Human Resources

Finding the right employees and properly managing them is one of the most important things a business owner will ever do. But before you place that first want-ad, assess the mission of your business and your personal objectives

Also keep in mind that employees require more of you as a manager. You will need to develop skills in leadership, delegation and training. You will also need to be aware of employment laws and the process of recruiting, retaining and terminating employees.

FAQs

What are the first steps in hiring employees?

First, create your objectives for hiring an individual. Identify what you want the employee to accomplish and what resulting benefit that employee will produce. Prepare a job description and performance standards, and set up procedures to guide the hiring process. These will include setting up a selection team (if appropriate), identifying the beginning and ending date for the recruitment process (as well as an employment start date), selecting appropriate media to post the opening, and preparing written materials such as the employment application, job announcement, and interview questions. Make sure the process is written down and followed, to assure consistency with each candidate.

How do I prepare an employment application?

The employment application contains a section for the prospect’s contact information (usually name, address, and phone); a section for previous employment history; and a section for other qualifying information (e.g. special skills) as well as reference names, addresses, and phone. Include a statement that giving false information on the application is grounds for termination and ask the applicant to sign the application. Requests for information on age, gender, race, religion, or national origin, and other protected information may not be included. An exception may be if this information is critical to performing a specific job (such as recruiting for a member of an all-woman basketball team).

An employment application is necessary to collect vital employee information and all employees must complete one. However, in the recruitment phase, you may request that prospects send resumes, which summarize their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and often gives you insight on their objectives. Since resumes are concise, you will be able to screen prospects easily and identify those that warrant further attention.

How do I advertise for employees?

You must prepare a job announcement that includes position title, description of duties, attractive job features, qualifications required, and how to apply (add EEO notices of non-discrimination as appropriate). If you have identified a salary or wage range; posting it will help you screen those who will work at that rate. Although companies often place “blind” ads, including information about the company may be helpful in recruiting candidates. You should also make personal contacts in your industry, with peers, associations, employee referrals, etc. to aid the recruitment process. Post the job announcement in appropriate newsletters, web sites, newspapers, college job placement offices, or trade journals, etc.

What should I do when I receive completed applications or resumes?

Sort through applications or resumes to find the best matches to your job criteria. Evaluate applications for completeness and logic to catch misleading information. Keep an eye out for gaps in work history, time in a job, and accomplishments. Select a pool of candidates to interview and schedule them within a one- to two-week period. If a candidate lives out of town, you may need to be prepared to cover travel costs.

How do I conduct a job interview?

Review the criteria you have established for the position, prepare a list of measurable criteria to compare with other candidates, be prepared to answer questions about your company, and set specific appointment times and reasonable time allotments. Develop interview questions that are the same for all candidates and are specifically job-related. When developing questions, be sure to use EEO guidelines to avoid the appearance of discrimination. If your company is large enough to fall under the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, be prepared to identify ways to provide reasonable accommodation.

You should also familiarize yourself with good listening skills such as anticipating the answer to the question (so you can contrast and compare), probing for evidence (to build upon points made by the candidate), paraphrasing statements and periodically recapitulating (to insure understanding). You will also create a more relaxing environment for the candidate by assuring you are relaxed and the interview room is pleasant and inviting.

What should I do after interviews are complete?

Evaluate and rank candidates based on the criteria you established. If none or few of the candidates meet the criteria, you may need to begin the recruitment phase again. You may also reassess your criteria to be sure it is realistic for the work to be performed. Once you have identified several candidates, check their references to verify employment and, if possible, gain some perspective on the prospect’s success in prior jobs. Listen carefully to the references comments as they will likely not offer any criticism, but focus only on the prospect’s best attributes.

Based on the reference’s comments you may request another meeting with the candidates to narrow down your selection. Once you have reached a decision, contact the successful candidate and offer the position. Only after the offer has been made and accepted may you request a drug test. You may request the prospective employee pass a drug test at your expense, especially if the employee must operate motor vehicles or equipment.

Once the employee is on the job, how do I make sure it is being done the way I expect?

Use the first few days to orient the employee. Provide a copy of your employee manual and review it with the employee to clarify policy and procedures. Review the job duties and performance criteria you have established and assign some tasks. Introduce the employee to the work environment and fellow employees. You may want to designate an employee to mentor the new staff member. Assess the employee’s immediate training needs and arrange to fulfill them.

During the first 90 days, meet regularly with the employee and offer guidance. Avoid assigning critical tasks while the employee is still getting familiar with the job duties and work environment. Gradually add higher-level duties as the employee masters components of the job. give the employee regular feedback and refer to the written job description and performance criteria.

Be sure to reward the employee for exceeding your expectations. If the employee needs training you cannot provide, make the necessary arrangements.

What if my employee makes a lot of mistakes or exhibits inappropriate conduct?

First look to yourself for answers. Have you provided adequate supervision and training? Does the employee have the necessary tools and space to perform the job? Does the job require a specific skill the employee does not have? Has the employee had enough time to master the important duties of the job? If you have addressed these questions, but performance is inadequate there are several steps you may take.

If the problem was discussed as a cause for termination, you would be justified in terminating the employee. If not, provide appropriate warnings and assist in corrective action. Begin your warnings with a conversation. If the problem is not corrected, prepare and deliver up two written reprimands, the last of which identifies termination as the next step. Along the way, document everything and place in employee’s file. It is very helpful if you have a witness to these meetings although care must also be taken to assure the employee’s confidentiality. Provide additional training support as needed. Be careful to honor any labor relations agreements you have made concerning employee discipline and corrective action.

Online Resources

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

State

Federal

Behavior Management
Benefits and Compensation Packages

State

Federal

Employment Law - Federal
  • U.S. Department of Labor  Provides easy-to-understand information about federal employment law.
  • Compliance Assistance – U.S. Department of Labor  information on how to comply with federal employment laws to help employers and employees comply with U.S. Department of Labor laws and regulations.
  • elaws Guide  describes the major statutes and regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers. The Guide is designed mainly for those needing “hands-on” information to develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies for businesses.
  • The elaws Advisors  Hosted by the US Department of Labor. The site offers interactive e-tools that provide easy-to-understand information about a number of federal employment laws.
  • United States Department of Labor – Employment Law Guide  information on wages, health plans and benefits, the family and medical leave act and laws, regulations, and technical assistance services.
  • BenefitsLink
    Employee benefits compliance information and tools. Site includes “benefits buzz” with links to hundreds of articles and “Q&A Columns”.
  • Businesses with Employees
    Part of the IRS site providing information and tax legalities for hiring, record keeping and other critical issues for small businesses with employees.
  • Office of Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Guide for Small Businesses  ADA compliance guide for small businesses from the Department of Justice.
  • Drug-Free Workplace
    Dept. of Labor site that provides drug-free workplace information, fact sheets and policy development.
  • eLaws
    Part of the Department of Labor’s Web site including employment laws assistance for workers and small business. Includes interactive tools and forms.
  • Employer W-2 Reporting Instructions and Information
    Part of the Social Security Administration’s Web site. Provides forms and instructions for payroll reporting.
  • Employment Law Guide
    Part of the U.S. Department of Labor web site. Laws, regulations and technical assistance services.
Employee Reviews
Hiring/Retraining/Firing
Layoff Avoidance

Businesses can avoid layoffs with Shared Work

By Chad Pearson, Shared Work Marketing Manager, Employment Security Department

It can happen to any business. Demand for your product or service slips. Maybe the market goes in the tank. All you know is your business is in a fix, and you’ve got hard decisions to make.

You don’t want to lay off your skilled employees, but what else can you do to cut costs?

The Employment Security Department provides an alternative. It’s called Shared Work.

Under the program, businesses can reduce the hours of permanent employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of skilled employees.

Sterling Ramberg, co-owner of The Gear Works, had this to say about Shared Work: “We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our employees’ training and couldn’t afford to lose them. Shared Work helped us avoid that.”

The flexibility of the program also makes it attractive. Your business can enroll some or all of your employees. You use it only when needed, and you can vary each employee’s reduction anywhere from 10 to 50 percent per week.

Recent surveys show that Shared Work helps keep skilled workers, reduces payroll costs and improves employee morale. Employers who have used the program consistently recommend it to others.

To learn more, watch our Shared-Work video, visit www.esd.wa.gov/shared-work or call 800-752-2500.

Reports, Data & Tools

Washington State Employment Security Department provides several research tools: https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/reports-publications

Retirement Plans
  • 401khelpcenter.com
    Updates on 401k trends, legislation, discussions, opinion, news, products and events. Includes information on small business retirement plans in the “Small Business Channel”.
  • freeERISA.com
    Provides the latest available pension and benefit information for U.S. employers. Contains information on retirement and welfare benefits of groups as the data appear on Form 5500 and/or 5500 C/R.
  • Understanding Solo 401(K) Plans
    An individual, or solo, 401(k) plan may offer a better combination of benefits for a small business setting up an initial retirement plan or switching to a different plan.
Safety and Health
Sexual Harassment
  • Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policies
    It’s imperative that you provide a safe and comfortable working environment for your employees (from Entrepreneur).
  • Sexual Harassment
    Section of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Web site defining sexual harassment with links to enforcement guidance and policy documents for employers and employees.
Supervisory Training