Posts Tagged ‘Managing Employees’

Why Your Best Workers Quit

Friday, July 12th, 2013

employee credit check, pre employment backgound checkHaving a group of happy, loyal and productive employees is every business owner’s dream. But it’s inevitable that things in business go wrong. Morale can suffer for reasons as diverse as declining sales, layoffs and managerial stress levels.

And when morale drops, productivity drops. People start looking for other work. And soon, you’re replacing your best workers. But if you know why people leave, you can be proactive about solving the issues and giving them incentives to stay.

Why do employees quit?

They don’t feel connected to the company: Many managers keep employees in the dark. They don’t share information about financials or the big picture. They keep their vision for the company and their own department to themselves. As a result, employees have little sense of why they are important to the company. They don’t feel compelled to make a difference—which is very important to most people.

Their work does not motivate them: Plenty of people work for low pay in jobs they love, because they get something of great value out of it—self satisfaction, or external praise for their contributions. But many employers expect workers to be motivated just by their paychecks. It takes more than financial compensation to attract and retain the best workers.

They don’t enjoy themselves at work: Your company may not be a fun factory, but that doesn’t mean people can’t find enjoyment in their work. Engaging employees in new ways can go a long way toward that. Offer flexible hours. Eliminate the dress code. Encourage workers to decorate their cubicles and offices to reflect their personalities. Learn from innovative employers like Google and Zappos.

They see no career path: Do you provide a way for employees to work their way up from their current positions? If so, is it clearly understood by them? If workers feel “stuck,” they will look elsewhere for some upward mobility. And sadly, many employees report that they don’t know if their companies offer any way to move up.

If you have valuable, talented employees that you want to keep, you can help them stick around by paying attention, offering them more than a paycheck and making them part of the company’s success.

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.

Mandated Paid Sick Days: A New Issue for Small Business Owners

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

employee screeningIn cities like Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, city councils have recently approved laws requiring that employers give employees paid days off when they are sick.

San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Connecticut have already enacted laws that require paid sick leave. In addition, two lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress that makes paid sick leave a federal requirement.

How does your small business handle sick pay? Some allow employees to accrue sick days according to time on the job. Others give a set amount of paid time off per year, and employees can choose to use it for vacation or when they are sick. And others don’t give paid days at all, forcing employees to choose between going to work when they’re ill and getting paid.

Many employers say they cannot afford to give sick time; it’s a burden they can’t handle until the economy fully recovers. Others are nervous about federal health care changes, and aren’t sure what their financial impact will be.

But employees and experts say that paid sick leave is worth the investment, because it improves morale, increases productivity and lowers turnover.

Employees feel valued by their employer when they are incentivized to get well before returning to work. Plus, they don’t spread their illness to others, keeping productivity higher. Keeping illness out of the workplace is particularly important in the food industry, but any company can benefit.

Nationwide, 66% of all small businesses (up to 499 employees) provide paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of those businesses with fewer than 50 employees, half do. And 82% of employees at companies with 500 or more workers receive paid sick leave.

The federal Healthy Families Act would require that workers be allowed to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave per year. It would exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees. The BLS recently issued a study that shows that in general, workers take few sick days. Those in information, transportation, financial services and professional services take an average of four sick days per year. In the leisure, construction and hospitality industries, the average is two per year.

What do you think about the prospect of a federal law mandating paid sick leave? Or do you already offer this benefit to your employees?

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.

Are Your Employees Getting Restless?

Friday, March 15th, 2013

employee screeningEmployees are not getting training and development to help them advance in their careers, according to a recent survey. In addition, two-thirds of workers aren’t receiving any feedback or recognition at all.

The data was released after a November survey conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., an HR software vendor. The company asked nearly 500 U.S.-based employees about their jobs and future plans in the wake of the economic slowdown.

The survey revealed that in the past six months, slightly less than one-third of employees received training, while only 25% had met with their supervisors to develop a career plan.

These figures are telling, because they illustrate a fundamental problem with America’s employers—they are not developing their employees, training them to improve and build real careers. What happens then? The employee leaves, and the cycle begins again.

Certainly, many employers cut back on training and development during the recession. But the lack of training is leading workers to change jobs in a big way. According to the survey, 13% of the U.S. workforce (or 19 million employees) plan to change jobs this year. The cost to businesses is estimated to be about $2 trillion.

The survey revealed the following about employees:

  • 14% plan to leave their current job within six months to a year.
  • 25% plan to switch employers within the next three years.
  • 46% of those surveyed said they have a long-range career with their current employer.
  • 48% of respondents said they stay at a job because of a good manager.
  • 46% stay on a job because of appreciation.
  • 39% cite opportunities as a reason to stay.
  • 32% said the chance to develop new skills is why they’ll remain on the job.

If companies fail to give employees the recognition, training and development they want, they should almost plan on workers leaving and seeking it elsewhere.

Why Do Employees Leave?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

5 Best Employee Survey Questions

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

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

Is the Work Ethic Going Out the Window?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

employee screeningAs we said last week, the workplace is changing fast. Not only is technology changing the way we work, but new generations of workers are bringing new abilities, as well as some different workstyles, into the workplace. Baby boomer and Gen Y bosses and supervisors are sometimes surprised by the behavior exhibited by the Millennial Generation they are now working with.

Some see a distinct lack of professionalism—at least as they would define it for themselves: regular attendance, punctuality, honesty, working until a task is completed well, interpersonal skills, appropriate appearance, and being focused and attentive. That view is backed up by a recent study of professionalism in the workplace that shows professionalism has declined in past five years.

A high majority of respondents to the survey indicated that work ethic has gotten worse, saying that younger employees taking a casual attitude toward work (86%), not taking ownership of their work (69%) and being less than driven (71%).

That doesn’t mean the young millennials are hopeless. Far from it—they just need to be taught about expectations. They say they haven’t been taught by their parents or the education system on how to succeed in the working world.

Older generations need to understand that millennials view the world differently, including the workplace. Their definition of professionalism is quite different: it doesn’t mean wearing specific clothing, or even showing up at a specific time.

To accommodate millennials, should employers update their employee handbooks to say, “The workday begins whenever you feel like getting here”? Not necessarily! However, assigning tasks, explaining expectations and providing guidelines and flexibility works well with this generation.

Thorough training, trusting (and verifying), transparency, and sharing the organization’s values and mission are all very important to millennials. They want to be part of something important, and even better—to be a force for good.

Most of all, don’t assume that how you’ve always done things will be embraced or even understood by today’s workers.

Employers: Should Employers Be Suspicious of All Employees?

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

employee background checks, pre-employment screeningHow can you tell which are the trustworthy employees in your company, and which are potential thieves? The news is filled with stories of companies who have been victimized by seemingly great workers—the ones who are always on time, helpful and friendly, who are also skimming cash out of the register or taking merchandise home every night.

Most business owners don’t realize they’re vulnerable until it’s too late. In fact, the Association of Fraud Examiners released a report stating that typically, employee fraud continues for 18 months before it’s discovered.

Employee fraud affects more companies than you might expect. And since 87% of these acts are committed by first-time offenders, pre-employment screening won’t always help. That doesn’t mean it’s not necessary for helping employers determine whether a prospective employee is a good fit, based on criminal background and credit history. But it is possible for a person with a clean record to be hired, only to commit fraud on the job.

Employee fraud might entail falsifying payroll records, embezzling from company bank accounts, taking a few dollars out of the cash register on a regular basis, stealing merchandise or helping other employees cheat the company by covering up their actions.

How can business owners protect themselves from employee fraud? Should you be suspicious of all employees? No, but keep in mind the three factors that must be present for fraud to occur: motivation, opportunity and rationalization. Some employees are motivated by greed; others, by need. Know your employees. Listen to their problems. Does one have a child with a drug problem? Does another have a gambling addiction?

Then, keep your eyes and ears open at all times to make sure your employees with motivation don’t have the opportunity to steal. Implement proper controls, such as dual signatures on checks. Keep tight controls on access to cash, and never allow the same person who counts the money to also deposit it in the bank.

Finally, eliminate the possibility for rationalization. If you are skimming cash from the register yourself, what does that say to your employees? And what about the employer who brags about cheating on his or her taxes? Some employees who commit fraud think it’s okay to steal from an employer they perceive as “rich,” or whom they feel is underpaying them. This isn’t to say that you need to pay employees high wages to prevent stealing, but paying them fair wages—and never bragging about your own financial situation—can help eliminate the rationalization of thieves.

If employees like and trust you, and feel respected and trusted, they are less likely to commit fraud.

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.

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.

Are You Vulnerable to Employee Theft?

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

employment screening, employee background check, pre-employment screeningLast week, we reported on employee theft in retailing, and a recent report that stated that more losses occur due to employee theft than to than to shoplifters.

Any business is vulnerable to theft by employees, whether you’re selling widgets or washing machines. You don’t even have to be in the business of selling merchandise to be victimized by employees who steal.

Here are some examples of what dishonest employees may take out the door:

Trade Secrets: Employers who build successful businesses have done so because they do things a certain way, or offer a service or product that people want. If you’ve “built a better mousetrap” by instituting procedures or systems that work, your competition will likely want to know how you did it. What better way to find out than through an employee or former employee? And often, employees leave to start their own competing businesses, built on the successful model someone else worked hard to create.

Unearned pay: Employees with access to payroll systems can falsify work records to generate higher paychecks for themselves or their buddies.

Sensitive Data: Your company files are a treasure trove for identity thieves. Sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, birthdates and family information can help identity thieves access credit and wreck your or your employees’ finances.

Money: Countless businesses are victimized by employees—from unscrupulous bookkeepers to petty thieves—who skim cash out of the bank account or cash register. Watch for issues around drug or alcohol abuse, or complaints about not getting paid enough. If an employee’s lifestyle changes, with frequent purchases of expensive items or vacations, take a close look at your books. Be careful to conduct all due diligence before making any accusations.

Productivity: If your employees are average, they may be visiting social media sites or conducting personal business on the clock, causing you a loss of productivity.

Workplace theft is a serious problem for employers. The best guards against it are strong policies and procedures that are backed up by action. Stay on top of what’s going on in your business and immediately deal with any infractions of your theft policies. When other employees see theft is not tolerated, they’ll get the message.

Great Leaders Can Motivate Without Money

Friday, December 16th, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkLow on cash this holiday season? You’re not alone. Studies show that holiday bonuses will be few and far between this year. In fact, one survey of 100 companies showed that 43 percent would not be giving year-end bonuses—up from 28 percent in 2007.

So how can you convince employees to stick with you, even though you’re running leaner operation, and morale is suffering? Luckily, creating a great team often has nothing to do with money—and everything to do with leadership.

How Leaders Motivate Without Spending Money

  • Encourage New Leaders: Make examples out of your best employees. Encourage them to step up and take on more responsibility. If they need more training to perform at a higher level, make sure they get it.
  • Say Thank You: When someone does a great job, show your appreciation. Every time. If your company reaches an objective, share the accolades with everyone.
  • Throw a Party: Celebrations make everybody feel good. Closing early on a Friday and bringing in pizza is a great, inexpensive way to kick off the weekend. Plan a picnic in the summer, or a bowling party in the winter. Anything to break the monotony of work and show your team that you want them to enjoy themselves will go a long way.
  • Invite Ideas: Ask your employees what they think, instead of always telling them what you think. Hold regular brainstorming sessions, where everyone is allowed to contribute. Whether you use their ideas or not, it still makes them feel engaged and valued.
  • Encourage Teamwork: Instead of making one person in charge of a team or project, have the entire group work together as a team, as equals. You may find they are more motivated to do well when they feel empowered.
  • Break Down Barriers to Communication: Asking for ideas and encouraging participation is a great start to better communication. Ignoring titles and allowing staff to break out of their job descriptions can also help.
  • Insist on Accountability: When employees are given high expectations, they will strive to meet them—and feel good when they do. If they don’t, let them know they are still accountable for getting the job done. Don’t allow an employee to present a problem without suggesting a solution. Eventually, everyone will be more accountable for their work and for improving their performance.
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.

When You Suspect an Employee is Under the Influence

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

employee pre screening, employee background check, credit check employeeMost employee manuals are clear about using alcohol or drugs (other than prescribed medication) on the job: it’s a big no-no. That doesn’t mean employees don’t have problems with alcohol or drugs to the point that they use during working hours. If you’re an employer, you will likely run into this problem, if you haven’t already.

What can an Employer Do When an Employee is Using Drugs or Alcohol on the Job?

  • Don’t ignore the problem. If it’s happening, other employees probably know about it. They are probably uncomfortable about it. At the very least, it is creating a negative environment; in any case, it is a potential safety issue and your customers, employees, and the public are at risk of harm. So if you smell beer or marijuana on an employee, see red eyes, notice they’re having trouble concentrating or walking in a straight line—that is the time to act.
  • Have the conversation. As difficult as it may be, if you have reason to believe an employee is using drugs or alcohol on the job, or coming to work under the influence, by all means ask. Do it discreetly, in private. Make sure you have someone else in the room with you, besides the person you’re questioning.
  • Use whatever disciplinary action you have available. If the employee manual states that drinking or using drugs on the job is grounds for termination, then you have a decision to make. Does the use directly affect others? Does it put others or the employee in danger? What about customers and the general public? What is the affect on the company if the employee’s actions have the worst outcome? Note: If the employee manual does not address employees who come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you probably need to expand on that topic.
  • Show you care, but don’t preach or give advice. Remember, it’s your responsibility as the employer to enforce the rules and keep everyone safe. It’s not your job to provide counseling. If your company has an employee assistance plan, refer the person to HR for more information.
  • Beware: employees with chronic drinking or drug problems may be covered under the American with Disabilities Act. Be sure you have sound legal counsel when dealing with this situation. For example, you may not be able to terminate an employee for being an alcoholic; however, an employee’s inability to meet productivity standards is a different story.
  • Similarly, drug testing is a sticky area for employers. You need to be keenly aware of the laws in your state to avoid any illegal testing or violating privacy laws. Seek legal advice before doing any drug testing.