Archive for August, 2009

Just for Fun: Funny Complaints from Employees

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

motivation-image on employee screening blogIn our current economy, employers see bad news and leading indicators that affect them every day. One week employment is up; the next week construction spending is down. First, economists predict the recession will be over by the fourth quarter of 2009, and then the US Treasury Secretary says it’s going to take more time to see real recovery. Roller coasters will give employers a smoother ride than the news will!

If you need a chuckle to get you through the week, take a look at what hiring managers are hearing from their employees—including these very odd complaints, reported by CareerBuilder in a recent survey.

Some complaints were about fellow employees:

  • Is too sun-tanned.
  • Has big hair.
  • Eats all the good cookies.
  • Is so polite, it’s infuriating.
  • Is trying to poison me.
  • Their body is magnetic and keeps de-activating my magnetic access card.
  • Aura is wrong.
  • Breathes too loudly.
  • Has ticks.
  • Wears pajamas/socks/slippers to work.
  • Wears bells on her shoes.
  • Reminds me of Bambi.

Others were about the company:

  • Doesn’t provide a place for naps during break time.
  • 8:00 a.m. is too early to begin work.

Sometimes, we just have to laugh at what makes people upset in the workplace!

When to Hire: Making the Leap From Solopreneur to Employer

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Hiring Employees on Employee Screening BlogWhat does it mean to hire your first employee? Hiring employees is a major growth point that really takes a small business to another level. While it’s not easy knowing you’re completely responsible for your own livelihood, it’s quite another to take on another person’s. Talk about pressure to perform! No employer wants to hire an employee, only to have to let them go when business falters.

So, how do you know when it’s the right time to hire? Many business managers believe that a business should stay lean—especially in this economy. Plenty of successful companies run with fewer people than they really need. You might approach hiring by asking yourself the question, “is it going to be nice to have this person, or do I absolutely need this person?”  Having a bare-bones staff actually adds to the development of employees’ talents and abilities. Asking for more creativity and problem solving from employees allows them to grow and discover where they can excel.

Letting Go
We’ve all heard a business owner say, “I’d rather do it myself than tell someone else how to do it.” Hiring employees means a business owner must get used to letting go of a number of responsibilities—some of which they’ve been performing since day one. As a single-employee business, an owner is often salesperson, marketing department, financial officer and janitor—and can easily fall into the mind set that nobody cares as much, so no one will perform these tasks with the same level of care as they will.

But nobody can do everything a business needs to run successfully forever. In the short term, perhaps—but if your business is not growing, it’s dying. As an owner, you should be thinking forward, planning growth and strategy, and making the big decisions. This includes knowing when it’s time to hire staff to handle the everyday tasks. Not letting go can lead to a less successful business in the long term.

Balance Staffing with Customer Service
There is a balance between running a lean company and falling short on customer service. Obviously, customers must come first to keep sales healthy, and if your staffing level does not serve the customer, something needs to change. Foster a company culture where employees feel free to communicate their own and the customers’ concerns regarding service levels. Ask your staff for feedback and let them know that you are committed to customer service first.

When you are ready to hire your first employees, be sure to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Protect your business, increase your peace of mind and lower turnover by hiring smart!

Legislation Keeps Employers on Their Toes

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

gavel on employee screening blogLegislation is a constantly changing reality for all of us who drive cars, buy and sell property, own a dog, talk on our cell phones, walk down the street, or just inhabit a city, town, county, or any other municipality in the U.S. Laws are something we don’t think about constantly—unless we’re planning to break some.

For employers, legislation is something you must keep up with, or you can really get in trouble. Today we’ll review two laws covering employees that you should already know about, along some new laws that are pending or have passed recently.

First, the newbies:
Lilly Ledbetter: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is a result of the namesake’s pay discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court heard arguments about a requirement, established by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that equal-pay discrimination be addressed within a 180-day statute of limitations. The Court ruled it commenced from the day the pay was agreed upon, not the latest paycheck, overturning a lower court’s decision.

The new law amends the CRA to reset the 180-day statute of limitations to begin with every discriminatory paycheck.

Employee Freedom of Choice Act: This is pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations. EFCA removes the secret ballot requirement that currently exists if employees want to form a union, guarantees workers a contract if they form a union, and strengthens penalties against companies who break laws during union organizing campaigns and first contract negotiations.

And the oldie, but goodies:
FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act gives qualified employees of certain employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. During the 12 weeks, the employee’s job and benefits must be protected. FMLA applies to public agencies, public and private schools, and companies of 50 or more employees. Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.

Under FMLA, qualifying reasons for leave include: the birth and care of a newborn child, the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition. Another qualifying reason is in the case of an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent’s active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves. Plus, eligible employees may request up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for an immediate family Armed Forces service member with a serious injury or illness.

ADA: The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and job training. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the employee’s disability if it does not impose a hardship on the employer’s business.

In hiring, the ADA prohibits employers from asking job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform specific job functions. Medical examinations may be required of an applicant with a disability, but only if the exam is required for all new employees in similar jobs.

That’s the legislative update for now; more to come!

Leadership Tips: Start with a Vision

Friday, August 7th, 2009

revers on employee screening blogQuickBooks developer and NetBooks founder Ridgley Evers believes in using technology to make running small businesses easier. In a recent interview, he discussed how he’s currently combining his passion for small business, technology, and food at DaVero, his Sonoma, California farm, where they grow olive trees, grapes, and fruit trees, and make a variety of wines and olive oils.

According to Evers, all businesses, large and small, start with a vision, and leaders work backwards to determine the right path to reach it. Fulfilling a vision can take a few years, or in the case of DaVero’s olive trees—centuries!  But not knowing the company’s vision or purpose is a crucial misstep made by many businesses—one that can lead to their downfall.

Evers’s idea of success is to create a sustainable business and lead people forward to the vision. And, he says, it’s even more important in a small business that everyone is moving toward a common vision.

To make that happen in your company, spend time with new employees to help them understand why your company matters—and where it’s going. You should also ensure that each employee understands their individual role in the bigger vision.  Creating a sense of pride among employees will make them more likely to buy into the company’s goals—which leads to higher loyalty and less turnover.

Evers also laid out the four things he believes every successful businesses does:

1. Focus first on the customer. Concentrate on satisfying each one.

2. Have an authentic voice—so customers understand what the company is about and where it’s going.

3. Hire slowly, but fire quickly. Take the proper care when hiring new employees, but when you make a mistake, cut your losses and move on.

4. Know when to ask for help.

Small business owners are building what is will be their most important asset—so running it well pays off both in the short and long term. Identify and stay focused on the company vision—it’s the first step in every successful business.