Posts Tagged ‘company culture’

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.

Creating a Comfortable Workplace For Everyone

Monday, January 16th, 2012

employeescreeningblog, employee screening, pre-employment screeningFor employers, hearing that yours is a toxic work environment is not good news. Whether it’s flirtatious co-workers, religious displays, bullying or inappropriate language, there are dozens of factors that can cause people to feel uncomfortable at work. On one hand, this type of environment can hurt employee morale, and cause higher levels of turnover. Under more serious circumstances, it can lead to lawsuits.

How can employers and HR managers create a work environment where every employee feels respected and comfortable? Here are a few tips that can help you shape a clear policy, so everyone knows what’s expected and what types of behavior will not be tolerated.

  1. Gather information: First, meet with employees who have expressed dissatisfaction with the work environment. You can do this individually or in groups. Ask them to share any details of inappropriate or hurtful behavior, without naming individual employees who have perpetrated the behavior.
  2. Create a list of workplace rules: Call it a code of conduct, a mission statement or a new company policy—whatever works. Take the information from the interview process and determine what is and is not acceptable. You may include items about personal behavior, such as treating employees and customers with respect, not harassing or bullying, and using language appropriate for the workplace.
  3. Communicate the rules to all employees: It’s important that staff and management alike understand that the new rules are to be taken seriously, and that infractions will not be tolerated. Disseminate the rules in whatever manner your company typically communicates important policies, and add it to the employee manual.
  4. Follow up: Handle each new complaint as it arises. Deal with the facts and avoid judgment. Clarify what happened and explain how it made the affected employee feel. Then make it clear that this behavior goes against company policy and will not be tolerated.

No employee deserves to work in a toxic environment. Make sure yours doesn’t fall into that category by following these simple steps.

How to Be an Employer of Choice

Thursday, November 17th, 2011,, employement screeningIf you want to have the kind of company that people want to work for, here are some tips to help you achieve that goal and reduce employee turnover:

  • Create a positive environment: Promoting open communication, positive feedback, and friendliness can produce an overall feeling of positivity among your company. Relax the rules and allow comfortable clothing. Encourage employees to express their personalities in their attire and work environments. Celebrate happy occasions more often.
  • Open it up: Ban the private office in favor of group work areas. Provide private areas with comfortable couches for brainstorming sessions.
  • Be family-friendly: Provide quality onsite day care. Absenteeism will decrease, and satisfaction will increase among staffers with kids.
  • Promote play: Engage staff in activities such as 5K runs at lunch, mountain biking or surfing, or occasional bowling nights. If you’re close to the ocean, provide surfboard parking so employees can go surfing at lunch. Install a bike rack and buy a few used bikes for anyone to use. If you’re near a trail, encourage walking meetings. Close down for a day and go on a field trip. Install showers so employees can get their exercise before work or in the middle of their day.
  • Make it meaningful: If your company gives back to charities, involve employees in making the decision about which groups to support. When their efforts support causes they believe in, their efforts to do well increase. When their work is meaningful, people are much more engaged in the outcome.
  • Respect everyone: Respect comes in many different forms. From soliciting their ideas, to showing appreciation, to allowing employees to listen to music as they work. You can even provide the ear buds.
  • Trust: Communicate expectations, but then trust staffers to meet their deadlines by working however how they work best. Give them the freedom to meet their objectives, but do check in to see if they need help.
  • Do the right thing: If an employee needs time off for personal reasons, or if they need a more flexible schedule to care for kids or a parent, work with them. Flexibility doesn’t hurt the bottom line, but it goes a long way to creating loyal employees.

Allowing employees to be themselves means they will bring their best selves to work every day. By promoting respect, play, freedom and trust, yours can be a company that people – even you – want to work for.

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!

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.

Keep Employees and Your Company Safe: Write and Enforce a Cell Phone Policy

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

employee background check, pre employment screeningRecently a cell-phone monitoring firm, ZoomSafer, conducted a survey of 500 business executives. The results are in, and one notable finding is that nearly one-third (32%) of companies have knowledge or evidence of on-the-job automobile accidents resulting from employees using cell phones while driving.

It’s no secret that distracted driving is one of today’s top driving hazards:

  • Distracted driving is a factor in 25% of police reported crashes, according to a report by Nationwide Insurance.
  • Driving while using a cell phone actually reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%, according to a Carnegie Mellon study.
  • Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
  • The number one source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device (Virginia Tech).
  • Distraction from cell phone use while driving—hand held or hands free—extends the time it takes a driver to react as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent—the legal limit, according to a report by the University of Utah.

It’s clear that simply replacing a hand-held phone with a hands-free device is not going to solve the problem of diverting a driver’s attention when it belongs on the road and other vehicles.

When a business supplies employees with cell phones, the liability of possible litigation shifts to the company. Nearly eight percent of companies surveyed by ZoomSafer have faced litigation resulting from employee cell phone use while driving. For companies with more than 5,000 drivers, the statistic is 37%.

Only 62% of the companies surveyed have implemented a written cell phone use policy. Surprisingly, utilities/telecommunications/cable companies were least likely to have one—and least likely to enforce it. Most (62%) of policy enforcement is reportedly done “post incident.” Even more surprising is that 25% of respondents declined to answer this question.

Survey answers regarding a company’s culture toward employee driving were also interesting, with nearly one-third of respondents reporting some degree of apathy regarding safe driving, monitoring employee driving, and concern about employee use of mobile phones.

It seems that companies are telling employees not to use cell phones while driving, but are not doing much to enforce the rule or change employee behavior. To reduce potential liability from damages caused by employee cell phone driving, a clear and well-communicated policy, as well as strict enforcement, is absolutely necessary. The risk of damage to a company’s reputation and finances are enormous—as is the possibility for loss of life.

Is March Madness Good or Bad for Productivity?

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkNow that March Madness is over, some business owners are reconsidering their policies on the activity surrounding the tournament in the workplace. The innocent office basketball pool can become a dangerous game. And if money is changing hands, it could be even more so–because gambling is not legal everywhere!

A recent survey by CareerBuider indicated that 20 percent of workers have participated in March Madness pools at work. Other reports mention the billions of dollars in lost productivity to business that the March Madness Tournament “inspires.” Maybe your employees are included in those 20 percent and you see a loss in productivity. And maybe you’re fine with that. On the other hand, maybe your office has a more formal atmosphere and you prefer to keep it that way.

So what should your answer be when your employees come to you and ask for permission to start a March Madness office pool next year? Here are some points to consider:

  • Will it harm your company to have a once-a-year office pool? If the only thing in the way is you, maybe it’s time to rethink your reasons for saying, “no.”
  • Can trust your staff to keep the party to a minimum and still get the job done?
  • Avoid online activity, as online betting laws can easily be broken.
  • As the business owner, it might be a good idea for you to avoid any involvement in the pool.
  • Think about the boost in morale that a March Madness pool could create. Sometimes, hard-working teams need a way to blow off steam and just enjoy their co-workers and the time they spend at work.
  • Focus on the amount of work your staff is producing—not necessarily the amount of time they’re spending on their tasks.
  • Remember, it’s been a tough couple of years, and your employees might just need a fun break.

Your employees are your most important resource. Think carefully before you take away their March Madness pool!

Can Employers Terminate Employees for Social Media Mistakes?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

One woman posted a photo of herself on vacation, holding a glass of wine. Another posted negative remarks about a supervisor. Others discussed their work environment on a private MySpace page.

What do these employees have in common? They were all fired, dismissed or forced to resign over these activities.

Is it okay to terminate an employee for their online actions? What about postings that are harmful to a company, its reputation, a supervisor, or co-worker? Where do employers draw the line when it comes to employees’ online behavior?

The new rules have not yet been sorted out. As some firms scramble to create social media policies, others are hands-off when it comes to how employees spend their free time.

A Social Media Policy Can Help
Cover the Content: We’ve all seen photos of company picnics that look like drunken free-for-alls. Prohibiting the posting of photos from company-sponsored events anywhere but on the official website, after approval by a content manager, is one way to establish control.

Reinforce that employees do not have free reign when it comes to badmouthing their employer or co-workers, on or off the job. Not only is it in bad form, it’s can be grounds for dismissal. Employers can be held responsible for what employees say or post; therefore, they have the right to limit it.

Establish boundaries. How does a view inside a co-worker or boss’s private life affect employee relations? What about knowing a staff member’s religious or political views? When does a “friend request” become creepy and harassing behavior? Decide whether or not it is permissible for a boss to friend a subordinate.

Realize you probably cannot establish broad policies such as prohibiting employees from referring to the company in any way on any social media site.

Ready to Hire Employees? Here’s How to Do It Better

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Some employers are out of practice when it comes to hiring employees. Maybe it’s been a couple of years since you’ve had enough business to justify adding staff–so if you’re a little rusty, check out these quick tips for sorting through the applications, resumes and interviews and getting the best new employee possible.

  1. Revisit your needs: What do you really need help with? Where are the gaps in your current production or service offerings and how can you best fill them? Perhaps you need to hire three people, not one, as you planned. Or even better, a thorough needs audit may reveal you only need one new staffer, not two.
  2. Revisit the position you’re hiring for: Has it changed since you last filled it? For example, the employee who’s currently fulfilling the role may have taken on more duties through the recession. If so, adjust the job description and tighten up your requirements before you place any ads.
  3. Consider the new ways of recruiting job candidates: You might not have heard that not many job seekers use the newspaper’s classified ads anymore, but it’s true. Online job boards, social media sites, Craigslist and local news sites are probably your best bets for placing ads.
  4. But you might not need to advertise at all: word of mouth can be the most effective method to get new employees through the door. When you and your staff spread the word that you’re hiring, you’re more likely to have people you know apply for the job: customers, friends, family members and friends of friends will start coming through the door. These are likely going to be people already familiar with your company and its products or services. They may have a good feeling for the company culture and require less time to get up to speed.
  5. Hire for attitude, train for skill: Making sure a new employee fits your culture and has a passion for what you’re all doing there is vital to long-term success. Skills are important, but a positive, cooperative employee beats a grumpy, difficult genius any day of the week!
Hiring? 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.

Hiring Tip: Look For Employees Who Fit Your Culture

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011,, employement screening If your businesses not only made it through the recession, but is gearing up for higher sales or productions, congratulations! You’ll probably be venturing back into the hiring pool, too—and if it’s been a while since you’ve dipped a toe in it, this is a good time to re-think your previous strategies and try something new.

Hire for Good Fit and Train For the Job
Sure, experience counts for a great deal when you’re hiring a new employee. But for long-term success, a number of companies look at how well employees fit their culture, not how many years of experience they’ve gathered.

Zappos is an online mega-store, which started out selling shoes but now sells clothing and accessories, too. Zappos‘ employees work hard toward common business goals—and they think of themselves as a family. And when it comes to hiring new employees, Zappos’ carefully-crafted company culture rules. (You can’t let just anybody into your family.) They look for people who are “fun and a little weird.” Potential hires also must embrace the company’s nine other core values, including “be humble,” “do more with less” and “deliver WOW through service.”

Another example of success is Southwest Airlines—pretty much the only profitable airline around. Southwest hires for attitude and trains for skills. Their interview process includes group tasks, which help determine if an applicant has the right attitude and/or leadership abilities. They want more employees who have fun, don’t take themselves too seriously and are “passionate Teamplayers.” At Southwest, they know that “Happy Employees = Happy Customers. Happy Customers keep Southwest flying.”

If you’re going to be hiring employees soon, you might want to adopt some of these ideas as your own.

Tips For Hiring Employees Who Fit In

  1. Look for passion: for your company, your product or service, and for life.
  2. Find out if an applicant has the same values as your company: if fun is important in your company culture, a dour employee won’t be as successful as one that loves to have fun.
  3. Embrace individuality. Don’t limit your hiring to clones of yourself or other employees.
  4. Ask applicants to do something unusual: Like write an essay about their hobbies, goals or grandparents. Have them meet your team, send in a video, or list their top ten movies, books, or albums.

Remember, even if you think you’ve found a perfect-fit employee, it’s always smart to conduct a thorough pre-employment screening. Checking an employee’s background, including credit check and criminal records check, is the only way to know for sure that you’re making the best and safest hiring decision.