Performance Review Time – Should You Keep Doing Them?

 

Its the beginning of the New Year and many companies may be getting ready to produce their employees’ annual performance reviews, so I’m sure the topic of whether or not its worth the time has started to come up.

There are a lot of different opinions out there as to whether or not companies should still be doing “performance reviews” for their employees.  Some say its too time consuming in this day and age.  Others say employees don’t really care because all they want to hear about is a raise.  And even more say that there’s just no purpose anymore.

I disagree.

Performance Reviews are more than just a “necessary evil we have to do once a year.”  Its an opportunity for the manager and the employee to have an open discussion on the employee’s work performance and continued employment with the company.

Today’s employees aren’t building lifelong careers with any one company anymore.  In fact, studies are out that actual encourage employees to change jobs every 3-4 years.  That “job-hopping” that used to be frowned upon in the past now…its acceptable and expected.  Turnover in a company does more than create open positions and slow down production for a short time – it costs the company money.  Money that has to be spent on recruiting the new employee and then training the new employee before they are ready to perform the job by themselves.  Companies that properly use “performance reviews” are able to control that amount of turnover and, quite possibly, find they have employees that they can promote from within again.

Employees today, more than ever, want to know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and what they can do to advance in the company.  Not communicating with the employee shows them that the company doesn’t care about them or their career path and before long, their performance will start to drop.    A negative attitude will develop…employees will begin missing work or coming in late as dedication to the job begins to slide.  By the time their manager finally does come around to giving them a review, all they will focus on is the employee’s poor performance – taking no ownership in the fact that they themselves contributed to the problem.

Performance reviews are basically feedback we give our employees.  While many managers claim it takes too much time and limit it to once a year, it actually should take place more often during the year.  The biggest complaint employees have about the process when its only annual is the manager will only focus on what he or she has done recently.  So, if they were a star employee for 9 months but the last 3 months ran into issues because of family problems, for example, the manager will typically use that as the focal point and the review will talk about how they “need to improve their attendance and performance.”  No wonder employees get frustrated!

If you decide this year to change how you do things and turn it into shorter, but quarterly reviews, the goals you set for the employee will seem more attainable – setting them up for success instead of failure – because you will be discussing the progress throughout the year as issues are coming up.  What you are truly showing your employee is that the two of you are working together as a “team.”

Keep in mind – feedback sessions do not have to be formal reviews.  Call it a “strategy meeting” or “career planning” if it makes it easier for you not to label it a “performance review.”  You will sit down your entire department to talk about a goal and strategize how to accomplish it.  Well, why not do the same with your employees?

These sessions should be two-way feedback sessions with your employees also sharing their observations, expectations and suggestions for both personal and company improvement.  Remember – while you are focused on managing these employees, they are the ones carry out the tasks and will have more insight into the effectiveness of the plans you have put into place.

Talk about what additional training the employee should also look into and whether or not the company would be willing to absorb the cost.  Let them research training and classes on their own to show you how serious they are about improving themselves.  Not all employees will be motivated to do so and that’s okay.  The point is that you created the opportunity for it to exist and by including it in a performance review session, you also have a speaking point to come back to in future sessions.

You don’t need fancy programs or long forms to fill out – keep it simple and stick to only what’s relevant:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Quality of work produced
  • Communication skills: following directions, asking questions, offering help
  • Knowledge of the job
  • Interaction with customers and other employees

And then, set some goals:

  • What is the specific goal as it applies to the employee (not overall for the department)
  • Give a timeline of when you want to see the goals completed
  • What training will the company assist them with or help them find to complete the task
  • What are your expectations: that the employee let you know how things are going, ask for help when needed, make suggestions for changes along the way

That’s it!  Let them know how you feel they are performing right now, what areas you would like to see them improve in and what goals you would like them to work toward before the next discussion.  You are creating a positive and growing environment for the employee and “a happy employee = a productive employee!”

Bonus: By following this method, if an employee’s performance starts to deteriorate and the company decides to end their employment, you now how documentation to show that you (as the company) did try to help the employee improve and can show that the company offered their part in helping improve the matter. 

 

As the Interviewer: Stages of the Interview

There are so many different ways that companies are conducting interviews these days that it begs the question: Should there be different steps in the interview process?

Some will say the process depends on the size of the company…others will say it depends on the level of the position.  But too many times either a vital step is missed or more steps are added that complicate the process and may end in loosing a candidate or having to re-hire again because a candidate didn’t work out.

Not knowing the best way to approach the interview process is really no one’s fault.  The Art of Interviewing is a topic discussed with Jobseekers but never have I seen it as a topic taught from the Interviewer’s perspective.  Like with any HR or Management position, it is just “assumed” that you will know how to interview because you have achieved those roles in your career.  And this is where I have seen mistakes be made.

You have may a process that works well for you and your company….and congratulations if you do!  But for those that find themselves wondering if it could be better or struggling with always seeming to hire “problem” employees that aren’t discovered until after the fact, here is a breakdown that hopefully will help you.

Stage 1:    The Phone Interview

Duration: Typically no more than 15min

For some people, they think the Phone Interview is a waste of time and go right to bringing the candidate in for an in-person interview.  However, you are missing a key opportunity especially if this is a candidate that will be working on the phone in any capacity with your customers.

The main purpose of conducting a phone interview is to hear the person’s phone etiquette.  Are they quiet and timid or are they hyper and interrupting?  Do they speak clearly?  Do you perceive any attitude when they are answering you that your customers may misinterpret?

Questions are by the Interviewer are typically: questions about the current job that they have, what interested the candidate about your job opening and the “why do you feel you are a fit for this job?”  Based on the impressions over the phone, you decide whether or not to go to Stage 2.

Stage 2:  First In-person Interview with HR

Duration: Typically 30-45min

Here is where many Managers just don’t understand why HR has to get involved to interview.  After all, when it comes to doing the job (especially if it is technical or specialized) how can HR really be a good judge about who would be a “good hire” and who wouldn’t?  The purpose of the “first interview” is not to find your ideal candidate right off the bat, but to serve as a “gatekeeper” to weed out all of those that may not be a good representation of the company or a fit with the company’s culture.

Your HR person is looking for a “personality fit” when they first meet with the candidates:

  • Do they speak clearly?
  • Are they thoughtful when answering questions about their background?
  • Do they show they can think on their feet when asked questions about past problems they have encountered?
  • Are they a personality a fit for the company and how it projects itself to its customers?
  • Would they bit a fit with the other employees?
  • Are they looking for more career-wise than the company is able to offer to where they may become dissatisfied quickly?
  • What are their reasons for gaps, changes in career, leaving previous employers?

They made it past the “check the box” on their resume to get the interview, but now it’s time to see how they answer questions about their experience and aspirations to see if – personality-wise – there is a match with your company.  When HR finds the candidates that they feel fit this requirement, now it’s time to get into their specific skills and experience to see how it relates to the job you are looking to fill.

Stage 3:  Second In-Person Interview with Hiring Manager

Duration: Typically 30-45min

This is where the Manager gets to focus just on the candidate’s background and skills to ask questions to see if they will be able to fill the job you are looking to fill.  Don’t waste your time with some of the typical questions you can find on the Internet such as “Where do you see yourself in 5yrs?”  Remember, that’s the type of questions your HR person has already asked to see if they would have a future with the company.

Make the most of your time by focusing on “if” and “how” this candidate in front of you would be able to:

  • Come up to speed to do the job you are hiring for or will they need more time to train and become accustomed…
  • Are they technically up to par with the skill set you are looking for or, with a little time and training, could you train them up to be the ideal employee…
  • How well do they seem to listen to direction – do they listen to you or interrupt you when asking questions…
  • Do they offer ideas and suggestions based on past experience as answers to the questions you pose…

Let’s face it – you are looking for that employee that can hit the ground running right after their first day, so use this time to uncover if they will be able to work with you (as their manager) and do the job efficiently so you can quickly make a choice on your new hire.

Optional:  Reference Checks

Today’s jobseekers often wonder if companies ever do call on references before hiring them and, in all honesty, many companies don’t…mainly because they don’t think it will get them any insight into a candidate as they are expecting.  So, as a result, jobseekers don’t want to share references in the early stages of interviewing (and they really shouldn’t be required to) and employers aren’t taking the time to do their research.

With social media today, there are so many ways to “reference check” an employee to see if they would be a good hire.  Many candidates will have LinkedIn accounts that allows you to see not just their resume, but more about outside activities such as: volunteer positions and articles published, not to mention how professionally they work to appear online (is their photo professional or questionable?).  Same can be said for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram….anything that is set to “public” that you can see – your customers and clients will be able to see to.

But don’t discount the phone inquiry!  Yes, there are companies staying away from offering reference checks because of implied legal retaliation, but some are still willing to share especially if it was a great employee that they were sorry to see go.  Just stay away from family and friends as references.  Even students can offer teachers as references that will give you more of a peek into their personality and ethics.  And don’t pressure an employee to give you a reference from their current employer unless you have already extended a job offer.  Ask for past supervisors and even subordinates. 

You will already have an idea if you want to hire the person or not before you make the call so keep the conversation on how well they carried out their job, how they got along with others, did they have ideas to bring to the table, etc.

Are You Grooming A “Mini-Me”?


“Talent Management” is one of those buzz words flying around lately and everyone will have their own definition of what it is and how they approach it in their company, but in my view Talent Management is just the upgraded version of Mentoring.

Mentoring to me isn’t assigning an experienced employee to a new employee to help them learn the ropes and integrate into the company quicker.  Mentoring is “coaching and training one’s replacement.”  Remember when we were told to do that?  That we should always be training the person that will replace us so that we can move forward in our own careers?

In today’s job market, there may be plenty of applicants to choose from but the best practice has (and should still be) to promote from within first when you have an open position to fill.  Let’s talk the reason why this should be a company’s “best practice”:

  • It takes less time to bring a current employee up to speed with company goals and expectations that a new employee because they will already be vested in the company and ready to hit the ground running.
  • There is also less time spent getting the remaining employees to accept the “new” person in the role as they won’t be viewed as an “outsider” trying to change things from how they have always been.
  • You spent the time and money to train this person when they were a new employee initially so you are saving that money promoting from within.
  • Today’s employees aren’t staying at companies for years on end when they don’t feel that there is some potential for growth, so promoting from within satisfies their desire to grow while saving the company money associated with recruiting an outside person.
  • Promoting from within will also show the remaining employees that your company truly cares about them and their growth – so you win loyalty points from them as well.
  • Finally, its creates the type of company culture – a company that cares – that will also help attract future employees when you are ready to hire from the outside.

Will this approach always be the best fit? Obviously, not as it will depend on the position itself, the company’s need and the pool of talent you have.  But, if you haven’t been practicing this type of “grooming” in your workplace, you may have no idea what skills or talent are already on your payroll!

If your employees know that they may be considered for open positions now or in the future, you will find:

  • Employee productivity will likely pick up as they set out to try and prove themselves in their roles.
  • Employees will be more open to share their ideas and suggestions for change and improvement in the workplace – up to and including new positions they feel should be created to help benefit the company.
  • Some employees may even seek outside skills training (at their own expense) to improve their position in applying for one of these open roles.

So, as you are reviewing or creating your “Talent Management Program” at your company, remember that in addition to reviewing your job descriptions, recruiting strategies, performance reviews and training programs that you have added this long last art of “mentoring” back into your program.

Are All “Employees” Really Created Equal?

equalI recently had a discussion with a manager as to whether or not the Temporary Staffing employees we use during our busy seasons should be entitled to the same benefits as our long-term employees…and I was shocked at our opposing points of view on the matter.

First, what are “Temps? 

Wikipedia defines it as:  Temporary work or temporary employment refers to a situation where the employee is expected to leave the employer within a certain period of time. Temporary employees are sometimes called “contractual”, “seasonal”, “interim”, “casual staff”, “freelance”; or the word may be shortened to “temps”.   Temporary workers may work full-time or part-time, depending on the individual case.

Why employ Temps?

Companies will employ Temps from time to time to help with an increase in workload.  Some will bring them on board to help for only a short period (6-8 weeks seems to be common) and others may keep them on even longer (I’ve seen some Temps employed by a client for as long as a 12-18 months non-stop).

In most cases, companies will utilize Temporary Staffing Agencies to manage the process as a cost-effective solution to fluctuating staffing needs.   Typically, temporary workers earn roughly a third of a permanent counterpart and receive few or no health benefits.

These agencies test and interview their “employees” and then categorize them into a database.  When a company needs a Temp, they simply give the agency the criteria they want the person to fit and then they are sent those that qualify to work assignments.

In some cases, the company only needs the Temp to fill in for a few hours or a few days a week.  While the agency will assign a “minimum” number of hours to pay the Temp for the day called in, the company doesn’t have to work them a full day or a 40 hour week as they would with an Employee.

Using Temp employees is also the company’s way to “test drive” the candidate to see if they have the skill set or work ethic to fit into the company full time.  If a Temp isn’t working out, the company can have them replaced or let go without worrying about paying unemployment.

So, should companies treat Temps equally to Employees?

This is where our difference of opinion occurred.

We had a situation where work was available after hours for a bonus…and instead of offering it to one of the company’s employees, the manager offered it to a Temp instead.  When I questioned this manager on why he chose to use a Temp for a project that we had employees available to take that would have welcomed the additional bonus, he argued that Temps are no different than employees.

The argument he presented was that Temps are no different than Substitute teachers: that we, as students, were taught and expected that we shouldn’t treat them any differently than our regular teachers.  To a point, he is correct.  Temp employees are guaranteed the same protections as regular employees when it comes to harassment and discrimination.  But, where I didn’t agree was with favoring a Temp over an employee when it came to benefits.

Many companies are still struggling to get their benefit and compensation programs back to pre-2008 operations.  Cuts and changes had to be made after the market crash to simply keep many companies running…and this included refraining from awarding raises and bonuses…and employee morale was a side effect of those changes.  So, imagine my surprise when a member of management saw nothing wrong with keeping a long-standing added benefit from the employees and giving it to a Temp instead.  Not only are the employees being denied a potential monetary benefit, but now is the added perceived “threat” that the Temps will be replacing them – further driving employee morale down.

When employee morale starts to decline, it is natural that employees will turn their whole focus to money.  They will begin to feel that the company doesn’t appreciate them so why give 110% anymore.  When raises, perks or other benefits are taken away from them, they begin to perform at just the minimum to perform their job since that’s all they feel they are being compensated for anyway.

When a company starts to show favor to the Temps they have hired, even for a short period of time, you have now started down a very slippery slope that will be that much harder to turn around and come back from.  Temporary employees are a benefit to the company to meet production needs, but…a company needs to remember not to turn their focus away from their long-term, loyal employees if they want them to continue to work for them.

So should Temporary employees be treated equally to a company’s Employees in all aspects?
My opinion – If you really feel that a temporary employee should receive the same (or more) benefits as your regular employees, then maybe you should consider them for employment with your company.  Otherwise, recognize that your loyalty should be to those employees with you year-round not on a situational basis.

What are your thoughts?

Do Not Use Overtime as a “Performance” Award!

thumbsWhether you are a seasoned or new manager – repeat after me:

 “Overtime is not an award for performance.”

Reality: “Overtime” is that necessary evil businesses have to face when a critical job simply needs to get done and it can’t be done within a normal allotted period of time.  Yes – employees like overtime because it means more money in their pockets…and companies hate it because it cuts into their bottom line profits.

So do not get into the habit of viewing overtime as that “extra something” you can provide an employee for doing a great job.

Its sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?…yet, I recently came across a manager who told me just that – he wants to use overtime to reward certain employees.  As he went on to explain, the red flags started popping up like crazy!

When you view overtime as additional compensation you can “provide” to an employee, here are some of the potholes you will encounter:

1)      You will begin to view those employees that can’t work overtime as “non-committed” and even lazy.  It’s a quick judgment call managers tend to make without taking into account the reasons why some employees simply can’t work more than those 40hrs a week you originally hired them for.  This manager actually told me he saw no problem with cutting back on the hours of the employees that wouldn’t volunteer in order to give more overtime to those that would!

2)      You will tend to play “favorite” with certain employees who are always volunteering to work overtime.  This doesn’t give others the chance to earn some overtime or show you how they can be a dedicated employee.  Think about it – its typically a factor brought up during an employee’s performance review.  They become resentful when you point out how they never went “above and beyond” the job…yet, you may be to blame – not them.

3)      Interactions between the employees you “award” overtime and those you do not will become increasingly tense and volatile.  But here we go again – you as the manager will blame the employee for their reaction to the environment that you created.

4)      Overall employee job satisfaction will begin to diminish and you will find them simply doing the bare minimum that is needed to get their job done and not be fired.  Forget trying to get 110% out of them…why should they?  They aren’t being “rewarded.”

Money is one of the biggest driving factors in employee performance and job satisfaction…and nowadays, all employees want to make more money.  But, be smart about how you go about coming up with “creative” ways to make that happen.

A reward for one should never be balanced out with a punishment for another.

Employees Skipping Breaks – Why You Should NOT Encourage It

lunchThe dynamics of the workplace have changed from employees simply punching a timeclock to this world of “working until the job is done”…regardless of the number of hours it takes.  As employers, we push our employees to give 100% and employees, in turn, have had it burned into their brains that they need to give 110% to keep their employer happy…and keep their job.

Speed is the winner in this game: so employers and employees are constantly trying to stay two steps ahead of the competition from working longer hours to constantly checking their smart phones for new emails even late at night while at home.  The worst offenders are salaried employees who simply just don’t know how to turn their work off when they leave the office.

Let’s look at the statistics on this…

CareerBuilder conducted a recent study and found that:

–         32% of employees take less than a half hour break for lunch

–         5% taken less than 15 minutes

–         One in 10 employees never even takes a lunch break

–         16% actually work right through their lunch break

Add the pressure of the job market still not back to pre-2008 standards and I would even venture to guess that those numbers would be higher depending on the industry or current workload.  So while we may be getting more out of our employees, is it the right thing to do?

Laws on breaks will vary from state to state, but in Illinois: “An Illinois employee who is to work 7 1/2 continuous hours or more shall be provided an unpaid meal period of at least 20 minutes. The meal period must be given to an employee no later than 5 hours after beginning work.”  What is not stipulated is whether or not the employer has to require the employee to take their break…and here is where companies can run into hot water if they aren’t careful.

But aside from taking a “legal” look at this, the more important considerations to take into account is how this is affecting your employees work product and job satisfaction…two things that can cost more in the long run with potential worker’s comp issues, excessive time off, and negative attitudes.  And the last one is the hardest to control in this world of Social Media where a “bad day at the office” can lead to a Twitter posting or Facebook status update putting the company in a bad light.

Getting away from their desk…even for 20min…allows them to detach both physically and mentally from the job, giving their brain just enough time to “reset” itself to tackle the rest of the day.

If its something that occurs once in a while, I wouldn’t concern myself.  But, if you are in an industry where employees are working long hours consistently…make sure they take that break!

Employee Reviews Are Useless??

review“They aren’t important…it’s all about the money anyway.”

As much as I hate to admit this – yes, there are managers out there who believe this to be true!  After hearing these words come out a manager’s mouth when I asked when he was going to get the performance reviews for his department completed, I decided to sit down all the managers at my company to explain to them what performance reviews are and why they are important.

While many employees have come to expect a raise to be rewarded at the time of their performance review, managers need to realize that this isn’t the purpose behind them.  Performance Management is a more than just a “review” – its best when used as a check-and-balance method of communication.  Employees today, more than ever, want to know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and what they can do to advance in the company.

The worst mistake a company can make is to avoid giving a performance review because they expect the employee to be looking for a raise.  Not communicating with the employee shows them that the company doesn’t care about them or their career path…and before long, their performance will start to drop.    A negative attitude will develop…employees will begin missing work or coming in late as dedication to the job begins to slide.  By the time their manager finally does come around to giving them a review, all they will focus on is the employee’s poor performance – taking no ownership in the fact that they themselves contributed to the problem.

Performance reviews are basically feedback we give our employees.  While many managers claim it takes too much time and limit it to once a year, it actually should take place more often during the year.  Few goals take an entire year to complete so why wait so long to discuss them?  Keep in mind – feedback sessions do not have to be formal reviews.  Call it a “strategy meeting” or “career planning” if it makes it easier for you not to label it a “performance review.”  You will sit down your entire department to talk about a goal and strategize how to accomplish it.  Well, why not do the same with your employees?

Actually, if you conduct these performance review sessions more often throughout the year (my suggestion is to conduct them quarterly), they will take less time to complete as you will be updating and modifying the goals and expectations you have of your employees as you go along…tweeking it if you will.  These sessions should be two-way feedback sessions with your employees also sharing their observations, expectations and suggestions for both personal and company improvement.  Remember – while you are focused on managing these employees, they are the ones carry out the tasks and will have more insight into the effectiveness of the plans you have put into place.

Tie goals to a performance matrix so they know what they have to do before they can earn a raise and at what level.  Think back to school – you knew what score you had to get in order to receive an A versus a B…put the same concept in place in the workplace.  For revenue-generating positions, this can be tied to profit but even non-revenue positions can have “levels” of success for the employees to strive for.  Talk about what additional training the employee should also look into and whether or not the company would be willing to absorb the cost.  Let them research training and classes on their own to show you how serious they are about improving themselves.

And remember than performance management doesn’t have to be limited to a one-on-one discussion with the employee.  Turn it into a true recognition program!  Have your goal setting session with the employee and once they achieve them, make an announcement to the entire company.  Not only will the employee enjoy the attention paid to their accomplishment, but it will (hopefully) motivate other employees to want to do the same.

In the end, communcation will increase throughout all levels at the company which will in turn boost employee morale and increase performance levels…all of which will lead to an increase in company profit.  Now – doesn’t it seem worth the time to have these “pow wow” sessions with your employees?  And if you feel compelled to award a raise as a result – I would say go with that feeling!

#HRHorrorStories – Day 5 – And The Award Goes To….

Head in HandsIf you have been following the #HRHorrorStories that were shared on #DTHR last week, you were probably thinking “yep, I’ve had that happen to me” or “I’ve had a similar experience.” Those of us that have been in the field for a while think that we’ve heard it all!

Well, get ready cause I’m willing to bet you never had this one happen to you! So, sit down, get comfortable, grab your coffee and drink it first before you read on…this may make you fall off your chair or spit your coffee out.

There were two stories shared – one that opened a lot of discussion about best practices and one that left us all speechless….and in my opinion wins the award for Best HR Horror Story EVER!

The first story was about an HR Manager finding out from another employee who had been surfing the Internet one day that a current employee of the company had been listed on the State’s Sexual Offender list. Of course, we know not to always believe everything that we read on the Internet, so the HR Manager did their due diligence and verified with the State Agency that is was in fact true. Once the employee was questioned, he admitted to the conviction and knowing that he was on the list but had indicated on his job application that he had no past convictions and was terminated that day for lying on his application.

Many companies do like to do background checks prior to hiring – sometimes its as simple as a reference check, sometimes its more involved such as a criminal or financial background check (although I personally think unless you are applying for a financial position, the company is over doing it but demanding a financial background check) and some companies will do a brief Internet check. This is a big reason why we advise jobseekers at any level to “Google yourself” and see what information comes up on the Internet about you including pictures. We do advise jobseekers to also be aware of what they post on Social Media as that may be seem by potential employers as well but not sure many companies actually take the time to check those before hiring.

The example provided also brought up the fact that many states have “Ban the Box” practices now that prevent employers from including questions about your background on the job application. This does make it harder to uncover such situations…but also begs the question: how in-depth of a background do you think your future employee needs? Does it really matter what they have done in the past when they are trying to make a change in their life? If they admit their past mistakes to you, will you hold it against them or praise them for their honesty?

Let me give you some food for thought: An employee with a past conviction for a DUI applies to your company for a position that will not involve him operating machinery or driving a vehicle. Should it matter that he has a DUI conviction? Will you question every time he is late or sick as alcohol-related instead of believing the reasons he tells you? Will it make you view him differently regardless of whether or not he does a good job? See what I mean…there isn’t a perfect answer but its something that every company needs to look at individually to decide.

Now….here’s the award-winning story!

As part of a company’s standard policy, all employees needed to go through a pre-employment physical. In this case, the new employees were allowed to start work immediately pending the results of the drug screen. (Rapid panels drug tests can provide you with immediate results, however proper testing and recording can take up to 24hrs for negative test and 72hrs for positive ones.) Well, this employee failed his drug screen. He was brought it, told of his test results and terminated.

A couple of days later – this ex-employee called HR and asked for a copy of his failed drug test. When HR asked why he wanted it, he said it was because he had bought a Drug Masking kit to guarantee that he would pass so he needed the results in order to go back to the store to ask for a refund on the kit! Of course, the company opted not to provide him with a copy. What the employee also didn’t realize is that many drug tests today are setup to look for those masking agents that have become so popular.

While many employees will try anything to pass a drug screen, companies requiring one as a condition of employment really should wait until the test results have been received before starting them. This saves you time and money spent on getting all their paperwork together and added into your payroll system. It also prevents any case of unemployment to be filed against you – even though they will not have had enough time to make you a chargeable employer, they can still list you as a previous employer if you had already let them start before finding out they failed the drug screen.

There you have it!

For anyone who ever thought that HR was just filling out paperwork and doing payroll, I hope you enjoyed reading all the situations and trials that HR professionals encounter on a daily basis. Yes, most of the stories shared are more common than you think….its just that you must have a great HR person on staff to handle these things so that you never had to know what happens behind the door to the HR office…

#HRHorrorStories Day 3 – Extra Pay & Bad-Mouthing Co-Workers

water_cooler_chat-e129234989560211Continuing the series of #HRHorrorStories on #DTHR, we talked more about some of those common everyday mistakes employees – and managers – can make that can cause real headaches!

We have all had that dream….and even joked with the Payroll Manager about doing it…of finding those mistaken “extra zeroes” at the end of your paycheck. Even in today’s automated world where you think such mistakes can’t happen…they do. It is a Payroll and HR headache when a paycheck mistake is made and needs to be corrected. But what it worse is if the employee knows a mistake was made and not only doesn’t say anything about it but goes ahead and spends the extra money anyway!

Even without needing glasses….you are going to know if you normally get a $340 a week paycheck that a mistake has been made if your paycheck suddenly says $34,000! It today’s horror story – that mistake was made and the employee went out and spent all the money before the company found out. When questioned, he even admitted he knew it was a mistake but figured he would wait to see if the company noticed and came back to him to collect it!

The employee was fired and some of the money was able to be recouped by the company, but it begs the bigger question: What has happened to morals in the workplace when an employee justifies stealing as the “company’s mistake”? Is this the sign of an unhappy work environment? A company can put all kinds of “checks and double-checks” in place to review payroll to catch such mistakes ahead of time, but some errors will still occur – especially when processing larger number of employees – so may be a good idea to look around at your own workplace at your employees and see if you notice any performance “red flags” that may cause them to keep quiet on mistakes like this one.

Our next horror story is one that many #jobseekers actually are concerned about when going for interviews. A Hiring Manager held a 90min interview with a candidate….and not only thought he was a different person applying for a totally different position, but started calling the candidate by the wrong name during the interview! Its embarrassing to the Interviewer but also frustrating to the Interviewee who now feels his/her time was wasted and their candidacy not being taken seriously. And that leaves them with a negative impression of the company.

An interview should be set up and tracked like any other appointment. And Hiring Managers need to be taught that “interviews” should not be viewed as simple “meet-n-greets” where you are only focusing on whether or not there is a match in personality. Yes, Recruiters and HR Managers usually put the candidate through the “grilling” process of uncovering their skills and qualifications in the initial interview but follow-up (or second interviews) should be conducted with the same level of attention and detail. Keep your yourself organized by printing out and bringing with you – to have in front of you – the resume of the person you are interviewing regardless of whether or not you have prepped for it.

Our final horror story is one that many new employees make when just trying to fit in and be accepted by their new fellow employees and supervisors. When asked what you think about another employee, refrain from speaking ill of them is always a good business practice as well as personal code of conduct. You never know if you may end up finding out that the person asking is related to or married to that employee!

#HRHorrorStories – Day 2 – Bathrooms, Bomb Threats & HR Safety

Shining-Nicholson_2381314bIf you have worked in HR, you have had your share of stories that most people will never believe. Day 2 of Drive Thru HR’s #HRHorrorStories reminded many people of this fact but also the lessons we learn from each other.

Our first story involved an employee injury that took place in the company restroom. Unfortunately, while bending over to pick up a pen the employee struck his head on the toilet paper dispenser which resulted in a gash in his forehead requiring stitches. Thankfully he reported it to HR right away and the HR Manager was able to detail the report to include photos of the employee’s injury as well as the scene of the accident. Of course, when Workers Comp saw the claim, they questioned it.

Let’s face it – accidents will happen regardless of how many precautions are taken. But as embarrassing as such incidents are, it is important to remind employees that all accidents must be reported right away so that 1) they receive any needed medical attention immediately and 2) so that witnesses can be questions and the incident investigated to collect as much detail as possible so that all information is available should a Workers Comp claim be questioned. In most cases, Workers Comp carriers require that you file a report with them within 24 hours of the incident. The longer you wait to file the report, the more the validity of the claim starts to come into question…mainly: did the incident REALLY happen at work or is the employee just trying to claim it did?

Our second story involved an employee calling in a bomb threat. Why? Because he arrived at work slightly intoxicated and simply did not want to work, so thought it would get everyone out of having to work that night. The employee didn’t expect that his call would be recorded when he called 911 or that they would be able to trace it back to the instead of the facility. The shutdown of the facility while they searched it for a bomb did get the employee and his co-workers out of work for a few hours…but ended up costing him his job and his co-workers overtime they could have earned for that week.

We can definitely file this one under “stupid things employees do” but have you had employees show up to work intoxicated? Have you ignored it and let them work anyway? Alcohol is a mood altering substance that affects the part of the brain responsible for self-control. While everyone knows your reactions slow, you may see someone unable to walk upright or their speech be slurred, the real issue is that drinking can invoke stronger than usual emotional responses…usually causing people to become more tearful or aggressive. An employee who is intoxicated is just as dangerous if they are not operating equipment as if they are…and that is where some managers do turn a blind eye. All judgment becomes impaired due to alcohol and if you suspect an employee has been drinking, its best for everyone involved to have a conversation with them and send them home for the day without penalty.

Stress causes a lot of people to pick up habits such as drinking as a temporary relief and those same people may not realize they have become or on the road to becoming an alcoholic as a result. Check with your Health Insurance provider about some of the free seminars that may offer as part of your plan and have them come out to do a presentation to your employees on the effects of alcohol and drugs…as a reminder.

Our last story was one that many HR folks have experienced at least once in their career and that is threats of violence from a recently separated employee. We don’t train managers or HR folks on how to handle such incidents in the workplace because so many companies don’t believe that its a real problem but you will notice from so many news stories over the past year that this type of situation is happening more and more. Thankfully, the HR Manager kept a cool head and was able to call a co-worker while on speakerphone and ask her to call the police which caused the disgruntled ex-employee to leave.

What are the tips we tell people to use when having to terminate an employee:

1) Never hold the meeting alone – always have another person in the room. Typically your best choices are to have HR and the immediate supervisor in the room.

2) Try to hold the meeting in an open area but distanced from the other employees. A conference room is a top choice because its usually more open space and located close enough to the exit that the ex-employee doesn’t have to walk through the facility on their last walk out.

3) If you are going to hold the meeting in your office, position you desk so that you have the ability to exit the room if the ex-employee tries to come at you or block your way.

We can’t prevent every possible situation that may occur with an employee or in the workplace, but sometimes its just taking that step back to evaluate your environment and take a look at your best practices to see what precautions you can take right now.