Bad hiring practices can hurt your business

In business times like these, most employers are just trying to make ends meet, keep the employees they have, keep their customers happy and keep their doors open. When the opportunity to hire a new employee comes along, they question the very need for that extra expense.When they do finally decide they can afford it, many companies immediately risk that investment by not doing several simple things. These things will help to assure the success of that employee and make them a valuable, contributing member of the “team” they have been hired to work with.For starters, every company “should” have very well crafted, written job descriptions that encompass all aspects of the job they are placing new hires into (“old” hires as well). It should be crystal clear to the employee, the supervisor of the area where he or she will work and co-workers exactly what is expected of the employee.A strong part of that job description should be a physical capacity description of what the job requires of the employee — bending, lifting, carrying, driving skills — so that employees without those capabilities and capacities are not placed in harm’s way. This can easily be avoided by having a comprehensive written job description and a “pre-placement” physical exam that the new hire, who has been offered the job, must successfully “pass” before he or she can start.In this manner, the examining physician can successfully avoid “passing” prospective hires who could be potentially injured by placing them in the job for which they are not suited. Workers’ comp claims and/or replacing an injured worker come at an enormous cost and can be avoided with proper screening of new employees.Long-term rewardsPerhaps one of the biggest “mistakes” many companies make when hiring a new employee is “training” them by having them shadow a longtime employee who is thought to be the “best” worker in that department.In many cases, they are the most productive workers, but are also the ones who know all the shortcuts and wrong ways to do things that allow them to get a lot done. Most often, because they have been doing the job for a long time, they are able to “beat the system” by not getting injured because they know how to get away with it.It’s not that they are bad people or bad employees — they are just used to doing it a certain way. It is well documented that 80 percent to 90 percent of all work-related accidents are the result of unsafe acts or unsafe work practices. The last thing employers should want to do is pass along those bad work practices to new employees who, in turn, can then pass them on to more new hires.The biggest things that do the most in helping to minimize these issues is the use of well-crafted standard operating procedures and a new hire orientation.SOPs should incorporate all proper safety procedures including lockout/tagout, personal protective equipment and proper tools and safe work practices for all processes and jobs.New hire orientation should include a lot more than showing new hires their parking spot, the cafeteria and locker room and then passing them off to Joe or Mary who have been with the company for 20-plus years, just because they have been with the company for 20-plus years.Putting all of these programs together is labor intensive and time consuming, but will result in long-term rewards and well-trained employees with safe and effective work practices. Scott Lawson, president of the Scott Lawson Companies in Concord, can be reached at 800-645-7674 or