During the pandemic, we found that businesses were taking time to look at their Human Resources practices and trying to determine why they have issues with employees. This involves hiring and why employees are leaving, and everywhere in between.
All businesses want to make sure they hire the right employees, but there is a lot that goes into this process, and sometimes business owners or managers are not up to speed on the best ways to approach hiring. No one is there to train owners and managers on the best practices for hiring the right employees. In many small businesses, the HR person is usually a part-time role assigned to someone performing an administration function, usually without HR training and experience. If you can not afford a trained HR professional, look into outsourcing, this is not an unskilled administrative role.
Understanding Skills and Requirements
Before hiring employees, you need to understand what skills you require to get the work done. You may realize the hard skills you need, but you must also consider the soft skills required. Hard skills are those skills related to proficiency and knowledge, while soft skills are more interpersonal in nature or people skills. For almost every job, you need both. Someone can be technically skilled, but if your business requires them to interact with customers and the individual is awkward and shy, you will find out quickly that they were not a good fit for that position and that you hired the wrong person. The responsibility for that error lies with you as the business owner, not the employee.
Job Descriptions for Hiring
Often, you look online and see job descriptions that businesses post that look like a laundry list. A job description must exist for applicants to understand the job, requirements, and expectations for the position. There are two types of job descriptions. The job description for a position to be filled is a hiring job description. A job description for an employee may differ as the role of the individual in the organization will change over time.
A job description for hiring an employee should include:
Job Title - The job title is the position title you are filling.
Position Description - A position description is a reason for the job. It is an overview of what you are looking for in the position to provide your business.
Company Description - A company description is a small overview of the business, so the applicants understand the business, the industry, and anything that might be of value in choosing your business over a similar position elsewhere.
Location - Location is the address where the position is located.
Classification - The classification provides information on whether this position is an Executive Position, Manager, Full-Time Employee, Part-Time Employee, or Contract Position.
Reporting - Provide the job title of the person the role will be reporting. Even if the person has duties in several areas, they must have one boss to report.
Key Responsibilities - Key responsibilities can be put in a bulleted high-level overview of the position's overall responsibilities.
Duties - Duties for the position provide a detailed list of duties the job requires. If there are duties in multiple areas, be sure to clarify. This situation usually occurs in smaller businesses where there may be shared roles.
Qualification and Skills Requirements - This is where you will list requirements such as education, accreditations, designations, experience level and a list of specific hard and soft skills required for the position.
Working Conditions - This section is optional depending on the position but is where you would list any conditions outside normal working conditions. Examples: High percentage of travel, work required outside 9-5, home office requirement, work with challenging customers, or vehicle required.
Physical Requirements - This section is also optional and depends on the position type. This is where you would list physical requirements outside the norm, such as standing for long periods or requiring heavy lifting.
Compensation & Remuneration - You will want to list the salary range, any bonuses or commission, and any benefits related to the position.
Posting the Position
A business should always post open positions on its website and relevant job sites. The site will differ depending on the job itself. If you are looking for college or university graduates, it is recommended that you post the position on LinkedIn. There are other sites such as Indeed, Monster, Workopolis, and others, depending on the job level and industry.
Interviewing is one of the most critical aspects of hiring an employee. As the interviewer, you need to be prepared with the right questions. You do not want to ask closed questions where you can get a yes or no answer. You want to ensure that the questions provide insight into the person, and the answers they provide will tell you whether they would be a good fit for your organization. Their resume will outline their education and credentials. Still, the interview is where you determine if what is listed in the resume is credible and whether the employee is a fit for your organization.
It is up to those interviewing to ask the right questions and know the type of responses you are looking to obtain. The interview should be at least 30 minutes long to understand the candidate better. You want to have more than one person interview the candidate. Depending on the business, you may want to involve other areas that will interact with the employee and co-workers. They may not be the deciding factor, but you will understand how they will fit into your organization.
Ensure that the questions you ask are appropriate and do not violate any employee standard. Do not ask questions about age, gender, nationality, religion, or family questions to name a few. Here are some sample open-ended questions you might want to consider.
Ask about a challenging work situation that the interviewee ran into a previous position and how they overcame it.
The question will allow you to find out about their problem-solving skills and how they perform when put under pressure.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Ask how they work to overcome their weaknesses.
For weaknesses, you want to see if they have any weaknesses that would be a problem for the role. You want to find out if they are self-aware and the plan they have to work on or overcome the weakness.
Ask how they believe their strengths could benefit your business.
For strengths, you want to see how self-aware they are about themselves and how they feel that their strengths could benefit your business.
What do you believe your most significant accomplishment has been throughout your career?
This question helps you see what type of work fulfills the candidate and whether this aligns with the role they have applied.
You want to interview more than one candidate for a position. You should select the top 3-5 applicants based on the resumes received to interview. You always want a backup if your first choice does not accept your offer.
Once you interview the candidates, you will want to check their references and possibly do a background check. As with the interview questions, ensure you have questions ready for the references they provided. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are outside firms that will do this for you. We have even performed this function for specific accounting, marketing, and sales positions.
Competitive Salaries and Benefits
If you are going to attract the type of employees you want for your business, make sure that you are offering a competitive salary for the position and benefits that are in line with other companies of your size and industry. To determine if the salary you want to offer for the position is competitive, you can look online for roles with the position's title in the geographic region. Different recruitment firms put out salary guides for positions in areas and online sites such as Payscale.com.
Depending on the age of your employees, benefits can take on a different meaning. They can be as simple as pizza or barbeque Fridays, where you as the employer pick up lunch or provide supplemental health and dental benefits. Some employers offer additional vacation days based on length of service; others offer flex hours for employees in certain positions. You as an employer have to understand what you can afford and weigh that against hiring and keeping good employees. Employees are one of the most valued assets to your business. Just as with customers, it costs you less to maintain existing employees than regularly rehiring for a position.
Employee Offer Letters and Contracts
Once you decide to hire an employee, you should provide them with a formal offer letter outlining their position, compensation, employee benefits, relevant information, and a time frame to respond. If you send this by email, the letter should not be in the email; it should be an attachment. You will likely want them to sign it and return it to HR for their file. Typically you want to give them at least 48 hours to decide and respond.
Every employee should have an employment contract they sign upon starting work. An employee contract is meant to protect the employee and the business. To ensure that the document will hold up in case of an issue with an employee in court, ensure that the contract is written or reviewed by a legal professional. You do not want to find out the contract was not legal after the fact. Too often, after an employee has left the business, we are contacted by an owner outlining an issue. Several times it has been that an employee left with their customer list on their phone. They want a referral to a corporate lawyer. The first issue was letting employees use their device for work with business information. The second issue was the lack of an employment contract outlining employment terms and conditions. In this case, is that the business owns all customer data.
Depending on the position, the contract can include some or all of the following:
Job Title, Classification, and Responsibilities
Salary and Benefits
Policies specific to your business or outlining by signing the employee handbook, they agree to the policies.
Before the employee starts, be sure that the business is prepared to onboard the employee correctly, as this is the first impression the new employee will have of your business. If the employee will require equipment to do their job, make sure it is available before they show up. We worked with a company that hired a young man to sell for them. Their onboarding consisted of showing him where the coffee was and giving him a desk, phone, and telephone book. They hired us to "fix" him when the two owners needed the fixing. They did not know how to manage an employee or provide him with direction.
The First Day
The new employee should have someone in the business escort them around the company and introduce them to the other staff members. They should sign all of their paperwork, such as tax forms and provide any paperwork required by HR. You might prepare information ahead of time for the new employee to start reading and outline a schedule for them for the first week. They should also be aware of the employee standards, be provided with an employee handbook and organizational chart, and meet with their immediate boss. The immediate boss should outline their expectations and answer any questions.
If the position requires training, you want to ensure that the training is scheduled as quickly as possible so the employee can hit the ground running in their new position.
Employee handbooks outline the company's policies, processes and procedures. Every business with employees should have an employee handbook and provide each employee when they start work with a copy. These will differ depending on the business, but here are some examples:
Employment Section: This is where you might outline the probationary period, an employee referral program, hiring and onboarding policies, performance standards, and reviews.
Compensation and Benefits Section: This section would include working hours, sick days, holidays, and overtime policies, to name a few.
Conduct Section: This might include policies about attendance, off-duty conduct, dress code, and complaints as examples.
Technology Section: This section addresses technology policies, including cell phone and computer usage, internet policies, social media policies and remote access.
Health and Safety Section: Health and safety could include many of your employment standards requirements, such as workplace violence and harassment policies, fire safety plans, first aid policies, and inclement weather.
Operations Section: Operations policies focus on policies surrounding your overall operations and could include cheque signing or spending authorization policies, meeting guidelines, privacy policies, or even policies regarding returned goods. This would be very dependent on the type of business.
Having the right staff for your business all begins with hiring. You need to be able to articulate the skills and requirements you need for a position to attract suitable applicants. Once you decide to hire an employee, you want to make sure you make the right first impression by properly onboarding the employee.