Thursday, February 20, 2014

Putting “Heart” into Your Interviews Part 2

As a review from the last post…from a management stand point, during the course of employment, there can be all kinds of interviews like applicant interviews, performance interviews, employee satisfaction interviews, exit interview and others. There is one final component to consider.

All interviews require you to be clear on the outcome and the follow up or follow through on each situation. In applicant interviews you are deciding whether to hire or not. In investigative interviews you may be deciding whether to fire or not. Either way the third step that is often overlooked is the follow up (or fall out) that needs to take place to bring closure to the situation. Say you interview three great candidates for a position, decide on one, call her up and offer her the job. She accepts – done deal. What about the two you didn’t offer a job to? Who breaks the “bad news?" Or do you just wait until they call or email you and you can choose not to respond. In this day and age, is that something you want to risk? Did you consider that one of the applicants could be a close relative to your biggest customer? 

We don’t know what we don’t know, so why risk hard feelings when we can look at this situation as an opportunity rather than a curse? Being proactive with applicants can bring more good will to your company. I can’t tell you the number of times I have called applicants who weren’t offered a job who thanked me at the end of the call because I was professional, yet personable, gave them a true and straight forward reason for their non-selection and offered other alternatives for their job search. That’s what I call showing “heart” in the selection process. 

Again, if you want to find out how much “heart” your organization has in interview situations, give me a call.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Putting “Heart” into Your Interviews Part 1

Most of the time when I talk about interviews I am referring to hiring interviews but from a management stand point, during the course of employment, there can be all kinds.

Examples are:

  • Applicant Interviews (sometimes 2nd and 3rd ones) 
  • Job analysis interviews 
  • Performance interviews 
  • Investigative interviews 
  • Disciplinary interviews 
  • Employee Satisfaction interview 
  • Succession planning interviews 
  • Exit interviews 

Depending on the size of your organization you may not have cause to use all of these, but there are some common themes among them all. Today in part one, we’ll be talking about asking the right questions and doing more listening than talking.

All interviews require good, open ended questions. Remember, the goal of any interview is to gather information and you can’t get the information you need if the questions you are asking are irrelevant or even stupid. I will never forget the time early on in my career when I was asked if I squeezed the toothpaste from the middle or the top. What that had to do with my computer or accounting skills I still haven’t figured out. For applicant interviews, questions need to focus on the job requirements. For disciplinary interviews they need to focus on what occurred and how it relates to your policies, procedures and expectations. For exit interview questions, they should focus on what the company can change and improve upon for the current employees and future ones.

All interviews require a good amount of listening. I lost count of the number of different types of interviews I have sat in on with managers and supervisors that controlled the conversation by doing the majority of the talking. In each of these situations, the true goal is to solicit enough information to make a decision. You don’t get good information if you are the one doing all the talking. Listening to what the person is telling you and taking it to heart while equally weighing the facts adds up to a good employment decision.

Look for Part 2 next week about being clear on the outcome and follow-up with your interviews.

If you want to find out how much “heart” your organization has in interview situations, give me a call.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jimmy Buffet and Employee Record Retention

Jimmy Buffet, the most popular song-writing pirate that ever lived, coined two phrases that can be applied to employee record retention requirements:
  • “What we keep is what we can’t let go” 
  • “Indecision may or may not be my problem” 
When it comes to employee files and other employment related documents, “what we keep is what we shouldn’t let go” until we don’t need it any more. Federal agencies have established requirements that say how long you need to keep certain documents and records to stay in compliance with employment laws, so “indecision doesn’t have to be a problem.”

Generally, you should establish the following retention periods for both electronic and paper-based records:

Employee Files
7 years after termination
6 years after plan year
I-9 Forms
Not more than 3 years after termination
Hiring Records
1 year after the hiring decision (unless you are a federal contractor – then you need to retain for 2 years)
Payroll Records/Time Sheets, etc.
3 years
Withholding Tax Records
4 years from date tax is due or paid
Family Medical Leave Records (for those employers over 50 employees)
3 years
Healthcare Continuation
There are no recordkeeping requirements under COBRA, however experts agree that records should be retained for 6 years to stay consistent with ERISA requirements
Drug Test Records
1 year from date of test (up to 5 years for records pertaining to DOT drug testing requirements)

If you have an ongoing dispute or claim with an employee, it is a good idea to retain ALL documents relating to the employee until the dispute or claim is completely resolved. I advise erring on the safe side and hanging on to it for another year just in case.

The important thing is to keep these documents in a safe and secure location during the retention period. If at all possible, I recommend keeping old records off site. It is somewhat inconvenient but affords the best security and protection. Knowing what you have and what you don’t have is also important. A simple Excel spread sheet can tell you what you have and when it is time to let it go. Destroy records by shredding them to ensure that no confidential information gets in the hands of anyone who shouldn’t have it.

Being decisive about keeping (then letting go of) old employee files can be easy if you remember the words of wisdom from a singing pirate. Happy Shredding!