Examining
practical HR issues business owners
and managers encounter every day

From Start to Finish – Hiring and Firing
August 2009

A Better Economy

Of course, I’ve been receiving calls about handling layoffs, reorganizations, pay changes, etc. However, I received my first call about bringing employees back into the workplace now that their business is picking up. I sure hope this is the beginning of a trend.

One of the things that we do when we’re terminating employees due to tough times is say that we’re “laying off” the employees. It sounds better to us than termination, but it implies that if business starts picking up that we’re going to rehire those people we let go.

I’ve been asked many times whether companies have to “layoff” the newest hires and retain people based on seniority. My response is always the same. Look at your organization: Who do you need to perform your core functions in lean times? Who can perform multiple jobs, tasks, responsibilities? Who are your strongest in performance and attitude? Select those you want and need to retain because of their ability to contribute high levels of results. Those who don’t fit your needs, don’t retain.

There are no laws telling employers who to release in tough times and who to hire in stronger times – unless you have union contracts. All these decisions are yours to make based on your business and operational needs.

You may feel badly not rehiring someone that you let go during the tougher times. But the key is building the strongest team of positive, high performing employees you can find. And if that doesn’t include former employees, the decision could be sad from a personal perspective, but isn’t necessarily sad from a business successing perspective.

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From The Great Start

I’ve been conducting some recruiting for a client. And I’m always and never amazed at the responses I receive from applicants.

First – I am currently seeking 2 candidates for a health care non-profit in Minneapolis. If you know anyone who qualifies, please have them send me their resume.

1. Part-time HR Director – This is an employee position, not a contract position, for 20-25 hours per week, generalist responsibilities, 50 employees and growing.

2. Executive Assistant – This is a full-time position reporting to the CEO. The person must have supported a C-level executive to be considered.

That said, what is a candidate thinking when including the following in a cover letter (this is verbatim from the email):

I am very interested in your position. I have a few questions: where in Minneapolis is the location? What is the pay range? Are there any benefits? What are the hours you want to be worked during the week? I have also attached my resume for you to review. I would greatly appreciate a response to my questions as soon as possible, to determine if it is a fit for me.

First of all, the candidate lost me when she failed to go to the company’s website and find the location. But am I the only person who thinks that this person is asking too many questions before I even read her resume?

And since this person is applying for the HR Director position, I’d think that she would know that it’s nearly impossible for employers to answer each candidate’s cover letter/resume with a personal response.

I received the almost identical set of questions from one of the Executive Assistant candidates last week. So what does this tell us about our pool of candidates and who is teaching/advising candidates how to stand out from the crowd? This certainly isn’t moving the applicants into the possibility of employment.
Ok – enough whining. Please – if you know anyone seeking employment, especially all us HR nerds/experts, advise your friends and family that they are selling themselves for an open position. And while they are also “buying” into an organization, give the organization the chance to consider your application before you rudely screen yourself out of the candidacy. Or – I could just thank them for making screening them out so easy…

Copyright (c) 2009 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

To the Great Finish

I’ve received a number of termination calls this week. One of them has been a most interesting journey.

My first HRxaminer in May 2005 was titled Hire Slow Fire Fast. It reminded us how important it is that we take our time when hiring, as well as how quickly we need to exit employees who just aren’t right for our organizations. The pains they create live long in the memories of our employees who wonder why we haven’t acted swifter to create the workplace we promised them.

In one of the calls, a manager was “innocently” sabotaging the president of this small company. The manager was falsifying information to employees about the president and about the employees to the president. The person was pretending to be working when they weren’t and deliberately breaching policy and fighting the president on the validity of these policies in front of the staff, etc.

This is probably one of those examples where several of you call or email me saying: “You described my employee to a T! How did you know him/her?”

In these kinds of cases, it takes a while for all the puzzle pieces to come together. But eventually the problem employee’s subtle and not-so-subtle sabotaging behaviors start to gel into a pattern that must be ended. And typically the end can only be a termination.

In this interesting situation, during the termination, the employee actually dropped to her knees on the floor of the president’s office crying “What did I do? What did I do?” Of course, it’s best not to respond – otherwise the list could go on forever!

If someone in your organization fits any part of this real character, step back and see what that person is doing to your culture. How much of your time and others are they wasting? What damage are they doing to your organization’s reputation, your employees, and the customers/people you serve?

Although it must have seemed like forever, wisely this president decided to take action as soon as the puzzle became whole. They’re now working on getting their documentation ducks in a row for whatever comes next with these kinds of employees.

So, wise readers, look around you and surround yourself with only the best! Don’t subject yourself to those employees who don’t truly have the organization’s best interest in mind with their every action. And if I can help support you along the way, give me a call! I’ll certainly congratulate you when you’re able to go to work with a smile!

Copyright (c) 2009 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,
www.HRxcellence.com.

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