Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

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.

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.

What Employers Need to Know About Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

"employee credit check, employee background check"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities against job discrimination. Employers, including private companies, state and local governments, labor organizations and labor management committees may not discriminate in recruitment, pay, hiring and firing, promotions, training, leave, benefits, job assignments and all other employment-related activities.

Protection covers all aspects of work, including applying for a job, working conditions and benefits. Employers with 15 or more employees are also required to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship.

What is Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment or the work method to enable an individual with a disability to enjoy the same employment opportunity, including equal benefits and privileges, as employees without disabilities.

Examples include:

  • Posting information about jobs in places that are accessible to everyone, in ways that visually and other impaired individuals may use them
  • Making facilities accessible
  • Job restructuring
  • Part-time or flexible work schedules
  • Acquiring new or modify existing equipment
  • Changing training materials and placement tests
  • Providing readers or interpreters

Does a Small Company Need to Install Elevators?
Not if it creates an undue hardship. Larger companies’ facilities typically accommodate wheelchairs in restrooms, elevators, workspaces and common areas. However, a small company may not be financially able to install an elevator for a worker with a disability. It’s possible to make other arrangements to accommodate the worker, such as creating a workspace on the ground floor and finding new meeting spaces that work for everyone.

Employers may also have to accommodate time for doctors’ appointments, if an employee’s disability is related to an illness that requires medical treatment. Keeping the lines of communication open from the start will go a long way in preventing resentment from other staff, who may view time off as special treatment. Collaborating on how to handle special requests is important for long-term success.

Remember, employers may not ask disability-related questions on job applications or before an offer of employment is made. However, they may evaluate whether an applicant is qualified for the job, including asking about his or her ability to perform specific job functions, asking about non-medical qualifications, and asking applicants to describe or demonstrate how they would perform tasks.

See more answers to your questions about employers and the ADA here:

Study Focuses on Older Workers at Fortune 500 Companies

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

employee background check, employee screeningA recent report ranked Fortune 500 employers by the percentage of workers they have over age 50. gathered data from public records and surveys of employers and employees, to illustrate for job seekers 50+ which industries tend to employ a disproportionately high or low percentage of mature workers.

The results show that the airline industry employs the most workers over age 50, and that American Airlines was first in the nation, with nearly 40% of its workforce over age 50.  Toward the other end of the scale is Google, Inc., with just 13 % of workers over 50. stated that the study did not provide insight into whether employers are committed to hiring older workers, or whether they do or do not appreciate older workers. They further said that a low percentage of older workers does not imply that the company is a bad place for older people to work—they just have fewer than would be expected and may therefore be less accepting of older workers.

Additional findings from the study:

  • The average among the Fortune 500 is 25.6% of employees age 50+.
  • Companies addressing high turnover rates strategically recruit mature employees, because age 50+ workers turn over at one-third the rate of younger peers.
  • In any given organization, the percentage of employees age 50+ ranges from 6% to 39% on average.

The top Industries for the number of workers over 50 are:

  1. Airlines
  2. Utilities
  3. Insurance
  4. Retail
  5. Chemicals
  6. Aerospace & Defense
  7. Packaging & Containers
  8. Forest & Paper Products
  9. Food Production
  10. Beverages

The Top 10 Fortune 500 Employers Of Older Workers

  1. American Airlines                              39%
  2. Eastman Kodak                                  38%
  3. TravelCenters of America                 38%
  4. Delta Air Lines                                   37%
  5. United Air Lines                                 37%
  6. Weyerhaeuser                                     36%
  7. Edison International                          36%
  8. Northeast Utilities                              36%
  9. United Services Automobile Assn.   35%
  10. KeyCorp                                                35%

The Bottom 10 Fortune 500 Employers For Older Worker

  1. Consol Energy 14%
  2. Nordstrom                                              14%
  3. Chesapeake Energy                                14%
  4. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold   14%
  5. Electronic Arts                                       13%
  6. Google, Inc.                                             12%
  7. C.H. Robinson Worldwide                    12%
  8. Goldman Sachs Group                           11%
  9. Auto-Owners Insurance                          9%
  10. AECOM Technology                                 6%

Also appearing in the bottom 20 are companies such as Target, Whole Foods, Best Buy, Hershey, Polo Ralph Lauren, Amazon and Philip Morris.

An Alternative to Performance Reviews

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

employeescreeningblog.comClaims for unemployment benefits are dropping; the economy seems to be on the upswing again. And employers will be adding jobs each month, according to economists. Along with hiring new employees come the standard procedures like orientation, IRS forms and 30-day, 60-day and 90-day performance reviews.

But some experts say the initial and annual employee performance review is dead. Everyone dreads it, managers and employees alike. But human resources managers often think they are must-dos for legal reasons. After all, how can an employee be terminated without a paper trail?

It’s not the paper that’s the problem. Most people just think the reviews are not productive. They’re more about meeting a requirement with a process, and not about getting results. In short, they have little credibility—and everyone knows it. In fact, back in 2005, Psychology Today reported on a national survey by People IQ, which stated that a whopping 87 percent of managers and employees felt performance reviews were not useful or effective.

4 Ways to Improve on Annual Reviews

  1. Coach your employees every day. Setting objectives and goals together lets both employee and manager know what is expected. Weekly check-ins can help the employee keep on track toward reaching the goals, or switch things around as company needs change.
  2. Offer immediate feedback. Gen Y workers are used to hearing feedback. They were raised with it and don’t always thrive when kept in the dark about their performance.
  3. Eliminate the “annual” part. Monthly or quarterly one-on-one meetings with each staff member—without the “fill in the blank” forms—give both sides the opportunity to review performance, make plans for improvement and celebrate accomplishments.
  4. Give specifics. Instead of noting that an employee isn’t getting the job done, or seems distracted, offer specific examples of behavior that impacted the company negatively. Allow the employee to offer an explanation, then move on.

Employees are motivated to work hard, keep good jobs and contribute to a cause or company they believe in. Replacing annual reviews with setting goals and coaching employees to meet them, along with more frequent feedback might just be winning strategy for your company!

Survey Shows Workers On Time More Often

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

employee credit check, pre employment backgound checkA survey of nearly 3900 employers and 2500 employees by the job site,, shows that employees are improving in one area: showing up for work on time. Over the last two years, the number of workers who said they arrived late to work at least once a week declined from 20 percent to 15 percent.

At a time when employers are asking for more productivity out of their employees, it’s a bit surprising that tardiness is actually going down—unless those same workers are realizing how valuable their jobs really are. A quick check of unemployment figures, or seeing friends and family lose jobs and struggle with finding work, could be inspiring employees to do what’s expected, like being on time for work.

CareerBuilder does not ask respondents to explain why they are increasingly making it to work on time; however, they are asked why they’re late. Among the reasons given:

  • Traffic (listed by 30% of respondents)
  • Lack of sleep (listed by 19%
  • Bad weather
  • Delays in getting kids to school

Some of the more creative reasons employees gave for coming to work late were wardrobe issues, dealing with pets and public transportation issues.

But those common reasons for being late to work pale in comparison with these, supplied by hiring managers:

  • I was attacked by a cat
  • My karma was out of sync
  • I injured myself with a fork
  • My car is infested with bees
  • My hair is hurting my head
  • I’m not late: the clock is wrong
  • I knew I was going to be late, so I stopped to buy donuts for everyone

While these inventive excuses are entertaining, tardiness is nothing to laugh about. In fact, nearly a third of employers said they have terminated an employee for being late.

Where are all the Qualified Employees?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

employee screening blogAre stacks of resumes piling up on your desk? Is your email inbox overflowing with inquiries from potential employees who not only are not qualified, but didn’t follow your application instructions? It’s not easy to find qualified employees, even when the nation’s unemployment rate is 10%. In fact, it’s harder than ever for some business owners to weed through the flood of applicants to hire just one or two employees.

We asked a few HR Managers where they go to save time and their sanity when it’s time to hire. Perhaps you can use some of these great ideas:

Professional Associations: If you’re a member of a group for accountants, attorneys, credit managers, automobile dealers, natural food store owners, or whatever your profession—try checking in with your local or regional affiliate. You might find an out-of-work industry veteran in their ranks—maybe even someone can fill your job opening.

Ask yourself, “Where do the people with the skills I want hang out?” or, “Where do they go for continuing education?” For example, if you need a website programmer, do an online search for a local web developer group, or see if there is a Facebook group in your area. Then, check local community colleges, technical colleges, and universities. Their placement offices could have your perfect candidate waiting for an opportunity.

Check your own online networking groups. LinkedIn is the most popular professional social media site. If you belong, ask your LinkedIn group members if they know people who match your needs. If you don’t belong to LinkedIn, it’s easy to join. Put out the word that you’re hiring on your company’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Use the contacts you’ve already made online to spread the word fast.

Does your company website have a news page or blog? Consider it your company bulletin board—only with a much bigger reach! Post your “now hiring employees” notice there.

Talk to your competition—if they’re not hiring, let them know that you are. Perhaps they can send a candidate or two your way—or give you the contact information of that terrific employee they just had to lay off.

Are you registered with a local Workforce or Employment office in your area? After all, that’s the place you’ll find people who don’t have jobs but want to work.

When you use your networks and online contacts, or just try using a personal touch and reaching out in your community, you may find your search for qualified employees just got a little easier!

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.

Tough Talk from a Micro-Managing Business Advisor

Friday, May 28th, 2010

employee screening, background checks employeesGeorge Cloutier is the author of a popular business book, Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing. The book came out of a series of business training seminars he was doing for small-business owners.

The Turnaround Ace’s Tough Advice
So named by Business Week, some of Cloutier’s advice is unusual, if not controversial. A few examples:

  • Cloutier says you should love your business as much as you love your family. (And he used to say, “Love your business more than you love your family.”)
  • He says it’s fine to have a plan—but that’s the easy part. The hard work is the hard part. Work on weekends. Give up golf, because you’re not going to make money on the golf course. The people who say they do are making an excuse to be lazy.
  • Take responsibility for your failures—don’t blame the economy, the recession, the bank, or your employees. If the bank doesn’t lend you money, it’s your fault. If an employee fails, it’s your fault. If a customer drops you in favor of another product, it’s your fault. Taking responsibility is necessary to be successful.

The Business Owner Comes First
Cloutier espouses that business owners take care of themselves first—ahead of the employees, process, team—or anything else. He says that without focusing on profits, your business will fail. When business owners allow employees and popular wisdom to run the company, instead of focusing on cash and profits, they will fail.

You’re Not in Business to Pay Your Vendors’ Bills
Cloutier advises business owners to not pay vendors on time. When it’s difficult to obtain financing, the only place you can get more credit is from your vendors. If you’re getting 30 days, ask for 60 days. If you’re getting 45 days, ask for 75 days. He does not advise business owners to be unethical, or to not pay taxes on time, but to be upfront and conserve cash as much as possible.

Teamwork is Overrated
Cloutier thinks teamwork is vastly overrated. If the team takes over your business, they will protect their failures. They will not hand out harsh penalties. Better to have one person in charge—the business owner.

Embrace Your Inner Control Freak
Coultier says that if your employees fail, it’s your fault. You must take responsibility. You hired the wrong person, failed to train them properly, or failed to correct their mistakes. And what about delegation? He says, don’t do it. Instead, micromanage your business. Look at everything, every single day. Who’s calling? Who was that customer who just left? What did they buy—or not buy? How are your employees dressed? How much cash is in your bank account?

Getting good help, Cloutier says, is “100 times more difficult” than we think. Many people are mediocre—so it makes sense to have procedures in place to follow up on them and see how they’re doing. Monitor closely, and intervene earlier, rather than later, when they’re going off track.

Fear is the Best Employee Motivator
But it’s okay to like your employees. In fact, Cloutier says that business owners must treat employees with respect, follow the law, help them with personal problems—but coddling employees is off the mark.

Stop Whining and Get to Work
The recession, Cloutier says, is a big excuse for poor performance. Failure to build a strong sales organization, strong financial reporting, and strong profits and cash flow are the real reason businesses fail.

And Fire Your Relatives
According to Cloutier, says a family business with more than one family member is a bad idea. The entitlement family members usually feel is a morale killer and bad for business.

I Need to Hire An Employee—Now What?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Congratulations—your business not only survived the economic downturn, but it’s growing—and now you need to hire your first employee. You might be a great pastry chef, shoe shop owner, or candlestick maker—but if you don’t know a W-2 form from a can of WD40, you might have a big problem.

Relax—hiring your first employee is not as tough as you think. There are plenty of resources on the web, as well as at your nearest state and federal tax offices, where the staff will supply all the proper paperwork and manuals. They want to make sure you are completely compliant with all the taxes you’ll be responsible for.

You’ll need to obtain an Employer Identification Number, set up a payroll system, file withholding taxes, and report the new employee to the federal government. You’ll also need to register with your state employee office for their disability or worker’s compensation program, or obtain your own disability insurance.

But first, you need to get through the hiring process. Determine exactly what you need from your employee. Make a list of every single task you want the employee to perform. Write down all the things that are not being done well—or at all—because you cannot get to them. The list may be longer than any single employee could take on—but write them down anyway. You’re going to cut the list to a manageable number.

Write a quick job description, based on the list. Think of it as the goals you need help reaching and the tasks required to meet them. Keep the job description flexible enough to change it to fit your needs and the employee’s skills after he or she has been in place for a month or so.

Think about the education and skills needed to perform the job you’ve just described. Don’t forget physical requirements, like standing for several hours, reaching, bending, or lifting 25 pounds. These are all important aspects of your job listing.

Next, determine pay and benefits. Your local Economic Development Office and Small Business Administration are great places to research local pay rates. Or, check a site like, and you can find out what your job title average pay is, nationwide, or narrow your search by geographical location.

Now you’re ready to advertise. Most employers advertise online through local newspapers and or use large online job boards like and Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter are also great ways to get the word out that you’re hiring. And don’t forget word of mouth—you’re more likely to find a great employee through someone you already know.

Once the resumes start coming in, weed out those that don’t meet your qualifications. Of the qualified applicants, some may no longer be interested (if they accepted another job, for example) and others may expect a higher wage than you can pay. How to find out? Conduct a telephone interview, and ask a few pointed questions about availability, ability to perform the job, and interest in the position at a certain wage range.

Call in the finalists for in-person interviews and have them fill out applications. You can find templates online or create your own. Be sure to have a separate permissions page for background screening and credit check. Pre-employment screening should be part of your new hire process. You don’t want to subject your business to an employee with an arrest record for embezzlement or who lies about her employment record.

The last step is to choose the best-fit employee, based on background screening results, your impressions, and qualifications. Personality has a lot to do with choosing the right employee, but don’t let emotions get in the way. Even if you really like a person, it doesn’t mean they’re the best employee for you!

Increase Productivity through Better Employee Communication

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Even as the economy shows signs of strengthening, many companies haven’t yet seen business rebound. They still need to do more with fewer employees. Perhaps you’re a hiring manager or business owner who is not able to begin hiring—but needs to keep existing employees motivated and more productive.

You might be thinking, “Haven’t I analyzed productivity enough over the last couple of years?” Perhaps you think there is no way to ask for more efficiency from overworked employees. What if you want to give them a break without affecting productivity? And you know you can’t hire more staff just yet. What to do?

Analyze Again

One answer is the one you might not want to hear: start at the top and analyze your business again. Look at your processes and procedures with a fresh eye—not an easy task, id it? So, why not get some help from the people on the front line? Seek input through an employee survey. Solicit their ideas for increased efficiency.

Fewer Steps, More Efficiency

If yours is a production-based business, efficiency can make or break it. Again, start with your front-line employees—like Mike, your shipping clerk. Look at Mike’s flow and setup. How many steps does each task take? Which can be eliminated or streamlined? How can Mike reduce travel time required for his job requirements? The higher the number of steps his feet take, the more time and energy he’s wasting. Encourage Mike to work with you to redesign his work station, eliminate wasted time and materials, or redistribute his tasks to others, if that makes more sense.

Decrease the Layers of Authority

If your business is sales-related, listen to your phone operators. How can they better balance customer service with efficiency? Are they wasting time waiting for approvals for services they are not authorized to give? Can you empower customer service staff to take care of issues on their own level, decreasing the layers required to handle a problem?

Be an Undercover Boss

Not sure if these areas are problems in your company? Your employees do! So ask them. Spend time with them. Get out of the office and shadow a few employees for a day. Take a cue from the new reality show “Undercover Boss,” where CEOs go undercover in their own companies, working alongside the lowest-level employees—and learning how their businesses really work.

Employees often follow procedures they are trained in, whether or not they are the most efficient use of their time. They do what is expected. But when given the chance to change things, many will jump at the opportunity to contribute to an improved workflow.

Give Mike a Promotion

Perhaps your frontline employees, like Mike, are capable of taking on some management duties. If you’ve downsized your management team, it may be that they already are—and if that’s the case, recognize them for it. Sometimes a change in title helps employees shine in ways you didn’t expect—and it can be real morale booster, too. So make Mike the Shipping Manager if he deserves it!

Talk to Your Staff

As with most management challenges, the key to increasing productivity lies in staff communication. Talk to your workers, learn how they do their jobs every day, and solicit their ideas for improvement. If they are willing to take on more responsibility, start on a plan to make that happen. And if they are at the point where another task will send them out the door—you need to know before it happens.