Archive for June, 2009

Building Trust With Your Employees

Friday, June 26th, 2009

trustHow do you know when you can trust an employee? For starters, if you’ve properly screened every applicant, you can be reasonably sure you’ve hired honest people.  Pre-Employment Screening will weed out those with criminal backgrounds, credit problems, or who have misrepresented education or work history.

Trust is an important component of the long-term relationship you want to build with your employees. It’s vitally important that they feel they are trusted, and can trust you back. Here are some tips that can help!

1. Remember that your employees are adults—and treat them accordingly. For example, it’s reasonable to ask for receipts for employee out-of-pocket expenditures—and unreasonable to chastise someone for spending a few dollars more than you think is necessary.

2. Remember that your employees have lives outside work. Respect their need to care for their families, and their desire to leave work on time.

3. Rewrite your company’s policy handbook. Dictating endless rules can cause resentment. Consider eliminating policies that don’t involve safety, established employment laws, abuse of paid leave, and taking care of your customers.

4. Show generosity. Whether it’s with time, money or with words, be as generous as you can with your employees. A small investment of time or money can return a big investment in terms of loyalty and employee retention. And everyone wants to hear that they are appreciated. Let the compliments flow freely!

5. Ask their opinions. Get feedback on processes, ask for their ideas, and encourage them to make suggestions to improve your company. Just the act of asking shows them you’re engaged; but be careful not to ignore every suggestion—or your employees may stop making the effort.

6. Encourage employees to make their own decisions. Empowerment contains the word “power” for good reason. Let your employees feel powerful by giving them the ability to make decisions that serve your customers’ best interests. Chances are when given the opportunity, they will make the right decisions.

7. Be flexible. Consider employees’ needs concerning work schedules, working from home, and requests for time off. See #2.

If you feel nervous about letting go and trusting your employees, you’re probably not hiring the right people. Keep in mind that you can always take action if and when your staff abuses your trust.

Hiring smart and treating your employees like they are valuable assets of your company will go a long way toward building mutual trust—which leads to loyalty and a happier work environment for everyone!

Social Networking and Employee Recruitment

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

social-networking-image on employee screening blogRight now, lots of good, smart people are looking for work. If your business is in hiring mode—and plenty still are, despite the economy—how can you focus your recruiting efforts and find the right people?

Employee recruitment has become more complicated as the usual practices have changed over the past several years. Mass advertising, online or in print, won’t always target your best hire—especially for higher-level professional positions. If the perfect employee never sees your ad, how can you hire them? And a better question is, where are they and how can let them know you’re hiring?

That’s where social networking comes in to boost your recruiting efforts.

linked-inLinkedIn is probably the largest online social network for business. You could think of it as a replacement for your Rolodex—only it contains 42 million names across the entire globe!  Once you join and complete your profile, you can easily search for people you know. LinkedIn does just what its name implies—it links business people, whether they work in the same building or worked together twenty years ago.

But LinkedIn goes much farther in building community. It links you to all the contacts held by each of your contacts—so through degrees of separation, you are connected to all those millions of people.  LinkedIn also finds commonalities among its members, who then form groups based on shared industry connections or interests. Whether you’re in manufacturing, medicine, or marketing, you can find thousands of like-minded folks quickly.

Once you’ve established contacts, you can easily put out the word about positions you need to fill. Rather than calling thirty of your Rolodex contacts, LinkedIn can automatically put your message out to thirty thousand of your contacts’ contacts! Plus, you can search by keyword through the entire LinkedIn network to find people with the skills and qualifications you require. So instead of waiting for the perfect employee to come to you, you can find them in seconds—even if they weren’t looking for a job.

But remember that online social networking is much like face-to-face networking. Just as smart people are always looking for their next great position, smart employers are always recruiting their next great hire. That means you have to stay involved, be helpful, keep adding to your contacts, and invite others into your circle.

Social networks can make recruiting employees a breeze!

Before you hire, screen every applicant. Check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Increase your peace of mind and save training costs by hiring smart.

Don’t forget to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Increase your peace of mind and save training costs by hiring smart.

Hiring During Layoffs

Friday, June 12th, 2009

layoffs on employee screening blogCan employers hire staff if they are in the middle of layoffs? While there is nothing inherently wrong about it, hiring new employees after (or while) letting other staff go can open the door to big problems. Your ex-employees will surely find out—and will look for any holes in your procedures and the reasons they were let go.

Even though it is risky, there is no reason not to hire new staff in spite of layoffs. Proper planning and care in procedures makes a big difference. Microsoft announced big layoffs this year: a decrease of 5,000 jobs over 18 months. But the net loss in jobs was reported to be only 2,000 to 3,000. Why? Because Microsoft planned on hiring for new, key positions at the same time they were eliminating the old ones.

At Dell, recently laid off employees filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit, claiming that older and female staff were targeted in a round of layoffs that affected 8,900 workers. The employees claim performance evaluations were manipulated and that they were told that no other positions were available when job openings existed. Employers must be clear about reasons for reductions and must ensure that no group is singled out—or even appears to be.

But keep in mind, too, that although it is illegal to target older workers for layoffs, it is within an employer’s rights to base reductions on salary—which often means the older, tenured staff members are more likely to be let go.

For most employers, decisions around hiring and laying off employees are necessary to stay viable—and sometimes must be made at the same time. It doesn’t make sense to ignore areas of your business that are currently strong, and need additional staff, just because you must reduce in other areas. If certain sectors of your business have the potential to become profit centers, you should reinforce them as needed.

A reasonable approach might be to eliminate positions, then re-categorize or modify job descriptions, establish the new positions, and hire for them. And as always, the safest way to ensure you are within the law is to consult an HR attorney before taking any action.

Are Dress Codes Outdated?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

dress-code on employee screening blogOur previous post covered diversity in the workplace, including being sensitive to employees who display their religious beliefs through clothing or hairstyle. We advised employers to avoid making an issue of any such break of dress code as long as job performance was not affected.

That leads us to today’s topic: are dress codes still being established in businesses? A look around a scattering of companies reveals a variety of policies that are currently in force:

Retail: Most major chains enforce dress codes. Target, Walmart, Macy’s, and Costco all require their employees to either dress in business wear or uniforms. Target’s red top and khaki bottom outfits are familiar to frequent shoppers. Costco’s guidelines forbid facial piercings (even after Costco was sued for the policy on religious grounds). And what would Walmart be without blue vests everywhere?

Smaller, locally-owned establishments are usually a reflection of their clientele and surroundings. Some stores allow employees to wear whatever they want—which can be dangerous! The definition of “too casual” depends largely on your industry and where you’re located. West coasters tend to be more casual, and we’ve seen plenty of t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops worn by sales clerks. If that’s a normal look in your area, your customers probably won’t think it’s a big deal—especially if they’re dressed the same way. In bigger cities and on the east coast, people tend to dress up more, and retail clerks’ dress reflects it.

Restaurants: Most restaurants have established dress codes, at the very least for health and safety reasons. Customers don’t usually care for a guy in a tank top taking their dinner order (as happened to a friend of ours recently!). Upscale restaurants see dressed-up diners who expect professional appearances for host and wait staff.

Health Workers: Scrubs are the norm in all areas of health care, from walk-in clinics to emergency rooms. Nurses, doctors, and dental assistants are usually decked out in scrubs for their entire work day—even television’s Dr. Oz wears scrubs for every appearance on Oprah’s show.

Professionals: Most law offices and finance-related businesses still require corporate dress for all staff, from CEO to reception. You don’t expect to see a board room full of people dressed in sweat pants and tennis shoes. Nor would most folks feel comfortable if their lawyer represented them in court while wearing a t-shirt and shorts! Suits, dress shirts and ties, skirts, and hose are still considered proper attire in the legal and financial fields.

Dress codes can encourage professional conduct and increase productivity for your employees. But beware: if you do not currently have a dress code in your company, your employees may resist it—so be sure to communicate your reasons clearly, and to enforce it consistently. When deciding what the dress code will entail, ask the following questions to avoid legal trouble:

  • Is the policy fair for employees of both genders and all ages?
  • Does it infringe on any employee’s religious beliefs?
  • Does it infringe on a cultural aspect of a specific race?
  • Would a disability prevent an employee from complying?
  • Can employees fulfill their job duties when complying?
For more information on pre employment screening, including everything you need to know about consumer and credit reports, go to

Diversity Sensitivity for Employers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009


diversity on employee screening blogChances are your company has become more diverse over the years, based on the changing demographics of the US population. Being sensitive to cultural differences between you and your employees is not only important, but it could keep you out of legal trouble, as well. 

With charges of religious discrimination in the workplace on the rise, here are some general guidelines you might consider. These examples are based on recent courtroom cases, and should not be construed as legal advice.

Be careful about dress and personal appearance codes. In the District of Columbia, a federal court ruled that firefighters cannot be forced to be clean shaven. The case began around concerns that respirators won’t fit the bearded firefighters properly. Those who wear beards for religious reasons were ruled to be exempt from the policy. 

Consider your company’s dress code, and how it applies to workers who wear head coverings or other religious dress. Courts would unlikely to find favor with an employer shown to be discriminating against employees for facial hair or religious dress. If an employee’s appearance does not affect their work, it’s best to leave the issue alone.

Be aware of what makes for a hostile work environment, and require your employees to be respectful to all co-workers. One worker sued her company after management ignored her requests for fair treatment. Her co-workers had repeatedly yelled at her when they could not understand her English. The court ruled against the employer on grounds of a hostile workplace after it found she demonstrated enough knowledge of English to do her job and ruled the co-workers were harassing the complainant.

Be flexible about days off. Don’t assume that all your employees share your faith or that everyone celebrates the same holidays. Respect your workers who request days off for religious holidays—even if you are unfamiliar with them. Communicate with all of your employees to create solutions that will work for both the business and the staff. Swapping days off or instituting floating holidays for everyone are two possibilities to consider.

Speaking of holidays, how does an employer celebrate holidays without offending employees? Whether your staff celebrates Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan—or nothing at all—must be taken into consideration. You will add to your employees’ job satisfaction and loyalty when you demonstrate your respect of their religious beliefs. 

At holiday time, instead of giving Christmas cards or bonuses, avoid singling out one religion by renaming  them “year end bonuses.” Instead of decorating a Christmas tree, honor diverse customs by allowing employees to bring in personal holiday mementoes, or to decorate a space together. Those individuals who do not wish to participate should never be forced to or treated any differently.  

If you’re an employer, read up on cultural diversity, or take a class if offered in your local community college. All companies can provide education to help managers learn about and model sensitivity to their workers’ religious beliefs and cultural differences. Remember, it is up to the employer to ensure that all employees are respectful of their co-workers, and to stop any harassing or insensitive actions when they occur. 


Don’t forget to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Increase your peace of mind and save training costs by hiring smart.