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March 2, 2015

Putting Job Descriptions under the Microscope

Filed under: ADA & Disability,Hiring & Jobs4:41 am

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by Joyce Marsh, SPHR, Sr. HR Consultant

Job descriptions. They’re something every human resource person and manager know are important, but keeping them current and pertinent can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Having the most accurate job descriptions for your employees not only ensures everyone is on the same page on duties and responsibilities, but they can help protect your organization from facing disability discrimination claims.

If your business has at least 15 employees, you need to ensure that your job descriptions correctly identify what all the essential job functions are of each position – and list any specific tools or resources needed. Here are six steps to  help ensure that all of your current and potential employees have the most comprehensive job descriptions:

  1. Collect Information and Analyze
    Why not start at the source? Interview your employees and managers about the various positions. Use questionnaires. You might even want to take some time to casually observe your employees in their positions to confirm that your descriptions are correct.
  2. Use Visual Aids
    If an employee needs specific resources or equipment for their job, include a photo of what they are. Or, depending on the position, you could videotape the individual performing their job.
  3. Identify Hazards
    Include any hazardous exposure disclosures that safety laws require.
  4. Describe the Environment
    Is the position indoors or outdoors? Is there easy access from one floor to the next (stairs and/or elevator)?
  5. Mental and Physical
    Be sure the job description includes employer expectations outlining mental and physical requirements, education and training plus any attendance or schedule requirements.
  6. Making Distinctions
    As with anything, there’s a difference between what’s required and what would be “nice to have.” There’s no place in a job description for the latter. Only include what an employee needs to get the job done.

Writing Those Descriptions

When it comes to sitting down and actually writing the job descriptions, you’ll want to: use simple and concise language with active verbs; try not to include any industry jargon that outsiders may not comprehend; use a consistent format throughout all your job descriptions; and have supervisors and employees verify the information. Combine these and the six steps above and you’ll have comprehensive job descriptions to keep everyone on the same page and the Americans with Disabilities Act satisfied.

 

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February 16, 2015

Internal or External Hires – Which is Best?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs,HR Consulting3:14 am

 

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by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant, HR Performance Solutions

In an ideal world, HR would be able to hire the perfect mix of internal and external candidates to keep their company running smoothly and its staff happy. Unfortunately, none of us work in a perfect world! So, that leaves HR with the internal vs. external quandary for most of their hires. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for when to hire internally or externally, here are some pros and cons of both options:

Internal Hiring 

Pros

  • Increased engagement
  • Quicker onboarding
  • Less expensive
  • Better cultural fit

Cons

  • Potential for less innovation
  • Internal politics
  • Biased hiring
  • Fewer applicants
External Hiring 

Pros

  • Fresh ideas
  • Larger talent pool
  • Increased diversity
  • Avoid internal politics

Cons

  • Less cost-effective
  • Longer onboarding
  • May not fit company culture
  • Possible detriment to staff morale

These lists of pros and cons only skim the surface of the components HR considers when making the decision of internal vs. external hiring. If you look at the numbers, the majority of positions are filled with external candidates. The SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Database shows that in 2013, 66% of positions were filled externally compared to 26% internally.

Decisions, Decisions …

Each company and each position is different and has different needs. HR will usually make its internal/external hiring decision based on whether the position requires collaboration, if the skillset is unique to the company, what the internal supply of talent actually is and any changes within the company or industry. Whichever approach your HR department decides to take, it needs to consider these factors when making a decision:

  • Thoughtful Job Descriptions
    If you find you’re using the same tired, canned job descriptions every time and getting unsatisfactory hires, it might be time to breathe new life into what’s written. Be sure the language you choose is universal and not limited to just what an internal candidate would understand. Take some time to see how the competition is handling job descriptions. Many industries are opting for more fun yet realistic job descriptions versus the old, worn out ones.
  • Beware of Biases
    No one is without bias. But in HR, you can’t let that affect any decision you make. Don’t fall for any pressure to hire from within if that’s not the best decision for the company. Take a hard look at your hiring practices to see if there’s more of an internal or external trend and then determine why it may favor one over the other.
  • Take a Good Look at What Makes You Unique
    Every company and its culture are truly unique. Take a good, objective look at what makes your organization and the positions unique. This will help the HR team better weave its new hires and the company culture into a more tightly-woven and cohesive entity.
  • Think Succession Planning
    Make sure you know the movers and shakers within your company and those that do their best to fly under the radar and take that into consideration when new positions open up. Keep upper management up-to-date on who’s moving up and who is stalled out. This lets you be proactive when it comes to succession planning.
  • Don’t Stop Onboarding

If you think that once the new hires have been shown their desk and gone through orientation that onboarding is done, think again. To the new hires, onboarding can be a long, slow process. Make sure they get to spend quality time with not only the team they’ll be working with but with upper management as well. The more employees feel like they understand and are part of the big picture, the more welcome they’ll feel and the harder they’ll work.

Let HR Performance Solutions and its HR consultants help your organization with its recruiting, hiring or onboarding process. Contact us today for more information.

 

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November 13, 2014

News Reports Say Positive Employee Drug Tests On the Rise

Filed under: Drugs,Hiring & Jobs2:26 pm

A national employment law firm news site is reporting that the rate of employee positive drug tests has increased for the first time in about a decade. The entity making the study handles drug testing from employers all across the country. The study indicated that use of marijuana and amphetamines have fueled the increase, notably in the states of Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana use is now legal under state law.  You can read the news report here.

With the voters in two more states, Alaska and Oregon, along with Washington D.C. recently passing recreational use of marijuana, we aren’t likely to hear the end of this topic any time soon.  Keep your eye on this subject, as other states have pending legislation.

 

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October 17, 2014

What You Post May Be Held Against You!

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 8:15 am

A recent CareerBuilder.com survey reported that employers are turning more often to social networking sites to screen potential candidates.  In fact, 51 percent of employers said they did not hire a candidate because of the content they found on the candidate’s social media.  If social media wasn’t enough to get the scoop on an applicant, 45 percent of employers responding use Google search engine to dig up whatever shows up on candidates.

Three areas of researching social media were examined closely:

Most common reasons not to hire a candidate:

  • Inappropriate photographs – 46 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. – 28 percent
  • Unprofessional screen name – 21 percent

Content that made the candidate look more appealing:

  • Good feel for candidate’s personality; good fit for culture – 46 percent
  • Social media site conveyed professionalism – 43 percent
  • Other people posted positive references about the candidate – 30 percent 

What the candidate posted about themselves and what others posted about them:

  • Profile included links to an escort service
  • Posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Featured a pig as his closest friend 

Job candidates need to promote themselves on social media, but posts need to be professional and in good taste.  And, don’t forget to Google yourself.  You may be surprised that the angry complaint you posted about a local liquor store three years ago still shows up!  Be careful, because what you post may cost you a job!

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September 4, 2014

Interesting News Briefs from the World of HR Law

Filed under: FLSA,Hiring & Jobs,Legal Issues4:36 pm

In an interesting test of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption regulations, a well-known national retailer has been sued in California by employees alleging that the company improperly classified its store assistant managers as exempt employees.  This lawsuit is a good reminder of how important it is to have updated job descriptions to determine the exempt or nonexempt status of all positions within an organization.  The Department of Labor website provides general information to determine exempt status.  Click here.

A national retail provider of rent-to-own merchandise (appliances, furniture, etc.) has been sued under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act with the plaintiffs in the case alleging that the company used a third party to run background checks but did not provide copies of the same before taking adverse action against applicants and employees (e.g. denying or terminating employment) based on the background check results. The lawsuit is pending in Georgia.  This is a great example of the importance of knowing the law!  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides excellent guidance to employers and employees on background checks from each perspective.  You can check those out for employers here, and for employees here.

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August 21, 2014

Recruiting Top Talent – Is the Recession the Only Blame?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs9:59 am

The national average of time to fill an open position in June reached 24.9 working days, including the time to post, source, and hire.  Compared to the recessionary period in the summer of 2009, the time to fill has increased by nearly ten days, when the average was 15.3.

During the recession the talent pool was overflowing with applicants.  Hundreds of r­ésumés flooded recruiters in response to a single job posting.  The response left recruiters thinking they could be choosy and wait for the top talent to show, which generally during the recession worked.  Now, other problems are factoring in to the long time-to-fill open positions, such as:

  • Waiting too long to make an offer risks the loss of the top candidate.
  • Unable to find skilled workers in the talent pool.
  • Expecting no learning curve, thus fostering an unwillingness to accept candidates that may need only minimal training.
  • There is simply more job openings, 4.7 million at the end of June, compared to 4 million in June, 2013. 

Employers should examine recruitment and hiring processes to ensure they are streamlined and efficient and make changes wherever they find obstacles.  Performing this self-audit will clearly define the company’s acceptable standards for recruitment and hiring and will help find and hire a solid, talented workforce quickly.

 

Source:  Zappe, John. “Employers Find That Time-to-Fill Job Rates Are Growing, Hit 13 Year High.”  Available here.

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June 5, 2014

Zappos – Non-Traditional Workplace or Innovative Trendsetter

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs12:10 pm

A few months ago, Zappos, an online shoe retailer, announced it was restructuring its workforce into “circles” eliminating hierarchy by having no job titles and no managers.  This type of structure is known as a “holacracy.”  Within a holacracy, leadership still exists.  What it does is distribute leadership into each role, holding employees personally accountable, and rotating leadership among those in the circle.  This is definitely not a traditional organizational structure!

Now, Zappos is making another unique change – eliminating job postings.  The retailer plans to hire about 450 workers this year.  Though Zappos will be using social media, it is not what you may think!  They have created Zappos Insiders, a social network that candidates can join and become acquainted with current employees of the company.   The theory behind this method is to allow recruiters to be more efficient and effective by creating a constant pool of candidates that could be ready-made hires.  Recruiters can gauge cultural fit and skills of the candidates by asking specific questions and holding contests then using a separate software to organize the responses.  So, not only are job postings gone, but so are the plethora of resumes’ to wade through!

It will be interesting to see how this cutting-edge practice evolves and if other organizations will follow suit.  But, we in HR always have questions:

  • Will a social network glean more personal information about candidates than a company needs?
  • Will it help Zappos avoid costly bad hires?
  • Will candidates grow tired of waiting to be selected?

Before you try to walk a mile in Zappos shoes (eliminate job postings in your company) you may want to just curiously watch the success of Zappos in pioneering this new trend!

Source:  Auriemma, Adam. The Wall Street Journal. “Zappos Zaps Its Job Postings.”  Available here.

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April 24, 2014

Wanted: Soft Skills!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs8:18 am

Positive, Reliable, Respectful, Grateful, Professional.  No, this is not a list on how to flatter your boss, but rather what your boss is looking for in employees.  These are soft skills – those intrinsic skills that generally are not something you can teach, but are part of an individual’s personality.  CareerBuilder.com conducted a survey recently that reported that “16 percent of employers said soft skills are more important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job.”  This translates to the fact that not only are your experience and knowledge important and needed, but that personality matters!

Here are the top ten most popular soft skills according to the survey:

  1. Candidate has a strong work ethic – 73 percent
  2. Candidate is dependable – 73 percent
  3. Candidate has a positive attitude – 72 percent
  4. Candidate is self-motivated – 66 percent
  5. Candidate is team-oriented – 60 percent
  6. Candidate is organized, can manage multiple priorities – 57 percent
  7. Candidate works well under pressure – 57 percent
  8. Candidate is an effective communicator – 56 percent
  9. Candidate is flexible – 51 percent
  10. Candidate is confident – 46 percent

Analyzing the list above reveals many desirous qualities that contribute to the successful operations of an organization.  Many individuals who simply list their soft skills, but who don’t actually demonstrate them with examples in an interview, will fail to get the job.  Soft skills can be honed only by the employee/applicant.  An employer can teach an employee to perform a task, but cannot teach them to have a great personality!

 

 

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April 23, 2014

Engineer Demand is High – Good News for College Graduates!

Filed under: Compensation,Hiring & Jobs7:22 am

College graduates studying engineering have something to cheer about!  Bloomberg-BNA recently reported soaring demand for engineers in the manufacturing field, particularly for automation engineers.  Salary increases in this area have been relatively modest according to several salary surveys.  In part, this is due to retiring Baby Boomers.  Replenishing the gaps their departures have created is more difficult as less students are taking these college courses.

In the last few years, we have seen a trend in the return of some of our manufacturing base to the United States which will likely increase demand also.  Alan Carty, President and CEO of Automation.com and Automationtechies, a recruiting service for engineers, told Bloomberg-BNA “Right now, there is probably no career more secure to get into than manufacturing. Within the manufacturing realm, the real shortage is of people who understand automation and process engineering.”

Although demand may be up for this type of engineering, a number of companies are still somewhat reserved in salary offers, partly based on equity issues with their existing employees. Selected engineering positions also require on-the-job learning skills, making the degree the first step in the career.  Another skillset college students should consider is experience with programming and courses such as C++ or Sharp++ often required for automation and aircraft engineers.  The January 2014 Salary Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers says, “Pressing demand for engineers is driving up starting salary offers for engineering majors.”  Petroleum, Computer and Chemical categories round out the top three, but 7 out of 10 highest starting salaries are engineering positions.

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April 18, 2014

Did You Know . . . HRN Offers Job Descriptions?

Filed under: Compliance,Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 6:00 am

When writing job descriptions, do you get as tongue-tied as a fifth grader trying to spell “onomatopoeia” at a spelling bee?  Job Descriptions Plus from HRN Performance Solutions is a collection of more than 650 job descriptions written by HR and legal experts and can save you time, money, and potential litigation.  Don’t settle for those too-good-to-be-true free cookie cutter job descriptions.  A great job description clearly defines the role, responsibilities, and performance requirements for each job position.

Benefits of Job Description Plus
Job descriptions are an important part of any well-organized company, offering the basis for clear employer/employee communication and sound HR practices. But even creating one position description from scratch can take hours. Job Descriptions Plus makes a difficult task straightforward and simple and will pay for itself with the first description you use.

Features
Job Descriptions Plus is much more than job descriptions – it’s a resource, HR expert, and training tool that not only helps you write effective descriptions but also addresses Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues.

It includes:
* Hundreds of comprehensive, ready-to-use, editable job descriptions covering most functional areas.
* A job description guide, job analysis worksheets and checklists to help you write new descriptions from scratch and maintain current ones.
* ADA Tools to assist in adding appropriate mental and physical job requirements.
* Exempt/nonexempt materials designed to help you apply complex and confusing FLSA tests used in determining who must be paid overtime.
* FLSA Resources provide detailed information regarding exemption issues, how to protect and maintain exempt status as well as address common.
* FLSA questions surrounding “hours worked,” breaks, time off, calculating overtime, paying employees, and recordkeeping.

Sample Job Descriptions
To view sample job descriptions and a list of all included job titles, go to www.hrnonline.com and click on the link for Job Descriptions Plus.

Available in Word
Available in Microsoft® Word and delivered on CD-ROM, Job Descriptions Plus is easy to use and customize.

For more information:
* Visit www.hrnonline.com
* Call toll-free 800.940.7522
* E-mail sales@hrnonline.com

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