How to Hire Employees Safely
2009 | Feb 4 in Guest Contributor , Home Page News , Management
By Erin Duckhorn
Much of your business growth depends on finding the right people to staff
your expanding organization, but in most companies much more time and money is
devoted to choosing and purchasing equipment than to preparing for the hiring
process. Something about the price and mass of a turbine engine or a computer
terminal makes the results and the risks of your decision-making seem more
important. But you will make no more important expenditure than the time and
money you spend recruiting the right people. If the growth of your business
depends on innovation, and it's your people who are its source, the hiring of
new staff is about the most important "purchase" you can make.
So take the time to first develop a hiring strategy. Which position do you
want to hire next? Why that one? Do you have the cash flow to handle the
additional load on your finances? What attitudes and skills would be the right
matches with your needs for the position? There are a lot of factors to consider
in choosing the right players for your "team," and Nina's article
discusses a few of them.
How to Hire Employees Safely
By Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.
For many business owners, the thought of hiring employees is scarier than the
latest Halloween horror flick. And yet — think of the alternative (the boon to
your business!). Can your company afford to stay where it is?
Chances are, you recognize it can't . . . which is why you're connected to
the E-Myth. Hiring employees can create a paradigm shift for your company, if
done carefully and with advance planning. Here are a handful of areas that
you'll want to address in your hiring process:
Job descriptions. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your job
description needs to tread a fine line. You want them narrow enough so that
not "just anyone" can apply. For many positions, you need a
certain level of talent and expertise. However, they need to be flexible
enough so that you don't pigeon-hole your workforce too tightly. A clear job
description can also help you steer clear of various discrimination laws. If
a position requires heavy physical work, or absolutely requires an
employee's office presence on the Sabbath (for example, in the wedding
planning business), you can avoid claims that you discriminated in hiring
under the American with Disabilities Act or other discrimination statutes.
Interview manners. Interviewing employees is part science and
part art - all of which can be learned, but virtually little of which comes
naturally. For example, interviewing a noticeably pregnant woman and asking
her due date/how many children she hopes to have might arise out of innate
curiosity, but is a minefield for a sex discrimination claim. "How old
are you?" and "Are you married?' can also get you into hot water.
It helps to have coaching through this process, or hiring a firm to handle
it for you. In addition, employers get into trouble when they talk too much.
It's tough. We like to talk about ourselves — it's human nature. The point
of the interview is for the employee to sell you on him/her — not for you
to sell the employee on the company.
Background checks. What do you really know about the candidate
sitting in the chair across the table from you? In many situations, only
what she tells you. As a business owner, that's not enough. "Trust, but
verify," as Ronald Reagan was quoted as saying. You want to check all
references. Background checks are crucial. For example, you'll definitely
want to do a credit check if you're a financial services firm; a criminal
convictions check if you're in the security business. Make sure you're up
front with the candidates that these checks are required as a matter of
course. Also, all employees need to fill out Form I-9 — required by the
Department of Homeland Security. Do not hire undocumented workers.
Employee handbooks. Small companies may want to provide a
"kinder, gentler" culture, with abundant vacation and personal
days, but that can really cost you in the long run. Even costlier is being
generous with Employee #1, recognizing the costs, and then being less
generous with Employee #2. Especially if Employee #1 is a 20-something white
male and Employee #2 is a 43-year-old African-American female. With an
employee handbook, you have an opportunity to determine the policies and
procedures that apply objectively to all employees. When you're consistent,
you can deflect many claims of unfair treatment.
Employees can be a skyrocket — or a torpedo — for your business. Before
you step into this thorny area, engage good employment attorneys to help you
navigate it safely. They can guide you on the right way to hire that both
streamlines the process and ensures you comply with federal and state law.
Want more information on employee behavior guidelines? Visit our website,
www.GreatBusinessLawResources.com/employeesbehavingbadly.htm to get your free
copy of our special report, Top 10 Reasons Employees Get Fired.
© 2009 Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning
attorney, edutainer, and Entrepreneur Magazine online columnist and blogger.
Under her Ask The Business LawyerSM umbrella, she reaches thousands of
entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional
speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. For more
information, visit www.AskTheBusinessLawyer.com.