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When and How to Bring in New Talent

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

How and when should a new business welcome a new employee? Is the company a sole proprietorship that finally needs help, or a larger organization with an existing culture? All are relevant questions for a growing company.

  • Understand the Employment Relationship, Especially your Needs vs. the Ambitions of the Employee.

Employers’ needs vary. Some businesses only need certain employees on a seasonal basis. Others require workers possessing a comprehensive set of skills relevant to a specific industry. Some companies need workers on-demand or on-call. Others require ongoing monitoring of business processes. Once a business owner realizes the need for help, they should carefully develop the job description.

Any recruits should understand the expectations and needs of the employer. The best employment relationships strike a balance between the needs of the employer and the ambitions of the employee. Finally, the nature of the relationship could mean the difference between a 1099 and a 1040 for tax purposes.

  • Consider an Ideal “First Day on the Job.”

Assuming an on-site position with organized training, consider methods to place your new employee at ease and make he or she feel at home. Owners should prepare the new hire’s workstation before they arrive.  An agenda for the job description generally helps the new employee orient themselves. Perhaps even small gifts such as candy, company paraphernalia, or welcome letters might help the new employee orient themselves and feel welcome and more comfortable.   Additionally, a tour of the office and introduction to the team may smooth the transition for both parties. At the end of the day, many companies call the new hire into their office and discuss first needs and impressions.

Of course, not all new businesses have the resources for an elaborate welcoming ceremony. Indeed, most small businesses hire their first employees quite informally. Such employees may be independent contractors, temps, or remote employees. Informal rather than formal onboarding may prevail in these situations. Informal onboarding generally involves learning by doing, on a spectrum with the above formal onboarding, based on each organization’s resources.

  • Look to the Future: Consider the Stages of Employee Development

A good resource is the website Peakon.com.  This website describes four phases in an employee’s experience over the course of a job:

The first phase is onboarding. For the smallest companies, the value-added should match the company’s expenditure in this process. Letting an employee go after a drawn-out onboarding process wastes money. An effective relationship can be very informal or even personal. Veteran owners should consider their own interests before spending valuable time and resources on new hires that may not work out.

The second phase is initial development. From the start, businesses should consider their contributions to the future of a new hire. The new employee’s ambitions may not match the employer’s needs. Sometimes, the employer really does only need a few minor tasks. Good business operations require honesty and straightforwardness regarding the scope of the business, the needs of the job, and the employee’s future within the company. Many smaller businesses can only promote their employees to a certain point, if at all. However, they can still provide basic needs such as income and references. Employers should recognize that relationships with employees are always a tradeoff. Ideally, in the best of circumstances, we should all get what we deserve.

The third phase is ongoing development and retention. Industries vary in necessary retraining throughout the employment relationship. Relevant factors include the employer’s plans for the employee over the development of the company, and whether the employee’s role falls within a professional specialty that may have education programs. For the former, the employer should consider the prospects of the company and the plans for expansion.

The fourth phase, finally, is separation. Believe it or not, many a business owner starts their business with plans of ultimately selling it. Sometimes, the planned sale occurs after years of development. Keep in mind, though, separation often sparks trauma in employees. Hence, best practice is honesty from the get-go.

In conclusion, strike a deal. Ensure an understanding. Onboarding a new employee should reach a “meeting of minds.” Each party should understand the other’s needs. At the same time, they should understand that their own needs are being respected.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that you have found this article on “When and How to Bring in New Talent” to be helpful and that it provides you valuable information.

VAMBOA invites you to become a member.  There are not any dues or fees.  VAMBOA is the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.   You can also use the VAMBOA seal for your collateral and website.   Below is a link to join and register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

Question to Avoid Asking Prospective Employees

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By James Pruitt– Staff Writer

The interview process should strike a balance. On one hand, employers must vet potential hires fairly and accurately. On the other, questions about race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national identity, family status, age, disability, or even genetics can land a potential employer in hot water, as well as alienate some of the best talent.

The EEOC (https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/index.cfm) provides guidelines that offer protection from sensitive situations. While new employers must necessarily find the right “fit,” certain guidelines can keep your organization out of legal and ethical hot water. There are several rules of thumb that can help interviewers avoid murky waters.

Mindfulness is important with personal banter in initial contacts with the potential hire. and relevance is key. The characteristics and circumstances of the employee only really matter in so far as they relate to the job itself and the tasks at hand. Employers should avoid direct questions when other avenues for inquiry are available.  Most importantly, employers should stay frank about which skills and characteristics are necessary for the job itself.

As a guideline to ensuring a fair interview process, certain specific questions can be pinpointed as hazardous to an employer’s relationship with the EEOC. The following seven common interview questions can land prospective employers in hot water.

First:  Interviewers should avoid questions about graduation dates. Some local employers may seep into innocent banter with such a subject, especially with a shared alma mater. However, other employers may use this question for discriminatory purposes. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits interview questions that seek to discern age. Such questions must be avoided.

Second: Questions about legal troubles must stay relevant. Of course, employers need to ask certain questions to ensure a safe and functional workplace. For example, generally, convictions for fraud are relevant for workers who handle money. However, a past conviction for a low-level drug offense may not be relevant for a cashier or warehouse position. Consider the link between the offense and the actual duties.

Third:  Questions about family can lead an employer down a tricky path. Despite the temptation to slip into personal banter in an initial encounter, questions about marital status or family size can leave an employer at risk for an EEOC challenge.

Fourth:  Interviewers should avoid questions or remarks about company culture that relate to age. This can cast a broad net. Some specifics that commonly relate to company culture involve the prospect of having a boss, medical leave and family issues. Leading questions that may entrap candidates into admitting the responsibilities and burdens of an older worker are best avoided.

Fifth:  If the interviewer notices an accent, this is best kept to oneself. In fact, employers should leave geographical origin out of the interview process in general. Such questions may relate to race or national origin.

Sixth:   Use caution about questions regarding salary history. Certain jurisdictions outright ban questions about current salary, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Delaware, California, Oregon, and Puerto Rico.

Seventh:  Employers should avoid questions relevant to medical history. Many employers may use such questions to gauge fitness or possible attendance. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) renders discrimination based on disability or perceived disability illegal unless relevant to the job. Questions about medication use fit into a similar aura. Such questions are best avoided absent clear concerns that a worker’s health directly impairs their ability to fulfill everyday duties.

Discrimination is not the only danger lurking in the interview process. Unfulfillable promises may land the employer in the courtroom under contract law. To win over a favorite candidate, employers sometimes hide the truth to make a position more attractive. Unfulfillable promises could result in lawsuits for breach of contract. Employers must never make promises they cannot keep. Examples may include promises of benefits, permanent status, and opportunities for advancement within the company. Employers must avoid such promises unless the opportunities for the candidate are genuinely realistic.

Also, employers should use the same set of questions for each candidate. Deviating from a certain template of questions in the interview process could sprout suspicions of favoritism or discrimination. For example, asking only female candidates if they can work long hours could raise eyebrows during a discrimination suit. Tailoring specific questions to specific candidates could also lead to accusations of nepotism, favoritism, or other biases. Whether or not a discrimination suit arises, the image of an unfair hiring process will inevitably harm an employer’s reputation.

In conclusion, common sense should prevail during the hiring process. Interview questions should remain relevant to the job at hand, and the employer should be honest and up-front about the nature of the job and what they can offer the employee. Such transparency is crucial to maintaining an employer’s reputation.

Disclaimer:   VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association recommends on any legal matter that you consult a licensed attorney.  We are not attorneys and are not providing legal advice.  Please be advised that this article is written from research and is purely informational.   We encourage you to consult an attorney.

*** We hope you enjoyed this excellent article by James Pruitt, our new writer.   Stay tuned for his bio and learn more about James.

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