In past articles, I’ve written how important it is for job seekers and employees to learn HOW TO DOCUMENT their work experience! Recently I’ve answered many employee questions on problems they have had as a result of not taking this seriously until it’s too late. Therefore, I’ve decided to provide more details on how to document at work.
Many employees don’t think they should document anything because everything seems to be going good. However, that can change in a heartbeat as many are finding out. A new manager comes in, there’s a change in some company policy, you get a notice of potential layoff, told you have to accept a demotion, pay cut or fired.
Now what? You’ve been with this company three years and all of a sudden boom! The company intends to lay you off but keep an employee half your age and half your seniority. Your boss tells you the younger employee has a degree and you don’t. You say to yourself, “Maybe it’s just a coincidence and not age discrimination”. One of my favorite detectives Charlie Chan puts it this way, “Coincidence like ancient egg…leave unpleasant odor!”
Since you’ve not learned to document, how can you show evidence of age or other discrimination?
That’s what this article is going to fix, hopefully before it’s too late. So let’s look at the 15 Ways To Save Your Job.
(1) Always be Honest and Objective
Document what was actually said and done. Never engage in “I think”, “She really meant”, “I believe”. Try not to be subjective, as if you’re reading or saying what’s in the mind of someone else. Keep it honest even if makes you look bad.
(2) Speedy documentation
I always keep a 5×8 junior legal pad handy. It’s easy to transport and easy to conceal. You want to make a record as soon as the incident occurred so you won’t forget important details.
(3) Maintain the time line
If you can show a sequence of events over a period of time it can help establish a pattern of behavior on your employer.
(4) Avoid confidential documents or areas
Don’t access restricted files, emails or other documentation belonging to your boss.
(5) Engage witnesses
Co-workers, vendors, customers, visitors may help you by signing off on what they witnessed. However, be careful, some employees can and may be intimidated by management. Your employer may use some employees against you.
(6) Keep every document your boss gives you
Maintain everything from performance, attendance, reprimands, memos, interoffice mail, salary info, etc. Be sure to note when it was given to you and by whom.
(7) Your personnel file
I can’t stress this enough! I’m amazed what employees assumes about their HR file. Request a copy at least once a year. Some employers will put things in your file without your knowledge.
(8) Home record
Never leave your important documentation at work. If you are laid off or fired you might not be able to retrieve it.
(9) Co-worker problems
Carefully investigate if other employees are experiencing the same problems you are. It may help to show discrimination.
(10) Other ways to document
Audio and video recording may be a documentation option. It’s important to learn what your particular state law concerning the legality of this type of documenting is beforehand.
(11) Document your compensation
Make sure you keep a record of everything concerning your salary. It’s especially important to know if your are classified as “exempt” or “non-exempt”. If you are not sure, find out here…
(12) Employee handbook
A document employees often overlook and neglect. Companies update and change policy all the time. Some may affect you and you won’t even know it, until it’s to late.
(13) State and Federal records
Learn what your state’s Human Rights Commission has on record about your employer. You can also check with the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
(14) Make and maintain a backup copy
Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I keep a separate backup copy of all my documentation. Even at home their could be burglary, fires, natural disasters like floods, tornadoes or hurricanes that can destroy important papers proving my boss fired me illegally.
(15) Never give up!
If you discipline yourself, keeping a daily log will become second nature. Properly store your records where they won’t be thrown out with the trash. Don’t be obsessive, but understand what company policy is versus what your manager says or does. If they don’t line up there may be a problem. I think of my documentation as precious treasure and it is. Mine helped me save my job; it can do the same for you!
I’ll say it again and again, tell everyone you know that has a job, is graduating from high school or college and plans on getting a job to LEARN BASIC EMPLOYEE RIGHTS! This includes How To Document BEFORE SEEKING AND ACCEPTING a Job! Many times being aware of what’s coming gives you power to stop a problem before your boss can start it.