impactnews: NLRB Issues New Guidance for Employers in Crafting Employee Handbooks

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month issued new guidelines for employers in regard to how their handbooks should be drafted to reduce employer liability.

The NLRB’s General Counsel, following a recent NLRB decision with Boeing Inc., has “established a new (and much more employer-friendly) standard for the lawfulness of employee work rules,” according to an analysis by Proskauer, a New York-based law firm.

Under the NLRB’s new guidance for employee handbooks, it establishes three categories of “work rules” to help employers be in compliance with the National Labor Relations Act’s (NLRA) Section 7, which governs protections for all non-supervisory employees. The three categories are: Rules that are Generally Lawful to Maintain; Rules Warranting Individualized Scrutiny; and Rules that are Unlawful to Maintain.

Category 1 rules are generally lawful and can be included in handbooks without violating employees’ NLRA rights, such as rules requiring civility in the workplace; prohibiting photography and recordings in the workplace; and disallowing insubordination.

In addition, category 2 rules are those that merit individualized scrutiny (e.g., case by case) such as broad conflict of interest rules and broad confidentiality rules that, for example, prohibit the disclosure of employee information.

Lastly, category 3 rules are generally unlawful to include in employee handbooks, such as rules prohibiting the discussion between employees of wages, benefits and working conditions plus rules prohibiting employees from joining outside organizations.

Read more here (under GC 18-04, “Guidance on Handbook Rules Post-Boeing”)

If you have any questions or need assistance building an employee handbook for your organization, contact us at or call 443-741-3900.

impactHR Sponsors the BBB of Greater MD Torch Awards for Ethics

impactHR is proud to sponsor the Better Business Bureau of Greater (BBB) Maryland’s 2018 Torch Awards for Ethics held as part of its 2018 Signature Event, September 27, at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

The BBB of Greater Maryland annual awards program honors businesses that demonstrate high standards of honesty and “the utmost commitment to ethics and integrity.”

Both private sector and non-profit sector organizations of all sizes are considered for the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics. The Torch Awards embody the BBB’s mission of advancing marketplace trust.

The BBB of Greater Maryland’s event this September also features the launch of a new award program – its 2018 Spark Award which recognizes early-stage entrepreneurial businesses that demonstrate “a high level of character, generating a culture that is authentic about its mission, and embedding social impact into their business model to support their community,” according to the BBB of Greater Maryland.

This year’s gala event will feature as speakers Maryland’s Department of Commerce Secretary, Mike Gill, and ABC2’s Jamie Costello.

Learn more about this event and how to register to attend here.

Performance Management: Guiding Your Employees to Productivity, Growth

Performance reviews are a time-tested HR function, commonly used to review employees’ past annual performance and discuss areas where improvements are needed.

But what does “performance management” mean? And could this be a better way than traditional performance reviews to help optimize your employees’ performance and productivity for your company?

In a nutshell, performance management sets the stage for employees’ success within an organization. Performance management centers on providing regular and consistent feedback to employees throughout the year.

This “real time” feedback is provided for specific accomplishments, tasks and/or projects as well as check-ins with the employee.

Performance management, for clarity sake, could also be labeled “performance planning.” By providing regular and consistent feedback, employees may be able to better plan how they will achieve expected goals and objectives as well as determine next steps in their careers and work on areas for improvement.

This aims to develop a stronger employee, which, in turn, strengthens the organization’s performance and increases the likelihood of continued success.

Performance planning, ideally, should start the first day on the job and continue throughout an employee’s tenure. To get started, consider the plan below for all of your performance planning meetings:

*Clear performance expectations:

  • Recognition of hard work
  • Understanding and communicating what success looks like
  • Identifying and setting measurable goals
  • Link with compensation


  • Consistent feedback on areas for improvement
  • Developing a performance improvement plan
  • Scheduling regular check points to evaluate improvement

*Providing appropriate learning and development opportunities

*Recognizing and rewarding top performers

*Employee input

Performance management should occur on such a frequent basis that it becomes less something the manager or the employee think about and more a daily part of their day.

Providing the opportunity for greater responsibility and opportunities to advance in one’s field are essential to maintaining happy, productive employees. Performance management can be a good first step in that direction.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about performance management for your organization, contact us at or call 443-741-3900.

impactInterview: Janette Hunt on Helping Employees Deal with Personal Tragedy, Trauma

Fast Company recently published an article on “4 emotionally intelligent HR policies employees may suffer without,” which provoked discussion at impactHR about ways employers could assist their employees in times of emotional trauma and/or duress. Janette Hunt, Senior Consultant with impactHR, shares her thoughts on this topic in a special impactInterview.

impactnews: in light of this Fast Company article, how are companies typically able to step in and support their employees?

JH: “Every organization wants to invest in their people so they can have a strong team foundation. Yet something that shakes this foundation at its core is when an employee goes through a tragedy.

A tragedy is a difficult situation for even the strongest of people and without proper support at home and work, a person can experience lasting effects of depression and grief.

When an employee takes bereavement leave, such as recovering from the death of an immediate family member, there is no clear set time that this person will need to recover.

It’s hard for organizations to strike a balance between giving an employee the time they need while still making sure operations within the organization are running effectively.

In certain scenarios, such as when the organization is smaller and where each employee plays a vital role, the balance is harder to find.

One idea I like for smaller organizations is ‘Flexible Bereavement Leave’ in which the employee could telecommute or have a reduced number of hours at the office with a slow transition back to full time.

Janette Hunt, Senior Consultant, impactHR

I think there’s room for creativity in the ways organizations, small or large, can accommodate and support their employees during a time of need.”

impactnews: what are some cost-efficient programs companies can deploy internally to help their employees?

JH: “Organizations can consider supporting their employees via some type of internal support. This could include setting up a formal ‘Internal Support Group’ with the sole purpose of supporting employees going through difficult issues.

Or this could be a more unofficial way of checking in on one another through a little note on a desk or grabbing someone for a quick coffee. It’s important to have something in place, officially or unofficially, that enables employees to feel a sense of company support.

EAPs, or Employee Assistance Programs, are another great way to ensure your employees have the support they need when facing difficult times. EAPs are usually an add-on to an employer sponsored medical plan or corporate insurance and can be of help when an employee is under a kind of duress and suffering emotionally.

Also, open and frequent communication with employees about the availability of these types of support programs can be a big help. I think, in general, most employees want to feel they’re safe, appreciated and cared for in their workplace – and that’s an important contributor to employee satisfaction and retention.

One other type of support to consider is county government resources. The Anne Arundel County (AAC) Police Department, for example, has a Crisis Intervention team that will come onsite to assist a troubled employee.

We recently learned of a situation in which an employee of a company witnessed a serious auto accident as she drove to her office. Understandably, she was very upset about the accident when she arrived at her workplace – and unable to focus on her work.

So, the company called the AAC Police Department’s Crisis Intervention team. They arrived onsite quickly and spent almost two hours with the employee until her husband arrived. They provided immediate support, including contacting her primary care physician. They also provided resources to her co-workers about how they could best support her moving forward. AAC’s Crisis Intervention team also offered her ongoing support if she needed it, free of charge.

For companies that don’t have an employee assistance program in place, this type of resource may be a very good option to act in support of their employees.”

impactHR Wraps Up 2018 Pajamas/Gift Cards Drive for Critically Ill Children

impactHR has wrapped up a banner 2018 “Pajamas and Gift Cards” donation drive in support of the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation.

Casey Cares encourages year-round donations of gift cards and pajamas for children who are critically ill and receiving treatment in mid-Atlantic area hospitals.

All of us at impactHR are grateful to each and every donor for this year’s drive – we’re delighted to report we collected a record amount of pajamas and gift cards in our third year of involvement in helping Casey Cares. (Amy Rosewater, Casey Cares’ Communications Director, is in photo on the left.)

If you or your organization would like to participate in Casey Care’s on-going drive, we invite you to consider donating:

  • $10-$20 Gift Cards from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, chain restaurants and movie theaters
  • New, two-piece pajamas in all sizes (adult sizes for teenagers are a priority size)

Casey Cares deliver thousands of pajamas (and gift cards for dinners out and special events) each year to hospitals across seven states, including Maryland, DC and Virginia, for children on extended hospital stays.

Learn more here.

Maryland, Virginia Ranked for Business Competitiveness

Maryland is 31st among the 50 states in a measure of its comparative economic competitiveness, according to a new CNBC scorecard on “America’s Top States for Business 2018.” Virginia ranks 4th in the nation.

Maryland, which placed 25th in CNBC’s 2017 scorecard, still performs well in several rated categories, such as the comparative quality of its workforce, economy, technology and innovation, education, and access to capital. Maryland’s overall ranking, however, is pulled down for its grade in “cost of living” (Maryland is 44th in the nation for this specific metric).

Virginia, which ranked 7th in 2017, received strong 2018 scores for the quality of its workforce, technology and innovation, education, economy, business friendliness, plus access to capital.

CNBC’s report used more than 60 data measures to determine its state by state rankings. Texas, which placed 4th in 2017, is this year’s top-ranked state followed by Washington and Utah.

Learn more