Washington State Small Business Development Center
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Human Resources

Finding the right employees is one of the most important things a business owner will ever do. But before you place that first want-ad, assess the mission of your business and your personal objectives. In order to support employees, you need a steady stream of revenue. Make sure you understand your business cycle, industry trends and cash flow fluctuations. Are there labor saving devices that can increase your efficiency level without the addition of employees?

Also keep in mind that employees require more of you as a manager. You will need to develop skills in leadership, delegation and training. You will also need to be aware of employment laws and the process of recruiting, retaining and terminating employees. 

Human Resource Management Web Links

Circadian: 24/7 Workforce Solutions - Resources and tools to help 24/7 operations and employees.
ERISA Industry Committee - ERIC - Association of America's largest employers committed to the advancement of voluntary retirement, healthcare coverage and other employee benefit plans.
Society for Human Resource Management - Provides education and information services to human resource professionals and business owners.
Workforce Management - Comprehensive directory of human resource topics, products, services and tools to implement human resources.







FAQs

  • What are the first steps in hiring employees?

    First, create your objectives for hiring an individual. Identify what you want the employee to accomplish and what resulting benefit that employee will produce. Prepare a job description and performance standards, and set up procedures to guide the hiring process. These will include setting up a selection team (if appropriate), identifying the beginning and ending date for the recruitment process (as well as an employment start date), selecting appropriate media to post the opening, and preparing written materials such as the employment application, job announcement, and interview questions. Make sure the process is written down and followed, to assure consistency with each candidate.

  • How do I prepare an employment application?

    The employment application contains a section for the prospect's contact information (usually name, address, and phone); a section for previous employment history; and a section for other qualifying information (e.g. special skills) as well as reference names, addresses, and phone. Include a statement that giving false information on the application is grounds for termination and ask the applicant to sign the application. Requests for information on age, gender, race, religion, or national origin, and other protected information may not be included. An exception may be if this information is critical to performing a specific job (such as recruiting for a member of an all-woman basketball team).

    An employment application is necessary to collect vital employee information and all employees must complete one. However, in the recruitment phase, you may request that prospects send resumes, which summarize their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and often gives you insight on their objectives. Since resumes are concise, you will be able to screen prospects easily and identify those that warrant further attention.

     

  • How do I advertise for employees?

    You must prepare a job announcement that includes position title, description of duties, attractive job features, qualifications required, and how to apply (add EEO notices of non-discrimination as appropriate). If you have identified a salary or wage range; posting it will help you screen those who will work at that rate. Although companies often place "blind" ads, including information about the company may be helpful in recruiting candidates. You should also make personal contacts in your industry, with peers, associations, employee referrals, etc. to aid the recruitment process. Post the job announcement in appropriate newsletters, web sites, newspapers, college job placement offices, or trade journals, etc.

  • What should I do when I receive completed applications or resumes?

    Sort through applications or resumes to find the best matches to your job criteria. Evaluate applications for completeness and logic to catch misleading information. Keep an eye out for gaps in work history, time in a job, and accomplishments. Select a pool of candidates to interview and schedule them within a one- to two-week period. If a candidate lives out of town, you may need to be prepared to cover travel costs.

  • How do I conduct a job interview?

    Review the criteria you have established for the position, prepare a list of measurable criteria to compare with other candidates, be prepared to answer questions about your company, and set specific appointment times and reasonable time allotments. Develop interview questions that are the same for all candidates and are specifically job-related. When developing questions, be sure to use EEO guidelines to avoid the appearance of discrimination. If your company is large enough to fall under the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, be prepared to identify ways to provide reasonable accommodation.

    You should also familiarize yourself with good listening skills such as anticipating the answer to the question (so you can contrast and compare), probing for evidence (to build upon points made by the candidate), paraphrasing statements and periodically recapitulating (to insure understanding). You will also create a more relaxing environment for the candidate by assuring you are relaxed and the interview room is pleasant and inviting.

     

  • What should I do after the interviews are complete?

    Evaluate and rank candidates based on the criteria you established. If none or few of the candidates meet the criteria, you may need to begin the recruitment phase again. You may also reassess your criteria to be sure it is realistic for the work to be performed. Once you have identified several candidates, check their references to verify employment and, if possible, gain some perspective on the prospect's success in prior jobs. Listen carefully to the references comments as they will likely not offer any criticism, but focus only on the prospect's best attributes.

    Based on the reference's comments you may request another meeting with the candidates to narrow down your selection. Once you have reached a decision, contact the successful candidate and offer the position. Only after the offer has been made and accepted may you request a drug test. You may request the prospective employee pass a drug test at your expense, especially if the employee must operate motor vehicles or equipment.

  • Once the employee is on the job, how do I make sure it is being done the way I expect?

    Use the first few days to orient the employee. Provide a copy of your employee manual and review it with the employee to clarify policy and procedures. Review the job duties and performance criteria you have established and assign some tasks. Introduce the employee to the work environment and fellow employees. You may want to designate an employee to mentor the new staff member. Assess the employee's immediate training needs and arrange to fulfill them.

    During the first 90 days, meet regularly with the employee and offer guidance. Avoid assigning critical tasks while the employee is still getting familiar with the job duties and work environment. Gradually add higher-level duties as the employee masters components of the job. give the employee regular feedback and refer to the written job description and performance criteria.

    Be sure to reward the employee for exceeding your expectations. If the employee needs training you cannot provide, make the necessary arrangements.

  • What if my employee makes a lot of mistakes or exhibits inappropriate conduct?

    First look to yourself for answers. Have you provided adequate supervision and training? Does the employee have the necessary tools and space to perform the job? Does the job require a specific skill the employee does not have? Has the employee had enough time to master the important duties of the job? If you have addressed these questions, but performance is inadequate there are several steps you may take.

    If the problem was discussed as a cause for termination, you would be justified in terminating the employee. If not, provide appropriate warnings and assist in corrective action. Begin your warnings with a conversation. If the problem is not corrected, prepare and deliver up two written reprimands, the last of which identifies termination as the next step. Along the way, document everything and place in employee's file. It is very helpful if you have a witness to these meetings although care must also be taken to assure the employee's confidentiality. Provide additional training support as needed. Be careful to honor any labor relations agreements you have made concerning employee discipline and corrective action.

     

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