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Streamlining your hiring process

Lucas Deal February 7, 2013

There is no perfect one-size-fits-all process for hiring employees. Every situation is different, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan.

A little variance is necessary; a lot of variance can lead to mistakes.

Developing an operating procedure, abiding by government regulations and documenting all human resource information can make staffing changes more effective and professional.

In dealing with new hires, first make sure your formal application is up to date and accurately describes your open position. The application can ask questions about a prospective employees’ background and job history, but Andrew Tanick, partner at Ford & Harrison’s Minneapolis office, says it’s important to not ask any questions about protected classes that could lead to a claim that the employer discriminated against the applicant in the hiring process.

Protected classes, as defined by United States anti-discrimination laws, include race, color, religion, nationality, age, sex, familial status, disability status, veteran status and other personal information.

“It’s not illegal to know that information,” Tanick says, “but it can be illegal to not hire someone because of that information. As a result, it’s safer for the company if it doesn’t even know the information.”

States also have protected classes and hiring laws that are different than Federal laws. It’s important to make sure you understand Federal and state laws that apply to your workplace, and that your hiring process follows state law when it is more stringent than Federal law, says John Hauge, partner at Ford & Harrison.

The same requirements apply to the interview process.

When interviewing you should have a list of topics and job requirements to address with each applicant. Allow them to answer freely and ask follow up questions where applicable. If a protected class is approached during the interview, be smart and tread carefully.

It’s not unlawful to ask a potential warehouse worker if he can perform the essential functions of the position for which he is applying, says Hauge. But if that man responds by telling you he has a reconstructed right knee, that can’t immediately eliminate him for the position.

“If he says he can do everything [the position requires], I have to accept that,” he says.

“The bottom line is, is it job related?” says R. Eddie Wayland, partner at King & Ballow in Nashville. “Are the questions you’re asking and the information you’re seeking job related? Are the answers something that would legitimately be related to the job and their ability to perform that job if you’re hiring them?

“That’s what you have to be sure of.”

Once you select an applicant for hire, have a plan in place to integrate them into your business. Corporate information, insurance and tax documents should be quickly provided by your human resources department, as well as access to a company handbook and your facility.

The order of how these things are implemented is up to you, but Wayland says it’s a good idea to make sure your strategy is periodically checked and updated. He advises clients to update procedures independently and then have them reviewed by legal counsel.

Laws and regulations are constantly changing; a legal strategy five years ago may be unlawful now.

All of this information must be documented, and should be kept in your records. Proper documentation provides your dealership written proof of all human resources decisions and the motives behind them.

Wayland says documentation is the more important aspect to any human resources strategy.

“There’s an old phrase in HR that says, ‘If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen,’” he says. “No one’s documentation is perfect, but the more you do the better.”

Hauge says personnel documentation should be fact specific, and constantly updated. This includes any performance reviews or one-on-one meetings. He says those interactions give you the best opportunity to provide feedback on how an employee is doing once they’ve been hired.

They also provide proof when an employee claims they haven’t been warned or notified of a decision affecting their position.

“You can point to something that’s been put on paper, and then they can’t claim they didn’t know their performance was deficient, or they had a history of violating company policies,” Hauge says.

This is the first of Successful Dealer’s two-part series on making staffing changes. For the second part on on properly dismissing employees, CLICK HERE.

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