Updated: Apr 30
During the pandemic, we find that businesses are taking time to look at their Human Resources practices and determine why they have issues with employees, which involves hiring to why employees are leaving and everywhere in between. For businesses with multiple owners, we see that it is also a time to look at issues that may have come up between the owners. Problems can range from personality differences to not understanding who is responsible for what within the business. This first article will focus on the employees and the topic Hiring and Onboarding Subsequent articles will follow.
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. In many small businesses, the HR person is a part-time role assigned to someone who is performing an administration function, usually without HR training and experience. No one is there to train owners and managers on the best practices for hiring the right employees.
Understanding Skills and Requirements
Before hiring employees, you need to understand what skills you require to get the work you need to get done as a business owner. You may realize the hard skills you need, but you also need to consider the soft skills required. Hard skills are those skills related to proficiency and knowledge, while soft skills are more interpersonal and people skills, and for every job, you need both. Someone can be technically skilled, but if your business required them to interact with customers and the individual is awkward and shy, you will find out they were not a good fit for that position and that you hired the wrong person. The responsibility for that error lies with the one hiring, not the employee.
Often, you look online and see job descriptions that businesses post that look like a laundry list. A job description needs to be apparent to those applying as to what the position is and what the expectations are for the position. There are two types of job descriptions. The job description for a position to fill is a hiring job description. A job description for an individual once hired may differ as the role of the individual in the organization will change over time. This topic will be discussed further in an article about retaining employees.
A job description for a position or new hire should include the following information:
Job Title - The job title is the position title you are filling.
Position Description - A position description is a reason for the job and an overview of what you are looking for the position to achieve for 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 where the future employee will be 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 that 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 look at the detailed list of duties the position 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 is dependent on the type of position. 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, along with any benefits that are related to the position.
Posting the Position
A business should always post open positions on their website and post the position on 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 level of job 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 make sure that the questions provide you 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 find out if what is listed 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 get a good understanding of the candidate. 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 get a sense of how they will fit into your organization.
Make sure that the questions you are asking are appropriate and do not violate any employee standard.This includes 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 any of the weaknesses they have would be a problem for the role and 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 is in line with the role that they have applied.
You want to interview more than one candidate for a position. You should select the top 3-5 based applicants based on the resumes to interview. You always want a backup in case your first choice does not accept your offer.
Once you interview the candidates you will want to check their references as well as possibly do a background check. Just as with the interview questions, make sure you have questions ready for the references they provided. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are outside firms who will do this for you. We have even performed this function for certain positions such as accounting, marketing, and sales.
Competitive Salaries and Benefits
If you are going to attract the type of employees that 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 that you compete. 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 to providing 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 versus rehire for a position regularly.
Employee Offer Letters and Contracts
Once you decide to hire an employee, you should provide them with a formal offer letter that outlines their position, compensation, employee benefits and any relevant information and a time frame to respond. Typically you want to give them at least 48 hours to decide and respond. If you send this by email, the letter should not be in the email; it should be an attachment. You will most likely want them to sign it and return it to HR for their file.
Every employee should have an employment contract they sign upon starting work. This is meant to protect the employee as well as the business. To ensure that the document will hold up in case of an issue with an employee in court, make sure that the contract is written or at a minimum 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 the employee use their device for work with business information. The second issue was the lack of an employment contract that outlines terms and conditions of employment.
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 properly, as this is the first impression that 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 business 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 it was the two owners who needed the fixing. They did not know how to manage an employee or provide direction.
The First Day
The new employee should have someone in the business escort them on a business tour 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 and be provided with an employee handbook, an organizational chart and should meet with their immediate boss. The immediate boss should outline their expectations and answer any questions.
If the position requires training, you want to make sure that the training is scheduled as quickly as possible so the employee can hit the ground running in their new position.
Every business with employees should have an employee handbook and provide each employee when they start work with a copy. Employee handbooks are documents that outline the company's policies, processes and procedures. 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 and 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.