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6 steps for issuing a performance improvement plan

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter, where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: Wrapping up our series on PIPs, “Ask A Tech Worker” and the top startup perk.

—Amber Burton, reporter (twitter | email)


PIPs don’t have to be the kiss of death

Last week, I interviewed HR experts, lawyers and tech workers about the much-dreaded performance improvement plan, or PIP. It’s one of the most fraught workplace topics, but what executives and HR leaders stressed is that it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, there is a way to put someone on a PIP in an ethical and mutually beneficial way.

For starters, go into it in good faith. Here’s how you can give an employee on PIP a real shot at surviving, and ultimately thriving, at your company:

  • Make the goals of the PIP concrete and realistic. Experts suggest relying on the SMART acronym: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
  • Consider ditching the term “PIP” altogether. People associate it, rightly so, with being fired. HR software platform Lattice refers to their PIPs as “performance success plans.”
  • Give the employee in question as much notice and feedback as possible before it gets to a PIP. You should be having regular 1:1s where you voice performance issues as they come up in real time.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do: Put someone on a PIP whom you’re planning on firing regardless of how the PIP turns out. More no-nos, according to my sources:

  • Don’t set goals that are too aggressive. Not only is that unfair to the employee, it’s also setting you up for potential legal troubles.
  • Don’t put someone on a PIP for behavioral issues. The terms of the PIP should also not be related to behavior or emotions, but rather specific performance-related objectives.
  • Don’t surprise someone with a PIP. The PIP should never be the first step in managing performance-related issues.

And finally, regardless of which side of the PIP you’re on, remember to document everything in writing. One employment lawyer I spoke to, Sheeva Ghassemi-Vanni, prefers email to Slack because it’s time and date-stamped and “less casual.” Getting things in writing ensures a paper trail in case things do turn sour, which in the case of PIPS is still unfortunately something to take seriously.

— Michelle Ma, reporter (twitter | email)

Ask A Tech Worker

In this week’s ‘Ask a Tech Worker’ series, Allison Levitsky took to the streets of downtown San Francisco to find out how the omicron variant was affecting teams. Between Dec. 29 and Jan. 10, 8.8 million Americans missed work to either recover from COVID-19 or care for someone who was recovering, according to the Census Bureau. The tech industry was far from exempt. 60% of tech workers no longer expect a “return to normal” at work, according to recent data from Qualtrics. “People have kind of gone back into their caves a little bit. I think [omicron] scared people more than anything,” said Peter Bayuk, an office manager at RapidAPI.

Read the full story.

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Pay, perks & benefits

The latest in pay, perks and benefits news in the workplace.

For startups competing for talent the solution has become almost unanimous: Offer more-flexible work setups. These days, it’s hard to lure top talent without the perk of flexibility, and it’s the same among startups. According to a recent study by Y Combinator, 70% of startups now offer an option for remote work. Remote work options have continued to increase in tandem with the surge in hiring. Y Combinator’s Work at a Startup jobs platform saw 6.4 times the amount of remote-friendly job listings in 2021 in comparison to 2020, according to a recent Crunchbase article.

Changing job boards

We can’t get enough when it comes to jobs and hiring. Almost every aspect of recruiting and hiring has changed over the past two years. And according to recent data from The Conference Board, job postings have changed, too. Online job postings have become more transparent and less stringent when it comes to applicant requirements. Here’s what The Conference Board found in its analysis of job openings posted on almost 40,000 career boards and sites:

  • Over 1 in 8 online job postings now include salary data. The largest increase in pay transparency was observed in blue-collar job postings.
  • The number of job postings seeking a college degree for “traditionally non-college jobs” dropped from about 18% pre-pandemic to 15% or lower in 2021.
  • The number of job postings that mention a starting or sign-on bonus is way up in comparison to pre-pandemic. The number of mentions has doubled since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great day, see you Tuesday.

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