Hiring Practices

Choices, choices

Koch Peter 2  Submitted by Peter Koch


“The history of men is never really written by chance but by choice.”  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower


That second it takes to make a choice, right or wrong, can be the difference between success and a loss.  That choice is yours and your employee’s to make.  Whether you like it or not, as a supervisor, once clocked in, the choices they make are your responsibility. 

In the event of an injury, consider what drove the choice(s) that caused the event.  What changed to cause the injury?  Could it have been production volume, environmental or working conditions, fatigue?  Or, just staff becoming more comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, with their job and working conditions? Though these reasons may be uncovered in the accident analysis, they are all normal evolutions of our work climate, which can be anticipated and controlled.  How can you influence the choices that caused the event?  Here are some questions to assess:  

  • What did you do early on in their employment to affect the choices made by your staff?
  • Have you continued repeating the message(s)? Are they still listening?
  • How ingrained is the safety message/culture you want to have?
  • Have you observed the behavior of the staff in the field compared to the expectations?
  • Have you thoroughly discussed and analyzed the targeted losses from your company with your staff?
  • Have you been able to focus the discussion on the choice that caused the event, or the conditions that drove the choice?

Influencing choices and changing behavior starts with developing policies and procedures that address expected job performance while prohibiting behaviors that are not essential for the job, or are excessively hazardous.  This is a necessary – and critical – part of managing work-related risk.  

Take a minute to review what you do to affect the daily choices of your staff.  Start with the policies and procedures, then move on to how you communicate the expectations of the job.  Can you be more effective at influencing the choices your staff members make once they punch the clock?

Task Force Begins Look at Employee Misclassification in Maine

I have reviewed hundreds of construction jobsites over the years. Inevitably, owners ask me what can be done about the illegal use of subcontractors. Specifically, they vent about their competition classifying their employees as subcontractors and thereby sidestepping a number of state regulations. In essence, owners are irate about playing by the rules while the competition does not. These conversations have gotten heated and understandably so. The playing field is not level, and everybody knows it, including many regulators. Yet, nothing has been done. Happily, I can report that this is being addressed in many ways all around the country.

In my home state of Maine, Governor John Baldacci recently enacted an Executive Order, creating a task force to look into this obvious problem. The issue has been discussed by many different groups over a number of years and it looks like finally some corrections may be made. It's too early to tell exactly what will take place or when any changes may be made. But this is certainly a step in the right direction. This isn’t just limited to the employers --  certain rights and coverages will extend to Maine's employees too. If done right, this could definitely be a win-win situation if there ever was one.

The WorkCompCentral newsletter has additional information and some very interesting statistics that form the foundation for the governor's actions. As this process gets underway it's inevitable that interest will be generated. I will keep you updated when information is released.

Trouble for Hire

Here is a scenario that any business owner or human resources director would love: You need a new employee and, without even advertising, a young person walks in, not only able to do the job, but willing to take on additional tasks. They go on to retire from the company after 35 happy years of exemplary service. Happens every day, right?

Every outfit, from a residential contractor to a restaurant to manufacturing plant, knows that their success and stability lies within their employees. Yet there are still businesses, usually small to midsized, that set themselves up to fail because of their hiring practices. 

Excuses include: "I don't have time," "We are too small," and "I know a good man (or woman) when I see one." If you don't take the time on the front end, you may pay the price in many ways. And how can you be too small? A $20,000 back injury is a $20,000 back injury no matter what your size. In fact, who takes a more painful hit—the residential contractor or the shipyard? And if a small retailer with five employees is missing a person with an injury (or even perhaps a purported injury), isn’t it more of a problem than a 50-employee shop?

Bringing on new employees always has a degree of risk.  Fortunately, there are proven methods to minimize and in many cases eliminate the hiring of "trouble."

MEMIC has written a guide to better hiring practices that has saved many organizations the negative costs that may come with a new employee.

Some of the fair and legal hiring practices it covers include:

  • Six ways to publicize a job opening along with the advantages and disadvantages of each method,
  • tips on using application forms, and
  • what questions you should ask on a job interview and which to avoid.

For the complete guide, download “Five Steps to an Effective Hiring Practice.”