With employment laws constantly changing and frequent hiring (especially with the holidays coming up), it is important for businesses to implement best practices, recruit the best candidates and prevent the potential for lawsuits.
When beginning the hiring process it is important that there is a solid understanding of the open position(s) and to detail those responsibilities in an extensive written job description complete with a requirements section and additional information (hours worked, salary, etc.). This will go a long way in providing prospective candidates with helpful criteria, and weeding out unqualified candidates.
As businesses experience growth, hiring decisions must be made to promote business objectives and avoid potential issues with “problem employees.” This may sound simple, but the best way to address problem employees is by not hiring them in the first place. The following are some practices that can be implemented to ensure efficiency, hiring compliance, and avoiding hiring mistakes:
1. Use Job Applications
Job applications are typically an employer’s first line of communication with a prospective employee. Effective applications ask for detailed job and education history, references, and assurance that the information provided is accurate. If used in conjunction with a background check, discrepancies between the check and the application may surface and raise valid concerns about the candidate. For instance, significant gaps of time between employment and/or several employers within a short period of time.
However, do not completely avoid candidates with varied backgrounds and experiences. Often, people take time off to raise families, travel, and follow respective passions. Therefore, being too formal and rigid on this issue can be a mistake. Additionally, employers must ensure that all applications and background checks comply with applicable federal, state, and local law.
Also, because of the dominance of social media it is not uncommon for employers to look up potential hires via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. However, this is limited to only the information the candidate has made available to the general public. Therefore, as a Michigan employer it is illegal and a violation of privacy for you to require a candidate (or employee) to provide their social media password(s). Additionally, the federal government is currently looking into whether these hiring tactics violate federal discrimination and privacy laws.
2. The Interview
An interview is likely the next step for a potential employee whose application is satisfactory. When considering a candidate an efficient tool is conducting the interview via phone or webcam. This initial interview will (1) permit the employer to get a better understanding of the candidate and (2) the candidate can obtain more information about the position. This process will assist both sides in determining whether the other is an ideal fit. Depending on the outcome of the phone interview, an onsite interview is warranted and preparation is key to ensure key information is obtained that can be reviewed later when making the hiring decision. Utilize closed and open-ended questions effectively to obtain additional information about skills and qualifications.
Regardless of which type – interview over the phone or in-person — the questions being asked must respect the candidate’s privacy and avoid inquiries about religion or any other topics that could result in a discrimination lawsuit.
3. Establish At-Will Employment
Once a candidate becomes an official employee it is important communicate all policies of the business including the terms of employment, e.g. at-will employment. Employees often attempt to claim that their termination was without “good cause,” and therefore, the employer is liable for breach of contract. Sometimes employees will attempt to create contracts for good cause termination by alleging promises of continued employment, progressive discipline policies, or historical treatment of employees at the company. Employers can curtail such claims by having employees acknowledge, in writing, that their employment is “at will” meaning that the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time or for any (lawful) reason. While it is good practice to memorialize performance problems and reasons for termination, at-will employment status makes terminations easier to justify, by eliminating any “good cause” requirement.
It is also prudent to periodically update the employee handbook to ensure, that the stated policies and procedures are in compliance with laws and guidance from regulatory agencies.
Although these practices are nowhere near exhaustive, they will assist with providing a business with the hiring tools needed ensure a thriving and profitable workplace.