Employment Begins and Ends, So Make Sure Both Processes Are Done Right, Speakers Say

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By Caryn Freeman  

June 26 — Hiring and termination are a constant in the workplace, and employers should handle both processes as smoothly and efficiently as possible, as they are fraught with potential pitfalls, speakers said during a June 18 Bloomberg BNA webinar, “How to Hire and Terminate Employees Effectively.”

“Once a company identifies its organizational, divisional or departmental objectives, there are a number of validated selection tools employers can use to identify employees who fit those goals,” said Stephanie Thomason, professor and associate dean at the College of Business at the University of Tampa in Tampa, Fla.

Tests Must Be Job-Related

The most reliable screening exam, Thomason said, is the five-factor model personality assessment. The test examines introversion/extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroses and openness to new experiences.

“These are good predictors of salesmanship, attitude, teamwork and conscientiousness, something I think all employers want in their employees,” she said.

Thomason recommended employers also include in tests what is referred to as a narcissism scale. This assessment can reveal psychological entitlement with questions tailored to applicants' ideas of what they believe they deserve in the workplace, she said.

“For example they might feel they deserve to have high performance ratings even though they know their performance isn't at a very high level and they know their effort isn't very strong,” Thomason explained.

Attorney Colleen Flynn, a partner at Johnson Pope in Clearwater, Fla., said in the June 18 webinar that although there has been a lot of evolution in pre-hire assessments, employers still need to be careful about personality and other such tests. A test needs to be appropriate to the open position, she said, and must be job-related.

“You have to be very careful and make certain that you don't have someone in human resources or a manager just giving these tests when they may not be job-related, because they may be screening out groups in a disproportionate fashion,” Flynn said.

Consider Those Left Behind

When terminating an employee, which can be for reasons ranging from performance, tardiness, theft, complaints or violations of company policy, Flynn advised employers to consider how the current workforce will be impacted.

“A lot of times, people say it's such a relief once you get somebody out of there. Other times someone gets fired and everybody else there loves them and then it's a problem. So I think it is important to consider that,” she said.

Flynn said that when employment contracts are involved, it is important to make certain that the company follows the contract terms for termination. “Provide the proper notice required and have a clear understanding of whether a contract employee can be terminated with or without cause and what payments the company is responsible for,” she said.

Flynn said employers should be certain that all required employment documentation is in the employee's personnel file prior to termination. “Record-keeping requirements are important to have in the event that the company is audited,” she said.

Flynn said it's prudent for employers to deliver the news of the termination promptly and with a witness present.

She added that it is not wise to argue or discuss the firing with the terminated employee. “There is no argument or discussion, it's a non-negotiation. Let the employee know that the decision has already been made, allow them to get their personal effects and make sure that access to computer systems is barred, especially if the employee is computer savvy,” Flynn said.

Finally, Flynn said it's important to make sure the employee returns any keys, system codes, computer passwords and client lists.

She also advised employers not to forget the importance of enforcing noncompete or nondisclosure clauses. “If you have a noncompete clause, I would always give the terminated employee a copy of it,” Flynn said, “and remind them of it on their way out the door, whether they quit or you fire them.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at cfreeman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com