What is the employment life cycle? It is essentially managing employees from when they first fill out an application or submit a resume to your organization, to managing them on a day to day basis, and finally preparing the employee to exit the organization.
It sounds simple, but there can be hidden exposures if your managers are not trained on the applicable employment rules and regulations.
Step 1: Hiring Employees
Managing employees from the employment perspective starts with the hiring process. Managers are generally involved in the hiring process to ensure they are hiring the “right fit.” However, many managers don’t go through enough training to be an expert at interviewing and hiring. It is crucial for organizations to instruct and empower managers to make the right, legal choices.
The hiring process is composed of several steps:
- Recruiting is the step of bringing in the applicant pool for the position that you are filling.
- Interviewing is making sure you ask the correct questions to screen out those individuals that are not qualified for the position.
- Pre-Employment testing can take place during the interviewing process, but there are implications for those tests. Are the tests valid for the job responsibilities?
- Finally, there is the selection process. Employers should have a complete record of documentation on why they hired the applicant.
Before hiring, the organization as a whole should ask: Do your managers know the employment laws and regulations that impact hiring decisions? Do they know what questions they should or should not ask? Specific, behavior-related questions are best—ones that provide insight into what the actual applicant has done in the past. Remember – past behavior will generally predict future behavior.
For example, you might ask: “Tell me a time when a customer or a client was not fully satisfied with your service? How was the problem communicated? How was it resolved?”
Other hiring factors include the ability of your managers to address the culture of the organization, so the applicant gets a “realistic” view of the company, and how your managers “describe” their management style to an applicant. These factors can not only impact hiring decisions, but can leave an organization open to legal exposures if not handled properly.
Step 2: Managing Employees
When managing employees, the main focus should be striving to meet the goals of the organization while determining how the work gets accomplished in a fair, consistent and legal manner.
As a manager ask yourself: Do you treat everyone on your team consistently? Do you abide by company policies in a consistent manner? Do you discuss performance-related issues with your employees and document accordingly? Do you reach out to your HR Department for guidance on employee issues that might come up? Are you trained on the employment laws that impact your business?
Laws and Regulations
Employment laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) are just a few laws that employers and managers should consider when managing employees.
Federal employment laws and specific state laws that might impact your business may change over time. The websites for the Department of Labor (DOL) (www.dol.gov) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (www.EEOC.gov) are two official government websites for information pertaining to employment laws, compliance, trends, and statistics.
Ideally an organization would have an employee handbook that outlines the company policies and sets employee expectations. However, many times organizations have policies but don’t know how to execute them or communicate expectations to the employees. If your managers are not trained on applicable employment laws, the organization could be exposed to litigation.
Management training in the employee life cycle is crucial not only for the company’s liability, but more importantly to empower and build confidence to support positive employees morale. There is a saying in HR: “Employees don’t leave their company; they leave their manager,” so after considering all the challenges managers face in today’s fast and changing workplace, it is critical to offer leadership, guidance, education, and a commitment to all your employees in order to meet your company’s goals.
Step 3: Employee Termination
One of the most difficult processes for managers can be the termination process. This is an area that could expose the organization to litigation if not handled in compliance with company policy and applicable employment laws. Just as with the hiring process, there are steps to consider when making a decision to terminate an employee.
- Consistency: It is crucial for the organization as a whole to be consistent when addressing and documenting a discipline or termination process.
- Training: The main step is to make sure managers are trained on how they are going to communicate to the employee the performance or behavior they expect. Providing different discipline scenarios in your training can provide a realistic view on how the managers communicate and handle these difficult meetings.
- Documentation: Documentation is key in any discipline meeting since this is going to “tell the history” of the employee. What has the employee failed to complete, what policy are they not following, what performance needs improvement? Once those are documented, follow up and make sure the employee knows the expectations that are key to enforcing what was required. Consulting with your HR professional or legal counsel in advance of the meeting can help provide confidence for managers on how to communicate to employees, provide expectations, and help achieve business goals.
About the Author
Linda C. Lucarelli, SPHR, is a native of Central Florida and is a graduate of University of Central Florida with a BA in Psychology. She received a Master’s of Science in Personnel Psychology from Florida Tech in Melbourne, Florida. She joined Paychex in 2000, where she provides HR consultation for small and medium-sized clients. Her role is to provide guidance and compliance information regarding handbook policies, training and development on HR laws for managers and employees, job descriptions, comp surveys, and employee relations, to name a few.