Posts Tagged ‘Employee Management’

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.

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.

Hiring and HR Developments for 2013

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

pre employment screening, employee background checkThe face of hiring and human resource management is changing fast. The combination of advances in technology and changes in legislation (can you say, “Affordable Care Act”?) will impact employers in a big way in 2013. To stay ahead, companies need to implement changes in their operations, or they will fall behind.

What are other firms doing in HR this coming year? Here are some changes you’ll likely be seeing:

Companies are starting to buy into HR software consolidation in a big way. Instead of using dozens of different software applications to recruit, hire, manage and measure employees, organizations will utilize enterprise content management (ECM) systems to bring everything into one system. Efficiency improves, while costs decline.

Continuing the trend of data management, more HR departments will address the problem of providing access to employee data while keeping it safe. Creating secure, central databases can eliminate the downtime in locating employee information, as well as the mountains of paperwork that causes storage and confidentiality issues.

As more employees bring their personal devices, from smartphones to tablets, into the office, employers will need to create policies to address their use. BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device, is a trend that many employers are starting to become accustomed to. Employees who are allowed to bring in their own devices are more productive, because they are more familiar with the technology and have loaded the apps that work for them.

However, companies must guard against misuse of company communications and leaks of trade secrets, customer data and other sensitive information.

In more companies, HR will become a major player in long-term goals and strategies. Chief HR Officers will become more common, HR software will be integrated in business planning, and better analysis will allow organizations to crate more results-driven projects.

The word of 2013 might very well be “engaged.” Employees will need to be engaged in order to be happy and productive. Interactivity will become a bigger part of recruiting, training, and performance evaluation. It’s what employees are used to, and where the business world in general is heading.

One trend that never loses favor is 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.

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.

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.

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.

Managing Employees: Tips to Make it a Little Easier

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

employeescreeningblog, pre employment screeningMost leaders have good intentions. They work hard, and strive to develop their employees’ talents and abilities to reach the organization’s goals.

But not all of them are successful. Sometimes, it’s the little things that need attention, but can make a big difference in morale and productivity. Keeping good employees happy can help ensure they stick around longer, which makes work easier and more pleasant for everyone—and by reducing turnover, helps the bottom line.

Here are a few small ways to make managing employees easier:

  • Get rid of unnecessary processes and rules. Ask staffers what rules and procedures are hampering their productivity or just making them unhappy. See if there are ways to rework policies to achieve the same goals. Is it really harmful to allow purple hair or for employees to eat at their desks?
  • Clarify your expectations. Employees will achieve more if they know what’s expected of them. They don’t often know what the outcome of their tasks should be, or exactly what a “good job” looks like. Tell them what you need, what success entails, and how their work will be evaluated.
  • Uncover and use employees’ talents. Get to know what really lights up your employees. What are their passions? What are they really good at? Can you incorporate their best qualities into their current position, or should you create a new position? You’ll get better results when employees feel fully utilized.
  • Don’t waste their time. Unnecessary meetings, meetings that start late or don’t have a strict agenda, weeks of work that gets tossed because someone changed their mind about what was needed—they’re all big time wasters. Plan well and respect everyone’s time.

As in any relationship, keeping communication open between managers and employees is key to success. Ask people what resources and tools they need to be successful, and  find a way to provide them. Then, eliminate things they don’t want or need, and above all, keep listening.

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 PayScale.com, 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!

The Potential Problems of Personal Mobile Devices

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

employee screening, employee background check, prescreen employeesAt first glance, whether to allow employees to use their personal smartphones and tablets for work purposes seems like a job for IT. But it can be a headache for the HR department and business owners, as well. Mobile devices are more popular than ever, enabling people to work from almost anywhere, around the clock. This is where it starts to get sticky from a personnel policy standpoint.

Non-exempt employees must be paid for any work they perform for an employer, whether or not they are onsite—and whether or not the employer knows about or authorizes their work. To avoid this potential nightmare, many firms have established policies against issuing company-paid devices to these workers and closely monitoring any use of personal devices. At minimum, a clear policy prohibiting the practice is required. Even exempt employees could be entitled to pay if they check messages or check in on projects while on vacation or a leave of absence, so be careful to communicate the policy at every opportunity.

Personal devices also leave companies at risk for a variety of lawsuits. The proliferation of texts and social media posts present the potential for liability, from sexual harassment to consumer retaliation. It’s important to maintain the same control over text messages as any written communication—even through texts are often viewed as less formal, and therefore not subject to established policies on sexual harassment and public statements.

Finally, employees’ personal devices can be conduits for sensitive company information. When staffers with access to such information are terminated, big problems can ensue. Even though it can wreak havoc if placed in the wrong hands, employers may not be entitled to access an employee’s personal device, either to capture information for use in legal proceedings or to wipe it clean. It’s best to limit access whenever possible, but that’s not always practical. When developing a personal device policy, include a release that workers agree to allow the company to recover data from their smartphones or tablets when they leave the company under any circumstances.

Be sure to include these issues when writing your company’s policy on workers using their personal devices at work. And if you haven’t yet instituted such a policy, you should consider making it a priority.

Are Your Employees Job Hunting While on the Job?

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

pre screening employee, employee background checkEmployees come and go; that’s just a fact of having them. But that doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t take steps to keep the good ones. Retaining good employees is good for business in many ways. It saves money on recruiting, hiring and training. It helps keep productivity high. And retaining good employees is good for morale.

And then there’s the other side: is it fair for employees to search for new jobs while they’re at work? Should employers have to pay their employees to find a new employer? Obviously not.

That’s why it makes sense to know the ways employees might be looking for new jobs while working for you. First, you might be able to interrupt a great employee’s job searching activities and find ways to keep him or her. Second, you can be open with job searchers and remind them they need to work for you—not look for work—while they’re on the clock.

Here are a few things employers can do to see if employees are job searching on the job:

  • Check social media profiles: If employees are updating their experience, skills or recent accomplishments, it could be a sign they’re starting the job search.
  • Pay attention: Look for changes in habits. Employees who suddenly wear dressy clothes could be interviewing, as could those who usually eat at their desks who are suddenly taking long lunches away from the workplace. If early morning interviews or coffee meetings are taking place, staffers who typically arrive at 8:00 a.m. might start coming in late.
  • Look for a drop in productivity: For workers who use computers all day, it can be difficult to know what they’re actually doing. Is George preparing those budget forecasts or catching up with online networking contacts? Is Elizabeth preparing shipping documents or applying for jobs? If their work output is lower than usual, it’s time to check in.
  • Job-searching employees who are more production-oriented may be away from their workstations more often, taking phone calls in private or borrowing other employees’ computers to check email or online job site activity.
  • Monitor employee activity: Employers are allowed to monitor employee use of computers, Internet, email, telephone, etc. After all, you’re paying for the equipment, the utilities, and the building, not to mention paying the employees to be there. Do you really want them taking care of personal business—like searching for a new job—on your dime?

Remember that what employees do on their own time (even interviewing on their lunch hour) is their own business. But if they let job-searching bleed over into their work time, it becomes the employers’  business.