who should attend an exit interview, Toastmasters on a resume, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. Who should attend an exit interview?

I handle internal HR for a small organization (less than 20 employees.) I have two exit interviews coming up for exiting employees in two different departments. For one, my manager (COO) wants to be present, and for the other (a finance employee), he wants my CFO to “observe.” The CFO is relatively new to leading the vertical and has not worked directly with that exiting employee.

Who is it appropriate to include in an exit interview? I have concerns about my COO being at the first one because I’d expect feedback from that employee to specifically touch on aggressive communications from the COO. For the other, I have no problem with the CFO participating as I don’t expect any of the feedback to be personal, but is it weird to have him “observe” versus participate (or not be present?)

What are your general recommendations for including extra individuals in exit interviews?

The goal of an exit interview is to get candid information from the exiting employee. The more people you have present, the less likely the person is to be candor. I can’t think of any compelling reason to let someone “observe” exit interviews or otherwise include additional people; the atmosphere you want is one that’s a safe place to talk, not one with “observers” — let alone intimidating observers.

2. Managing an employee who is regularly in the bathroom

I have a team member who I supervise who uses the bathroom a lot. Like, at least once an hour, she is away from her desk for 5 minutes or more, with one or two bathroom breaks lasting 10+ minutes. Unfortunately, I know that she is actually using the bathroom during this time, because if I ever go to the bathroom, she’s clearly in one of the stalls having some intestinal distress. This has been the case as long as I’ve been here, about a year.

If she has a real medical issue, I think she’s probably covered by the ADA. But she has never disclosed a medical issue to me, and I am not sure if it is appropriate for me to ask. But to that end, I’m just not sure how it would be possible for me to accommodate someone whose medical issue causes them to need to go to the bathroom for 45+ minutes total each day, sporadically taken. I want to help her and be kind, but this issue is frequently disruptive to my team’s work, as she is our administrative assistant and she is not always at her desk and cannot dedicate a full hour to any one project without interruption. It’s becoming more of a problem lately because our work has picked up; I was more or less able to ignore it before but that seems unfair to my other team members who rely on her (and me).

If being at her desk without regular interruptions is an essential component of the job, you need to mention it. Say something like, “Jane, I’ve noticed you’re away from your desk at least once an hour for bathroom breaks, which is causing workflow disruptions like XYZ. How can we solve this problem?” This is an opening for her to bring up any medical issue, but if she doesn’t, you can say something like, “When employees have medical conditions covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, we’re required to make reasonable accommodations for them, starting with a conversation exploring what accommodation is needed.”

From there, you’d want to talk with a lawyer about how to safely proceed under the law and figure out what reasonable accommodations you can offer, or whether it would meet the legal standard for undue hardship on your business. (Do not decide something would be an undue hardship without talking to a lawyer; you might be surprised by what the law can require.) However, you want to begin with process of talking with the employee about what accommodation she needs and making a good-faith effort to negotiate something that will work on both sides.

3. Can my employer make me return my relocation bonus if I leave after three months?

A little over three months ago, I relocated to a new city for a new job and negotiated a relocation bonus. The situation has been a nightmare and I am preparing to turn in my resignation, but wanted to know what recourse my current employer might have in trying to recover the relocation bonus they paid me. A few things to consider.
– They only paid me two-thirds of the agreed upon relocation bonus.
– I did not sign any contract or agreement of any kind regarding the relocation bonus or my employment in general.

From my standpoint, since there was no agreement in place regarding the sign-on/relocation bonus and it was used to cover expenses I incurred moving, they really have no recourse. I am curious about the outstanding relocation bonus I am owed, but imagine since there is no agreement in place neither party has a legitimate claim.

Yeah, if there’s no record of an agreement to repay it under certain circumstances (such as if you don’t remain in the job for a year, a common restriction with relocation bonuses), then there’s no reason to assume that they’d ask or expect you to repay it. And if they did ask or expect it, you never agreed to do that, so they’d have no legal recourse in trying to get you to return the money.

4. How does Toastmasters look on a resume?

What do you think of Toastmasters International? If you see Toastmaster credentials on an applicant’s resume, are you impressed? For example, the first levels are Competent Communicator (CC) and Competent Leader (CL).

The greatest benefit Toastmasters has achieved for me is getting over my fear (i.e. terror) of public speaking. Although I will never be a polished and professional public speaker, I no longer wilt when called upon to get up and speak, for example, introducing myself. So, there are definitely benefits to investing in Toastmasters; I am more curious from the standpoint of an employer if the credentials are recognized.

Sure, Toastmasters is a good thing to have done, and it’s worth putting on your resume. “Impressed” probably isn’t the reaction of most hiring managers — something more low-key than that. More like taking note of a positive, like, “Ah, good, she has some confidence in and practice at speaking in front of groups.” Not blown away, just a good thing to tick off. It’s not likely to get you a job on its own, but it’s worth noting there.

5. When the pay offered isn’t the pay advertised

Can an employer change the rate of pay once the position has been advertised for and fulfilled? Wouldn’t do so be false advertising?

It’s perfectly legal for an employer to decide to offer a different salary than was advertised or even a different position than was advertised. The candidate can then decide whether or not to accept it. (And there are legitimate reasons for an employer to do this — such as if the candidate has less experienced than was originally envisioned, or the job needs change, etc.)

What they can’t do is to change your rate of pay retroactively after you’ve accepted and started a position. They can lower your rate of pay going forward, but not for hours you already worked under a different agreement.

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