Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reduce Your Risk & Hire The Best

Imagine owning a company and being defrauded over $90,000 by an employee. That's what happened to Black & Veatch when employee, Monique S. Koger pleaded guilty on May 13th. Or perhaps you hire an employee who has a porn addiction, unbeknownst by you, as in the case of a UW-Madison employee suspended over porn charges as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

These types of cases cost the employer time and money by increasing the company's liability risk as well as costs that are incurred by high turnover. Obviously, it would be better to know in advance if our candidate will have the work ethic and reliability that we're expecting of him/her. Perhaps our candidates have no criminal backgrounds or histories of substance abuse, but yet they may have a tendency for such things that have gone undetected. Our goals may be as simple as merely finding a good fit to our organization and seeking out the highest performers. If our desire is to run a successful business then one critical piece to this puzzle is hiring honest, qualified employees. Why? If this puzzle piece is missing, the result may be costly careless hiring lawsuits. There are numerous steps we can undertake to reduce our risk of high turnover and liability. These steps are no guarantee but will provide you with more information to make sound judgment calls.

  1. Background checks. Examine history of past employee behavior or criminal behavior etc. This is a crucial initial first step as some resumes contain misleading information
  2. Initial Screening Interview. This can be a 20-30 minute phone or in-person interview. How long have they been at their prior job? What degrees have they earned? Did they work through college? How much people contact did they have? What was their pay like? Was their energy high or sluggish?
  3. Behavioral & Skills Assessments. These enable you to predict work behavior and mental abilities through analyses of motivations, personality, interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and vocabulary, grammar and math skills. These results are quantifiable and can save time in the long run, rather than hiring a bad fit. Work style is more than personality or technical skills, but also involves behavior and how they carry out their duties.
  4. Job Preview. Have the candidate spend several hours to a day observing an employee do the job. If they accept after this observation, the turnover rate should decrease. There are no surprises as to what they're getting themselves into.
  5. Check references. Are they positive or negative?
  6. Once hired, continually train your employees, providing them with opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. A satisfied employee will not rock the boat by leaving or conducting behavior that jeopardizes his job, thus decreasing turnover. So have a good retention plan set up.
  7. Smart hiring and retention strategies are vital, but so are reward strategies. It goes full circle. Employee morale and productivity are high when retention and reward strategies are in play. This attracts other good candidates and the cycle continues. These kinds of companies are at the top of the pile, beating their competition and having the best employees.

Each of these steps is part of the whole process, validating all the other decision-based steps along the way. Recruiting, then hiring and finally training an employee is far more expensive than following these steps, sifting out the unfavorable along the way. And once good candidates are hired, the knowledge that we've gained about these now-employees is crucial in continued success. The information -- especially assessments -- may provide information in gaps between work style and duties -- what new skills can they develop or how, as employers, can we mentor? Hiring the right person is so much more than if that candidate has the technical know-how, but involves their work ethic and whether they fit into the culture you're creating as a business owner/employer. Remember that your employees are the wheels of the bus; they're what keep that bus moving forward or becoming caked in the mud of lies, deceit and bad work ethic.

When we hire the best consistently, our company's potential is limitless. If the wrong person is hired, that happy full circle transforms itself into a vicious cycle: A bad fit, employee morale is low, good employees leave, productivity wanes, unhappy customers, and on and on. Even after a bad mess is cleaned, the stain remains. Don't be fooled by a genius programmer who then exhibits cave-man qualities on the job, or a social charmer who doesn't know how to tie his own shoe. Take your time, do your homework and hire the best.


Theo884 said...

The social charmer who can't tie his own shoelaces is definitely not the kind of employee we look for. We use (among other diagnostic tools) a skills assessment that examines the core skills that will be needed on the job.

We've had a few of those guys in the past and learned our lesson.

Unknown said...

Our company uses a PEO to administer assessment tests that are given to potential employees. However, you cannot rely on these tests alone to narrow down your candidates. I have taken an assessment test in the past for a job, and it is really easy to just give the answers you know the company wants to see, instead of answering completely truthfully. That's why interviews are always a good idea, even if every answer seems perfect. We too, have learned our lesson, and make sure we use several methods of seeking candidates.