Archive for June, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Employers in Privacy Case

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

employee screening blogAs it generally has in the past, the United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled on the side of employers in a recent case concerning employees’ use of employer-provided technological equipment.

Sexting Police Officers
In the case, two Ontario, CA police officers sued the Police Department after one officer’s department-supplied work pager useage exceeded the allowed limit month after month. A supervisor requested transcripts of text messages sent and received by the employees. The search on Sgt. Jeff Quon’s pager turned up over 400 personal text messages received and sent in one month alone—including sexually explicit messages. The officers claimed the search violated the Fourth Amendment.

Do Employees Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?
The Supreme Court’s decision was based on whether or not the officers had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” concerning their text messages. The department’s formal policy which that employee communications would be monitored—and Quon signed a statement agreeing to the policy. However, Quon’s supervisors informed him that they would not audit texts as long as employees paid any over-limit fees imposed by the wireless service provider.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this informal policy was enough to give the officers a reasonable expectation of privacy. But the Supreme Court reversed that ruling, saying that even if Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the ruling itself was indeed reasonable.

How Does the Ruling Affect Employers and Employees?
This ruling indicates the law is on the employer’s side concerning employees’ use of employer-provided equipment. Legitimate company interests trump employees’ privacy interests.

Finding a balance between allowing reasonable personal use of company-issued laptops, cellphones, iPads, and computers and protecting a company’s reputation, business practices and trade secrets is tricky. There is a reason employers provide such equipment—it makes employees more available, and allows work to be done anywhere. Employers are advised to provide employees with detailed policies governing use of such equipment.

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.

Hiring Tips for “Do It All” Small Business Owners

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

employeescreeningblog.comEntrepreneurs are accustomed to “doing it all.” Their work styles make them self-starters, hard drivers and hard workers. One result is that sometimes, entrepreneurs are unable to let go. They believe the idea that if they don’t perform every task, it won’t get done properly—or at all.

However, this approach is not healthy for either the entrepreneur or the business. Hiring a “second in command” person is not always seen as priority for “I can do it all” business owners—but it is something they should absolutely consider.

This high-level employee can be invaluable to busy business owners, enabling them to focus on larger projects like strategic planning, or emergency problems requiring the owner’s full attention. They can also literally save their lives, by reducing the stress, lack of sleep, and poor health habits that plague most workaholic control junkies.

Hiring a second can save a business, too. What if the owner is the sole information of vital company information? How long would it take the business to recover if something happens to him or her? What about the employees, vendors, and customers who depend on the company—what happens to them if the business owner becomes ill, suffers an accident, or dies unexpectedly?

Not letting go of control is just too risky—for most every business. And while “I must do it all” entrepreneurs might think they’re the only ones capable of handling the details of running their businesses, chances are they lack a number of skills. After all, nobody can truly “do it all.”

Besides, when objectively analyzed, most day-to-day operations can easily be handled by a qualified executive-level hire. It’s best to recruit a second-in-command with skills the business owner lacks; a complementary work style is beneficial, too.

So if you’re a business owner who thinks you’re the only one who can do it all, think again. The job market is full of super-qualified people who could give you your life back—and make your business more productive, efficient, and successful.

Because this is such a crucial position, due diligence is a must when hiring a second-in-command. Check references, and run a thorough employee background screening to be sure you’re hiring someone you can really trust.

Hiring Politely

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

employee screening blogThere are a lot of talented, unemployed people out there. People with skills, talent, and years of experience. Some have been looking for work for 3, 6, 12 months now—or longer. And if you’re hiring employees, prepare to be inundated with resumes and applications.

Before you start the hiring process, here are a few tips that might make it more pleasant for the folks you’re going to be interviewing. “But wait,” you might be thinking to yourself. “Why should I care about whether it’s pleasant for THEM? What about ME?”

It is about you. You see, when you treat people well, they’ll remember. They’ll probably tell their spouses. They might even tell their siblings, or their friends. But if you treat people badly, they’ll remember a lot longer. And they’ll definitely tell their spouses, along with their parents, their friends, the cable guy, their hair stylist—they will tell more people than you care to know that you are a bad person, they had a rotten experience with your company, and it doesn’t deserve anyone’s business.

So hire politely. Here’s how:
1. Remember the person you’re interviewing is an individual. Call them by name, make eye contact, and smile. Make every attempt to connect with the applicant—even if you find it difficult to warm up to them. They might be really nervous. Be kind.

2. Don’t rush. You don’t have to make the interview last for 3 hours, but don’t make the job applicant feel unworthy of your time by rushing through it. Relax, take a breath, and pace your questions.

3. Listen. Make notes, ask follow-up questions, nod—in other words, give signals that you’re listening. The candidate can tell if you’re not.

4. Be honest. If you have many applicants for a single position, it’s okay to let the applicant know that there is competition. But don’t wield it like a weapon to scare him or her. You might find out how much they want the job and what they’ll do to earn it—and isn’t that the purpose of the interview?

5. After the interview, do what you said you’d do. If you tell the candidate, “We’ll get back to you in a few days,” then do it. If you tell the candidate, “It’s looking good; I’ll call you with next steps,” then do so. Each person who takes the time to come in and talk about your business deserves at least what you say you’ll do—even if you haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s okay to say, “I know I said I’d call you, but unfortunately I don’t have any news yet.”

6. When the hiring decision is made, call the interviewees who did not get the job. If you don’t have time to do it, then have someone else call. Why? It’s the polite thing to do.

7. And when you reject an applicant, don’t give them the reasons why. Don’t give into requests to talk about it. Just tell them you appreciate their time and interest in your company, but you hired another candidate.

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.

Ensuring Success with a New Hire

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Perhaps your company is just starting to hire again after the economic downturn, and you need ideas on how to make your new hires more successful. You don’t want to just hire them, run them through the standard orientation, and let them go.

Here are a few tips that just might help your new employees do their jobs better, sooner—and make you happy that you hired them.

New hires need to know your company’s culture. Simply put, if everyone except the new guy knows that Fridays are Hawaiian shirt day, or that nobody ever works late, you’re not doing them any favors by withholding such information. It can be difficult for business owners to see the company culture because they’re so used to it—but it’s important to help new employees adapt to it.

And start right away—maybe even before the person is hired. Hiring the candidate who’s most qualified but just won’t fit in with your company culture is probably a recipe for failure. Let candidates know during the interview process how things are done, and allow them to decide if your company is a good fit for them. Be honest and paint a realistic picture of your organization.

Introducing a promising candidate to the rest of the team will make them feel more comfortable when and if they are hired. They’ve already met the people they’re going to be working with, so one big barrier is overcome. If you can’t make introductions before hiring the new employee, be sure to make proper introductions on Day 1.

As manager or owner, your job is to recognize who the new hire will work closely with, who their possible conflicts might be with, and who can help them in their position. Tell your new hire who the 5 most important staff members are for her to know. Ask those staffers to take a few minutes to meet with the new hire and identify ways they will work together.

Training is good, but too much training and not enough working can be detrimental to a new employee. Provide resources and support the new employee needs, but let them do their job, too. This allows your new employee to make connections with other staff, and learn how things are really done.

Helping your new employees learn your company culture and who they need to know are two ways to help them transition more successfully!

Where are all the Qualified Employees?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

employee screening blogAre stacks of resumes piling up on your desk? Is your email inbox overflowing with inquiries from potential employees who not only are not qualified, but didn’t follow your application instructions? It’s not easy to find qualified employees, even when the nation’s unemployment rate is 10%. In fact, it’s harder than ever for some business owners to weed through the flood of applicants to hire just one or two employees.

We asked a few HR Managers where they go to save time and their sanity when it’s time to hire. Perhaps you can use some of these great ideas:

Professional Associations: If you’re a member of a group for accountants, attorneys, credit managers, automobile dealers, natural food store owners, or whatever your profession—try checking in with your local or regional affiliate. You might find an out-of-work industry veteran in their ranks—maybe even someone can fill your job opening.

Ask yourself, “Where do the people with the skills I want hang out?” or, “Where do they go for continuing education?” For example, if you need a website programmer, do an online search for a local web developer group, or see if there is a Facebook group in your area. Then, check local community colleges, technical colleges, and universities. Their placement offices could have your perfect candidate waiting for an opportunity.

Check your own online networking groups. LinkedIn is the most popular professional social media site. If you belong, ask your LinkedIn group members if they know people who match your needs. If you don’t belong to LinkedIn, it’s easy to join. Put out the word that you’re hiring on your company’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Use the contacts you’ve already made online to spread the word fast.

Does your company website have a news page or blog? Consider it your company bulletin board—only with a much bigger reach! Post your “now hiring employees” notice there.

Talk to your competition—if they’re not hiring, let them know that you are. Perhaps they can send a candidate or two your way—or give you the contact information of that terrific employee they just had to lay off.

Are you registered with a local Workforce or Employment office in your area? After all, that’s the place you’ll find people who don’t have jobs but want to work.

When you use your networks and online contacts, or just try using a personal touch and reaching out in your community, you may find your search for qualified employees just got a little easier!

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.