Getting Your Pets Used to a New Baby

Adjusting your pet to a babyWhen my wife and I brought home our new daughter, we were over the moon. Every opportunity we had to count her toes, and marvel at the tiny little life we created really cemented us as a family. It’s true what they say – having a baby will make you experience a love you never knew existed.

Even though we were over the moon with happiness and excitement to finally use the nursery and the countless outfits my wife bought from Babies R’ Us (my eight-month-old has a better wardrobe than me), our dog Bella realized what a major adjustment having her in the house was.

While dogs, cats, and other pets can learn to be gentle and even helpful with a new baby, like my favorite mutt, Bella, who watches over my daughter like she earns a paycheck (I really think she’d choose my daughter over me at every turn), it’s important to prepare them for the event of meeting their newest family member before the baby arrives. Even after the baby is home, however, pets can be taught how to treat their new family member, and adults in the household should continue to keep a close eye on both pets and children to help avoid risks like dog bites.

Here are several tips to consider when it’s time to help your pets adjust to a new baby in the family:

1. What is exciting for you may be confusing for your pet.

Consider the situation from a dog’s or cat’s point of view, recommends the American Kennel Club (AKC). You’ve been preparing for months for the arrival of a new baby. Your pet, however, probably hasn’t connected the influx of baby clothes (seriously, Molly!?) and toys and the refurbished nursery to the idea of a new small human in the house. The strange noises, smells, and movements the baby makes may be unlike anything your pet has ever seen before — and your pet may not understand why they are no longer the center of attention.

By starting from your pet’s point of view, you can more easily find ways to make the transition easier for your pet.

2. Start as soon as you can.

If you can start preparing your pet before the baby comes home, do so. The AKC recommends an extra obedience class for dogs to make sure they understand how to sit, stay, and avoid jumping, as well as how to come when you call so that you don’t have to chase your dog with your hands full of an infant. Teaching both cats and dogs to accept being touched in unusual places, like the inside of the ears or the toes, can also help them stay calmer when babies or toddlers begin to explore, says Nikole Gipps at BabyCenter. I can concur that my daughter is obsessed with Bella’s paws.

3. If you’ll need to change your pet’s routines, change them gradually before the baby comes home.

Making a change all at once when the baby arrives can cause a pet to associate the change with the baby, making it harder to make the change “stick” and to get your pet to act warmly toward your new infant. Instead, make changes gradually before the baby arrives, if possible. For instance, work on shifting where a pet sleeps or what time of day they are walked. If you plan to walk the dog and baby together, practice walking with an empty stroller so the dog becomes accustomed to the stroller’s presence and movement.

4. Use recordings and other items to familiarize your pet with baby’s sounds and smells.

Recordings of baby sounds, like cooing and crying, can help your pet get used to the noises of having a baby in the house. Similarly, using baby lotion on your own hands or opening a container of baby powder can help pets start to associate these new smells with their regular home and routine. When the baby is born, sending a blanket or outfit home before the baby comes home can help pets learn the baby’s smell before he or she arrives.

5. For the first few days, keep your pets out of the baby’s space.

Let pets adjust from a distance and gradually, by keeping them out of the baby’s room or other personal space, such as your bedroom if baby sleeps there in a bassinette. The sounds, smells, and sights of you carrying, feeding, or changing the baby will filter through to your pet and let them learn more about the new family member at a more relaxed pace.

A few days or a week after the baby comes home, allow pets to sniff the baby, but only if they show interest. Control them while they do so by holding them or placing them on a leash. At all times, keep the baby elevated and place an adult between the baby and the pet, recommends the AKC.

6. Even when the baby is around, give attention to pets.

Pets, especially dogs, who associate receiving attention with the baby’s absence are more likely to become jealous and to act out as a result, according to the AKC. Instead, pet, praise, and provide treats to your dog or cat when they are behaving well, even when you are also occupied with the baby.

7. Never leave a child alone with a pet.

As your child grows, you’ll need to supervise interactions between the child and the pet. Make sure crawling babies don’t grab or pull on a pet’s tail, ears, or coat. Create a private space for your pet that is off-limits to your child, like a crate, bed, or gated laundry room, so that your pet has a place to retreat if they start to feel overwhelmed by the exploring child.

Above all, patience and calm are important. As your baby grows, remember to teach him or her how to treat the family’s pets, as well. Children who learn proper pet care and manners as toddlers are far more likely to grow up knowing how to “read” animal body language and avoid serious injuries like scratches or bites in the future.

Hiring a Friend: Too Risky?

Hiring a FriendIt was bound to happen at some time or another. You have been approached by your friend seeking to fill an open position at the company you work with. At first glance, it does not seem like too big of a deal. As a human resources professional, you have the power to hire new employees, making hiring your friend simple enough. But is it really that simple? It is a hot-button topic that has been discussed for as long as businesses have been around — and the question still remains: is hiring a friend too risky?

When I was working as a recruiter for a human services agency several years back, I was approached by every single friend – and surprisingly, former classmates – for a job. While I love my friends, and they are a hoot for Thursday game night, my biggest fear was hiring someone with my name behind them. If they succeeded? Great! It was a confirmation of and testament to my phenomenal people skills. If they failed, well…that was a huge hit for the kind of reputation I built up in my role as not only a recruiter but in my company as well.

There are many perspectives on the topic with answers backed by many advantages of hiring a friend and other answers backed by many disadvantages of hiring a friend. But before getting into the meat of the subject, it is important to look at your own position at the company and how it would relate to hiring a friend.

As a human resources professional your job most likely entails duties related to hiring and/or firing, performance reviews, benefits, general employee and management communications, compliance with labor and employment laws, employee development and any employee-related documentation and paperwork. Simply put, if you hire a friend your job requires you to be closely involved with them and what they do at your company, as well as all the other employees under your care.

First, let us look at the pros that come with hiring a friend. An article from Business Know-How highlights the fact that hiring a friend does make the hiring process easier. You most likely already know your friend’s qualifications and history, which can help in confirming a background check or qualifications written on a resume.

In addition, you are probably privy to their work ethic and reliability based on your relationship outside of a working one. If not, there is a good chance you know your friend’s references, making it easy to communicate with them in regards to the position and how your friend may or may not fit. And what usually ends up the most sought after reason to hire a friend, is the simple fact you will get to work together. Having someone you can talk to or get lunch with on a daily basis while at work can make for a more tolerable work situation. This also means you can have a friend to attend work-related activities with, which can aid in overall relationships around the company.

But as is the case with advantages, there are always disadvantages — especially when being a human resources professional and hiring a friend. While actual business advantages exist in hiring a friend, the biggest disadvantage still basically stems from the friendship that exists prior to you hiring a friend.

The Society for Human Resource Management explained it well by saying, “…friendships increase engagement and stakeholder buy-in, but you’re also aware that if employees think you’re too close to ‘select’ people, you — and the HR department — may no longer be viewed as impartial, fair and trustworthy.”

This is an important point to make because it highlights the fact that you do not need to actually be favoring someone for other employees to believe favoritism is at play. Right out of the gate, your friend you choose to hire might already fall under scrutiny with the idea that they only obtained the job because of your friendship. That sentiment will be lingering for as long as you and your friend work together, which can make for a difficult workplace dynamic.

Furthermore, the friendship you and your friend have will definitely play into your one-one-one work relationship. Take for example a performance review you might have to do on your friend. Not only will the pressure to only say good things about your friend exist, but if your friend is doing poorly you most likely do not want to be the one to have to tell them.

It is hard enough telling a regular coworker they need to do a better job. But taking a friend and telling them their job performance is less than satisfactory is an even more difficult predicament. You risk damaging the personal relationship you two share, even if you have done your best to keep it professional.

Even worse, if you have the added responsibility of firing employees at your company, you might have to fire your friend if they are deemed not able to keep up with the demands of the job. Firing a friend not only permanently severs the co-worker relationship but also your personal relationship. An even greater toll could be in the works if your friend feels they were wrongfully terminated and chooses to pursue legal action against the company. Now your whole company is at stake.

When it comes down it, hiring a friend can be focused on two critical variables: your friend and the company environment. If you have an emotionally close relationship with your friend then, be prepared for other employees to see your in-work relationship as favoritism. If your friend was more of an acquaintance then it might be a better fit because you have supplied a new hire that is familiar and trustworthy without the added risk of emotional ties.

When it comes to the company itself, it is important to look at its organizational structure. Is it a small, tight-knit and highly controlled environment? If so, any perception of favoritism on your part could be detrimental to the company and its goals.

One final aspect of hiring a friend that can actually end up an advantage or a disadvantage is how they reflect on you and your competence. If you hire a friend that ends up being a great asset to the company then you will receive praise for your decision to hire. If your friend turns out to be less than adequate as an employee, it will reflect poorly on you and your decision to hire them.

As mentioned earlier, there really is not a definitive answer as to whether or not it is too risky to hire a friend. As a human resources professional it is your job to treat each potential hire the same way while keeping your company’s ideals and aspirations a priority. If you weigh the advantages and disadvantages and feel hiring your friend is a worthwhile move, then take the risk.

Discovering an Employee Lied On Their Resume

Fraud Lawyer Westmont, NJEmployees often use their resume as their opportunity to present their best foot forward. In the best-case scenario, this may include some specific language that is designed to draw a hiring manager’s attention or to stipulate to the employee’s individual background and experiences. However, in certain situations, these embellishments go beyond simply trying to make the employee look good.

A new hire who lied about their skills or their background should be taken seriously and these procedures should be outlined in a human resources manual to allow the relevant individuals to take action as soon as possible.

While in some cases, a job seeker may simply be inflating their resume with skills they don’t have in order to get a position and appear more qualified, the deceit typically will not be discovered until after the candidate is already working. It is important for any manager or human resources professional to realize how to appropriately deal with this situation.

How to Respond Right Away with a Discovered Falsehood on a Resume

The first step in dealing with a new hire who lied about something on a resume is to confront the person directly. The meeting should be conducted in private and the person who is handling the meeting should be straightforward and polite. Any of the rest of the information on the resume should be cross-referenced at this point in time.

Solid evidence and reasoning should be presented in order to show that the employee has fabricated this information, but that they should also be given an opportunity to explain.

An employer may not find out that a dishonest employee has lied until long after he or she was hired. Claiming to possess a special certification or a degree may help a new employee get higher compensation, extra benefits or even a higher role in the company.

However, if these qualifications originally claimed do not exist, yet the employee seems to be capable of doing the job and is very apologetic, the company may choose to keep them on board while lowering his rank or cutting his compensation. This allows the employee to remain employed, however, he or she is only being paid where their experience and their skills truly merit.

In other situations, a company may not feel comfortable at all continuing to employ someone who lied about their skills, background, or degrees on a resume. This is primarily because that same person could be lying about other things as well. Keeping a hire on your team who you cannot trust can be a frustrating burden. Furthermore, an unskilled employee or an untrustworthy employee could be a real danger to co-workers. If the human resources department decides that this is a particularly egregious offense, they are well within their rights to simply terminate the employee.

Studies have shown that an alarming number of employees have lied on their resumes and many employers said that if this was discovered, they would give new hires a second chance depending on the severity of the lie.

Before jumping to conclusions, it is important to set aside time to talk to the employee directly to get a clear sense of what is going on and to find the most appropriate course of action. Many organizations will benefit from having policies in place that allow a manager to fire an employee for lying on a resume.

If such a policy already exists in the human resources manual, upper management will likely support this decision. If the company doesn’t have a policy, however, there are still opportunities to justify letting the worker go.

One common justification is that this person may have no moral code, meaning that he or she is also likely to cheat, steal or perform any other immoral acts in order to benefit his or her individual career. A person who stops at nothing to get ahead may not think that forging sales numbers, pressuring clients or embezzling is wrong if it gets an end result. The company may not want to have this type of liability on their hands and likely upper management will support the decision if it can be shown that the deceit was intentional and may lead to future behavior.

Another common reason why it is beneficial to have a policy in place that allows the managers of the company to terminate an employee in this situation is that it can send the wrong message to others. If other employees find out that a person lied on his or her resume and that they were able to keep their job, it sends the wrong message. The company should not want employees to believe that it is okay to lie to clients, co-workers or management. You can make it clear to everyone in the organization the exact level of moral conduct and code you intend.

Have a Clear Process

Consistency is critical when figuring out how to deal with an employee who lied on his or her resume. The review of such information should always be based on evidence and it should be clear that there is a policy being followed every time this situation arises. Proper documentation can help to prevent retaliation, lawsuits and other allegations. Although there will always be some level of individual investigation when it’s suspected that an employee lied on a resume, a proper response should include all issues and should give the employee a chance to respond about the concerns first. Misunderstanding are possible, but cases of fraud should be taken seriously by the employer, too.