BY AMY COOLEY
So many limo operators joined the industry as sole proprietors or family partnerships. And then you worked hard, grew, and needed to add to your team. Whether you have one employee or more than 100, you are now an employer and there are things you need to know. Here is a roundup of our best tips to keep you up on every stage of the employment lifecycle (with more to come in a future column!).
Stage 1: Recruitment
Whether you need to hire one employee or continue to rebuild your team, we have some cost-effective strategies to share that can raise your odds of making your next great hire.
- Referral Programs: There are so many reasons that referral programs are great recruiting tools. Offering an incentive to your current employees to recommend their friends has tremendous benefits.
- Social Media: Simply maintaining a presence on social media can help you attract candidates. People who are considering working with you will likely check out your web presence, and an active profile demonstrates that you are in business.
- Streamlining the Interview Process: We always recommend some form of prescreening at the beginning of the recruiting process, whether it is part of the online application or via email or a quick phone call. Additionally, while in the past we probably wouldn’t have suggested this, we now believe that interviewing via Zoom or other videoconferencing is worthwhile.
- I-9 File: You should have all of your employees’ I-9 forms in a file together, stored separately from your other employee documents. This file is subject to audit by government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice (Immigrant and Employee Rights Section), and the Department of Labor. If you choose to keep copies of the identification and work authorization documents provided, those should be kept together with the I-9.
- Employee Performance File: You may also hear this referred to as the employee’s “general” file, and the employee has the right to view this file upon request. This is the place for any paperwork related to the employee’s skills, experience, job performance, training, and attendance records. At the time of hire, this file should include application and resume, job description, and a signed handbook acknowledgement.
- Employee Compliance File: This file is sometimes referred to as a “restricted” or “confidential” file because it contains information that might be more sensitive, or legally protected. Documents that contain Social Security Numbers, medical information, or banking information belong here. So do documents with potentially prejudicial employee information, which includes race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. These documents include much of your onboarding paperwork, such as Background Check forms and results, Drug Screen results, MVR, DOT Medical Card, Direct Deposit Form, Benefits paperwork, and the W-4.
Giving feedback is not only an opportunity to correct issues, it’s also a way to reinforce good work. More than that, engaging your employees in conversations about themselves and their work shows that you value the employee and their contributions to your business.
The purpose of your feedback is to guide the employee to continue with what they are doing well and to improve on areas where they need to develop. If you save it all up for annual performance reviews, you’re not really coaching your team or giving them the best chance to improve. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, feedback should be timely, specific, direct, and constructive.
Stage 4: Retention
Just as people have different personality types that have been studied and categorized by assessments such as the Myers-Briggs, there are several tools available to help you understand your communication style and the styles of others. Having this kind of understanding can help you to improve communication amongst your team, which in turn improves productivity, morale, project completion and success, employee retention, and on and on.
One popular tool describes four different communication styles: Action, Process, People, and Idea:
- Action. People with this style are most focused on the “what” of communication—results, achieving, getting it done.
- Process. Those with this style tend to focus on “how”—strategy, organization, facts.
- People. If you score highly in this style, you’re likely to focus on “who”—personal connections, relationships, teamwork.
- Idea. A person scoring strongly in this style is probably focused on “why”—theory, concepts, new ideas.
Letting Them Go
Firing employees (or laying them off) is one of the most difficult responsibilities of a business owner or manager. When it comes to terminations, you’ll want to avoid some pitfalls that may put you at risk for legal liability. At-will employment does not mean you can ignore contracts or disregard employment legislation. If you are considering firing an employee, first determine if any of the following situations may be at play: discrimination, disability, or retaliation (for complaints about harassment or discrimination; or for whistleblowing).
Even when you believe you are in the clear and you are genuinely acting in good faith, a fired employee may see things differently and choose to make a claim against you for wrongful termination. Though “at-will” employment means you don’t need a reason, demonstrating a sound reason is still your best defense against any claim that might be brought.
With this in mind, it is advisable to maintain certain principles in all of your employee management practices:
- Consistency. Handle performance or other issues in accordance with your stated policies, and in a predictable manner. Policy enforcement should not appear to be arbitrary.
- Fairness. You don’t need to treat everyone exactly the same way down to the last detail, but your treatment of one employee may be compared to how you treat others. For example, if two employees have a similar attendance record, you don’t want to terminate one and allow the other to stay, unless there are additional reasons you can point to for the differing treatment.
- Documentation. Make sure to document performance issues or other concerns that may end up resulting in any type of disciplinary action or termination.
- Communication. The way you communicate employment decisions can make a big difference in how they are received. Be sure to focus on the behaviors and their consequences for the business, and personal or emotional attacks. When possible, provide opportunities for improvement before taking the final step of termination. [CD0222]
Amy Cooley is HR Administrator for The LMC Groups. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.