Archive for January, 2010

A Targeted Approach to Hiring Employees

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Hiring employeesHuman Resources pros and business owners are facing unprecedented numbers of applicants for limited—or zero—job openings. It’s nearly impossible to review every single resume, and it’s not efficient to even try.

Hiring has become more about recruiting than passive receiving of applications and resumes. Some employers are avoiding the resume onslaught by eliminating job postings altogether, preferring to use outreach strategies instead. Here are some tips to target your employee search and avoid the time-waste of reviewing hundreds of resumes:

  1. Go online! LinkedIn.com is the go-to professional social networking site. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, do yourself a favor and join. It’s free (they do have a paid option), and it’s a great place to “meet” other professionals from across the country—or across the ocean. Start building connections, join appropriate groups, and let everyone know when you’re looking for new talent. LinkedIn even has a search-by-industry feature.
  2. Check out your industry’s continuing education opportunities. Whether you’re looking for an accountant, a finance professional, support staff, or a marketing manager, you’ll find online and face-to-face training courses geared toward them. Find out where and when they are happening, and let the course or workshop leader know you have a hiring opportunity. People who are working on improving their skills could make great employees.
  3. Ask around. Talk to your vendors: they probably know lots of companies in your industry. They may know a fantastic worker who just left one of them. Talk to your employees. Chances are very good their friends and family members know someone who’s looking for a job.
  4. Be social. Attend local business events and networking opportunities. Hand out cards, make new contacts, and let folks know what you need. Your next recruit could be right in front of you. If not, you’ll make valuable contacts who might send someone your way in the future.
  5. Be social online. Twitter is probably the fastest way to send word around to the largest group of people. You can’t set up your account and instantly have thousands of followers (unless you’re Bill Gates or Oprah), but it’s a great way to build connections over time. When you need those connections, they’ll be ready to help you find a good employee.

Next time you’re hiring employees, try a more targeted approach—and spare yourself the time you would have spent reading all those unacceptable resumes, hoping for the right one to jump out of the pile!

When Economy Recovers, Will You Have an Employee Exodus?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

help wanted on employee screening blogCatherine is a business owner we know who recently shared a concern that’s been on her mind; a fear that other employers probably share. Her staff of six has weathered the bad economy with her, through layoffs of a few of their friends, no raises for themselves, and increased job responsibilities. Catherine has expressed her appreciation for their sacrifices, but was also proud that she was able to keep six people employed through such a difficult time.

Catherine’s business looks like it will come through the recession in pretty good shape—and she will be relying on her seasoned staff to bring it back to its former level of profitability. Her main concern? That her staff will abandon her for other job opportunities, just when she needs them most.

Catherine’s story is not unique, and she’s smart to be thinking about this possible problem before it begins. Worrying about it, however, will not accomplish much. But what can Catherine and other employers do to keep good employees around after the economy recovers? How does an employer prevent a mass employee exodus?

First, recognize the reality: a survey last summer reported that nearly half of employees surveyed plan to seek a new job after the recession ends. 30% were already actively seeking new work. Generationally, the Xs are least likely to stay with their current employer, while the older Baby Boomers are most likely to stay.

Assure your staff of their job security. If your business is strong, let your workers know. Eliminating the unknown may be enough to keep your employees from bailing on you. Job security is the number one reason for employees to seek a new job. It’s not the increase in job responsibility or too much work for each staff member—employees do not see those as reasons to leave your company.

Find out what your staffers want. Now is a great time to sit down with your employees, either in a group brainstorming session, or one-on-one, and really understand what they want from their relationship with your company. Then, realign your procedures and retention strategy to match their most important wants and needs.

Employers don’t have to face the economic recovery by losing good employees. If retaining your best workers is important, find out what they need to stick around!

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.

Employee Handbook Tips

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

happy-employeesNo matter what size company you own or lead, an employee handbook is always a good idea. Everyone benefits from fewer misunderstanding and clear expectations. With a handbook, employees know exactly what they can and cannot do, and management has clear guidelines to follow for managing staff. In addition, employee handbooks can help your company avoid lawsuits by clearly stating company procedures.

Here are a few tips for creating an employee handbook for your company:

  • Include a Statement of Company Culture. An introduction of the company, its history, mission, and values can create a culture statement to help new employees begin to assimilate into the company
  • Keep the language simple and direct. Using legal terms and twenty-five dollar words could be confusing to employees.
  • Cover the basics. Include the company’s compliance with discrimination laws, what constitutes full- or part-time employment, how and when employees are paid, and where employees are to park. Include employee background screening policies. Consider including standards of conduct, any dress code requirements, where to address complaints, how disciplinary action is handled, and vacation, family leave, and sick leave policies.
  • Beyond the basics: Be sure to cover your company’s cell phone policy. Are staff members allowed to accept personal calls during working hours? What about when driving company vehicles?
  • What are the company’s policies on company vehicles? How will you cover military leave? Violence or sexual harassment? Drug and alcohol use? What about staff visitors during work hours? How should employees notify management when late for work or ill?
  • Have an attorney review the handbook: An employment-law attorney is equipped to advise on legality of the employee handbook. The only thing worse than no handbook is one that is not enforceable—and the only thing worse than that is a handbook that could spark a lawsuit!

Employee handbooks vary in size, scope, and detail, depending on the size and culture of the company. The important thing to remember is that even a basic handbook is a must-have for every company with employees!

Listen and Coach Your Employees to Success

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Listen to employeesWhat type of supervisor are you? Do you rule with a firm hand, expect your employees to live up to your expectations, and discourage feedback? Or are you more like a mentor, molding and shaping your staff members to create the most effective team possible?

Sports analogies are used often in business: we work in teams, set goals, and hit home runs, whether we work at a baseball diamond or in a coffee shop. And today’s managers are more like team coaches than strict bosses who must be obeyed—or else.

Employees are an asset; their knowledge and talents are your company’s resources. It’s up to the coach to decide how to best use those resources, for the benefit of the team. Even in today’s economy, when staffers should be happy to be employed, there is a certain balance that must be maintained between the company’s needs and the employees’ needs. To keep that balance at an optimum level, good leaders find that nurturing talent and encouraging feedback and communication are among their best tools.

Asking open-ended questions is a good way to start. Instead of a “yes” or “no” question, like “Do you have what you need to do your job?” a coach would ask, “What are the specific tools I can provide so you are most successful at your job?” The first question is confusing; a worker is likely to say “yes” to avoid looking unprepared. The second choice is better—your employee has a wide range of possible answers, none of which can be considered incorrect.

Secondary questions, such as, “I never thought about it that way. Can you explain what you mean by that?” will help employees feel valued and confident in their opinions. Encourage staffers to open up in their communication by choosing questions wisely; help them think broadly about issues, and ask for their suggestions to improve procedures and policies.

Practice the art of active listening: make steady eye contact, engage fully with your staffers, and ask clarifying questions. Nothing does more to indicate to your employees that you are listening to them and care about what they think.

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.