Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

USCIS Publishes New Form I-9

On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers may begin using this updated form immediately or choose to use the previous edition dated July 17, 2017 through April 30, 2020. Employers that fail to use the new version of Form I-9 after April 30, 2020 may be subject to penalties as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Employers must continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for previously completed Form I-9.

What is Form I-9?

Employers use Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. This includes citizens as well as non-citizens. All employers must complete and retain Form I-9 for every person they hire for employment in the U.S. as long as the person works for pay or other type of payment.

Form I-9 has three sections:

  1. Employee Information and Attestation
  2. Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Attestation
  3. Updating and Reverification

Storage Requirements:

All employers must:

  • Retain and store Form I-9 for three years after the date of hire, or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
  • Make their forms available for inspection if requested by authorized U.S. government officials.

What Changed?

The new edition contains minor changes to the previous form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N). Among the changes are additional countries in the Country of Issuance field in Section 1.

The other minor changes are only visible when completing the electronic version of the form, including the following:

  • Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
  • Updated USCIS website addresses
  • Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
  • Updated the process for requesting paper Form I-9
  • Updated the DHS Privacy Notice

USCIS publishes a paper I-9 Form and an electronic, fillable I-9 Form. Employers can find these forms, and additional information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

For questions or concerns regarding Form I-9, please contact Jodi Bryan, HR Director at jbryan@consultyhn.com or Ernie Paolini, Director of Recruiting at epaolini@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Jodi Bryan is the Human Resources Director for Consult YHN and has been certified as a Professional in Human Resources since 2000. Prior to joining the organization in 2013, she held HR positions with progressive responsibilities in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and banking industries. Jodi adapts her style to support each business where they are, from integration at acquisition to introducing processes around performance management.

Drive the Highest Levels of Growth Through Employee Engagement

Your brand is who you are. It’s how your community, patients, current and prospective employees, and competitors perceive you. It’s reflected by the team that you’ve assembled, for better or worse. And, it is intentional (i.e. it does not occur by accident)—you create it, you develop it, you maintain it, you own it.

Now think about your own brand—is it the brand that you want? If not, the best way to change it is through hiring and employee development. The takeaway is to hire the right people, pay attention to attitude, attributes, and traits, and create paths of development for your team. If you do these things, then you will drive employee engagement.

And only with a highly engaged team can you drive the growth that your organization needs.

But how do you deal with the team you have today? How can you make sure that you have the right people in the right seats? And if you do, then how do you keep them engaged?

In this post, we’ll review the three levels of employee engagement, how to identify where each employee resides, and how to manage them successfully to drive the highest levels of growth.

The first step is to identify and understand the levels of employee engagement:

Level 1: Engaged
Engaged employees distinguish themselves with a “whatever it takes” mindset. They most likely can and will do anything within the scope of the work environment. They are with your organization more out of love than money—love for you, the position, co-workers, customers and, most of all, for the organization’s vision and purpose. They are not difficult to identify as they will seek opportunities to mentor, look for challenging tasks and additional responsibilities, and exhibit the traits that you usually see in leaders. You need to hold onto these people. They will attract like-minded employees to your organization, become evangelists for your mission, and sometimes even help to motivate unengaged employees. You want a culture that shows them appreciation, challenges them, and provides opportunities for them to mentor. In other words, you want to create a path to organizational leadership for truly engaged employees.
Level 2: Unengaged

Unengaged employees are with you for the money. They may not be invested in the job or the organization but usually can and will do the work. Their skills and abilities are not called into question, but their motivation and commitment may be. You will get just enough out of unengaged employees and they will stay with you unless/until someone offers them more money. The best course of action with these employees is to engage with them more and try to figure out what motivates them. Look for a connection point or hot button and capitalize on it. They can be moved in the right direction and become engaged (and you can never have too many engaged employees!), but it takes a lot of effort.

Level 3: Actively Disengaged
Actively disengaged employees either can do the job but won’t or can’t do the job and don’t care enough to learn how. These are employees who will pollute your culture. They will help bring an unengaged employee down to their level and give reason for an engaged employee to leave. They can be identified by an air of entitlement, contributions to office gossip, and an unwillingness to learn. They thrive on drama and may say things like, “It’s not my job.” The best thing to do with employees like this is to manage them out by applying progressive discipline, including regular one-on-one discussions about their behavior and job performance. Set clear expectations and make sure that they understand changes need to be made and that they will be held accountable for making them.
In conclusion, the best people will come to work for you—and stay with you—because of an engaged culture. When hiring, look for these key traits: Emotional Intelligence (EQ), empathy, positivity, work ethic, coachability, passion, humility, and vulnerability. When managing, take the time to interact with and really get to know the people you’re leading. Also, practice sound performance management (set expectations, model behavior, observe and evaluate, provide feedback, and coach). Be consistent but recognize that performance management is not always a “one size fits all” process.

And remember: YOU control your culture and brand.

Our experienced recruiters can help you assemble a highly-engaged and high-performing team. Talk to your Account Manager today about taking advantage of our industry-leading, full lifecycle recruiting services or email the Recruiting Department at recruitingservices@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Final Rule on Overtime: Everything You Need to Know for 2020

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor published its long-awaited Final Rule to the “white collar” overtime exemptions which will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule determines whether employees are eligible or exempt for overtime pay.

To be exempt from overtime under the FLSA, employees must be paid a salary of at least the threshold amount and meet certain tests regarding their job duties. If they are paid less or do not meet those tests, they must be paid one-and-a-half times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

The new rule will raise the salary threshold from $455 a week ($23,660 annualized) to $684 a week ($35,568 annualized). It will also allow employers to pay up to 10 percent of that minimum level ($3,556.80) in commissions, bonuses, and other non-discretionary incentives.

Such bonuses include nondiscretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity or profitability. For employers to credit nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) toward a portion of the standard salary level test, such payments must be paid on an annual or more frequent basis.

For example, instead of guaranteeing a salary of $684 per week, an employer could pay $615.60 per week and provide incentive pay, bonus, or commission equal to $3556.80 (10 percent of $35,568) at the end of the year to reach to the salary threshold.

Exempt vs. Nonexempt

Exempt Employees: Employers must pay a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position in order for it to be exempt. Exempt positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections afforded nonexempt workers. Typically, only executive, supervisory, professional or outside sales positions are exempt positions.

Nonexempt Employees: Employees who fall within this category are not exempt from FLSA requirements. They must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and given overtime pay of not less than one-and-a-half times their hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 40 hours each week.

The new rule is expected to prompt employers to reclassify more than a million currently exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise pay for others above the new threshold. 

Meeting the salary threshold doesn’t automatically make an employee exempt from overtime pay—the employee’s job duties also must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined by the regulations.

And while the new rule has raised the salary threshold, there were no changes to the current duties test.

White Collar Exemptions

Each of the three white-collar exemptions has slightly different criteria which it’s important that employers review:

Executive Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise or a department or subdivision of the enterprise. The employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two employees and have the authority to hire or fire workers (or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to hiring, firing or changing the status of other employees must be given particular weight).

Administrative Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be performing office or nonmanual work that is directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers. The employee’s primary duty also must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Professional Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be to perform work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning that is customarily acquired by prolonged, specialized, intellectual instruction and study.

Next Steps

Practices with exempt employees who currently earn more than $455 per week, but less than $684 per week, and who satisfy the duties requirements, will need to either increase the employee’s salary to the new level or re-classify the employee as non-exempt.

It is important for practices to consider how the new rule interacts with state laws. The general rule in employment law is that businesses must comply with the law that provides the most protection for the employee.

So, for example, in states that have their own exemption tests—such as California—the employer must satisfy whichever salary threshold is greater, whether it’s the federal or state rate.

Additionally, some states may have different duties tests as well as salary cutoffs, and it is important to understand and comply with the more stringent of the applicable rules.

You can read a list of FAQs regarding the Final Rule here.

For additional questions or assistance, please contact Consult YHN’s Human Resources Manager, Jodi Bryan, at 800-984-3272 ext. 305 or jbryan@consultyhn.com or Director of Recruiting, Ernie Paolini, at 800-984-3272 ext. 327 or epaolini@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Jodi Bryan is the Human Resources Director for Consult YHN and has been certified as a Professional in Human Resources since 2000. Prior to joining the organization in 2013, she held HR positions with progressive responsibilities in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and banking industries. Jodi adapts her style to support each business where they are, from integration at acquisition to introducing processes around performance management.

The Most Important Interview Question Isn’t What You Think

Every savvy interviewer will ask an iteration of: “Why should I hire you?”

It’s a good question that can elicit great insights into a candidate’s self-worth, awareness, and understanding of the position. So, keep asking it!

However, very few interviewers would be able to come up with a compelling answer if a candidate asked, “Why should I come to work here?”

That’s also a good question. And even if it’s not asked specifically by a candidate, you can be sure that he or she is thinking about it. Hopefully, you’re providing implied answers throughout the interview. Now more than ever, employers need to be able to address this question head-on.

While the employment pool was once filled with candidates who were eager to please and grateful for opportunities to compete for “good jobs,” times have changed. Unemployment is at a historic low. There are more job openings than there are job seekers. The most skilled candidates will be very selective about where they choose to work. Small businesses face even greater hiring challenges because they’re competing with large corporations that offer high salaries, robust benefits, and attractive perks.

A great approach to your business (and your life, for that matter) is to simply do your best to control everything that you can. Here are three things that you can control when it comes to staffing and team building, along with three possible answers to that all-important question: “Why should I come to work here.”

 

“We offer a competitive salary as well as excellent benefits and perks.”

Let’s face facts: job seekers are going to go wherever they can get the most money (I know, I know, “Thanks, Captain Obvious!”). It’s crucial to establish salary guidelines that are in line with the prevailing industry and geographic standards. This is one area where you shouldn’t be looking to cut costs. Benefits and perks should also be part of your compensation equation (they certainly show up as line item costs on a P&L statement).

Now that we’ve addressed the obvious, you’ll be happy to know that there are other ways to be competitive in attracting talent.

“We’ll help you build skills that will last a lifetime.”

Many employers look to find people that can “hit the ground running.” In doing so, they sometimes confuse skills and experience with attributes and traits. They look for candidates who have acquired job skills through experience and professional development opportunities provided by previous employers. Your competitor assumed all the costs and did all the heavy lifting to develop this employee—what’s not to love?

Well, you may end up paying top dollar for talent like this and you may end up with an employee who isn’t challenged by the position.

So what if, instead of focusing on their skills, you also factored in the attributes that you want in an employee? Wouldn’t you be willing to teach, mentor, coach, and develop someone who had an impeccable work ethic?

You could end up with an employee who is challenged every day to learn; The kind of employee who is grateful for the opportunity and is engaged in his or her job and with the business; An employee who could contribute character and positivity to the kind of culture you want to build and maintain; Someone who would be an evangelist for your organization and help you attract future like-minded employees.

Bonus: they’ll cost you less than the employee who has the skills and experience to “hit the ground running.”

“We have a really great team of people here and we pride ourselves on having a culture of growth.”

You might be thinking, “But what if I spend all this time and money to develop this employee then they leave.” Well, know that while people may ultimately come to work for you because of the money, they will stay, or leave, because of your culture. 

Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract top talent. As you evaluate or create your ideal culture, keep in mind that you want a work environment that is defined by respectfulness, transparency, and fairness.

In this competitive job market, the costs of making wrong hiring decisions, or hesitation in the face of potential growth is staggering. Identifying, vetting, attracting (and being attractive to) the best candidates has never been more important or more difficult.

Fortunately, Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters are here to help. Not only can we keep your practice running at capacity, but we can also help you build the ultimate dream team. Talk to your Account Manager or contact the Recruiting Department at RecruitingServices@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.