Archive for November, 2009

5 Tips for Hiring When You Have Too Many Choices

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

too many hiring choicesFor many employers, hiring new staff is not an issue they’re dealing with right now. But for those who are expanding or replacing workers, good hiring decisions are necessary to stay viable. If areas of your business growing and need additional staff, here are some tips to prepare for the onslaught of employment applicants you’ll likely see.

1. Gauge Real Interest: You might receive a hundred responses to an advertised position, so screen for the truly interested candidates—before you start reviewing resumes. Send an email to every applicant asking him or her to complete a simple second step—like attending an information session or answering a few preliminary questions. Those who do not respond can be culled out immediately.

2. Schedule Interviews over One or Two Days: Depending on how many candidates you decide to see, plan to interview them all, back-to-back, over one or two days. Dragging the process out over a week or two is inefficient. And only seeing those job-seekers who are able to meet on your schedule is another way to screen out the less-than-enthusiastic.

3. Involve Your Staff: It’s wise to expand interviewing to more than just HR or hiring managers. When co-workers are encouraged to participate in the hiring process, they feel a sense of appreciation—and this approach creates camaraderie right from the beginning. New employees who know that everyone they work with had a hand in their hiring feel more accepted and transition more quickly.

4. Consider Conducting Personality Tests: Some firms have potential candidates complete 15-minute questionnaires that predict behavior, style, and motivation.

5. Observe Candidates Outside the Interview: Creative companies bring finalists into the workspace for a day or two of observation. Both candidates and existing staff and management do the observing—each side to see if the potential hire and company culture are a good fit. Taking candidates to lunch or dinner, or just hanging out after work in relaxed settings with other staffers can be very telling. Human nature leads us all to behave one way in an interview and another when we’re relaxed and having fun.

The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

Plan for Employee Retention Before They Plan to Leave

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

happy employer and employee on employee screening blogWhat makes employees happy and loyal? Company culture, extra perks, feeling appreciated by their employers—all of these factors are important, but they are not the deciding ones when employees are faced with the decision: “should I stay or should I go?”  The two things employees put at the top of the list are pay and benefits.

According to a survey conducted for the last three years by a Florida staffing firm, compensation and benefits are the most important thing in their relationships with their employers.

Although fewer workers have quit jobs this year (according to the U.S. Department of Labor), history suggests that workers who are unhappy will start looking for employment elsewhere as the economy improves. And the main reason they’re unhappy?  Their pay has been cut during the recession.

One study, conducted last May, showed that employees at 235 large U.S. firms are less committed to their employers—so those firms who managed to keep their strongest people during the recession may be at risk of losing them.

What can employers do to hold on to good employees?

1. Make up for pay cuts: it’s a sure way of making affected employees happier. And if you plan on giving raises, say so! Now is not the time for surprises—people need reassurance more than ever. So don’t keep plans to yourself, or use a pay raise to bargain with an employee after they announce they’re quitting.

2. If you promise a pay raise, follow through: nothing is worse than making a promise and not delivering on it.

3. Be flexible: We’ve shared lots of ideas in this blog about boosting morale and supporting employees’ needs. Sometimes it can make up for lower pay—but not always.

4. Pay a performance bonus: If you can, write a bonus plan that rewards your staff for meeting objectives. Pay-for-performance is a good way to give a sense of ownership and commitment.

5. Be open and accountable: if management is getting raises and bonuses, and staff is not, be prepared to explain why.

Be sure to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Protect your business, increase your peace of mind and lower turnover by hiring smart!

How Employers are Boosting Productivity

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

happy employees on employee screening blogEmployers who cut staff to deal with a business slowdown, often experience a slowdown in worker productivity, too. Here are some free ways to boost it back up.

Be flexible: Not only do employees who work for managers they consider flexible produce more work, they are healthier. A recent study undertaken by eight federally-funded research teams in the U.S. show that employers’ policies affect employees in ways they might not have imagined. Cardiovascular disease is twice as prevalent in employees who have bosses unwilling to work with them on family issues like caring for sick children.

Employers with a culture of flexibility, such as remote work programs and flex hours, have workers who sleep an average of 30 minutes more per night. The same study reported that nearly 80 percent of workers want flexible work schedules, but many believe they will be overlooked for advancement if they ask for it.

The study also shows that businesses with open and flexible cultures have more engaged and supportive employees, and much less turnover.

Be supportive: Employers and workers are both feeling the strain of job cutbacks, losses in sales and profits, and an uncertain future. However, employers should try to be as supportive of their remaining employees as they are demanding of them. Listen to employees’ needs and suggestions, especially when re-prioritizing duties are necessary. Some tasks may have to be eliminated when staffing is decreased. Be empathetic to what your employees can physically and emotionally take on.

Be inclusive: When employers ask workers to take on more responsibility, productivity can be negatively affected. Consider giving your best workers leadership roles and the titles that go with them when you ask them to work longer and harder. A sense of ownership can boost morale and productivity.

New Ways Employers are Boosting Morale

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

vegetable_garden on employee screening blogAfter layoffs, benefits cuts and asking staff to do without, employers look for ways to boost employees’ spirits. Some buy lunch, while others encourage fun with Halloween costumes. But some inventive employers seek ideas beyond the norm to improve morale and keep employees productive.

Start an employee garden: One Indiana business owner invested $600 in a 1,500 square foot garden on her business property. Four employees shared the workload and the bounty, estimated at $2,400 worth of vegetables and herbs. Free produce is a sure bet for a crowd-pleasing morale booster, helping employees stay healthier by increasing the fresh vegetables in their diets and saving them money, too.

Take an afternoon off to play: Close the doors, turn on the voice mail, and take your crew to the movies, a comedy show, the ball park, or a pottery class. While it’s true that not all businesses can close the doors during regular hours, with proper planning, many can. Give customers plenty of notice, and do what’s necessary to meet their needs. Most customers can tolerate doing without your services for one afternoon a year—and knowing your business invests in your employees creates goodwill.

Throw a party: Thinking of cutting this year’s holiday bash? Think again—it could kill employee morale. (Unless the annual holiday party is lame, in which case it could boost it.) If funds are tight, ask your employees for ideas. They might come up with a celebration that costs less and is more fun than the one you’ve been doing for years. Try a gathering at your home instead of an expensive banquet room or restaurant. Do put out some nice finger foods or a big pot of chili with all the fixings. Do have a silly gift exchange, play some music, and relax. Don’t ask you staff to bring a dish, pitch in for a gift for the boss, or provide their own drinks. They’re likely already strapped for time and money.

Buy the coffee, tea, or hot chocolate this week: Many employers have cut the “free coffee” perk. Bring it back for a week—or one week a month. Anything helps!

Let the dogs in: Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work is a huge morale booster, when it works. First, all must be in favor of having canine companions around. Allergic staff members must be accommodated. Dogs must be well behaved—both on their own and in a group. If your business cannot handle every Molly, Spot, and Chance at once, set up a rotation schedule. Your employees will love having their furry family members close by, and studies show that dogs in the workplace lower stress.