The Rules for Office Romances

Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. As HR pros we know what this means, which is usually a lot of unwanted advances by horny dudes who think they have a shot at the hot co-worker, who has absolutely no interest in them at all.

Welcome to the show, kids!

I’ve given out some rules in the past. Everyone on the planet has read my Rules for Hugging at the Office, but Office Romances are a little more complicated than the simple side-hug in the hallway. So, I thought I would lay out some easy to follow, simple rules for Office Romances for you to pass out to your employees on Valentine’s Day:

Rule #1 – Don’t fall for someone you supervise. If you do fall for someone you supervise, which you probably will because this is how office romances work. In that case, get ready to quit, be fired, be moved to another department, and or get the person you’re having an office romance with fired, moved, etc.

Rule #2 – Don’t fall for anyone in Payroll. When it ends, so will your paycheck. At least temporarily, and even then it will be filled with errors from now until eternity. It’s a good rule of thumb to never mess with payroll for any reason.

Rule #3 – Don’t mess around in the office, or on office grounds. Look I get it. You’re crazy in love and just can’t wait until you get home. The problem is the security footage never dies. It will live long past your tenure with us, and we’ll laugh for a long time at you. So, please don’t.

Rule #4 – Don’t send explicit emails to each other at work. It’s not that I won’t enjoy reading them, it’s that I get embarrassed when I have to read them aloud to the unemployment judge at your hearing. Okay, I lied, I actually don’t get embarrassed, but you will.

Rule #5 – Don’t pick a married one. Look I get it, you’re the work-spouse. He/She tells you everything. You get so close, you really think it’s real, but it’s not. You’ll actually see this when the real spouse shows up and keys your car in the parking lot.

Rule #6 – Don’t pick someone who has crappy performance. Oh, great, you’re in love! Now I’m firing your boyfriend and you’ll have to pick between him and us, which you’ll pick him, and now I’m out two employees. Pick the great performers, it’s easier for all of us.

Rule #7 – Inform the appropriate parties as soon as possible. Okay, you went to a movie together, not a big deal. Okay, you went to the movie together and woke up in a different bed than your own. It might be time to mention this to someone in HR if there is at anyway a conflict of some sort. If you don’t know if there’s a conflict of some sort, let someone in HR help you out with that.

Rule #8 – If it seems wrong, it probably is.  If you find yourself saying things in your head like, “I’m not sure if this is right”, you probably shouldn’t be having that relationship. If you find yourself saying things like, “If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right”, you definitely shouldn’t be having this relationship.

Rule #9 – If you find yourself hiding your relationship at work, it might be time to talk to HR. We’re all adults, we shouldn’t be hiding normal adult relationships. If you feel the need to hide it, something isn’t normal about it.

Rule #10 – Everyone already knows about your relationship. People having an office romance are the worst at hiding it. You think you’re so sneaky and clever, but we see you stopping at her desk 13,000 times a day ‘asking for help’ on your expense report. We see you. We’re adults. We know what happened when you both went into the stairwell 7 seconds apart. Stop it.

There you go. Hope that helps as you prepare for Valentine’s Day!

How Many of Your Employees Are Going to Get the Covid Vaccine?

I’m sure you’ve been seeing the headlines, across America we continue to hear about front-line workers, healthcare workers who are refusing to get the Covid vaccine. In Ohio, it’s estimated that 60% of nursing home workers declined to get the vaccine!

I want to believe that those choosing not to get the vaccine when they could get that vaccine are just ignorant and natural selection will take its course. But, not even 100% of hospital workers, nurses, and doctors on Covid units are getting the vaccine they are eligible to get!

So, we know that when it comes time that we can help our own employees get the vaccine, not all will want it. This will cause a bunch of issues in organizations that we haven’t even come close to really knowing, yet.

Can you fire an employee who refuses to get a Covid Vaccine? 

Short answer? Yes. The longer answer depends on a number of factors. Do they have a legitimate religious exemption, not one they’ve conveniently made up in the past day or so? Do they have a document medical issue? Etc.

The reality is employers have a lot of ground to stand on when forcing employees to get a vaccine or lose their job. Getting the vaccine becomes a workplace safety issue and the government and the courts have shown a willingness to back these protections.

The more important question is, do you as an employer want to force employees to get the vaccine, or is there a better way to get the same result? This is really a company by company decision.

What are some ways to get employees to want to take the vaccine? 

Let’s face it, the vast majority of most employees, at most employers, will actually want to get the vaccine and get back to life as “normal” before the pandemic. So, anything you roll out to entice your employees to get the vaccine will be a bonus most probably didn’t need. That being said, here’s what I’ve been hearing some employers are doing:

  • Cash bonus to get the vaccine. $100 if you get the vaccine in a certain time period once it’s available.
  • Extra time off.
  • Extra flexibility around their schedule.
  • Making it super convenient, like offering vaccines onsite at the workplace.

It’s basically the carrot or the stick. Most likely, organizations will have to use both to get to the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reality is, based on data, you don’t actually have to have 100% of employees get vaccinated to make your workplace safe.

I think it’s important to remember that factor. You really don’t need 100%. As organizations do we really want to fight that battle with someone who just refuses, yet, they are a good, solid employee? I don’t think it will be worth it in the long run.

The one thing you might try is drafting an agreement for those who refuse which would state, they are refusing to get the vaccine and I would try and add in some language that gives you the right as an employer to be able to let other employees know who are those employees are aren’t vaccinated from a workplace safety issue, so other employees know who they need to continue to social distance from. Is this ideal? Heck no! There are HIPAA issues, among others. But, this is about how do we keep the majority of our employees safe.

Now, before drafting some agreement like that up on your own, get your legal counsel involved. They’ll balk at first, but with some pushing, they can put something together that will protect the organization from any legal blowback.

Again, you have to weigh the outcome of doing something like this. Those employees who refuse the vaccine, sign your agreement, and you make that public among your employees is now wearing a scarlet letter around. That isn’t good either, from a cultural standpoint.

This is why HR is so much fun! We don’t live in black and white, we live in the gray. There isn’t one perfect answer to the question. Of course, the best-case scenario is every single one of your employees wants the vaccine and gets the vaccine. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening with too many organizations.

What can your employees count on from you in 2021?

At the HR Technology Conference his fall, Marcus Buckingham gave a talk on some new research he did on resilience. It was definitely timely because of the year that is 2020. Also, when you talk to c-suite leaders all will say one of the most sought after attributes they want in their employees would be resilience.

From his research, Marcus found that employees determine how much they trust a leader and an organization comes down to just a few simple things, and one of those major things is not what you hope and dreams are for the organization, but what you can specifically tell employees that they can count on, 100% count on.

We see organizations come out all the time with examples of this:

  • Google said they will not have in-office work until September 2021, but the plan is to bring people back in-office at that point. Concrete date and plan, of course, it might get pushed out again, but at the very least you know you have remote work until September 2021.
  • I’ve seen CEOs come out in 2020 and tell their employees we will not lay one person off this year. For many employees in those companies, that was such a relief to hear.
  • It can be as simple as letting your employees know you will not be changing your benefit plan for the coming year or moving your home office after a merger or acquisition.

Of course, all leaders want to share their vision and dreams. We love aspirational leaders, even if we don’t completely trust them! What all employees want, based on the research, is a leader who will tell them what they can count on moving forward, even if it’s something small.

“I can you this much, for sure…” Then, from a trust standpoint, you move heaven and earth to make that happen! So, the old leadership axiom of under-promise, over-deliver fits really well into the trust dynamic.

Also, don’t make this lame! 

“You can count on me to always tell you the truth!” No, I can’t! That’s a lie right there! As soon as something happens, let’s say talks about acquiring a new company, or having your company acquired, you won’t be able to share anything about that.

“Hey, are we getting bought?” Well, I can’t yes or no to that question, and that’s the truth! No, you’re an idiot who is saying nothing, and now I don’t trust you.

What can your employees count on? 

Sometimes this is the most difficult question to answer because there is way more we can’t count on, then we can. But, if you can come up with those few concrete things, you can leverage that trust a long way.

2020 has shown our employees are not as fragile as we like to believe. For the most part, employees who truly understand the truth of their circumstances are much more resilient than we think. “Hey, 2021, is going to be extremely hard on the organization. We need sales, or we will be in trouble. Everything we will do needs to focus on how to help us sell more.”

Yes, some employees will run and find a new job. But, many more will fight and show their resilience and reward your honesty. At the end of the day, we just want to know we aren’t being lied to and after that, it’s pretty remarkable what we are willing to face and conquer.

3 out of 4 Employees Actually Want to Return to the Office!

I think most HR pros disagree with this number. I didn’t make it up like I do most of the time, but I was having this feeling that way to many HR leaders and pros were feeling that their entire office workforce just wanted to remain remote. The number is from this recent Human Experience study.

Basically, it’s saying 25% of workers want to return full-time to the office, 50% want some kind of hybrid model where they will return, but have additional flexibility to work remotely, and 25% want to stay remote on a permanent basis.

My guess is most HR leaders and pros if asked this question are under the belief that 50%+ of their office workers want to remain remote, full-time. At least, that’s what I hear when I ask that question to them. Much smaller sample, but it’s also what I hear and read.

What the article is really showing is that our workforce has had a taste of flexibility, and most really, really liked what it tasted like! I find that in very large cities, organizations and leaders are much more flexible. It’s just the nature of big city life. Trains don’t always run on time, commutes can be crazy, etc.

As you get out into smaller communities the expectations changed. You can always make it into work because you’re driving your own car. If you were 15 minutes late in Milwaukee, people will question you. If you’re 30 minutes late in New York, no one says a thing. So, having some flexibility to be treated like a real, functioning adult, for most people has been a breath of fresh air.

But, and it’s a big but – we can’t be naive as HR leaders believing everyone just wants remote. They don’t want remote, the vast majority, want flexibility. They want some understanding. I can be a high performer, and  I can meet my goals and exceed them, just treat me like an adult.

The pandemic might change many things about work and life moving forward, but it won’t change our desire as humans, most of us, to want to have live interactions, one-on-one, face-to-face, to congregate, to share ideas, and see your real-life body language, if at all possible.

Don’t be fooled by a loud minority voice saying a remote workplace is the best workplace. It’s “a” workplace, great for some, horrible for many. Just as in-office is great for some, and horrible for others. The best organizations will figure out the balance.

7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office

Ladies, you do not need to read this post! You were actually born to put together a remote office. You might even have a Pinterest dream board for the perfect office. Most dudes, suck at this! They are still sitting, hunched over at their card-table, kitchen table they bought at Costco with the four folding chairs, or on the couch.

Sure, we (dudes) probably have a better WiFi connection than you do. That is the extent of our remote office ability. Great WiFi.

But, I’ve been told by many prominent women in my life that I kind of act like a chic, a lot. Many of my good friends are actual women! I have a good eye for interior design, and I think a great space can make you more productive.

BUT, the dude in me also knows this can’t take a lot of time or effort, because us dudes have other more important things to do, like run wifi speed tests to find out why our other dude friends somehow have faster upload speeds than we do!

Here are the 7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office (will not include any technology suggestions as that is for the 7 Things Chics need in their Remote Office):

1. Sturdy, Minimalist Desk. I like L-shape, but your space might not be big enough. Essentially, you need something to sit your computer, extra monitors, and stuff on.

2. An Office Chair that costs more than $99. Look the chair you had in the cube at work probably cost $399+. If you’re going to sit in something for over 1,000 hours per year, make sure it’s good and comfortable, for a long time! Plan on $400+ and think Steelcase, Herman Miller, etc. Don’t skip on a great chair! “Looks cool!” isn’t a great trait of a remote office chair.

3. Front Lighting. Sure it looks great to have a window as your backdrop, but it sucks as a functional workspace because every time you are on a video call you get washed out! So, you either have to have a big ring light staring you in the face, or have the window in front of you and let all that natural light make you look great!

4. Head Phone Stand. We (dudes) spend a lot on our headphones, don’t screw up that investment by continually throwing them on the desk every time you get up. Plus, when you leave your desk for the day/evening, it just looks nice!

5. Some Succulents. Some succ-a-what!? Now, my pod-partner Jessica Lee, is love with some sort of rubber tree plant. That’s cool, but maybe too big for a nice desk plant or two! Also, you’re a dude, you will kill real plants, so these are ones that will look great no matter what!

6. Cable Management. I know you don’t care that you have 7 things plugged into three extension cords that are snaking all over your office space, but it looks terrible! Also, a messing space makes you unproductive. Let’s tighten it up!

7. Artwork – Again, this must be strategically positioned so that people can see it. Now, let’s talk about limits. Sure, you can have a Star Wars print, but it better be retro and it better be framed! Another option is great landscape photos of mountain ranges or lakes, etc. You can even go pop culture, just make sure it makes a statement. If you’re questioning your decision, have a friend, who is female, who you think is a neat freak take a look, first! Go big, 36×24, or even bigger depending on your space, no one wants to see some 12X10″ framed photo all by itself on the wall. I’m looking at ordering this print for my office right now – iconic! Check out Etsy for some great prints and prices.

 

If You Pay Women More They’ll Work Harder Than Men! (It’s Science!)

A new study out from Harvard (so you know it’s legit and sh*t!) on what is the real payoff on paying employees more. It the age-old question, right? We can’t find great talent, so we say, “well, if we paid more we could find more talent”. Not quite “great talent” but more talent.

But, that really isn’t even the question this is answering. This is about what about our own employees and if we paid them more, would they work harder?

So, will employees work harder for more money? 

The study looked at mass retail and warehouse workers and found that a $1 increase in pay would on average, overall employees, give back the company $1,10 in extra productivity. Not great, but in very big organizations, an extra $.10 per hour in productivity could be significant, but there were other findings I found more fascinating:

1. Women, on average, will actually work harder for more pay than men! 

2. It’s super hard to pre-select those employees, or candidates, who will actually be more productive with the additional pay.

In fact, “women’s productivity responds more and their turnover responds less to wage changes than men’s, which can lead to occupational pay gaps”. Meaning, less pay doesn’t have the same impact on women as it does men. Men are more likely to turnover when they feel they aren’t being compensated fairly.

The other side of this study that is fascinating from a compensation perspective is something we all kind of know, but never like to admit to – we actually kind of suck at selection and determining who will be a great performer from a poor performer. Interviews, especially in no-skill, low-skill jobs, are basically worthless.

You might have a better chance of being a pay leader and only hiring women. At least you’ll give yourself a better chance the ladies will work harder for that money!

I think what this really speaks to is class pay for performance. Our need to make sure we are paying those employees, who perform the best, more than those employees who do not perform the best. We struggle with this. “Well, Tim, they are all classified “Warehouse Associates 1″ if we paid them differently there would be chaos!”

I get it. It’s not easy, but being great is never easy. Do you really think what you are doing now is really working great?

I think we have the ability in retail, dining, warehouse, manufacturing, do compensation testing where we try some of these philosophies and ideas. What would happen if we developed great productivity measures, and then we really compensated our best performers more. Not twenty-five cents more, but significantly more than their peers who are average or below average on those same metrics?

Might you have some turnover of weaker players? Yep. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, most likely not, if you’re prepared with a funnel of potential new hires. Becoming great at HR is about challenging what we are doing now, so we can become better than we are for the future.

Now, go take care of those ladies who are working harder than your dudes!

Does Your Average Employee Tenure Matter? (New Data!)

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long term. “Tim you just don’t get it, the younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.

BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years.  Which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

Here’s what I know about high tenured individuals:

1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.

2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.

3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations.  I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.

Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.  Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure, outperform those organizations with lower tenure.  (here, here, and here)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

OMG! Did you guys hear what Kris did!?! #Yikes!

Gawd! We love gossip!

I’m personally on five text groups, a few Messenger groups, a couple of IG groups, and a number of email chains that all act like some strange modern version of a watercooler in the breakroom at work. Or the back smoke break patio at the office. Pick your pleasure.

Cultural anthropology sees gossip as an informal way of enforcing group norms. It is effective in small groups. But gossip is not the search for truth. It is a search for approval by attacking the perceived flaws of others…As a social enforcement mechanism, gossip does not scale. Large societies need other enforcement mechanisms: government, religion, written codes.”

Think about how gossip can help organizations perform better.

If I’m new to a department, gossip quickly lets me know the group norms that are expected and tolerated. If I want to be viewed as a good performer I will follow the group norms and gossip is the vehicle for letting me know what those norms will be.

If I’m a “good” gossip, I skilled at finding and sharing information amongst my team they find valuable, I’ll quickly increase my status within the department. I have to be careful as lies and false gossip can quickly bring me down in status.

The problem with gossip, historically, is in didn’t scale well. I might have some juicy gossip but how am I going to effectively share that across an entire organization? But, now with social media, the internet, smartphones, email, Teams/Slack, Zoom, etc., we can easily spread gossip, both good and bad.

So, why am I talking about gossip? 

I will tell you leaders and HR spend more time trying to stop gossip within the organization than almost anything. I’m wondering if we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. What if we used gossip to drive great engagement? What would that look like?

The key to great gossip is “we” all want to be in on a secret. 

We want gossip that we believe almost no one else has. To use gossip to enforce organizational norms (gossip at scale) we can’t just go out and start launching secrets into the world. There has to be a plan!

The problem with trying to lead with gossip is it can lead to chaos. If we believe the social/group norm is to communicate via gossip, that is a very fine line to try and navigate successfully, knowing it’s hard to know what gossip to believe or not believe.

I think we can use the psychology behind our desire for gossip, though, to drive some great outcomes within our organizations.

What happens if you’re in a small meeting, let’s say, five people. The CEO is one of those people and she has something amazing to tell everyone, BUT, the four of us will have to keep this secret. We can’t tell anyone!

We all leave the meeting. I’ve got my #1 right-hand person on my team. I’ve got to pull them in, this is too important, this has too big of an impact on our department not to let my #1 know! So, I trust them (like the CEO trusted me) to not tell anyone else. What happens?

  1. They are over the moon that I trusted them enough to bring them in on the secret. (High Engagement – High Loyalty)
  2. I put myself in a really bad position if the CEO finds out.
  3. I start working with the CEO to let us work on a comms plan to let others know that need to know. (basically to cover my ass for already letting the secret out into the wild!)

Welcome to Organizational Behavior 101, kids!

Every leader has “gossip”. Stuff they know that their team doesn’t know. Some of that is secret. Some of that is just stuff they found about before everyone else, for an undetermined amount of time.

I find that leaders who can use the positive “safe” gossip for informing their team tend to have extremely high team engagement. “Hey, team, we need to pull it in close for a five-minute huddle, I’ve got something really important I need to share with you. But, first, you have to understand, this is NOT public information! We can’t allow this to be shared.”

I just wrote that, and I’m sitting here wanting to know what comes next! Gossip is a powerful tool, that can just as easily make your career as break your career!

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure the group norms we allow are ones where the good gossip, the sharing of information that helps us all increase our knowledge and power are encouraged, while the bad gossip is shut down immediately. All gossip is not bad, but it’s all-powerful in terms of possible outcomes.

 

If you had to redo your corporate mission statement in 2020, would it change?

I think we call agree that 2020 has been a sh*tshow, but there also have been some very important issues that have taken a spotlight that probably would have a major impact on our corporate mission and vision statements. Besides the social justice conversation, the political division continues to grow, and of course workplace health and wellness kind of continues to suck up the oxygen in the room!

Coinbase, a technology company that created a platform to buy and trade cryptocurrency, decided to redo their corporate mission statement, primarily because political division and social justice ideas, being discussed in the workplace, were kind of disrupting their culture and not in a positive way.

Here are some of the aspects of the new Coinbase mission statement:

Play like a championship team

  • Be company first: We act as #OneCoinbase, putting the company’s goals ahead of any particular team or individual goals.
  • Act in service of the greater mission: We have united as a team to try and accomplish something that none of us could have done on our own.
  • Default to trust: We assume positive intent amongst our teammates, and assume ignorance over malice. We have each other’s backs.
  • Focus on what unites us, not what divides us: We help create a sense of cohesion and unity, by focusing on what we have in common, not where we disagree, especially when it’s unrelated to our work.
  • Sustained high performance: As compared to a family, where everyone is included regardless of performance, a championship team makes a concerted effort to raise the bar on talent, including changing out team members when needed.

Focus on building

We focus on the things that help us achieve our mission:

  • Build great products: The vast majority of the impact we have will be from the products we create, which are used by millions of people.
  • Source amazing talent: We create job opportunities for top people, including those from underrepresented backgrounds who don’t have equal access to opportunities, with things like diverse slates (Rooney rule) on senior hires, and casting a wide net to find top talent.
  • Fair talent practices: We work to reduce unconscious bias in interviews, using things like structured interviews, and ensure fair practices in how we pay and promote. We have a pay for performance culture, which means that your rewards and promotions are linked to your overall contribution to the mission and company goals.
  • Enable belonging for everyone: We work to create an environment where everyone is welcome and can do their best work, regardless of background, sexual orientation, race, gender, age, etc.

We focus minimally on causes not directly related to the mission:

  • Policy decisions: If there is a bill introduced around crypto, we may engage here, but we normally wouldn’t engage in policy decisions around healthcare or education for example.
  • Non-profit work: We will do some work here with our Pledge 1% program and GiveCrypto.org, but this is about 1% of our efforts. We are a for-profit business. When we make profit, we can use that to hire more great people, and build even more. We shouldn’t ever shy away from making profit, because with more resources we can have a greater impact on the world.
  • Broader societal issues: We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus.
  • Political causes: We don’t advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction from our mission. Even if we all agree something is a problem, we may not all agree on the solution.

The reason is that while I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction and by creating internal division. 

I appreciate that Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, is working to try and protect the corporate culture that Coinbase had prior to all the issues that have taken center stage in 2020. I think most leadership teams probably feel the same way, “Can’t we just have it like it was before!?” Wasn’t that better?

Well, it probably was better for the leaders and a good number of employees, but it also wasn’t good for a bunch of others. Many of these conversations were needed, and our hope is this will lead to even a better, stronger culture moving forward. I’m not naive, though, some of this will destroy some companies. It’s never all good or all bad.

I actually like the focus on work, when you are at work. It’s a very GenX/Baby Boomer thinking. The younger you are, the more you want your work life to reflect your personal life and beliefs. Some of that is just simple nativity. Some of that is probably a better way to work.

What I know, as a leader, is that we can’t have non-stop division within our workplaces and thing that will lead to a successful company. It won’t. So, we have some choices to make. We can decide to only hire people who think just like we think. Which sounds like the opposite of inclusion. Or we can work really hard to help our employees understand that having people around us that might have different beliefs is a positive thing if we really work to get to know the other person.

This One Group of Employees Needs Performance Reviews Cancelled!

This week on the HR Famous pod we talked about Google suspending performance reviews until 2021. When I first heard about it, my initial reaction was, “okay, here we go, the softening of America continues!” Come on, buck up kids!

It didn’t take me long to come to my senses when I thought about my own team. I have a super-strong group of employees, many of them mothers. On a weekly basis, I get to hear their stories of remote work with kids.

The reality we are facing right now, whether you think it’s right or not, is that most of your female employees with children are taking on the brunt of assisting the kids in their schooling at home. I’m a modern man. I don’t think women should have to take on this burden, but men mostly suck at organization, and from what I can tell, kids need vast amounts of organization when learning at home.

What does any of this have anything to do with Performance Reviews!? 


Because it’s unfair to judge your employees who are parents and besides doing their job, they are also forced to be a part-time educator because remote schooling is failing across the board. AND, the majority of these parent employees are women, who also just happen to face great equity issues already in your organization.

“Okay, Tim, we’ll suspend performance reviews for our employees who are parents, but we are going to continue with everyone else! Why would we stop all performance reviews?” See below…

Here is what will happen if you don’t cancel performance reviews in 2020, and maybe for a while after:

  • Your non-parent employees will get performance reviews and raises and promotions, life is great for them. Your parent employees, mostly women taking the brunt of the workload, won’t get a review and fall behind or will get a review and be judged unfairly based on what our crazy world has thrown at them.
  • Your pay equity issues and lack of gender diversity at leadership levels will continue and increase.
  • You’ll begin to see divisions amongst your employees, that will hurt your culture and productivity.
  • Eventually, you’ll create unwanted turnover or high performing talent.

I’m not saying we should stop feedback. Continue to do feedback all the time. Draft comms out to your employee base that speaks to the inequity our peers are facing and why you will suspend reviews until the pandemic is over and things get back to normal.

Some will read this and go, “yeah, I get it, but we are just going to have continued open dialogue with each team member and if someone says they don’t want a review right now, we’ll table them.” That’s a mistake because the women I know who are doing both roles right now will never tell you they don’t want a review. They are too proud for that, but it’s what’s best for them.

So, I’m a dude talking for women – because that’s what dudes do – we love to do some mansplaining! We also love to protect women. It’s a crazy genetic thing our mom gave us. Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you had this conversation in your organization? What are you going to do?