It is an exciting moment, that moment when you realize that your small business has grown, and now you need to hire an employee or two. Maybe just part-time at first, but where do you start? You put an ad in the local newspaper, you let your facebook fans know you are looking for some help. You have a position available. You have never had to hire employees before. What do you do first?
Even before you get the word out you are looking for some help, you need to make sure you have a few things in place. You should first and foremost have an employee handbook. It doesn’t have to be 100 pages long, or cover every possible scenario your new employee might encounter. It does need to be written clearly, and you need to make sure it is clear what you expect. Things like work hours, when to take breaks, personal time, any benefits you might offer, what to do when bad weather closes your business, what the policy is when they are sick. Your employee handbook should also contain things like how to handle upset customers, return and exchange policies, social media policies. These should all be easy to read and understand. Every new hire should be given this handbook, and then a sheet that states they understand everything in it. If they do not this is when they should ask questions.
The next thing you should put together is a job description. You need a clear job description as to what your future employee will be required to do. Each job needs a clear description of what the job entails. If they will be helping stock the shelves, and you get deliveries of boxes and products which may weigh more than 10 lbs., this should be in your job description. Every position from the most basic of sweeping and cleaning to the most complex of office management should have a clear job description. Each prospective employee should see the description before being hired. After they are hired you can have them sign the acknowledgement document that they understand the requirements of the job. If you do not have in your job description that the employee must lift 75 lbs. daily, the employee refuses to lift a box that weighs 75lbs you can’t discipline this employee because it is not in the job description. So make sure you know what each job entails. Your job descriptions should cover as much as possible while leaving a little room to expand the position. So in regards to the weight of boxes to lift, your job description would say something like “employee must be able to lift a minimum of 10 lbs. daily, but may be required to lift as much as 100 lbs.” So you have a clear minimum to possible maximum of weight limit. If you don’t hire someone who may be qualified but can’t meet the weight lifting requirements you are clear on this from the beginning, you can’t be sued for any kind of discrimination.
Before holding any interviews you should also have in place, an interview plan. This packet should contain a few key things. You need an interview question sheet. These are open ended interview questions the same questions every employee will answer. These questions should be something that need some thought, maybe a how did you last handle then give a situation, or you could say what would you do in this situation and then give a scenario. You will have a much easier time weeding out the ones who are telling you whatever you want to hear so they can get the job. You will also need a rating sheet. This scale can be included on your interview sheet with each question. It is used to rate the answer given to each question. Every answer should be rated using a number scale. At the end of the interview you will total the answers and the person who is hired will be the one with the most points. This way you can never be sued for unfair hiring practices. If someone were to try the Department of Labor will want to see this document for all employees who were interviewed. There are a series of illegal questions you as an employer can’t ask a possible new hire. Things like marital status, sexual orientation, any addictions they may have had issues with, these kinds of questions are off limits. You can require an applicant to submit to a drug test as long as every applicant is required to do this and it is at your expense. You can visit the NYS Dept of Labor website for more information on requirements in regards to employee breaks, meals, hours of work. You should be familiar with all the requirements it will save not only your time, but your money. http://www.labor.ny.gov/home/businesses.php
Check back next week where I will discuss personnel files, new hire packets to ensure you have all the correct forms, and what documents you need to keep on all of your employees and where you need to keep them.