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Critical Hiring Policies to Adopt

by HR Coach on April 16, 2009

I’m not a big ‘policy’ person. Neither are many of my clients.

I agree that some policy manuals can really go over board…

Some business owners add a policy for every little issue that comes up.  They’re having trouble with one employee coming to work late every day, so… They create a policy. They’re having an issue because two employees want to take vacation at the same time, so… They create a policy.

The problem with having too many policies is – you have to ‘police’ your policies! Someone has to remember all those policies AND someone has to remember to take action when a policy is violated.

Some business owners refuse to have any policies in their small businesses. I think that’s a mistake. Here’s why…

Certain policies can protect a business owner from being sued. Well, OK, you may still be sued, but having policies in place, and adhering to them, can prevent a legal outcome against you.

One of the most critical areas to have policies for is hiring. If you have hiring policies in place here, you can prevent all sorts of problems down the road. Remembering these policies isn’t difficult – every time you hire, simply pull out your policy manual and review.

Now before I give you the critical hiring policies to implement, a little caveat:

“I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV! Please seek legal advice before you accept anything I suggest.”

  1. Application Policy. Make it a policy to have every applicant complete your application form. Create an application form that is specific to your company. Include everything that applies to your company and situation. Do a bit of research to find out what should be included in an application form.Why make this a policy? Isn’t it a little redundant when they’ve already provided a resume? Actually, no. Resumes often give an incomplete and even misleading picture of the candidate. You need to gather information and data that allow you to make clear comparisons of your candidates.Include the following statement on your application form:“I understand that all information I have provided here will be checked, and with my signature I hereby certify that all information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
  2. Reference Checking Policy. Make it a policy to do a minimum of three reference checks for every candidate you plan to hire, prior to making the job offer. I say ‘minimum’ because if you find discrepancies from the referees, you may need to do more.
    • to verify the truth of applicant statements – verify employment history for at least the past 5 to 7 years. Gaps in employment can be tip-offs to potential problems.
    • to protect you company, your employees, and your customers or clients.
    • to avoid legal problems associated with poor hiring decisions. (Watch for an article about Negligent Hiring coming soon.)

  3. Background Checking Policy. Make it a policy to do additional formal checks when the position warrants it:

    • Credit checks for anyone who will be responsible for handling large sums of money or anyone who will have access to the financial business of a company
    • Driver abstracts for anyone who will be driving company vehicles or their own vehicle as part of their work day.
    • Criminal Record checks for anyone who will be working with a ‘protected’ group, or who will be entering the homes of clients or customers
    • Education verification for anyone who will be performing a job that requires specific training. Verify professional licenses where applicable.

These hiring policies are the minimum I would recommend. You may find others that you feel are equally important and by all means add and use them if you need them.

One of the main keys here is consistency. When you implement a policy, you must apply it consistently. If you pick and choose who you’re going to use a policy with, you open yourself up to discriminatory practices. This can be used against you.

Be open with your employment candidates about your policies.  Get a signature indicating the candidate’s consent for reference checks. If you do background checks, indicate so on your application form and get a signature from the applicant providing their approval for this procedure.

Once an employee is hired, there are a few other policies that are critical to protecting you and them during their tenure. We’ll look at these in future articles.

Do you have more policies you think are critical, or at least important? I’d love to hear them! Please leave your ideas in the comments section below.

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