Archive for the ‘Employer tips’ Category

Are Millennials Really Ready for the Workforce?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

employee screeningWe’ve all heard stories about younger job applicants’ conduct during interviews: from being unprepared and texting, to having their mothers call the interviewer—some behavior ranges from annoying to bizarre. Has the millennial generation somehow missed the memo on how to be prepared for the workforce?

Many 20-somethings are new at this work thing. They came of age during the recession, when typical teenager jobs like flipping burgers or scooping ice cream were going to more seasoned, older workers desperate for a paycheck. They haven’t experienced typical job pressures of showing up on time, doing what they’re told and carrying themselves with some sense of professionalism.

Plus, millennials have a different approach to the workplace altogether, which may strike older generations as odd. In fact, a major human resources company conducted a recent survey which showed that 66% of hiring managers don’t believe recent college graduates are prepared for the workplace. In other words, most hiring managers don’t think millennials can land and keep a job.

Others disagree, saying that the younger generation’s affinity for collaboration and dedication to causes will make them ideal trainees. They may be better at working on and building teams, and demonstrate greater loyalty—especially when made to feel that they are part of something bigger. However, this group was also stung by seeing friends and family struggle with job searches after being laid off during the recession. As a result, they may tend to mistrust employers.

Since millennials will eventually make up the bulk of the working-age population, hiring managers and business owners will need to figure out how they fit into their worker mix. As a group, they are well-educated and technically savvy. With clear direction and loyalty from their employers, they could become just as successful as previous generations.

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.

Is it Time to Cut Your Staff?

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

employee screening, pre-employment background checkPerhaps your company came through the recession intact, and even hired new staff. But as the economic recovery has dragged on longer than many expected, you may be overstaffed.

Having too many employees can be more harmful than too few. You’ll carry more overhead, along with the potential for employee-related issues. In addition, more staff require more of your time and attention.

Keeping your staff at just the right level can be tricky, but once you know how much work there is to be done and the number of people needed to do it, you’ll be on your way.

Start by monitoring cash flow. Most businesses have stronger months or seasons, and those where sales are down. Know what your long-term cash flow looks like, then project sales for 30, 90, 180 and 360 days.

Consider how many employees it takes to handle the peaks. Are staffers overworked during these times, or is this level just right to get the work done? If it’s just right, then you probably have too many employees during slower times. Plan to cut back, and you can always add temporary staff or pay overtime to existing employees when business increases.

If you want to keep all of your employees, but current sales won’t support the expense, there’s a sure cure—get new clients. Create a new business strategy and deploy it, and with success, the business will be able to handle current staffing levels.

But if sales efforts don’t pay off right away, you might have employees with not enough work to do. In this case, the business must come first—and the extraneous workers must go.

When’s the best time to let an employee go? Usually by the time you’re thinking about it, it’s too late. Ask ten business owners if they should have fired a staffer sooner, and eight of them will say “yes!”. Business owners usually put off firing because it’s not an easy task, especially if the person isn’t doing anything wrong. But if you don’t have enough business to justify every employee, someone has to go.

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.

What to Watch Out For When Interviewing

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

employee screening, background checksIt’s difficult to learn everything you need to know about a candidate from one interview. But learning more about personality types can be very helpful in knowing whom not to hire.

Here are some red flags you should look for. Perhaps they will help you avoid hiring someone who could prove to be troublesome.

  • Low energy: If your interviewee doesn’t have much energy during an interview, he or she might not make much effort to get the work done. Or, they might expect others to take up their slack, which could lead to resentment. Check out their posture, how they speak and speed at which they enter and leave the room.
  • Bragging: Prospective employees who brag about accomplishments, or are completely full of themselves can prove to be a negative influence on your team. Confidence is one thing, but narcissism can be dangerous. These types can be manipulative and caustic. They can also be charming and interview very well, so ask lots of questions about teamwork. If your interviewee focuses only on their own accomplishments or puts down their teammates, let that be a warning sign.
  • Bullying: People with emotional or anger problems are everywhere—but that doesn’t mean you want them in your company. Aggression is not always easy to spot, but listen for clues such as complaining about previous supervisors or peers, and ask interviewees lots of questions about how they handle problems. Challenge them to explain and provide specifics, and you may see frustration or anger come up.
  • Complaining: Candidates who practice their interviewing skills will rarely complain outright about former employers or co-workers, but negative people often find ways to get it into the conversation. They might make their mistakes someone else’s fault, or debate you when you ask clarifying questions. Negativity can be very harmful to your company culture and work environment.

Why Do Employees Leave?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

employee screening, background checkThe process of recruiting, hiring and training employees is a big part of most companies’ personnel expense budget. When you find good workers, it can really be a letdown to see them resign. Not only does it drain resources, but it can be bad for morale, too.

Every manager wants a strong team of dedicated workers, who know their jobs and do them well. They want to see their teams move forward, grow into positions of greater responsibility and thrive with the company.

But employees do leave, and we don’t always know why—so we can’t always prevent it from happening again. An exit interview can provide clues as to why an employee decided to take a new position. Perhaps he found better pay. Maybe she’s after better perks or an environment she believes will serve her needs better.

Some employers want to know more than why an employee is leaving. They want to know what made him or her start looking for a new job in the first place. Was it the working hours? Lack of home/work balance? Did he hate his boss? Were her contributions overlooked?

Finding the turning point between employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction can be key to retention. Before you need to do exit interviews, why not survey your employees before they head out the door?

5 Best Employee Survey Questions

  1. Do you have the tools you need to succeed?
  2. Do you feel you work in an open, trusting environment?
  3. Do you feel your contributions are valued?
  4. Do you feel your voice is heard?
  5. Do you receive feedback from your supervisor?

Even in the best companies, employees will leave if there are issues with their direct supervisor. Find out ahead of time if that’s happening in your company, and you may not need to do those exit interviews after all.

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.

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.

Employers Disincentivize Workers to Be Healthier

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

employee screening, background check, credit checkMany employers are embracing change in health care rates and regulations by trying to create a healthier workforce—one that smokes less, weighs less and has lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and cancer.

Popular ideas include partnering with fitness centers for reduced pricing on memberships, and sponsoring smoking-cessation clinics and classes. Some employers pay workers to walk or ride their bikes to work, or have created sports teams and walking clubs. Still others help employees lose weight by paying for Weight Watchers or other weight-loss plans. All of these positive incentives have helped countless employees start on the path to healthier lifestyles.

Now there may be a bit more negative reinforcement going around. In a different approach to behavior change, many employers are encouraging employees to change their behavior through disincentives. These work by punishing employees for failing to meet goals that they set for themselves.

How does disincentivizing work? First, employees set health-related goals and sign a commitment contract that they will reach them. They also choose motivators to help them stick to the commitment. Penalties for failing to lose the weight or for smoking a cigarette include charges to participants’ credit cards or donations to a charity organization the employee particularly dislikes. For example, a bacon lover who needs to lose weight might see a $2.00 donation to PETA each week he or she fails to meet the goal.

For some employees, little punishments like these are much more motivating that all the positive reinforcement in the world. Try establishing some fun incentives or disincentives for your employees. Different people respond to different approaches, so try both to see what works. If a healthier company is the result, it will be well worth the effort!

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.

Finding the Right Employee Takes Time

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

employee screening, background checksWhen it comes to adding the right people to your staff, there is no such thing as being too careful. But how do you know you chose well until you actually hire someone and they start working for you?

The interviewing and screening process is your chance to establish expectations, measure skills and abilities, and determine who is the best fit for the job and your company.

Screening starts with careful resume review. Be on the look out for:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Careful attention to grammar and punctuation
  • Large gaps in employment
  • Clear and concise statements

Even font and color choices can tell you a great deal about a candidate. Note also what is left out of a resume. What is he or she not saying? Are the skills and work experience you need mentioned in the list of qualifications, or not? If you need to measure skills through an assessment test, do so before going any further.

If you like what you see, a short screening call can tell you whether to continue to a face-to-face interview. Schedule the call ahead of time. Keep it to just a few minutes. Note whether or not the candidate is on time and prepared to speak with you. Ask candidates about their current positions, if they are currently employed, as well as why they are seeking a new job. Find out what they are looking for, and what sets them apart from others. Pay attention to the level of enthusiasm the person has, his or her ability to express what they do for their current employer, and whether they can sell themselves.

If you choose to continue in the interview process, it becomes more important that the candidate fits your company’s culture. Of course, that has to be well-defined first. But it’s hard to go wrong when you hire a person who is motivated, has a positive attitude, a great work ethic and ability to work well on a team.

Before you offer the position, be sure to run a pre-employment background check. Employee screening can limit your exposure to security breaches and safety issues, while protecting your company and staff from harm.

Finding the right employees leads to much greater productivity, less turnover and lower costs. It’s worth the investment of your time and effort.

What Employers Should Know About Gen Y Employees

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

employee screening, employee background checkThink you know what makes your 20- to 30-year-old employees tick? Many older bosses believe that this group values the security of a big corporation, with strict schedules and lots of rules—but they are mistaken.

A new study by, a salary-comparison site, says that Gen Ys, born between 1982 and 1993, are more entrepreneurial, and would rather work in looser environments, with flexible policies and more freedom to make decisions. The study’s other findings shed light on this highly educated, social media-focused group:

Education level:

  • Percent of Gen Ys with bachelor’s degrees: 63.
  • 12.8% of Gen Ys have earned master’s degrees.
  • Percent with high school diploma only: 3.

Company size:

  • Gen Y work force employed by small companies (less than 100 employees): 47%.
  • Percent employed by companies with 1,500 or more employees: 23.
  • Median years with employers: 2 (compared to 7 for baby boomers).

The most common job skills reported by Gen Ys were software, blogging, social media optimization, press releases and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. These skills are most likely to be utilized in online marketing and media positions—except for PCR analysis, which is biochemical-related. Considering that this generation grew up with computer technology, it’s not surprising that they are comfortable with social media.

This group also embraces science and engineering. Common majors include neuroscience, chemical engineering, petroleum engineering and bioengineering, which also pay better than many fields. Only 15% of Gen Ys are currently working at the management level, according to the study, but most are very entrepreneurial, ready to start businesses without much hesitation.

Employers can harness the creativity and drive of this group by providing challenges, offering flexibility and including them on decision-making. Tap into their entrepreneurial streaks by asking for input on new products, sales and marketing channels, and technology. And don’t let too-stodgy rules dampen their spirit and inspire them to look elsewhere for employment. Think about easing up on policies such as no social media while on the clock—you may find your Gen Y staff promoting your company and creating conversations!

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.