Archive for June, 2012

Is Hiring Smokers Becoming a Thing of the Past?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

employee screening, employee background checkSmokers cost employers money, there’s no doubt about that. Some estimates say smokers cost about 15% more than nonsmokers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion every year, between medical expenses and losses in productivity.

Some employers are not putting up with it any longer. Last year, nationwide retailer Macy’s started charging employees who smoke $35 per month for health coverage. Smokers can have the cost deferred if they enroll in a free smoking cessation class. After six months, their progress is reviewed and if they’ve quit, great. If not—the surcharge starts again.

And Macy’s isn’t the only company to charge smokers a fee. PepsiCo and Gannett both charge smokers extra health insurance fees. But some go further. Union Pacific and Scotts Miracle-Gro, for example, will not even consider hiring smokers. The Cleveland Clinic requires all job candidates to have their blood tested for nicotine.

Starting in 2018, health reform legislation will require companies with health plans that significantly exceed the average to pay an additional federal tax. Many companies will have no choice than to do what’s necessary to cut healthcare costs—including reducing the number of smokers on the payroll.

Most employers have smokers on their staffs. And while most workplaces prohibit smoking indoors, smokers who light up only at home can still have a negative effect on a company. Employers may choose to encourage smokers to quit through positive methods, such as quit-smoking classes or cash incentives, or through punitive measures, such as fines and surcharges.

Or, the entire company could shift its entire focus to better health. Helping employees lose weight, increase their fitness levels and quit smoking can increase morale while lowering health insurance costs. By showing that they care about the health and well being of all employees, as well as their families, employers can affect real, lasting change.

The question remains: is it still better to hire the best possible candidate, even if he or she smokes?

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.

Are Your Employees Headed Out the Door?

Friday, June 8th, 2012

employee screening, employee background checkEmployee retention is an issue for every employer, at one time or another. For some, turnover is a constant problem. And it could be on the rise. After a few years of economic troubles, cutbacks and demands for more productivity, today’s workers are burned out.

A few recent surveys show some numbers that back up that remark:

  • Fewer than one in three employees are engaged in their work.
  • Only 45% of workers say they are “satisfied” with their jobs.
  • Approximately 32% of employees hope to find a new job within the next year.

And just because employees are “satisfied,” it doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy. Besides costing you money, turnover affects morale and productivity. And even if your employees are staying put, if they’re not happy, they won’t be as productive.

Engaged employees are pleasant to be around. They treat customers and co-workers well, and excel in job performance. Engaged employees are not content with simply doing what’s expected—they’d rather go the extra mile so that the organization’s goals are met.

Creating a culture of engagement requires some work. Employers and managers in any business can improve employee engagement with these tips:

  • Involve employees in decision-making, by keeping lines of communication open.
  • Inspire trust by being truthful and transparent, taking blame for their mistakes and doing what they say they will do.
  • Give employees the chance to learn new tasks, along with a path for advancement.
  • Take the time to recognize employees’ efforts.

While no company will ever have 100% engaged and happy employees, most could use some improvement in this area. While these ideas won’t work miracles overnight, they will create a foundation for progress.