Effective employee communication – when an employer fails to do this effectively – it isn’t just bad for business, but can also create a work environment that’s ripe for legal trouble. If employers takes the time to communicate, explain actions, stay involved and make the workplace seem rational to employees, it will increase the chances of avoiding potential legal ramifications by employees.

Below are the most common errors that land employers in court—along with tips on how to avoid making them in the first place. Effective employee communication lies at the heart of all of these action items:

Action Item #1. Failing to document performance issues
Remember this: Arbitrators, judges and juries will believe one document over 10 witnesses.

Tip: Employer documentation doesn’t have to be formal or perfectly written, but it does have to be understandable, contemporaneous—and dated! Many employment cases—especially those involving retaliation claims—hinge on timing issues alone.

If the offense is not egregious, follow a progressive disciplinary process. Judges and juries appreciate when the employer can show it bent over backward to try to save an employee. And while not critical, obtaining an employee’s signature on documents involving progressive discipline can be very helpful.

Action Item #2. Failing to have effective policies and preventive measures

In today’s environment, the best way to limit your exposure to employment claims is to have policies on workplace harassment, FMLA leave, workplace violence and standards of conduct. They’re critical.

Before putting such policies in place, it’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel from an employment attorney to ensure they are drafted correctly and that you have covered all the bases.

Tip: Job applications and employee handbooks also can be great tools to help avoid employment claims. They are the employer’s two best friends. you’re an employer’s handbook can include a mini-statute of limitations, restricting the period of time that employees can file employment claims against the company.

Action Item #3. Failing to provide accurate and honest performance evaluations

At many wrongful discharge trials, the plaintiff’s first exhibits are recent performance evaluations—almost always showing good, if not excellent, performance. If evaluations inaccurately reflect good performance, employees will often argue that their termination from a company was illegal or discriminatory.

Employers - hold supervisors accountable for the accuracy and timeliness of their performance evaluations. Make sure the forms themselves encourage frank and constructive criticism.

Tip: Avoid generic forms that tend to result only in positive reviews. Where possible, tailor evaluation tools to the specific job and use objective criteria and metrics to measure performance.

Action Item #4. Failing to explain a termination decision
Employers that are afraid to tell employees why they’re being terminated are opening themselves up to legal action.

Tip: It’s important for employers to tell the truth when letting someone go. Don’t try to soften the blow by waffling about the reason for the termination, implying that it’s not his fault, or that he’s simply being “laid off.” Failing to be up front with an employee you’re terminating is a cardinal sin of management.

Worse is refusing to give any reason at all. Chances are good the employee will seek answers at an attorney’s office.

For more information and the full article containing complete list of top ‘5’ employer mistakes and how to avoid them, please visit http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/4778/top-5-mistakes-employers-mak....

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Hall is the Senior Web Editor (or Online Publisher) of Business Management Daily, a daily new source for insight, advice and information for business professionals. For more information about Business Management Daily or to sign up for any of their FREE enewsletters or reports specializing in Human Resources, Leadership & Management, Office Management, Business Coaching, Employment Law, Administrative Professionals and Office Technology please visit http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/free-e-letters or follow us on Twitter @BizDaily and 'Like' us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Business-Management-Daily/264687564412.

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