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Your employees are your organization’s most important resource. At the same time, for most people, their job is their primary source of income.

That means that when it comes to bringing someone new on board or firing someone, you need to work in the best interest of your organization while simultaneously respecting all applicable rules and regulations that protect employees’ rights. In this article, we’ll discuss some do’s and don’ts of hiring and firing. Note that the information below is not intended as legal advice. In all matters concerning employment law, you’re best advised to consult with an attorney.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring

Keep these tips in mind when recruiting and hiring a new employee:

  • Do use a formal hiring process. Entrepreneur advises against using “gut instinct” when recruiting a new employee. Instead, use a formal hiring process that selects candidates based on their must-have skills, traits, experience, and references.
  • Don’t forget to ask your current team for referrals. Often, skilled employees know other skilled professionals and can speak to their knowledge and abilities. When you’re hiring for an open position, it’s a good idea to ask your team to refer any interested, qualified candidates.
  • Do involve your current team members in the interview process. Your current employees possess good insights regarding the skills and traits a new hire should have. Invite the team members who’ll be working closely with the new hire to sit in on one of the interview rounds so they can discuss the position’s responsibilities with the candidates and provide you with their feedback as to the candidates’ suitability for the role.
  • Don’t violate anti-discrimination laws. Stanford Law advises that anti-discrimination and employment laws provide workers with protection from harassment or discrimination based on race, color, gender, ancestry, religion, age, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, national origin, medical condition, veteran status, and sexual orientation. That means you should not ask questions pertaining to these characteristics during the interview process.
  • Do conduct a well-thought-out onboarding process. Onboarding is vital to introducing the new hire to the organization, their new coworkers, and the job. Make sure you provide time for the new hire to do things like review the employee handbook, have a tour of your facility, and shadow other employees. It can also be advisable to appoint somebody as their mentor.

Do’s and Don’ts of Firing

If you need to fire an employee, be aware of these pointers:

  • Do have a clear, written company policy in place regarding what performance or conduct issues are grounds for termination. Salary.com advises that it’s important to properly document and verify these issues.
  • Don’t neglect to warn the employee about performance or conduct issues — and what the consequences are if they don’t address them. In your company policy, you should explain how many warnings and chances to remedy the issue an employee is entitled to before they can be fired.
  • Do consider the decision to fire an employee carefully. Firing someone will have a major impact on their life and career, so give some thought to whether or not there’s another way to remedy the situation. For example, perhaps an employee who isn’t performing adequately in a customer-facing position would do well in a behind-the-scenes role.
  • Don’t fire an employee right before a holiday or weekend. Being fired can have severe emotional and financial consequences, and during holidays and weekends, the individual may not have access to resources to help them through this challenging experience.
  • Do be decisive once you’ve made up your mind. That way, any damage to staff morale or even to your organization can be contained.
  • Don’t delegate the task to somebody who doesn’t directly supervise the employee. Deliver the message yourself—in person, and without an audience.
  • Do provide the employee with a full explanation as to why they’re being fired. The Undercover Recruiter recommends preparing what you’re going to say ahead of time. Allow the employee to ask questions, and do your best to answer them honestly and completely.

Hiring and firing employees impacts your organization — but it also impacts the employees’ lives. So make sure to adhere to all applicable laws and your organization’s policies — and to treat your employees with respect, regardless of whether they’re joining or leaving your organization.