding problem is inconsistent application. Hmm, not surprised with that one, are you?

Susan 5:05
No, I do think that managers who are really into developing people, they’re likely to do a really nice job if you have a onboarding template or structure or expectation. And then managers who aren’t really good at it probably don’t do as good a job.

JoDee 5:19
Right. And because there’s only so much HR can do, right? HR could have a consistent application at the very beginning that applies to all employees. But onboarding has to continue into the actual workspace and, and as you mentioned, the individual managers, and that’s I suspect where most of the inconsistency comes from.

Susan 5:43
Sure. Well, I’m going to share the seventh one, because of the ten, I think these were the seven most relevant. The seventh one was sampling reports. The average new hire onboarding experience consists of 54 activities.

JoDee 5:56
Wow, that sounds like a lot.

Susan 5:58
Sounds overwhelming! You know, I think probably they’re including things like completing paperwork, right, for your benefits, perhaps maybe your EEO information.

JoDee 6:07

Susan 6:08
Sure, other compliance trainings, maybe getting badges, getting your photo taken, setting up the desk, learning company culture, maybe you’ve got anti-harassment training everyone goes through, meet and greets, teaching processes, policies.

JoDee 6:22

Susan 6:23
Yeah, I can, I can – we could probably get to 54 pretty quickly.

JoDee 6:25
We probably could! Seems like a lot.

Susan 6:27
It does. So as overwhelming as this all sounds, I do think that there are ways to think about it strategically. And really, that’s what we want to talk about today. You know, are there things we can do to scale onboarding processes, so that we can at least provide a basis for really nice experience for new hires when they come in the door? They still love you at this point, and they want to be a high performing, engaged employee. What can we do as the employer to make that a reality? So we’ve invited a guest today to hopefully help us get some insights on things we can do to automate components of our onboarding and training. So JoDee, I’d like to introduce Chris Ronzio. Chris is the founder and CEO of Trainual, that’s T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L, a leading SAS company that helps fast growing businesses automate their onboarding and training by documenting every process, policy, and procedure in one searchable, teachable system.

JoDee 7:30
I love it.

Susan 7:30
Yeah. After helping hundreds of entrepreneurs create scalable systems and processes with his consulting firm that he started in 2013, called Organized Chaos, Chris has developed a passion for helping business leaders find the time to do more of what they love by providing a way to document and delegate what they do. Chris is the author of “100 Hacks to Improve Your Business,” which, JoDee, I read and I really loved it. And you know, I don’t read much nonfiction.

JoDee 7:57
That’s right. I want to go get it now.

Susan 7:59
It’s very quick and a useful read. He also writes “The Process Playbook,” which is a weekly Inc. Magazine column. As a serial entrepreneur and startup leader, Chris has built and sold a nationwide video production company before the age of 25, and he’s invested in building six businesses to over $30 million in annual revenue.

JoDee 8:19

Susan 8:19
Yeah. Now with Trainual, Chris is on a mission to make small business easier by automating training manuals for busy companies around the world. So Chris, where did the idea for Trainual come from?

Chris 8:32
So the idea for Trainual came from me working with a lot of small businesses. So after I sold my first company, I started this little consulting firm, and initially it was just to help my friends. So I was kind of being their operations, you know, fractional COO. And I was going business to business to business trying to streamline how they did things. And one of the companies I worked with was a retail company that hired a lot of students from the local university and each semester, those students would turn over. And so it just happened to be one of the issues we were digging into. They said, how do we get people up to speed? This is taking forever, and then by the time they’re trained, they’re out the door. And so I became familiar with that. And I reflected back to my first company, and I said, there’s got to be a better way than three ring binders and Google Docs. And so that was kind of the genesis behind Trainual.

JoDee 9:23
I love it. And so Chris, for me, I started this Purple Ink business 10 years ago, and I’m always curious about – well, I’m curious about your perspective on when should an entrepreneur start working on their business instead of in it?

Chris 9:42
Great question. So I don’t know if you’ve ever read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber, but that’s one of the books where they talk about that. Do you work in the business, on the business? I think that’s where it originated. And my answer to all – to this, as always, you stop working in the business when you’re sick of working in the business. So for some people, they love what they’re doing and they just want to do it forever. And putting pressure on them to get out of the day to day is actually taking the passion away from why they got into it. So I think it’s not for everyone. But when you find that you’re bored with what you’re doing day to day, and you feel that internal disrest, you know, that you want to do something else, that’s when you should start working on how to get – how to graduate from today’s job to take on something different.

JoDee 10:30
Yeah, I love that. Thank you. I still like what I’m doing. So, I’m in a good spot.

Susan 10:35
You’re still in it. Alright.

JoDee 10:37
I’m still in it and on it.

Susan 10:38
So Chris, HR professionals understand the value of doing onboarding really well, and we know the risks of not doing it well. What are some of the important components to include in onboarding, do you think, to ensure success?

Chris 10:51
Yeah, so I have a couple points that I recommend to everyone when they do an orientation or an onboarding. And I always go back to when I started college, I think it’s an easy example, a lot of people have gone to college or university or something like it. And for me, when I was an incoming freshman, I went to the campus for three days. And the first thing they did was toured us around, showed us all the buildings, and they said, here’s where the cafeteria is, here’s how to use your meal card, here’s where you’re going to sleep, here’s how to check out a book at the library. So it just kind of oriented me to the place. And then the next thing they did was they, of course, gave me the hats and the shirts and the – you know, I left the – my orientation looking like a walking billboard for the school. And so it now – so let’s sidestep to the corporate example. I think when when you start, the first thing you have to do is give someone that orientation of hey, here’s where everything is, here’s the lay of the land. Let me introduce you to the business. And how that translates for a company is, first of all, why do you exist? You know, if I sat down with any entrepreneur, the first thing I’d ask is, what – why did you start this business? Where did the idea come from? Same question you asked me. I think as founders, we tell that story so often, it gets diluted and diluted, and then you start to hire people that don’t really know why they’re there. And that’s the easiest thing you can lock in for your business, is, why did I do this? What makes us different? Why do you care as a new member of the team? And then there’s things like your your mission and your vision and your values, you know, who are you? Where are you going? What makes your culture unique? I think that’s crucial to tell people up front. The next thing I always recommend is give people a sense of, start to finish, how this company works. So this isn’t the detailed process training, but this is, you know, top of funnel, we do this marketing. People find out about us, they call, these – this is the department that answers the phones, or here’s how the orders get placed. And then as a job or product progresses, here’s how it gets done. Here’s how we bill for it. Here’s how we keep customers happy. So I think all that’s really important up front.

Susan 12:59
I was gonna say, I do too, because I think people need to understand how they fit in. And if you don’t know the whole process, you don’t, you don’t care as much, I don’t think, about what you do.

Chris 13:09
Right. So I, you know, my first company was a video production company, we did youth sporting events around the US. And I think back to that company, and we had camera operators that would work for us. And if, if all I did was said, here’s the camera, press record, they’d have no context about why they were filming what they were filming, whereas our events that we filmed were youth sporting events, we had – our feed went to the jumbotron in the stadium for the audience, it went to the judges for the replays. And so you needed to have that context and to know what you were doing and how it fit into the bigger picture in order to be successful. And so it doesn’t have to be complex, but I think it’s important to tell people up front.

JoDee 13:52
I love that you started out by talking about a tour. That always takes me back to my very first job out of college in 1985. My company had the whole floor of the building, and the guy who took me on the tour showed me where the restrooms were at the very beginning, and then we walked all the way around the outside of the floor. Well, for three weeks, every time I had to use the restroom, I walked all the way around the whole floor, never knowing that there was a door right next to my cubicle that went directly to the restrooms. So I always think about when I have given tours over the years, letting people know the shortest route to certain places. So anyway.

Chris 14:40
That’s a perfect example. And I think, you know, we’re, we’re – what we’ve kind of mentioned is that the reason I think it’s so important to document this stuff, and to deliver it in a consistent way, is that you want everyone to have the same experience. You know, you want everyone to know what they should know. And if, you know, that person showed you the bathroom that was five floors away, and the other person the next day shows someone the bathroom next door, you know, it’s just inconsistent.

JoDee 15:08

Chris 15:08
So, so getting it in one place is crucial.

JoDee 15:11
Yeah, I love it. What – are there other reasons why companies should document their processes? I mean, you just mentioned about the consistency, but other reasons, too.

Chris 15:23
Yeah, a lot of reasons. I think first, if you’ve never done it before, trying to document a process alone or with a group of people can be eye opening, because when you try to write out the steps, you instantly see some of the bottlenecks that are slowing you down, and that’s always been a fun process for me. When I was consulting, I would just sit down with a group of people and say, let’s map this out. Step one, step two, step three. And you’d see these discussions start to unfold that say, well, why do we do it this way, and it’s so productive. So I think that’s the first reason. The second reason would be if you have multiple people doing something, chances are someone does it better than someone else, you know, you’ve got high performers and lower performers. And if you can unpack the best way to do something, and then get everyone to do it that way, you get an instant lift in productivity.

JoDee 16:16
Yeah. Love it.

Susan 16:18
So would you be willing to describe for us the system, Trainual being an example of a system, that you could use to actually scale process training? Like, can you explain how it works?

Chris 16:32
Yeah, of course. So I’ll start even prior to Trainual. So if you’re just getting started, and you’ve woke up one morning and said, I’m bored of what I do, and I want someone else to do it, you know, the concept I teach is that first you do it, then you document it, then you delegate it. So if for any part of your business, first, you’re learning how to do it, you’re experimenting, you’re figuring it out. And then once you’re doing it consistently, if you ever want to hand it to someone else, you’ve got to document it. So you do it consistently, you document it clearly, and then you can delegate it confidently. So, let’s say you’re at the place where you want to delegate something. And even if you’re sitting down with a blank Word document or something, you want to start to articulate, here’s start to finish a certain process or a certain role in the company and everything I need from that role. And once you get it into that place, then you want to give it to someone else and test that can they do it? Can they read the instructions back to me and understand it? And so where Trainual comes in is people that have spent the time creating those documents and handing them off to other people and trying to close that feedback loop, it’s a really manual process. And so Trainual just lets you accelerate that, it lets you write things down in a place that you can, with one click, assign it to a bunch of people or a department, know from zero to 100% that they’ve gone through all of the content, collect their feedback, revise the steps, everyone gets notified that there’s been an update, they log back in, they’re back up to 100%. So really, the value we’re bringing is just the accountability, the trackability. But if you’re just getting started, using paper is totally fine. It’s just about let’s get what’s in my brain out of my brain and into a place that people can can find.

JoDee 18:18
Yeah. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m I feel like I’m good at doing and delegating. It’s the documenting part that’s really hard for me. Which is a key step in the process.

Susan 18:31
You get bored of those details, don’t you.

JoDee 18:33
I do.

Susan 18:33

Chris 18:34
Well, here’s the trick, though. You don’t have to do it. So a lot of people feel that way. You know, they’re, they’re not whatever, a self-proclaimed process person or something. And if you feel that way, you know, first thing you can do is maybe you’re better on video, like you’re – you are with this discussion, than you are writing something down. So just, just hit record on your computer or your phone and start talking through something. That might go a long way. Trick I recommend is get someone else to write it down for you. If there’s someone else in your organization, outside of your organization, if they sit down and you say, hey, I need to delegate this responsibility, have them ask you all the questions as if you’re training them and have them create the manual.

JoDee 19:18
Now we’re talking, this is my style.

Susan 19:20
That’s great.

JoDee 19:21
Yeah. And what are some other great resources for streamlining processes?

Chris 19:28
Some books that I love, and I already mentioned one, “E-Myth” is a great foundational book for giving you the motivation to wanting – to want to do this. Some other more tactical books are “Scaling Up,” by, by Verne Harnish is a great book about how to scale your business, really build out the people side of your business. And then “Traction” by Gino Wickman is another great business system that shows you how important all the core processes are in your company and just how to start to frame those out. And then if this episode is still airing in a couple years, people can check out my, my next book that’ll be released. So that one’s coming.

JoDee 20:08
Awesome. Do you have a title for that yet?

Chris 20:10
We’re still, we’re still picking a few, between a few.

JoDee 20:13
So if you’re listening to this in 2021 or 22, just Google author Chris Ronzio, right?

Chris 20:23
You got it. Or pick one up at the airport or your local bookstore.

JoDee 20:28
Look for the best, top seller list, right?

Chris 20:32
You got it.

Susan 20:33
As you’ve been working with businesses now of all different sizes, what have you learned about the best way to train employees?

Chris 20:40
Yeah, so I think the best way to train people is a combination of work that they can do on their own and work that they’re doing and more of an experience sharing or group environment. So it depends on the size of the company. First of all, at your smallest, smallest company, there’s a lot of training by osmosis. You know, you sit next to someone and you show – they look over your shoulder, and within weeks or months, hopefully you get them up to speed. Now, where we come in play is the company that’s growing to the point that they can’t do that every couple weeks or every month, you know, it’s just too burdensome. And so you start to document things as a way to automate and streamline a percentage of the training, it’s never going to be 100% of the training. But if you could take 80% of what you need to communicate, and put it into a system that someone can do on their own, then they start to build, build this confidence and get up to speed themselves. And then you’re just filling in the gaps, then you’re just saying, great, you have this base of knowledge. Let’s start kind of like at the 201 series of a class, you know, where now I can just sit with you and we can talk at a higher level. So that’s the goal, is getting people there. Now at your biggest companies, you’ll have sort of a group orientations and settings like that where maybe you’ve got 50 people in a room and you’re doing a experiential training, and I think the perfect mix is somewhere in between.

JoDee 22:04
Yeah. And Chris, is there a particular size of company that makes most sense to consider Trainual? Like maybe someone that is frequently hiring, or, you know, should they have 100 plus employees? Or when might a company start to consider Trainual?

Chris 22:27
It depends a lot on the industry. So we have, for instance, one or two person companies that are just building a franchise or a licensing kind of company. And in that case, the playbook is crucial from day one. And so that’s, that’s that example, in a B2B kind of service company. Maybe it’s once they get to 10 or 15 employees that they’re starting to have some overlap and roles and responsibilities and this needs to be more clear. If the business is seasonal or has a lot of volunteers or a lot of contractors, you know, we have organizations that might only have 10 employees, but they have 200 people that come and work at an event for them, and they need to get all those people up to speed. So it depends a lot on the organization. And then we have companies that have 10,000 people, and a certain department or a certain sales team or call center or someone within that company is adopting Trainual just to make training their area a little more streamlined.

JoDee 23:26

Susan 23:27
After working with so many businesses, what do you see that everyone is struggling with?

Chris 23:33
I think you mentioned it or alluded to it earlier, but delegation is really hard. You know, I think everyone wants to pass, pass off some responsibility, but there’s no clear way on how to do it. And so I think that’s, that’s what we’re trying to make the system a bit more easier to navigate to do is is how do I understand everything in the company that I’m responsible for, whether I’m investing it myself, or whether the system is suggesting it based on my company size, my industry, my geography, that’s what we’re trying to help with, is giving someone a sense of, here’s everything that you probably do in the company or that you’ll need to do in the near future. Which of these things do you want to do? Which of these things do you want to pass off to someone else? And let’s help you do that. So I think delegation is, is a big, big challenge. Now a recommendation I give to people, if they’re just early in this, and you maybe don’t have any direct reports, or it’s just a team, small team, try hiring a virtual assistant, try, try delegating little tasks that you could easily do, and doesn’t make maybe financial sense to pass to someone else because it’s so simple. But by paying for that assistant, you’re giving yourself amazing experience and delegation and passing things off. So that’s a small tip.

Susan 24:54
You know, it’s so interesting this morning, I was talking to a former career coaching client of mine and she really wants to be a virtual assistant and so we were just out online doing a little googling about where he might want to find a job. There’s a Virtual Assistant Association out there. You can join! Yes. And there’s also a, another place you can go. And it’s just amazing where you can get work, you can be promoted, you can get a chance to learn about tools. So anyway, I do think there’s a whole industry out there, and you ought to be trying it, listeners, if you aren’t big enough to hire your own. Why not?

JoDee 25:25
I love it. Chris, what else should our listeners know that we haven’t talked about already?

Chris 25:31
I think, you know, people might be listening to this and saying, am I too small to get started with this? Does this even matter for me? And I think that if you have any aspiration of doing something different tomorrow than what you’re doing today, it helps to start writing down what you do today. And so having a clear list of what your roles and responsibilities are at any stage of the company, I think is really empowering, because it lets you see this, this business through a lens of here’s where I am today, here’s where I’d like to get to. So one of the things I recommend is, you know, go through, make a list of all the things you do in the business today. So you can start with just a simple time based approach, you can say, what are all the things I do every day, every week, every other week, every month, every quarter. And it might be things like opening up the shop or you know, turning on the lights or taking out the trash or running payroll. But you, you – if you use that time based approach, you can get a pretty good list going. And then this is the super ninja trick. Go through your last two weeks of sent mail in your email. And that will show you, you know, your inbox might be cluttered, but your sent mail will show you what you’re actually engaging with. And then you can pull a list of all the things you’re doing. So, so that’s what I’d say as, as a starting point, is figure out what you’re doing today and maybe highlight some of the items you’d like to get rid of.

JoDee 27:01
Yeah. So Chris, I asked that question as what, what else should our listeners know? And so you responded that our listeners should know this. But that was really a personal question for me, what, what do I need to know? So I love that.

Susan 27:18
By your doing that and figuring out what to delegate, it’s going to help whoever gets hired into the future into whatever role it is. And so onboarding, I think once we get past all of the, here’s who we are, mission, vision, value, or purpose, and someone’s trying to learn a job, wouldn’t it be just a gift to be able to say, okay, here’s three people who’ve had this job before you. Here’s the processes. I mean, we don’t – most employers aren’t able to do that. The person has to figure out from scratch usually, if the person isn’t there to train them. What am I going to do? So I think this is a brilliant idea.

JoDee 27:49
I love it. I love it. And I know I want to know more, Chris, so what if myself and our listeners want to reach out to you to find out more or how they might get started with this, where should we go?

Chris 28:03
So the best place to find Trainual is just, that’s T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L dot com, like a training manual, and then, you can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, all the different platforms, just @chrisronzio, R-O-N-Z-I-O.

JoDee 28:21
Love it.

Susan 28:21
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for coming today. We so enjoyed having you here.

JoDee 28:24
Yeah. Fascinating stuff.

Chris 28:26
Yeah. Thank you.

JoDee 28:28
Really good. So.

Susan 29:08
So JoDee, that was so interesting, wasn’t it?

JoDee 29:10
Fascinating. I love it. I can’t wait to go check it out myself.

Susan 29:14
I love the thought about using technology to make onboarding even better for employees. So I thought it might be fun to also talk about maybe other resources out there. If one of our listeners is thinking, okay, I’ve never really spent time being strategic about my onboarding of employees, where else might they want to go?

JoDee 29:30
Well, you know, one of our frequent answers those always So whether you’re a SHRM member or not, even – SHRM has some free resources out there. If you are a member, you’re going to have some access to more toolkits, but I would definitely recommend starting there.

Susan 29:49
They have a really good, I think, template of what you might want to think about doing week one, month one, year one, and the various activities. So it just gives you, I think, some other opinions about what might you want to include in your onboarding.

JoDee 30:02
Right. Right.

Susan 30:03
We also, in “The JoyPowered® Team” book, chapter seven, “Teams in Transition,” we include a peek at Purple Ink’s four week onboarding schedule.

JoDee 30:13

Susan 30:13
Now, I know onboarding lasts longer for you. But during those four weeks, what I really like about it is you have some fun things in there, as well as some real business centric items, so take a look at that.

JoDee 30:23
Love it. And of course, you can also just Google onboarding, and you’ll see lots of different checklists and ideas out there as well.

Susan 30:31
Good. Well, very good.

JoDee 30:34
Susan, we have a listener question today. This question comes from a listener in Indiana. “I run an organization that has 10 locations across the state. The manager of each of these 10 sites report to me. Recently, I received a complaint from a staff member at one of these locations who said her manager yelled at her and used profanity in front of the rest of the staff when she made the mistake. I know this manager is under a good deal of stress right now and is fighting back pain after a surgery that didn’t go well. My guess is he is taking pain medication as well, which could be causing him to behave unlike his usually normal, even tempered self. I don’t have an HR person, so I would love to hear your advice. When I talk to him about his employee’s complaint, can I ask him what is going on with his back, his medications, and suggest he talk to a doctor about alternatives so he doesn’t snap at work again?”

Susan 31:37
You know, I truly believe that as the employer, you should address the situation when you’ve got this complaint about him snapping at an employee and using, you know, vulgarity in the workplace. But I would not mix his medical condition, potential medical condition, what you know of it, with the situation. I would focus on the behavior, I would say, I have a complaint. Let’s talk about this. Did it occur, get his side of the story, if he offers up that it’s because he’s in pain, if he offers up because his medicine that he’s taking, then I do think it’s very appropriate to say, maybe you want to go back and talk to your doctor, and share with him or her what occurred in the workplace and that you think that there’s a correlation with the medicine you’re on or the pain you’re experiencing, and see if you can’t get help. If it’s because he feels like his health insurance won’t cover it, you as an employer want to offer him the opportunity to use a doctor that consults with your company, that’s fine. If you feel that it might be an employee relations issue, that maybe he’s going through some stress may – and you want to offer that resource to him, I think that’s great. But I would not start with, is this because of your back? Is it because of the medicine you’re on? We don’t want to know about those details. JoDee, I love your insights, anything different?

JoDee 32:55
Yeah, I totally agree. Particularly in this case with a medical issue, but, you know, we all have our burdens to bear. I mean, we could always say, oh, that manager’s going through a divorce, or that manager had a new baby, or that manager did this or that. And it’s still not an excuse for being unprofessional in the workspace and taking it out on our employees and creating a hostile environment for them.

Susan 33:27
Well, good luck with that. I really hope it works. And certainly, feel free to give us a call back or send us a message if it goes a different direction and you want some more advice. So we’re ready for in the news. Google’s new practice of limiting employee discussion of politics or other potential aggravating non-work topics has been in the news. The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019. That, and I quote, “staff should avoid spending time hotly debating matters unrelated to their jobs and refrain from name calling, among other discouraged behavior,” unquote. JoDee, it feels like a very different move for this tech giant known for a place where staff is encouraged to bring their authentic self every day, to be creative, to speak up and speak out. Google, I think probably based on experiences that they’ve had, has decided that their internal message boards, which were – was home to where employees could speak up on just about anything happening in the world or inside the company. They must have been seeing incidences of instability, and they thought maybe they need to have some rules of the road.

JoDee 34:35
Yeah. Interesting.

Susan 34:37
So they used to use volunteer employee moderators, and now they’re moving to one that the company is sponsoring, and they’re going to have their own staff do it, and they’re going to make sure if anything goes up there that they think is particularly controversial, then they’re going to take it down.

JoDee 34:53
Yeah, interesting.

Susan 34:55
Google has over 100,000 employees across the globe, and though they’re saying that discussing politics is not banned in the workplace, managers are expected to intervene if a conversation becomes disruptive. With the 2020 election coming, I can only imagine.

JoDee 35:10
I know. I know. It’s, it’s a, it’s a fascinating topic, right? I mean, it’s, we can no longer say keep your personal lives at the door. I mean, so it’s only natural that people will talk about these topics at work. And yet, to consider banning them is difficult. But yet, a company has a mission to be, well, Google certainly, to be productive and profitable for their stockholders, and so if employees are getting caught up in this or getting angry or creating frustrations or hostile work environments for other people, I can appreciate that.

Susan 35:27
I can too. I think it’s something for all of us who guide HR departments or guide companies through their HR efforts to think about, do we need to have some civility in the workplace rules?

JoDee 36:06

Susan 36:07
If you want to, you could catch our episode on Civility in the Workplace.

JoDee 36:12

Susan 36:12
All right. Thank you so much.

JoDee 36:14
Thank you. You can find our JoyPowered® books at We have three: “JoyPowered®,” “The JoyPowered® Family,” and “The JoyPowered® Team.” Check them out. Thank you for listening today. Please tune in next time. If you missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all episodes for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” If you like our podcast, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And we’d love for you to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps people find our show. If you have questions on any HR topic, you can leave us a voicemail at 317-688-1613 or email us at We are also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter @joypowered. We welcome listener questions and comments.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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