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December 31, 2013

Background Checks – How to Be Fair

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs11:47 am

The last thing an employer needs is to have the reputation of being unfair in employment matters.  Background checks have questioned fairness and have captured our attention since April 25, 2012, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance for employers on arrest and conviction records and how to use them in employment decisions.  While the guidance is not a law, employers should follow the direction closely, since it is a reflection of how the EEOC will interpret an employer’s use of criminal records.

The concern behind the guidance was that some ethnic groups could be affected by disparate impact in employment decisions, due to a disproportionate criminal history.  Employers who generally hire a third-party to perform background checks need to ensure the accuracy of the records they are using to make hiring decisions.  To help employers feel secure in the screening process, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) have developed “an accreditation program for best practices for screening firms that are confirmed by an on-site independent auditor,” according to Talent Management magazine.  Employers can be assured they are dealing with a seasoned professional when they have the NAPBS accreditation and that the information they receive is accurate.

Employers have a big responsibility to establish policies and practices that focus on three important aspects in the consideration of criminal background checks as published by the EEOC:

  1. Nature and gravity of the offense or conduct;
  2. The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and or completion of the sentence; and
  3. The nature of the job held or sought.

It is a good practice to include training or guidance documents for recruiters and hiring managers that specify what types of criminal history will be gathered for particular jobs, how it is gathered, and how it will be evaluated after it is obtained.  Employers should always strive for consistency in their employment decisions and document any supporting reasons for how they arrived at them.  By following the EEOC guidelines in background checks and applying them fairly employers can save themselves a lot of frustration and legal fees!

Source:  Rosen, Lester S.  “Trends in Background Checks for 2014.”


December 27, 2013

HR Fact Friday: How to Get Sued if You are an Employer

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

The California Chamber of Commerce has published an interesting list of the top ten ways an employer can get itself sued. Here is the list:

  1. Classify all employees as exempt whether they are or not;
  2. Be nice to employees and let them take their lunch whenever they want to;
  3. Make everyone an independent contractor because having employees is too much trouble;
  4. Don’t train managers on harassment and discrimination;
  5. Let employees decide their own work hours;
  6. Terminate any employee who takes a leave of absence because leaves are too inconvenient and hard to administer;
  7. Don’t give terminated employees their final pay unless they come to get it;
  8. Lend employees money and deduct it from their pay (note, this is a unique California issue);
  9. Use non-compete agreements (again, a unique California issue); and
  10. Implement a “use it or lose it” vacation policy (unique to California).

December 24, 2013

Start that Project on Tuesday!

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 6:00 am

Have you ever been asked, “What is your most productive time of day?”  For many years, that question was posed to help employees identify the most productive time of day for them to accomplish the most work.  Most people would agree they are more productive in the morning.  However, have you ever thought about what day of the week you are most productive?

Accountemps, a specialized staffing service, recently published a survey that indicated 39 percent of 300 HR managers polled in the U.S. reported Tuesday as the best day for peak productivity.  The survey stated that Thursdays and Fridays are the worst days coming in at 3 percent each.

The Chairman of Accountemps, Max Messmer, commented that, “Many workers spend Monday catching up from the previous week and planning the one ahead.  On Tuesday, employees may begin to have time to focus on individual tasks and become more productive.  The goal should be to maintain the positive momentum established on Tuesday throughout the week.”

The survey included some tips to increase productivity.  One was to “Axe the Excess” by not having a “to do” list so long that it becomes overwhelming and impossible.  Another is to “Know Your Prime Time” for when you are most productive and tackle your most critical tasks then.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish anything unless it is Tuesday, and this new knowledge and self-awareness is not to be used as an excuse to that end!

Source:  Accountemps


December 20, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Recent Settlements and Lawsuits

Filed under: Unions/NLRB — Tags: , 6:00 am

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered a North Carolina trucking company to reinstate three former employees and pay them $1 million in damages for alleged retaliation. OSHA has concluded that the truckers were whistleblowers who were fired after reporting safety concerns. A national produce company has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle claims that workers on the company’s Hawaiian farms were subjected to poor housing, insufficient food, low wages and deportation threats. The settlement resulted from claims of race and national origin discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that arbitration agreements barring employees from pursuing class or collective claims violate federal labor law. The NLRB had held that such collective claims were protected by the employees’ federal rights to engage in concerted activity.


December 18, 2013

Hiring Managers – Train Them!

Often when an employee receives a promotion to a managerial position, they are not always prepared for all the responsibilities that come with it, like managing employees.  Sure, they have knowledge and certain talents, and a solid understanding of the expectations of the job or they wouldn’t have been selected.  But, do they know how to hire skilled, qualified individuals and avoid discrimination?  And, better yet, do they know how to inform an applicant they have been denied the job?  If they don’t, it could cost you $80,000!

In a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled a charge of age discrimination requiring Bay State Milling Company pay $80,185.  The EEOC’s suit charged that Bay State Milling Company discriminated against Gary Legore, a qualified applicant, when the hiring manager for the vacant miller position rejected him because of this age.  The hiring manager informed Legore of the company’s desire to hire a younger individual for the job.  [Italics are mine.]  The company ultimately hired a 22-year-old with less experience than Legore.  Ouch!

An EEOC official stated, “When a company is seeking someone to fill a vacant position, it is important that it looks to an individual’s qualifications and ability to do the job and not to his or her age, which should never be a factor in a company’s decision to hire.”  It is clear the EEOC does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and neither should you!

Training managers to be successful in a new position (or an established one) is imperative.  Giving them practical guidelines for interviewing and conversing with an applicant will help them practice focusing their attention on job-related information and the applicant’s qualifications using an unbiased view.  Hiring managers will appreciate your assistance and value the trust you have placed in them to build a skilled workforce.

Contact HRN for more information about hiring policies and other useful tools for managers.




December 12, 2013

HR Fact Friday: National Report Finds Drug Testing Successful

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 5:32 pm

A study from a national provider of health and drug testing services has concluded that the number of positive drug tests is decreasing for employers who engage in regular workplace drug testing. The study concluded that from 1988 to 2012, positive drug test results decreased from 13.6 percent to 3.5 percent. Despite the positive news, the study also showed that the positive test rates for amphetamines has tripled and that positive test rates for prescription opiates has significantly increased. Remember that drug testing is primarily regulated by state laws and thus employers must comply with the applicable workplace drug testing laws of the states where its employees reside.


December 11, 2013

Cultivating Humility for a Competitive Advantage

Filed under: Succession Planning2:48 pm

Business leaders today must have a competitive advantage to simply maintain stability in the ever-changing, fast-paced environment.  Usually, it is a new product using the latest technology, and the ambitious goal of staying one step ahead of industry competitors.  What if you could gain a competitive advantage by looking inward at your leaders’ attributes – in particular, humility?

Research published by the University of Washington, Foster School of Business identified humility as “a three-part personality trait consisting of an accurate view of the self, teachability, and appreciation of others’ strengths.”  Humble leaders were found to be those individuals behind the scenes, instead of searching for the limelight.  They provide gentle guidance for employees and let their talent and hard work speak for themselves.

Michael Johnson, co-author of the research study and associate professor of management at the Foster School, stated, “Our study suggests that a ‘quieter’ leadership approach – listening, being transparent, being aware of limitations, and appreciating follower strengths and contributions – is an effective way to engage employees.”  Also noteworthy, the study found that humility can compensate for lower levels of intelligence, giving it strength as a better predictor of performance.

Imagining that humility makes for a successful leader is somewhat difficult because not everyone is born naturally humble.  Johnson pointed out that humility, like patience and other virtues, can be developed.  If individuals focus on the three-part personality traits aforementioned, they will find themselves being much more effective in many areas of life.  Make “humility” a desired leadership quality and add it to your list of objectives for success.

Source:  Smith, Michelle M.  “Humble Leadership:  The Research Shows It’s a Competitive Advantage.”


December 6, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Senate Passes Antidiscrimination Bill but House Will Not

Filed under: Discrimination — Tags: , 6:00 am

The United States Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit, on a national basis, workplace discrimination against persons based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. However, leaders in the House of Representatives have indicated that the bill will not be approved there, so it is unlikely to become law. Nevertheless, this is the first time a body of Congress has approved such a bill, so it may well become law someday soon. About half the states already prohibit such discrimination. Utah, though not one of them, has over a dozen local governments (cities and counties) that have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many employers already also prohibit such discrimination by company policy.


December 4, 2013

Having an Office Party without Legal Issues

Filed under: Legal Issues11:28 am

One thing leads to another.  It is true – winter, holidays, parties!  It is that time of year when HR professionals get nervous!  They realize that holiday office parties are common and that they can improve morale, employee communication, and show that an organization cares about its people.  As we all know, nothing in HR is simple and without consequence.

Mark Toth, Chief Legal Officer at Manpower Group NA and author of The Employment Blawg, reported that 83 percent of employers plan holiday celebrations this year, which is higher than last year’s 68 percent, but still below 90 percent in 2007.  Other statistics he shared indicate that 54 percent of employers are having employee-only parties without guests and only 48 percent plan to serve alcohol.

Here are some tips for the ever vigilant HR pros:

  • Be inclusive.  Make sure that company gatherings don’t intentionally (or more likely unintentionally) exclude individuals within your organization.  Your employees may differ greatly in terms of religion, age, ethnicity, marital status, background, and interests, so be sensitive to those differences.  Make all feel welcome, but do not make attendance mandatory or give it the appearance of being mandatory. 
  • Invite guests.  Encourage employees to bring spouses or significant others.  This may help to discourage bad behavior by employees.
  • Inform employees.  Besides giving the time and place, employees should be reminded that company behavior standards are just as applicable off site as on site.  Employees should understand that corrective action will follow for those “behaving badly” and who say or do things that are inappropriate. 
  • To serve or not to serve.  Soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages should be plentiful as should food.  If serving alcohol, hire a professional bartender that will help prevent underage drinking and will know when someone has had enough.  Try drink tickets, limiting individuals to a certain number of alcoholic beverages.
  • Managers are managers.  While managers are employees too, and they should be able to enjoy themselves, it is important to make known the expectations for them while at the party.  They should be setting a good example, they should support the bartender, and they remain responsible for their employees even though it is a party.

Mixing and interacting in a more relaxed environment with employees can go a long way in building trust and loyalty and can make a good impression on their guests.  Using these reminders, you can have a great party and a fun experience, with no regrets or legal action!

Source:  Toth, Mark.  Manpower Group.  “How to Have a Holiday Party without Going to Jail.”  Available here.


November 27, 2013

Let Me Introduce Myself!

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs11:25 am

Recruiters know how exhausting it is to read through hundreds of resumes to find the right candidate.  Poring over paper resumes with only facts (we hope!) and statistics, void of much personality is difficult for HR professionals, not to mention how the hiring managers must feel.  It can truly be overwhelming!  Hiring managers trust recruiters to find the perfect candidate.  But, try as they might, the selection of candidates presented to hiring managers can fall flat, even though all the criteria for the desired talent has been met.  To a hiring manager, reading through just a fraction of the resumes may be viewed as a waste of their time or is just not their first priority, so decisions for interviewing get delayed, and the best candidates are missed.

What if recruiters could present candidates by means of a short video?  Candidates can make a short video, perhaps 90 seconds or so, to introduce themselves and to highlight their talent.  It can bring a resume to life, if you will, and help a hiring manager to see who they wish to interview and whose talents they wish to explore further.

The video introduction is not just for candidates though, recruiters and other professionals may find this an easy way to introduce themselves to potential job seekers or business associates, giving viewers a sneak peek of those to whom they may be entrusting their future.

And, of course, a disclaimer for employers to not let appearance dissuade them from interviewing a candidate as that could be discriminatory, which is illegal.  By keeping an open mind when interviewing and acknowledging diversity as a way to bring in top talent will enable employers to obtain the best employees to grow the organization into one that will be sustainable come what may.

Read more about the benefits of video interviewing here.

Source:  Sackett, Tim. “How You Can Introduce Job Candidates in 90 Seconds.”

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