Being an employer means having to be responsible on multiple levels. It doesn’t just mean making a profit, it means treating your employees well, fairly, and equitably across the business. You, as an employer, have the opportunity to create an environment that fosters growth and respect, or one that falls apart because you aren’t making ethical decisions. The following are the ten main tips that you can use to create the kind of business that succeeds while staying within your legal parameters.

Hiring

1. Hiring new employees is unfortunately a perfect breeding ground for prejudices and stereotypes to run rampant. Age, race, gender, and many other things can cause people to think one way or another when looking at applications. As the employer, your main job is to ensure that whether it’s you or a team reviewing applications and running interviews, that your unconscious biases are put aside.

One way to do this is to be as aware as possible of your thoughts while hiring. We all have biases and stereotypes that we may have grown up with or developed over time, so try and pay attention the next time you’re looking at an application or interviewing a candidate, and attempt to pinpoint the thoughts you’re having. This will help you be more aware for next time. For more tips, read this article about overcoming biases.

2. One way to mitigate the possibilities of hiring bias is to always aim to hire the best fit for the role. This seems extremely obvious and simple, but in reality this tip is not always followed. The best way to do this is to make a checklist of required and desired skills and experience. Then, objectively review a CV and see how much of your checklist is ticked off. Then, when you go to interview, you can keep the checklist with the interview notes and the CV and use it all to review the candidates after.

3. Another great idea is to use a blind set of eyes to help you make the decision. By this, we mean using a trusted source who did not meet the candidate. They may have an easier time being objective and simply looking at the facts, to give you that valuable outside opinion.

Disciplinary action

4. Poor employee performance can be really difficult to deal with. You may feel like you are giving your employees all the tools, support, and encouragement possible to help them do their job, and yet they are  still failing. Disciplinary action is usually the first step in trying to help the employee recognize their failing performance. The biggest tip for this is to sit down and have a conversation with your employee, and come up with an action plan for helping the employee improve. There is nothing worse than telling someone they’re doing a poor job, and then providing no resources to help them improve.

5. Set goals for your poor performing employees, and then meet with them regularly to discuss how it’s going. The process of hiring employees can be one of your biggest costs, so it’s much more preferable to turn a poor employee into a better one, than hiring a new employee outright.  

One of the biggest tips for dispensing disciplinary action as an employer is to excessively document before, during, and after. Set goals as a team, don’t just assign goals to the employee, and keep them in writing for both you and the employee. Keep everything in a file so if further action is needed, you can easily justify it.

Firing

6. When performance improvement plans and regular meetings fail, and the next step is to let the employee go, your biggest action item is to make sure that you’ve documented heavily throughout each step of the process. Your documentation is your safeguard against any potential lawsuits or complaints, and is vital to your records. The best case scenario is that your employee knows it’s coming long before it happens, and has had a copy of all the attempts to improve and meeting notes along the way. Take a look at these additional tips for legally letting an employee go for more advice.

Wages

7. Setting fair wages is tricky and difficult. The best tip is to do as much research as possible to determine the top and bottom end of your scale for each job. Once you’ve set these parameters, you’ll be able to work with a new hire to determine where their salary will be on that scale. For more help, here’s an article about setting wages.

Promoting  

8. You may or may not be surprised to hear that documentation is also the best tip for promoting employees. Keeping detailed notes on performance early, and often, will provide a paper trail of performance that can be used in justifying promotions. Discrimination and bias can show their ugly heads in promotions as well, so make sure you’re following these tips for promoting legally as well as documenting each employee’s performance in their file.

Workplace bullying and harassment

9. Harassment and bullying are both sometimes hard to see as the employer. Your employees may be hesitant to go to anyone with their concerns for fear of retaliation, or may not want to cause a larger issue. Your best bet for preventing both is to have a strict zero tolerance policy and make it absolutely clear to each employee at all times.   

Training

10. One of the best things you can do for your HR and/or management staff is to send them to employment law training. Unless you are an expert yourself, this type of training will do wonders for yourself and your staff. Employment law is tricky and hard to understand, so a group training like this will help you avoid any pitfalls that oftentimes destroy a business.

Creating an ethical, responsible, and supportive environment in your company is much easier when you follow tips like these. Being open and honest with your employees, and communicating freely, will turn your company into the kind of place where employees feel safe, work harder, and are happier in their roles.  

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