Meet the Expert: Jenna Leyton-Jones
On one of the episodes of “Bad Boss with Anya Soto,” we were joined by the insightful Jenna Leyton-Jones, an employment law attorney who’s all about keeping companies out of the courtroom. Before opening her law firm, Jenna was a partner at another Southern California firm, where she spent over a decade defending employers in litigation. She has been awarded an “AV Preeminent” rating by Martindale Hubbell for achieving the highest level of professional excellence based on her legal knowledge, communication skills, and ethical standards. She is also listed in the 28th and 29th Editions of The Best Lawyers in America®.
We know from working with 100’s of clients all over North America, that Companies that are deliberate and intentional about building their Company Culture are less likely to face workplace investigations, harassment lawsuits, and be accused of violations or misconduct of their employees.
What do we mean by being deliberate?
- Their performance management reflects their core values and behaviors.
- Their leaders are trained in inclusive and respectful people management skills.
- Their employees feel safe and equipped to solve conflicts and communication challenges without involving the HR.
Let’s dive into seven different ways, you can prevent very expensive workplace investigations!
Prevention is Key
Jenna emphasizes the importance of being proactive when it comes to employment law. Rather than dealing with lawsuits after the fact, she’s all about helping companies establish solid practices from the get-go. No matter how big or small your company is- you must have employee handbooks and employment agreements.
Bridge Communication Gaps
Communication is key. Jenna often finds that many workplace issues stem from communication breakdowns rather than intentional discrimination. Clear and open dialogue is crucial in any team. Make sure you train your employees in critical communication skills to avoid assumptions and misunderstandings that often lead to conflicts, complaints, and finally investigations. Equip your people leaders to recognize when it’s time to intervene.
Here’s an interesting article about Bridging Communication Gaps in the workplace from Forbes:
Post-Investigation Action Plan
If an issue arises, Jenna advises addressing it head-on. Do not avoid or deny the incident. If there’s a policy violation or legal infringement, taking steps to rectify it is crucial. Beyond that, finding ways to improve communication is paramount, whether through mediation or external training. So often, we are hired to “heal” the Company culture after an incident, don’t underestimate the impact investigations have on employees who stay.
The HR Dilemma: When to Bring in an Expert
Even small companies can run into compliance issues. Jenna suggests that once you hit five employees, it’s time to start thinking about formalizing HR processes. Having an employee handbook is a wise step to navigating the nuanced employment laws.
Did you know that you can outsource your manager training and culture-building tools such as leadership assessments, performance management, and culture surveys to us? Working with us is easy- just fill out this form and we will reach out to schedule a complimentary Culture Assessment conversation for you!
The Challenge of Remote Work
Navigating remote work policies and maintaining company culture in a dispersed workforce is a hot topic at the moment with many polarizing opinions. It’s not just about legal compliance but also about ensuring your team feels valued and connected to prevent misunderstandings. It’s much easier to file a complaint against someone you don’t know or have a relationship with. This is why it’s critical to train your people managers on how to build teams and run inclusive remote meetings.
Some examples of challenges in a remote work setting:
Good Culture Trumps Strict Legal Compliance
Jenna stresses that while legal compliance is essential, company culture can be even more impactful. A positive, inclusive culture reduces the likelihood of legal disputes. Employees who feel valued and respected are less likely to seek legal action over minor missteps.
Crafting Culture Together
You are never done shaping your company’s culture. It’s a dynamic process that requires collaboration from all parties involved – employees, leadership teams, consultants, and often attorneys.
If you are unsure where to start on this Building an Inclusive Company Culture journey, please reach out to our team and we would be happy to guide you through this process!
Remember, keeping your workplace on the right side of employment law is essential, but building a thriving company culture is just as crucial. Keep crafting your culture! 🌟