Archive for the ‘Employer Best Practices’ Category

Why Your Best Workers Quit

Friday, July 12th, 2013

employee credit check, pre employment backgound checkHaving a group of happy, loyal and productive employees is every business owner’s dream. But it’s inevitable that things in business go wrong. Morale can suffer for reasons as diverse as declining sales, layoffs and managerial stress levels.

And when morale drops, productivity drops. People start looking for other work. And soon, you’re replacing your best workers. But if you know why people leave, you can be proactive about solving the issues and giving them incentives to stay.

Why do employees quit?

They don’t feel connected to the company: Many managers keep employees in the dark. They don’t share information about financials or the big picture. They keep their vision for the company and their own department to themselves. As a result, employees have little sense of why they are important to the company. They don’t feel compelled to make a difference—which is very important to most people.

Their work does not motivate them: Plenty of people work for low pay in jobs they love, because they get something of great value out of it—self satisfaction, or external praise for their contributions. But many employers expect workers to be motivated just by their paychecks. It takes more than financial compensation to attract and retain the best workers.

They don’t enjoy themselves at work: Your company may not be a fun factory, but that doesn’t mean people can’t find enjoyment in their work. Engaging employees in new ways can go a long way toward that. Offer flexible hours. Eliminate the dress code. Encourage workers to decorate their cubicles and offices to reflect their personalities. Learn from innovative employers like Google and Zappos.

They see no career path: Do you provide a way for employees to work their way up from their current positions? If so, is it clearly understood by them? If workers feel “stuck,” they will look elsewhere for some upward mobility. And sadly, many employees report that they don’t know if their companies offer any way to move up.

If you have valuable, talented employees that you want to keep, you can help them stick around by paying attention, offering them more than a paycheck and making them part of the company’s success.

When you’re recruiting the perfect team, don’t neglect employee 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.

Respect the Personal-Professional Wall Between You and Your Employees

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

criminaldata.com, employeescreeningblog.com, employement screeningEmployers often speak of their staff members as “family.” It’s great when supervisors and workers can hang out together, bond over a softball game or grab a beer after work. But in the age of social media, it’s far too easy to know far too much about your employees’ personal lives. And getting too involved can lead to real problems.

You cannot, by law, discriminate against employees who belong to a protected class or category. Examples are gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or disability. You can’t even ask questions about these issues in interviews. Why? Because there is a possibility of discrimination if decisions are made based on these characteristics.

It’s important to create a workplace that is free from any inkling of discrimination. And the less you know about employees’ personal lives, the easier that becomes. For example, you might have an employee who shows up every day on time, works hard, achieves his goals and has a great attitude. But if you’re friends with him on Facebook, you may also find out that his political views are 180 degrees from your own—even if he’s never brought up politics at work. And that could affect how you treat him.

Here are some other personal things you don’t need to know about your employees:

  • How they spend their free time. Some people run for fun. Others sit in bars. It’s not your concern one way or the other.
  • What church they belong to—or don’t. If an employee speaks about his religious beliefs or tries to proselytize to other workers, have a talk and insist that the behavior stop.
  • How they spend their money. If you know she buys expensive shoes or likes good wine, you might decide Sara doesn’t need that raise she has earned.
  • Their sexual orientation. It’s none of your business. Period.
  • Whether they have physical or mental illnesses. Some illness will carry over into the workplace. But knowing that an employee is in therapy, taking medication or dealing with a chronic disease can affect your objectivity in evaluating her performance. Remember though, that employees with disabilities who need work station adjustments are entitled to them.

In a time when everyone announces what they’re eating for breakfast on the Internet, it takes more effort to respect the employer/employee professional relationship. But this is also a litigious time, and knowing less about your employees could keep you out of legal trouble. Keep the professional wall between you and your employees intact.

Improve Company Culture to Improve Retention and Recruitment

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

employee screening, employee credit check.

Do you have a strong company culture? Does your staff, from top management to the newest employee, share common values and goals? Or is there a distinct lack of cohesiveness or identity in your company?

When everyone in a company believes in the same vision, whether it’s making the very best dog biscuit in America or putting a space ship on Mars, and feels needed to do their part to make that happen, there’s a sense of pride that cannot be overstated.

Apart from vision, pride and values, companies with strong cultures also tend to be honest with employees, sharing both good and bad news. They demonstrate that all employees are equally needed and important. They allow creativity in approaching how to do their jobs. And they celebrate when good things happen. All of these factors make good employees better, and attract the best people.

It doesn’t even matter how large or small your business may be; if you don’t have a strong culture, you’ll hurt your chances of keeping your best employees and attracting the strongest candidates. A strong culture can also make the hiring process easier, such as when an otherwise promising candidate shows signs that he or she won’t fit into the company’s culture. It’s much easier to pass on such a person, than to hire and find out that it was never going to work out.

Your company culture could be attracting talented peopleor turning them off from the start. Take a look at yours and make improvements where you need to. Start with easy-to-implement changes, and ask employees for their suggestions and input. In fact, that’s a great way to immediately improve your company culture.

How Do Your Background Checks Measure Up?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

employee screening If you’re one of the responsible employers who protect their businesses, customers and staff by performing employee screening and background checks, you might wonder how your pass/fail rate compares to others.

Statistics are difficult to come by. Professional background screening companies don’t typically release this data. But there are a few interesting numbers that show that no matter what type of business you run, or what type of individual applies for employment with you, the chances are good that most of them will stretch the truth to some extent.

Applicants embellish the truth, sometimes innocently, as when they make up an impressive-sounding title for a previous job. They might get the dates of employment wrong, either by mistake or deliberately. After all, when a job seeker realizes that a six-month stint at a previous job looks better than the actual six weeks he actually worked there, it’s easy to enter the wrong month on a resume.

There are super-honest applicants, too, who lets you know right up front that she has a criminal past—but it happened when she was a teenager. That kind of honesty is great, but each company’s hiring policy will dictate whether or not this type of incident will prevent hiring.

Other misrepresentations are more serious, where an applicant invents a past, including academic credentials and previous positions. Or when they try to cover up the fact that they left their last position because they were caught embezzling funds.

That’s why it pays to take a broad approach when doing background checks. Investigate applicants who make it through the preliminary screening and interview process on the basis of education, employment, criminal history, driving records, and even social media use.

Remember, because of the large numbers of people out there with criminal histories, or who have embellished their backgrounds, the chances are good that you’ll hire someone with the potential to cause personal, legal or financial harm.

That’s why a system of pre-employment screening is so important to employers of all sizes.

Recruiting the Best Team

Friday, March 1st, 2013

employee screening, employee credit checkIf your business is healthy again, or is just starting to recover from the recession, you may be thinking about your hiring needs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a perfect mix of employees, who can take care of all your business’s needs, from waiting on customers or entering orders to keeping the books straight and the floors clean? A team with broad skills who can quickly transition to other roles, depending on what the business needed?

A smaller number of more nimble employees might be the perfect post-recession work force, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses. Here are some of the personality types that might make a good team for you:

  • Curious minds: When an employee craves knowledge, that’s your opportunity to cross-train and develop his or her skills to do a variety of jobs. Curious employees might be assigned research projects, so you don’t have to the legwork on which new technology is best for your company, or what peers in your industry are doing to promote wellness in their companies.
  • Cheerleaders: Positive energy can be priceless. It can undo the damage of workers with poor attitudes, or find hope even when sales are down or a key customer goes out of business. It also rubs off on others. Many employees depend on their upbeat co-workers to keep them motivated—and miss them when they leave.
  • Versatile workers: Some people cannot function if they’re bored at work. Variety is more than the spice of life for these folks—it IS life. Since you as the boss have to wear a lot of hats, why not ask this type of worker to do the same thing? If your versatile worker can take some of your hats away, you might have more time to look at the big picture (which is really the business owner’s job).
  • The Big Mouth: It might not be pleasant to have a nay-sayer on staff, but there are times when they come in handy. For example, pointing out flaws in a strategy or mistakes in processes can save your company time and money in the long run. It’s always good to have a devil’s advocate around.
  • Sages: You need people who have the experience and knowledge to bring along newer employees and act as mentors for more established staff. They can save you tons of time and money by helping to train new employees and develop new leaders.
When you’re recruiting the perfect team, don’t neglect employee 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.

Office Dating: OK or Not OK?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

employee screeningLots of couples meet at work. It’s inevitable: when you put people in a closed environment, where they see each other every day, sparks will start to fly. But not all office romances survive, which can be problematic for employers.

Sometimes it takes a bad experience for companies to decide they need a dating policy, whether it’s a strick no-dating policy or just some guidelines for employees, should they choose to date each other (which they will inevitably do, even if it’s an official no-no).

Here are a few ideas for dating policies that many employers find effective:

  • No interfering with work: Especially when a relationship is new, employees who are dating will almost always allow it to affect their work. They may find new ways to see or talk to their love interest throughout the day, send distracting emails, or sneak away for romance. It’s not fair to other employees to have to pick up the slack. And lovebirds who attend meetings together can make others uncomfortable if they are obvious about their relationship. Emphasize to employees that if they date a co-worker, they may not allow it to affect their work or that of their peers.

  • No dating between supervisors and their team members: It’s never a good idea for managers to date their subordinates because it puts the company at risk for legal action. That alone is reason to ban it. In addition, bosses could show favoritism to their loved one, or worse, treat him or her badly in an effort to avoid favoritism.
  • No sexual harassment allowed: Allowing dating is not the same as encouraging it. Operating in a free-for-all type of atmosphere could give employees the impression that any sort of sexual behavior is okay in the office. Having a zero-tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment will go a long way to defining expectations.

Employers may not be able to prevent workplace romances, but they can try to control them as much as possible, to save the company loss of productivity and reduce risk of legal action.

Is the Work Ethic Going Out the Window?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

employee screeningAs we said last week, the workplace is changing fast. Not only is technology changing the way we work, but new generations of workers are bringing new abilities, as well as some different workstyles, into the workplace. Baby boomer and Gen Y bosses and supervisors are sometimes surprised by the behavior exhibited by the Millennial Generation they are now working with.

Some see a distinct lack of professionalism—at least as they would define it for themselves: regular attendance, punctuality, honesty, working until a task is completed well, interpersonal skills, appropriate appearance, and being focused and attentive. That view is backed up by a recent study of professionalism in the workplace that shows professionalism has declined in past five years.

A high majority of respondents to the survey indicated that work ethic has gotten worse, saying that younger employees taking a casual attitude toward work (86%), not taking ownership of their work (69%) and being less than driven (71%).

That doesn’t mean the young millennials are hopeless. Far from it—they just need to be taught about expectations. They say they haven’t been taught by their parents or the education system on how to succeed in the working world.

Older generations need to understand that millennials view the world differently, including the workplace. Their definition of professionalism is quite different: it doesn’t mean wearing specific clothing, or even showing up at a specific time.

To accommodate millennials, should employers update their employee handbooks to say, “The workday begins whenever you feel like getting here”? Not necessarily! However, assigning tasks, explaining expectations and providing guidelines and flexibility works well with this generation.

Thorough training, trusting (and verifying), transparency, and sharing the organization’s values and mission are all very important to millennials. They want to be part of something important, and even better—to be a force for good.

Most of all, don’t assume that how you’ve always done things will be embraced or even understood by today’s workers.

When Terminating Employees, Stick to Your Story

Friday, December 21st, 2012

employee background check, employee prescreeningSometimes employment decisions don’t go well. Seemingly good hires turn out badly, because of performance issues, attendance problems, inability to follow the rules, or other terminable offenses. Even the best employee screening process cannot tell you whether a candidate will succeed at the job.

When it’s time to terminate, many employers struggle with doing it right. In this age of litigation, fear of discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuits have kept many sub-performing employees on the payroll.

Employers have the right to terminate employees, but it’s best to avoid any possibility of a lawsuit. Doing so takes some organization, preparation and follow-up. And it means sticking to your reasons for termination throughout the process. Changing your story at any point is confusing to the employee, and can lead him or her to believe you are not telling the truth, which can open the door to a lawsuit.

Experts will tell you that the key to a solid termination case is to prepare yourself ahead of time. Document the employee’s performance and your actions, including counseling and recommendations for improvement. During the termination conversation, keep to the topic at hand. Don’t allow the employee to steer it to an airing of grievances or defense of his or her record. Have a witness in the room. And when informing the employee of the reasons for termination, keep it simple. Don’t try to over-explain, and don’t offer additional evidence. Simply state the reason, say the relationship didn’t work out and offer next steps.

Legal disclaimer:
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice applicable to your situation.

Year-End Bonuses and Employee Gifts: How Little is Too Little?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

employee screening, employee background check

While the economy is sputtering back to life, it’s still been a rough year for plenty of small-and medium-sized businesses. So, what does a well-meaning employer do about the question that comes up every year at this time: to give year-end gifts or not?

Perhaps your company bounced back into the black and you feel like celebrating. Chances are, employee gifts are not a big dilemma for you. But if 2012 was unprofitable, you still need to closely control expenses.

Holiday parties, bonuses and gifts can easily get out of hand. But what do workers think of “token” gifts, or miniscule bonuses?

Surveys say that even small gifts are appreciated by employees, and go a long way to boost morale. The majority of 600 workers surveyed by benefits consulting firm Parago said that a $25 gift card would satisfy their expectations. Eighty-three percent said a reward makes them feel appreciated, motivated to work harder, or more loyal.

So if you can afford it, a small gift could reap big benefits for both employee and employer. But be careful that you don’t add injury to insult. If you’ve cut pay or benefits this year, a small token gift could upset workers more than motivating them.

Of course, you could also revamp your rewards program to give bonuses to employees who deserve them. Setting goals and tying rewards to performance takes all the guesswork out of what often proves to be a sticky situation for employers.

Letting Employees Go

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

employee screening, Even the best hiring processes don’t always result in perfect hires. Hiring managers may carefully screen applications and resumes, interview the most promising candidates and check references. They narrow the choice down to a few possible hires and conduct all of the necessary employee screening checks. The best candidate passes with flying colors, and everyone agrees to make an offer.

But it doesn’t always work out. Employees don’t meet expectations, or are unable or unwilling to improve their performance. Some break company policies—or even the law. For whatever reason, every employer at some point faces the unpleasant task of letting employees go. But it’s not easy.

Because termination is an expensive process, with the potential for legal problems, experts recommend going through a standard process to protect the company from legal issues and retaliation.

  • A solid paper trail of documentation will help. It can start with the hire: give all employees an offer letter or include in your employee manual that employment is at will and may be terminated at any time. Do be aware of employment laws. Not every offense is a terminable one.
  • Employee manuals should be given to each employee, with clear policies and the consequences of breaking them.
  • Performance evaluations or appraisals are a must, especially for new employees. Conduct them at 30, 60 and 90 days, to keep track of discussions and warnings regarding employee performance.
  • Base your termination decision on performance, unless the employee has policy infractions serious enough to warrant termination, such as theft, failing a drug test, or on-the-job alcohol or drug use.
  • When the decision is made, act quickly. When it’s time to tell the employee, be prepared. Gather all the necessary documentation, including any required forms for the employee to sign. Have a witness with you.
  • Prepare what you’ll say, and keep it professional. If there is any severance pay, let the employee know. Keep the conversation short and don’t argue. Allow the employee to vent if necessary. This is not the time for your feelings or emotions to come in. Try not to apologize or over explain the reasons, which could cause confusion.

Of course, if you have questions about terminating employees, consult your legal advisor.