Archive for the ‘Employer tips’ Category

Hiring For Skill

Friday, April 6th, 2012

pre employment screening, employee background checkAs the economy recovers, more employers will be hiring to replace those workers they’ve been doing without. If you’re dipping a toe back into the hiring pool, here are some tips that can help you do it better.

An improving job market could mean employers will be competing for the most skilled and talented workers. This is where your networking skills come in. Talk to your contacts, whether in your industry or not, to get information on the hiring scene in your area. Who were the #2 and #3 candidates for the position just filled at a peer company? Who’s now hiring for similar jobs? Can you get any recommendations from those hiring managers? Are there state or local government agencies that have cut staff lately? Find out who’s been laid off.

What is the overriding skill set needed to succeed in your organization? If you’re in a technical business, you’ll need to focus on recruiting workers with the right technical expertise. If it’s a service business you’re hiring for, it doesn’t really matter where your recruits have worked before, if the have exceptional people skills. And an employee with drive, a great attitude and integrity can be an asset to nearly every type of business.

What about job-hoppers or career-switchers? Is that a sign of boredom or great flexibility? Individuals who like new challenges are natural learners. They catch on quickly to new tasks, and could be well suited to a health care or high-tech environment.

Once you hire highly skilled employees, let them do their jobs. Allow workers to collaborate with their peers. Give them challenges that require creativity and problem solving skills, and let them grow. Letting go like this can be tough for many managers. It’s a risk, for sure, and there will be some mistakes made along the way. But in the long term, employees who feel trusted and empowered are happier and more productive.

Cultivate a culture of open discussion and shared goals. Encourage employees to keep you informed of any problems they encounter. If you look at your job as a director of resources, you can help remove roadblocks and solve problems.

Hiring highly skilled workers and keeping them engaged will go along way to making your company more successful.

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.

Preventing Violence in the Workplace

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

employee prescreening, employee criminal background checkA new survey by AlliedBarton Security Services reveals that more than half of Americans have had an experience with workplace violence. The survey of 1,030 adults reported that 52% of respondents witnessed, heard about or experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their place of work. Typical incidents that lead to violence include hostility, threats and abusive language that can intensify to physical injury.

Twenty-eight percent of workers surveyed said that at their current job, they have been personally affected by these types of incidents or violence. Another 12% have witnessed, heard about or are aware of significant harm to others at their jobs, while 5% reported they have personally been affected by this type of incident.

The survey also asked workers how they felt about safety on the job. Fully one-third said they are very or somewhat concerned with their personal safety. In contrast, 29% of workers who experienced, witnessed or heard about an incident of violence neither reported it nor took any other action.

The survey also found that, while the vast majority of employers (94%) took some action as a result of reports of workplace violence, only 53% took disciplinary action. The percentage of employers who implement training for workers or supervisors was also low (45% and 35%, respectively).

Experiencing violent incidents on the job can encourage employees to seek a new position. According to the survey, 28% of those who know about or experience workplace violence are looking for a new job, compared to 17% of those who have not.

Employers owe it to their workers to provide a safe and healthy work environment. It starts by paying attention to the culture of the workplace, and instilling good practices and procedures. A no-tolerance approach to bullying, abusive language and inappropriate behavior, backed up by disciplinary action for every incident, will empower all employees to help prevent workplace violence before it happens.

And don’t neglect to conduct thorough pre-employee screening on each prospective employee. Knowing an applicant’s criminal history is vital to keeping your workplace and employees safe from potential harm.

A safe workplace sees less turnover and higher morale, and increased productivity. And it’s what every employee deserves.

Simple Employee Lessons From Trader Joe’s

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

screening employees, employee pre screening

Trader Joe’s is a popular and growing specialty grocery chain, with locations scattered from California to Rhode Island, Wisconsin to Arizona. Part of the store’s success is its company culture which landed it on Fortune magazine’s list of best places to work. Trader Joe’s believes that happy employees make customers happy, and happy customers spend more money and come back more often.

Here are some ways Trader Joe’s works to make employees happy:

  • At Trader Joe’s, employee are valued, not expendable. They treat employees like they want their employees to treat customers.
  • Opportunities are offered to everyone. Managers are promoted from within.
  • Training is extensive, and each employee learns about the specialty products in detail. They believe it makes their work more interesting, and helps them stick around longer than the average grocery store employee. Employees need to know what is expected of them, and Trader Joe’s has that covered.
  • While the number of employees in the store at any time may be few, in keeping with Trader Joe’s low-overhead approach, they are paid well. The company pays employees an average of $21 per hour, with health insurance and retirement benefits.
  • A cross-training environment means that job descriptions are not strictly followed, and store managers often work side-by-side with cashiers to restock shelves or sweep floors.
  • The collaborative, informal working environment allows crew members the freedom to be themselves and make their own decisions.
  • The company focuses on finding highly motivated people with a knack for customer service and a passion for food. Working with other highly motivated people is a real perk for everyone.

Trader Joe’s believes that your people are your brand. They trust their employees to make decisions and treat them with respect. They ask for and take employees’ contributions seriously. And they pay them well.

All of this employee goodwill creates loyal crew members who grow with the company. And customers can see the differences between Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores. Some call shopping there like being part of a club, and think it’s a cool place to work.

Many companies would love to hear their customers say things like this!

10 Leadership Traits Anyone Can Use

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

employee screening, pre-screening, employment screeningLeaders vary in their styles and how they motivate employees to perform at their best. But good leaders have commonalities that help everyone around them. All business owners and managers can learn from the great leaders, who typically utilize the following traits to be effective:

  1. Confidence: No matter how you go about boosting yours, confidence is an essential trait that every leader needs. If you’re not confident in your abilities, no one else will be. Being confident doesn’t mean being arrogant or knowing the answer to every question. It does mean knowing what you don’t know and being willing to find out the answers.
  2. Curiosity: Finding out who you really are and learning more about your team members are important aspects of becoming confident. Knowing your strengths and those of your direct reports makes everyone more efficient.
  3. Focus: Great leaders know where they are going. They are focused on the goal and how to achieve it.
  4. Listening Skills: Just as focus on a goal helps you achieve it, listening to people moves everyone toward the objective. People who don’t feel heard will soon tune you out. No matter what rank or level a person is, giving them your full attention will make you soar in their eyes.
  5. Integrity: It should go without saying that leaders do what they say they’ll do with honesty, so people can count on them and trust in their words. Lack of integrity will sink a leader quickly—and has no place in any reputable company.
  6. Engagement: The ability to engage an entire team is a sign of a great business leader. By challenging your people, seeking their ideas and recognizing their contributions, you’ll have then engaged and motivated to help achieve the goal.
  7. Communication: Being a good communicator means being open to sharing both good and bad news, talking about your vision and hopes for your team and your company, and instills trust. It also fosters communication back to you, which all leaders need from their teams.
  8. Support: Foster a positive environment that helps your teams flourish. Letting people know you truly care can motivate them more than money.
  9. Collaborate: Ask for ideas and help from your team members, both the best and those who may struggle more. Collaboration makes people feel valued and encourages them to do better.
  10. Celebrate: Let people know you’re proud of their accomplishments. Celebrating successes helps relive stress that today’s competitive environment can bring, and helps recharge workers’ batteries.

Whether you’re a business owner, project manager or team leader, you owe it to your people to work on strengthening your leadership skills. Not only will your team feel happier at work, but they will be more productive and may even stick around longer!

If you’ve found the perfect candidate, don’t overlook 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.

Well-Balanced Employees Are In Your Company’s Best Interest

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

employee screening, pre screening, employee background checkBelieve it or not, your employees might be blaming you—or your company, or their jobs—for the problems they’re having at home. And what’s more, when they feel that work or the boss is a burden in their lives, it could cause big problems.

It’s important that employers care about what or whom their employees blame when they have family problems. The associated anger and frustration often leads to negative workplace behaviors, such as missed work, low productivity and employee theft.

Instead of being hit with a problem you never saw coming, try being more proactive with your employees’ workplace satisfaction. Here are a few tips to get you started, which could pay off in a big way!

Schedule in advance: Last-minute meetings and must-attend work events cause stress for families, especially when schedules are already so tight. Encourage everyone to put in for vacation time far in advance so planning is easier on spouses and partners. Try to avoid last-minute meetings and don’t require employees to attend every single work-related event.

Listen and empathize: Create a company culture that cares. If an employee is having trouble balancing work and family obligations, don’t disregard them or the importance of finding a solution. Employees who feel heard and understood will appreciate and remember it—and may even be more inclined to volunteer for extra duty when they can. In any event, they’re likely to be more productive and happier on the job.

Don’t discriminate: Whatever you do, don’t assume that only women have family needs to attend to. Just as many men blame work issues for family conflicts, and employees of both genders want to attend their kids’ softball games, school plays and ballet recitals. Be mindful that employees who are not parents have other obligations, too. Don’t expect them to always be available or to pick up the slack when parents run out the door to make it home in time for homework help. Be respectful of all employees and the unique family needs they each have.

5 Tips for Integrating New Employees More Successfully

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkWhen you’ve gone to the trouble of advertising and recruiting, then interviewing, screening, hiring and training a new employee, you want to make the most of your investment. Integrating new hires into your company is a skill and takes some effort. But making them feel welcome and acquainting with your culture can make the process much more successful.

Here are 5 tips for successfully integrating new employees:

  1. Communicate ahead of time. You wouldn’t have a party without telling your guests what to bring and where to park, would you? Do the same for a new employee. Send an email a week ahead of their start date with information regarding dress requirements, parking, stashing personal items, obtaining lunch onsite or nearby, and any other niceties you can think of.
  2. Be prepared. There is nothing worse than a new employee showing up for his or her first day and finding out that no one was expecting them. The least you can do for a new hire is to be prepared! Whoever did the hiring should greet the new person upon arrival. Have all the required paperwork ready to fill out. Show them around and introduce them to co-workers as you go.
  3. Tell them what to expect. Outline a new employee’s first day, and then give them a schedule for the first week. Knowing what to expect will help them prepare for and meet your expectations.
  4. Consider putting the new hire right to work. If you hired them, you probably need the help, correct? Give your new employee a chance to work their new job for an hour or two on heir first day. Most people are excited to go to work—especially if they’ve been unemployed during this long recession. Why not start their training right away?
  5. Provide a mentor or buddy, if appropriate. Ask long-term employees who are open to meeting and helping new hires to watch out for the new guy or gal. Help them learn where the coffee supplies are hidden. Take them for a walk at lunch to learn the neighborhood. Share the company values, mission and culture in a relaxed way. Mentors can be quite valuable during a new hire’s orientation!

Integrating new hires is a one-time-only opportunity. Done well, it can lead to a more successful relationship with your employees; missing the mark can lead to higher turnover as new staff feel frustrated, unsure of their role or just unwelcome.

5 Extreme Weather Tips for Employers

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

employment background check, pre-employment screening, credit checkWinter is a tough time for businesses in many parts of the country. Extreme weather causes shutdowns, customers stay home and employees can’t always get to work—all of which contributes to losses in productivity, revenue and profits.

Should Employees Be Penalized For Staying Home in the Snow?
What should employers do when employees can’t get to work? Should they be lenient, knowing that safety comes first? Or should they require employees to work, no matter what the weather is doing? And what about employees with kids, who have to stay home when schools are out for bad weather?

Creating and implementing an extreme weather policy makes things easier for everyone. Employees know exactly what they should do, and you don’t have to come up with solutions while the snow is still piling up.

5 Extreme Weather Tips for Employers:

  1. Realize that employers must assume some level of care for employees. Forcing them to come to work in dangerous conditions could subject your company to liability if someone is injured or causes injury to others. Besides, do you want to be the type of employer that makes an employee feel they have no alternative other than traveling to work or risking termination?
  2. Be the leader your staff wants you to be. They will likely be looking to you for direction, so keep an eye on the weather, and communicate. Keep your cell phone on and be available to employees with questions.
  3. Make things flexible. If an employee needs extra time to get to work safely, or would prefer to work at home and stay off the roads, try to accommodate their needs. If snow is piling up during the work day, allow employees extra time to get home before dark, when possible. Add a provision in your policy for employees who can work at home to do so. Productivity could suffer, but it’s better than getting none at all.
  4. Be consistent. It’s not easy to make different accommodations for different employees; to allow some, but not others, to work from home; and to decide who gets paid and who does not. Try to be fair and consistent in your policies to avoid any legal battles with employees.
  5. If you pay employees who aren’t able to get to work, it’s reasonable to ask them to make up the time. Otherwise, you can offer that they take vacation time or unpaid leave and not worry about making up the hours they miss.

Even when snow and ice lead to driving problems, it is up to your employees to get to work or communicate their difficulty in doing so. But everyone appreciates a boss who tries to help and makes reasonable accommodations.

Is that Independent Contractor Actually an Employee?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Employers have weathered the economic storm in a variety of ways. Some have replaced laid-off workers with independent contractors, usually known as “consultants,” or “freelancers.” The advantages to employers are many: no payroll taxes, social security or benefits to pay. And, no guilt when it’s time to end the contract—freelancers are used to short-term employment! Independent contractors can be the answer to one of an employer’s biggest headache—payroll.

The downside is when that invisible line is crossed and an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor. Whether it is done intentionally or not, the IRS does not like missing out on revenue it is owed.

And since deficits are so high, those misclassifying employees will be a target of the additional 100 agents the IRS is hiring for fiscal year 2011. Random audits of 6,000 businesses over the next three years is planned.

How to Determine Whether a Worker is an Employee or Independent Contractor
According to the IRS, it’s a matter of degrees of control and independence in the following three categories:

  • Behavior: Do you control what the worker does and how they do their job?
  • Financial: Do you control the financial aspects of the worker’s job, such as when they are paid and who provides and pays for tools, supplies, etc.?
  • Type of Relationship: Is there a written contract? Are there benefits provided to the worker? Is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

There are no real guidelines to help employers determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. The IRS recommends businesses weigh all these factors and acknowledges that factors that are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in others. The keys, the IRS says, are to “look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to control, and document each of the factors used” in making the determination.

If the determination cannot be made, either party may file a Form SS-8 and the IRS will review the form and officially determine the worker’s status.

Do Your Employees Know the Full Value of Working for You?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

pre employment screening, employee background checkI was once presented a job offer that included the usual items: salary, health benefits and number of paid vacation days. But the smart businesswoman I would come to work for included a few extras. She itemized the yearly value of my health insurance package, the amount of Social Security Taxes the company would pay on my behalf and the contributions the company would make to the state worker’s compensation fund.

The salary number was great—but seeing the real numbers behind the perks (mandated or not) really opened my eyes to the value of this company bringing me into their employ. Value to me; cost to them.

Years later, when I had my own company and was hiring my own employees, I used this same tactic. Whether it impressed my staff as much as it did me, I don’t know. But I, too, wanted my employees to how hiring them would put more money in their pocket than their net paycheck might indicate.

If your employees are unaware of the real cost of their employment—and the real contribution you as an employer are providing to their well-being and their future—remember, there’s no law against telling them.

6 Benefits Your Employees May not See

  1. Vacation: How much is their paid time off worth? Two weeks and a half-dozen or so paid holidays can add up to thousands of dollars. Your staff might think they’re owed paid vacation (and of course everyone deserves time off), but it is still a hit to the company’s bottom line.
  2. Social Security and Medicare: This is a big one. Do your employees realize that you contribute up to $6,621 per year to their future Social Security earnings? And 1.45% of their earnings to Medicare, with no cap? Chances are they do not. Informing them of this fact might just make them appreciate you someday!
  3. Unemployment: When an employee is laid off, the first thing they usually do (after sleeping in) is file a claim for unemployment benefits. Do they realize that you, the employer, is obligated to pay into this fund? Probably not.
  4. Worker’s Compensation: Just as your company makes unemployment contributions on its employees’ behalf, they might not know that worker’s comp is also available to them because of employer-paid premiums. All they know is that they can file a claim when they’re injured and collect the payments.
  5. Retirement plans: Whether it’s through profit sharing or contributions to a 401K, a company-paid retirement plan is free money in your employees’ pockets. They should understand that it’s optional and generous.
  6. Health Insurance: It might seem obvious, but seeing the dollar value of a year’s worth of paid health insurance premiums can really open an employee’s eyes to the sacrifice employers make to do the right thing.

Disclosing to your employees the true cost of bringing them into your company can be a good thing, when handled correctly. In my case, my employer made me feel very fortunate to be hired, and communicated a real commitment to her employees. Making an employee feel like a burden is the wrong approach.

Interviewing Candidates: It’s More than Just Asking Questions

Thursday, September 9th, 2010, employment screeningWhen that nervous job applicant walks into your office, it’s not enough to just ask questions and take notes. There are so many personality quirks, body language giveaways and clues to a candidate’s skills or lack thereof that you could be missing. Taking stock of a potential employee’s complete package is a better way to evaluate a good fit for your company.

Six Other Things to Look for in Job Candidates

Do they pay attention to the little things? We’ve heard of flawlessly-produced resumes followed by a thank-you email full of errors and misspellings. Or a cover letter addressed to the wrong company. A telephone message returned more than 48 hours later. Even of candidates parking in a handicapped space. Lack of attention to these details is an indicator of things to come.

Are they polite? An HR manager we once knew followed every interview with a quick walk through the company’s offices, asking receptionists and others who had contact with the candidate how they were treated. She often heard that an applicant who was exceedingly polite to her was surly to the staff.

Are they engaged? Showing an interest in the position duties, the company culture, the department, and the person they’ll report to are good signs. An interviewee who has absolutely nothing to say when asked if they have any questions is either unprepared or uninterested.

How are their phone manners? Telephone interviews are more common these days. While not as formal as an in-person interview, serious candidates will take them seriously. That means no taking calls at a party or the mall, no laying in bed for the call, and definitely no munching, crunching, drinking or smoking.

Do they follow instructions? Do you offer interviews to candidates who do not provide a cover letter, even though your advertisement asks for one? Then why are you surprised when they become employees who do not follow instructions properly?

Are they on time? This is a no-brainer. Unless there was an accident or other unavoidable circumstances, there is no excuse for being late to an interview.   Conversely, it’s rude to show up for an interview more than 10 minutes early. Candidates who are too late or too early think their time is more important than yours.

When you pay attention to a job applicant’s complete package, you may find the real truth about whether or not you should hire them. And don’t forget to conduct thorough pre-employment screening for background information you need to make the right hiring decision.