Archive for December, 2011

Should Businesses Hire Just Because it’s the Right Thing to Do?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkAs the economic recovery slogs on without a significant change in employment, some HR experts and recruiters are advocating a push in hiring as a way to reduce poverty and homelessness. Instead of awaiting the perfect candidate, businesses can hire the next best person and provide training to bring them up to speed. Companies with one full time opening could hire one-and-a-half workers. Extend and reach a little, and change a life—or two.

Why? As one former recruiter says, there is a value in simply employing people. To give them hope, while keeping families intact and off the street. Illustrating the reality of family life for a large number of Americans today, is a recent 60 Minutes piece, following up on a story done a year ago about the large number of homeless kids in central Florida. Having lost their homes through eviction or foreclosure, many were then living with their families in motels. One year later, some of these same families are now living in their cars.

The story featured parents who once enjoyed full-time jobs and were able to support their families. Now, they’ve been out of work for months or years. Friends and family can no longer offer their extra rooms and couches, and the families have nowhere to go. Kids get ready for school in the morning in gas station or convenience store bathrooms. School systems hire homeless child specialists to help kids deal with the many problems associated with sleeping and living in cars.

If you’re an employer, are you in a position to hire someone and lift him or her out of poverty? Could you make a lasting difference in a family’s life by giving them the means to put a real roof (not a car roof) over their heads?

If you don’t need any workers, you can still strengthen your community. Why not donate a scholarship in your business’s name to your local technical or community college? Giving a student in need the chance to obtain an education is a life-changing act. Programs offered at these schools typically teach the skills most needed by local industry.

Imagine what would happen if 25% of the businesses in America each hired one worker. With approximately 6 million firms with employees in this country, that’s 1.5 million new jobs. While it might be a nice idea that goes nowhere, it’s worth thinking about—especially at this time of year.

Great Leaders Can Motivate Without Money

Friday, December 16th, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkLow on cash this holiday season? You’re not alone. Studies show that holiday bonuses will be few and far between this year. In fact, one survey of 100 companies showed that 43 percent would not be giving year-end bonuses—up from 28 percent in 2007.

So how can you convince employees to stick with you, even though you’re running leaner operation, and morale is suffering? Luckily, creating a great team often has nothing to do with money—and everything to do with leadership.

How Leaders Motivate Without Spending Money

  • Encourage New Leaders: Make examples out of your best employees. Encourage them to step up and take on more responsibility. If they need more training to perform at a higher level, make sure they get it.
  • Say Thank You: When someone does a great job, show your appreciation. Every time. If your company reaches an objective, share the accolades with everyone.
  • Throw a Party: Celebrations make everybody feel good. Closing early on a Friday and bringing in pizza is a great, inexpensive way to kick off the weekend. Plan a picnic in the summer, or a bowling party in the winter. Anything to break the monotony of work and show your team that you want them to enjoy themselves will go a long way.
  • Invite Ideas: Ask your employees what they think, instead of always telling them what you think. Hold regular brainstorming sessions, where everyone is allowed to contribute. Whether you use their ideas or not, it still makes them feel engaged and valued.
  • Encourage Teamwork: Instead of making one person in charge of a team or project, have the entire group work together as a team, as equals. You may find they are more motivated to do well when they feel empowered.
  • Break Down Barriers to Communication: Asking for ideas and encouraging participation is a great start to better communication. Ignoring titles and allowing staff to break out of their job descriptions can also help.
  • Insist on Accountability: When employees are given high expectations, they will strive to meet them—and feel good when they do. If they don’t, let them know they are still accountable for getting the job done. Don’t allow an employee to present a problem without suggesting a solution. Eventually, everyone will be more accountable for their work and for improving their performance.
When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. 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.

Employment Credit Checks Prohibited in California

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

employee screening, employee credit checkCalifornia recently became the seventh state to prohibit credit checks in making employment decisions. Effective January 1, 2012, the law outlaws most employee credit checks. It states that employers may only use consumer credit reports when hiring for:

  • Managerial positions
  • Prospective law enforcement officers
  • Jobs that provide access to consumer credit card applications
  • Positions in the state Justice Department
  • Jobs in which the employee would have access to confidential information
  • Positions where the employee would be a signatory on a bank or credit card account
  • Jobs in which the employee would have access to cash totaling $10,000 or more

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held hearings in October around the issue of employee credit checks, which some employers see as a signal that additional legislation could be coming.

One concern is that more people have experienced damaged credit ratings in the wake of the economic crisis. However, employers’ groups said that it is wrong for the government to infringe on the ability to screen out applicants who have the potential to damage or bankrupt a company.

In addition, the patchwork of statutes being enacted by various states makes it more difficult for national companies to stay in compliance, say employer representatives.

Experts say that it’s important for employers to be extremely consistent in how they apply employee credit screening policies. It’s also a good idea to talk to prospective employees about any problems revealed in credit reports.

Employee Theft Rises in Bad Economy

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

employee screening, employee pre-screening, employee credit checkThe stories of trusted, long-term employees charged with embezzling money from their employers just keep coming:

  • There’s the case of the bookkeeper who was charged with stealing over $100,000 from a concrete company. In a plea deal, she pleaded guilty to embezzling $5,000, got a 45-day sentence and was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution. Then she went to work for a department store and stole $17,000 worth of merchandise and gift cards. Maybe that’s how she planned to pay the restitution.
  • Another bookkeeper took trips, bought expensive cars and had plastic surgery – while making about $20,000 in salary. Still another worked for a couple for 30 years, taking money all the while. His $1 million theft was only found out when the business owners wanted to sell the company and retire.

Unfortunately, these types of fraudulent activities by employees are not unusual. We just don’t hear about the thousands of incidents that go away quietly. Many stories are never reported to the press, because they are not reported to the police. Whether out of embarrassment or fear of harming their business, many companies deal with these crimes on their own.

But the publicity can be helpful to other small businesses, since they are the most likely to be victimized. With one person responsible for writing checks, making bank deposits and reconciling statements, fraud is much more likely. Splitting these duties reduces the risk, but small companies often cannot afford the extra personnel. Hiring an outside bookkeeper is one way to alleviate the problem.

Why do employees steal? They usually have three traits: opportunity, need and rationalization. It could look like this: Your cashier figures out a way to take money that you’ll never notice. He’s behind on his rent and needs cash. And besides, he works really hard and you don’t pay him enough. He gets away with it, so he does it again. And again. And before you know it, you’ve lost $20,000. You never imagined this person would do anything like this. Chances are, he never has before.

If your company is victimized by an employee, reporting the crime can protect other businesses. When employees are properly screened prior to being hired, a criminal background check will reveal any previous convictions. And when you’re ready to hire, make sure to run pre-employment background checks and credit checks—especially when you’re hiring a bookkeeper, cashier or any other position that has access to cash or bank information.