As the United States rapidly grows more diverse, it’s only logical that our workplaces follow suit. To make more representative businesses a reality, two-thirds of companies have implemented strategies to create more diversity among their employees. Although these initiatives attempt to remove bias from the hiring process, they’ve actually introduced a different kind of discrimination as hiring managers are compelled to recruit from only specific demographics.

This rigidity narrows a company’s chances of finding the best new employees. Rather than increasing diversity by hiring a man, woman, Hispanic, Asian, or any other category for that matter, businesses should turn their attention to increasing inclusion. Being inclusive means keeping an open mind and approaching hiring holistically; it’s about bringing on people who offer great skills and unique perspectives that enhance the company’s culture.

Inclusion means truly accepting and integrating the differences that diversity brings. This practice involves giving every new perspective a voice in order to create goals that are beneficial for everyone. Because our world is now multicultural, business that reflect this will naturally do the best.

Yes, Millennials Need to be Included Too 

When people think about diversity, the first things that come to mind often center on gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race. However, an important factor that often goes ignored is age. The oldest millennials are currently around 37 years old and many are ready to take on executive management positions. However, due to the lack of appropriate training and opportunity, promotion isn’t happening as quickly as it could.

This lack of inclusion for millennials stems from the cultural differences between them and the baby boomers. These differences often create some tension between the generations, as baby boomers tend to view millennials as lazy or incompetent. However, it’s inevitable that millennials will succeed their predecessors, and baby boomers in senior management roles need to embrace this fact and promote inclusivity. If older millennials continue being promoted slowly – if at all – they will likely seek other jobs.

It isn’t just millennials, though; everyone needs to be given the opportunity for career progression. One great way to do this is for companies to hire from within and provide adequate training to all their employees to create the next generations of leaders.

Education is Key 

Most companies that promote inclusion offer diversity awareness training programs, which help to mitigate people’s unconscious biases. Like the term implies, most people aren’t even aware of their own prejudice. For that reason, it’s worth the investment to hire quality, professional trainers to reshape your team’s perspectives on inclusion.

Through proper education programs, companies can become more synergistic and productive, increasing their capacity to communicate and set mutually beneficial goals. These programs allow both the organization and the employees to get more in return for their time as they learn to be more effective through considering diverse perspectives.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

We no longer live in a world that is one color; we’re a blend. Having a company that represents this blend is the key to not only reaching the highest number of customers, but creating a more balanced workplace as well. However, creating this balance of cultures is not easy.

Focusing on diversity is only the first step. Doing so without eye for inclusion will foster a workplace where people have a hard time understanding one another due to their differences. Thankfully, through mindfulness and education, inclusion can be promoted in order to create an environment where our differences are no longer our biggest hurdle, but rather our greatest asset.

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Gone are the days of long work hours isolated in cubicles, creating reports for distant managers. Instead, with the unemployment rate at 3.7%, employees have the power to demand more fulfilling conditions.


With employees in power, many businesses are now catering to their workers with the same attention that they afford to their customers. As they do, organizations hope to attract the best hires, as well as increase employee happiness, engagement, and tenure.


Although some business leaders may find focusing on employees instead of customers to be counter-intuitive, in fact, there are plenty of compelling reasons to develop a company’s culture. But, before getting to those, let’s first understand what corporate culture is.

Defining Corporate Culture

When thinking of corporate culture, many imagine an office with modern furnishings, stocked kitchens, and employee happy hours. While these can be important elements, the concept runs deeper than that.

Put simply, corporate culture refers to the overall personality of a company, which consists of the values, attitudes, norms, and beliefs that employees share. Corporate culture is also rooted in the organization’s mission, vision, strategies, and structure, as well as its customers, investors, and community. 


Overall, it directly informs how open, creative, and engaged employees feel while at work. Are they free to decorate their own desks like at Zappos, or explore their own interests like at Google? Or do they feel apathetic, fearful, and insignificant, like a small cog in a much larger machine?


While this is all great to consider from an ethics point of view, you’re probably wondering how it affects the bottom line.

The Case for Corporate Culture

As the great leadership guru, Simon Sinek, once said, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”


Recent research reveals just how true this statement is. Studies show that disengaged workers reduce total U.S. economic performance by about $550 billion each year.


In contrast, happy workers are 31% more productive and make 37% more sales than average, leading to greater profitability and less job turnover. For these reasons, it’s clear why companies with happier employees consistently rank above industry benchmarks.


With all these statistics in mind, it’s easy to see how important corporate culture is. Unfortunately, though, many businesses are quite far behind in this area.

The Current State of Employee Engagement

Did you know that about two-thirds of the world’s workforce is disengaged at work? Beyond that only 13% report being actively engaged with what they do. In addition to this, two thirds of workers are burned out, and one third are highly stressed.


These stress levels will lead many employees to leave their job if a better offer arises. This is illustrated by the fact that many people who are actively looking for new positions say that company culture is the main reason.


Despite these troubling numbers, through proper investment and leadership, it is possible to turn a company’s culture around.

Improving Corporate Culture: A Top-Down Approach

Strong leaders build strong cultures. From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, we can see how the spirit of a leader is imbued into their followers, creating solid companies on all levels. Because of this, when it comes to improving corporate culture, a top-down approach is essential.

We can see this axiom ringing true across many examples of corporate cultures. For instance, in the infamous case of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, capricious leadership took the company from prosperity to bankruptcy as greed infected the entire organization. However, on the other hand, Zappos, a business with a CEO who prioritizes culture, has enjoyed sustained success over the years. 


In addition to this, Google, a company that invested more in employee support, enjoyed a 37% increase in employee satisfaction.

Putting Everything Into Practice

In order to mirror these successes, leaders must first consider the traits that would define their ideal corporate culture. Some of these traits might include encouraging openness, creativity, flexibility, and self-starting. After that, they must work to imbibe those traits themselves. If done correctly, the qualities of the leader will permeate through the entire company.


If the CEO is too busy to develop culture, bringing on a Chief Culture Officer can be key in this endeavor. They will create a long-term cultural plan for the organization that aligns seamlessly with its mission and customers. After that, they will work with all levels of the company in order to implement it.


Another important tip for improving corporate culture is hiring individuals who will add value to your culture. All too often do companies bring on people who fit into their existing status-quo, rather than looking for those who will add important new dimensions. In doing so, their office dynamics remain stagnant rather than naturally evolving.

Finally, when developing your company’s culture, it’s important to always have an eye on new benefits or work-life arrangements that will attract top employees.

The Future of Corporate Culture

Millennials often get a bad reputation for shaking up the status quo. However, having grown up with events such as 9/11, the Great Recession, and climate change, it’s no surprise why they don’t seem to trust traditional social structures. So, as this group steadily grows to dominate the workforce, we can certainly expect their ideas to shape the future of corporate culture.


One of the major shifts that millennials are pushing for is flexible work options. In fact, almost 80% of millennials say that they would be more loyal to their employer if they were given flexible work hours. With so much new technology being developed to streamline remote work, it’s clear that this will become a norm in the future.


Furthermore, it’s also easy to see that millennials won’t tolerate stagnation in their careers, so another key cultural change we can expect this generation to champion is increased opportunities for self-improvement and career advancement. This may come in the form of increased feedback from higher-ups or from career training opportunities.


Other advents that will likely characterize the future of corporate culture are increased transparency, a better work-life balance, and more focus on diversity and inclusion. However, beyond these, culture will likely continue to evolve in ways that nobody can predict.


So, for now, it’s best to make a plan and hit the ground running. After that, rather than getting lost in the disruption, your company will be in a much better position to adapt to the changing tides of culture.

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The hiring landscape is changing.  The tools and techniques to recruit successful candidates need close and frequent examination.  

With the unemployment rate at 4.0% in May 2018, employers need to be more competitive in their processes and procedures to recruit and maintain great hires. 

As software and social media provide an increasing amount of tools to use in the recruiting process, the disconnect between employers and potential candidates also increases.  Internet-based tools can narrow down search results based on actuarial methods, but those tools cannot assess cultural fit, which is critical for a new hires long-term tenure.

Transparency, trust and disclosure are vital to counterbalance the impersonal nature of internet-based search and communications.  

The 2018 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Survey, conducted between August 14 and September 9 of 2017, includes responses from nearly 6,000 human resource professionals and states that “84% of respondents have found a lie or misrepresentation on a resume and/or job application – that’s up dramatically since 2012, when 66% reported finding fabrications.”  

Many companies use an applicant tracking system to sort incoming resumes.  With the average executive job posting getting several hundred applicants, the tracking system is programmed to select the resumes that best match their specific requirements.  Many candidates are now keen to this search process and exaggerate their qualifications.

While employers cannot control how candidates represent themselves, they can control how they invest in their executive recruitment process.  Data shows planned investment in improving the candidate experience increased from 35% in 2017 to 37% in 2018, showing a positive shift in how employers assess the importance of this process.

“The work required to effectively craft and execute a company strategy is extraordinarily difficult. It’s no surprise that many try to oversimplify it, or dilute it to match whatever level of competence they have. But if organizations actually invested in preparing executives for the real requirements of these roles, we would see failure rates decline and companies more consistently adapt and thrive.” – Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review

How to Prepare Executives

There are many ways to prepare executives for the real requirements of their role, including the interview process, assessing cultural fit and the on-boarding process detailed below.
 

1. The Interview Process

Trust, disclosure and transparency are key. Objectives for the role should be well-defined and realistic, based on historical corporate performance.

A systematic interview process will reduce personal bias and any attempts to control the outcome on the employer’s part.  

2. Cultural Fit

Data indicates that employees with a positive cultural fit have superior job performance, show greater job satisfaction, and as a result are more likely to remain with the organization.

Cultural fit is often misunderstood as a procedural element that can lead to discrimination against candidates and a lack of diversity.  The values and attributes that make up an organizational culture and its staff can and should be reflected in a collaborative and diverse team.

3. On-boarding

Research suggests that new executive hires need about 120 days to adjust to social and performance aspects of their position. Cultivating role clarity, social integration, knowledge and fit with a new executive will help them confidently navigate the culture and their place within it.  Defining the culture in the interview and facilitating it in the on-boarding process leads to higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment and performance levels coupled with lower turnover, and stress.

4. Responsibility of the Employer

Employers often want to find a candidate that can excel in too many areas.  Better planning and expanded communication can help everyone involved focus on core competencies and goals.

Technology has aided in shifting expectations and attitudes towards faster results and a lower investment of time and finances.  However, the opposite is needed to measure a candidate’s fit to the organization’s culture, values and goals

The quality of the candidate found by an executive recruitment firm will reflect the quality of the recruitment process.  At Executives Unlimited, Inc. we have been committed to responsibility, integrity and leadership in helping our clients with their strategic executive workforce planning.  For information about our services, call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online today.

For more information, read our ultimate guide to recruiting and hiring top executives

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Did you know that 67% of large firms encounter challenges while hiring? With a growing labor shortage and massive disruption affecting almost every industry, this statistic is likely to increase in the coming months, causing recruiters to continue scrambling to attract talent to their organizations.

In the face of these challenges, if companies hope to come out on top in the marketplace, it’s essential that they take a proactive approach to hiring rather than a reactive one. Although this approach does require a bit more work in the short term, in the long run, it often pays for itself.

The Pitfalls of Reactive Hiring

For most recruiters within a company, reactive hiring is the norm. In this framework, after a company realizes that they need to fill a key executive position, they will publicize a job opening, wait for candidates to apply, and then make decisions regarding who to hire.

Although this approach can work in some cases, it most often opens organizations to one dreadful possibility: leaving a crucial executive position unfilled for months as they wait for the perfect candidate to turn up. In these scenarios, companies are often strained as their executive team and direct reports struggle to pick up the slack created by the open position.

Beyond that, as organizations face the challenges created by the ever-increasing cost to solicit a candidate’s interest, reactive recruiting can lead to an ineffective, or worse, unsuccessful hiring process.

In some cases, companies transfer their time pressure onto the candidates, encouraging them to commit quickly, often before either party provides enough transparent due diligence. Such a haphazard approach can result in a relationship that doesn’t ultimately work out and having to redo the entire search process.

Thankfully, all of this hiring hassle can be avoided if companies embrace a proactive approach.

Start Hiring Proactively

Proactive hiring is all about anticipating your organization’s succession plan, before your hiring needs become an issue. You may not have an open position at the moment, but you will in the future so it’s important to take steps to create a plan for succession.

Rather than taking a transactional approach to hiring as the reactive method does, proactive hiring is relationship-driven. In fact, proactive succession planning is more about education, transparency, and nurturing relationships to ensure that the organization hires the most qualified executive and the best cultural match.

Everyone’s time is valuable and you will end up spending more money (and time) if you do not practice a proactive approach to executive recruitment. That is why it’s best to engage an executive search firm whose sole job is to find qualified candidates that meet your company’s objectives with a strategic, thoughtful and accountable search process.

Getting Help in the Process

By working with Executives Unlimited, we’ll help you with both succession planning and filling new positions. As we do, you’ll have access to our network of top-tier executive candidates, allowing you to streamline the hiring process even further.

Temporary employees. For some companies, they are a great option. Temps can provide needed help during a busy season, fill a short-term gap for an employee on an extended leave or provide expertise for a specific project.

But there are several considerations to keep in mind when hiring temporary workers.

Temps are generally hired for a specified period of time, typically not more than a one-year period and are entitled to many of the same legal protections as other employees, such as workers’ compensation laws, requirements under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and the rights provided by Title VII and other anti-discrimination statutes.

Employers are obligated to pay income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for temporary employees; such workers may also be eligible for health care or retirement benefits, depending on the circumstances.

Companies can hire temporary workers on their own or through an agency. Working with an agency can alleviate an employer’s burden, as the agency will typically withhold the required taxes and pay the worker’s wages. However, employers could be held liable as a “joint employer” if the agency fails to comply with legal requirements. To protect themselves, employers should engage in due diligence before working with an agency, carefully review staffing agency contracts and require proof of insurance.

Misclassification of workers presents a host of legal problems for employers. Regulators – from state Attorneys General to the federal Department of Labor – have targeted misclassification in major lawsuits across the country, some resulting in multi-million settlements. The Internal Revenue Service is also interested in the issue and entitled to retroactive tax payments if the agency determines the employer failed to pay the requisite taxes.

Workers themselves can also bring suit, alleging that they were actually treated like an employee despite being labeled a temp.

In 2000, Microsoft paid $97 million to settle a class action brought by 10,000 temporary workers who sued after working for the company for several years, in some cases sitting right next to employees. The self-described “permatemps” argued the company hired them through temp agencies to avoid paying them health benefits, pensions and stock options. They told the court that they were actually permanent employees and therefore deserved the same benefits.

Most problems occur when a temporary position begins to look permanent. Maybe the worker turned out to be an invaluable resource, the employee who was supposed to return to work never did or the project drags on unexpectedly.

In a lawsuit, regulators or the court will consider the scope of the employment relationship in order to determine if the individual is a temporary worker or employee, with factors such as the level of control the employer exercises over the worker, whether the company is the worker’s sole source of income, if the work is flexible (in location and hours) and if the worker uses the company’s equipment.

To avoid facing liability, employers should strive to treat temporary workers like temps. Keep the employment period defined (and typically less than one year), do not conduct performance reviews or pay bonuses and consider not inviting temps to company functions, such as the summer picnic or holiday party.

I know you probably have more pressing issues on your mind like what you’re having for dinner tonight or how you’re going to manage to give your cat a bath this weekend, but this is important stuff for sure! Before we go over how to write position descriptions, we need to clarify the difference between a job description and a position description. Though they’re often used interchangeably, they’re not the same.

A job description is the nature of the work done. It includes the tasks and responsibilities expected of an employee in a specific position. Example: director responsibilities may include managing staff, producing quarterly reports, interacting with clients.

A position description is derived from a job with a more detailed, concrete set of specific tasks particular to the job. Examples: director of -HR, -marketing, -finance, etc. Depending on the kind of director in a department, there are tasks and skills specific to that department. A director of HR is responsible for managing employee issues and will be administering tasks such as labor relations/compliance, training, running payroll, benefits and recruiting while a director of finance will be in charge of maximizing returns on financial assets by establishing a company’s financial policies, procedures, reporting systems and oversee general accounting.

You may now be thinking, Yeah, well, I can see how position descriptions could benefit a company with more employees. Everyone here understands what they need to do. You’re right. With a smaller company you might have been able to get away with not writing a specific set of duties and skills required for that position because everyone basically wears many hats and jumps in wherever they’re needed.

But look down the road to when you need to fill a recent vacancy or when your company’s success means you need to hire more people. You don’t want to be caught scrambling to write something that you thought about for only two (okay three) hours. If it’s a vacancy, the tendency here is to write a description that you modeled around the prior employee, not necessarily what you need from that position.

Check out these things to keep in mind when you’re assembling the description:

Set compensation

This helps you gauge the market pricing of this position based on tasks and qualifications required and helps level the field against (sub)conscious biases like gender, race, and age.

Recruit for the right candidates

A clear position description and job description summarizing the position gives the purpose of the position and how the employee will fit in with the rest of the company. Ensuring that potential applicants understand the major responsibilities and selection criteria will help attract the right talent… unless of course you look forward to getting responses from applicants whose idea of job hunting is sending out resumes indiscriminately so it resembles the throwing-spaghetti-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method.

Develop the position as the company grows/changes

The description helps in reevaluating the position as the company’s needs change. Reviewing the description during annual performance appraisal time allows to stay true to the position’s duties while at the same time takes into account possible necessary changes when other positions are created or changed. It also allows for managers to create professional development plans with employee input to encourage career growth and higher job satisfaction.

Performance appraisals

Specific tasks and goals accomplished with measurable outcomes as outlined in the prior appraisal help “keep it real,” as in real concrete. Employees will understand their tasks and tend to be focused and more productive than employees who have a vague description of what their jobs entail. It’s like playing by the same rules in Monopoly, and I think most of us know what it feels like playing with someone who has a different set of rules.

Maintain HR compliance per federal and state laws

This is a biggie. Creating accurate descriptions are essential! Without them, you can run into trouble with laws like the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and FSLA (Fair Labor Standards Act) just to name a couple. Should there be any issues that arise because your position description isn’t specific and thorough enough, you will wish you spent more than two (okay three) hours cranking it out.

So how to write one? If it’s a new position, write it up based on your company’s required tasks, similar positions you research from outside sources and input from other managers you work           with–definitely an HR manager if you have one. Make sure you have other eyeballs to proofread it, too. Again, make sure at least a pair of those eyeballs belong to someone in HR. When writing a job/position description, you definitely want to give a professional impression, not some trumped-up last-minute description that’s riddled with errors.

Whatever you do, if you already have an employee in that position, it’s important to ask for the employee’s input to get info directly from that person and to get him/her onboard with hands-on involvement in crafting it. Don’t ambush the employee with a description out of the blue. You can approach it in a few ways:

  • Talk to the employee and write one up based on the info received
  • Ask him/her to write it and build on that
  • Draft one yourself and ask the employee to review and tweak it as necessary

Below are the items you should include to make a great description.

Position title

Make sure it accurately reflects the role and responsibilities that fit the normal industry titles to be comparable. Avoid vague titles. “Mad Scientist” is catchy but confusing. Yes, I actually came across one of those. Make sure it reflects the responsibility level. The title “Director of First Impressions” instead of “Receptionist” is an extreme example of puffery and can be confusing.

Position summary

This describes the purpose of the position and how the employee fits in with the rest of the company. A receptionist position might be summarized by “As the first contact point for visitors and calls coming in, the receptionist provides routing to the proper parties and departments while ensuring their needs are addressed promptly.”

Description

Write up the specific tasks required with action-oriented verbs in present tense and specific details while at the same time keeping the descriptions simple. In other words, don’t write vague descriptions like “Provide good customer service.” What? Being cheerful and helpful is what I’d assume. What else? Learn to recognize clients’ voices? Not chew gum?

Everyone has their own idea of what good customer service is like, right? Writing it along the lines of “answer questions from customers calling in and forward to appropriate departments as necessary” more accurately defines a task.

Use bullet points with short statements to make it easier to read and digest. It also helps when it comes to annual performance evaluations because you’ve already got the tasks broken down into bite-sized chunks and can be discussed in that format.

Required qualifications

List them with the minimum required qualifications for a new hire such as education, knowledge/expertise and experience with particular aspects of a position. Remember again, you’re not writing this based on an employee already in the position.

Ultimately, the goal here is to provide clarity for both employees and managers and keep everyone accountable based on specific descriptions. It might seem like a black hole that sucks your time up but think of it as an investment. Taking the time to develop good position descriptions increases productivity and accountability, employee retention and satisfaction plus it saves a lot more time and stress in the future so you have more time to grow your business, cook a decent meal or even bathe your cat… good luck with that, by the way.

2018 was a big year with the hottest legislative trends for private employers: laws limiting background checks in the form of “ban-the-box” measures, credit check restrictions and prohibitions on inquiries into salary history.

With many new laws requiring compliance over the last year – and two that took effect January 1, 2019 – we compiled this update for your reference.

Prohibitions on salary history inquiries

Employers face the biggest changes in the area of state laws banning inquiries into an applicant’s salary history. An outgrowth of the equal pay movement – based on the theory that reliance upon prior salary to set a wage for a new job perpetuates the wage gap – many states and local jurisdictions enacted laws in 2018 (and some in 2017) to prohibit private employers from asking candidates about their salary history.

Several laws took effect within the last few months, and Connecticut’s and Hawaii’s bans started January 1, 2019.

California – Effective January 1, 2018, employers are banned from asking about an applicant’s pay history or using such information, even if the applicant volunteers it or the employer already has it.

Within the state, San Francisco has its own law, effective July 1, 2018, which prohibits employers from asking about or considering a candidate’s current or prior compensation.
Connecticut – Beginning January 1, 2019, employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s pay history unless the individual voluntarily discloses the information.
Delaware – One of the first states to prohibit salary inquiries, the law, which went into effect December 14, 2017, provides that employers may not ask candidates about salary history or screen applicants based on past compensation. Once an offer is extended, the employer may confirm the information.
Hawaii – Another newcomer to the legislation, the ban on asking about salary history went into effect January 1, 2019, and includes a prohibition on considering the information when determining salary, benefits or other compensation during the hiring process.
Massachusetts – Part of a package of employment-related laws enacted by the Commonwealth, employers are prohibited from asking applicants for salary history information effective July 1, 2018. Once an offer has been extended, employers are permitted to confirm prior pay.
New York City – In addition to banning prior salary inquiries effective October 31, 2017, the City’s ordinance prohibits employers from using such information if they already have it.

Two counties in New York state also enacted their own laws: in Albany County, effective December 17, 2017, employers may only request information about past compensation and benefits after a job offer has been made, while in Westchester County, effective July 9, 2018, information about prior wages may not be requested and may only be confirmed under limited circumstances.
Oregon – Another early adopter of the ban on salary inquiries, effective October 9, 2017, the state’s statute requires that an offer of employment be extended before employers may ask about pay history.
Philadelphia – The City of Brotherly Love enacted a ban on salary inquiries in January 2017, only to have the measure challenged in court as a violation of the First Amendment. In May 2018, a federal court judge granted a preliminary injunction halting the ordinance in light of the pending litigation. The battle over the law is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Puerto Rico – The Commonwealth outlawed inquiries into salary history as of March 8, 2017, although the measure contains exceptions for confirmation after a job offer has been made as well as voluntary disclosures.
Vermont – The state’s legislature prohibits employers from requesting pay history from candidates, effective July 1, 2018. If the candidate volunteers the information, an employer may only confirm after an offer of employment has been made.

Ban-the-box laws remain popular

While prohibitions on inquiries into salary history spread like wildfire in 2018, “ban-the-box” measures – which generally prohibit employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history (including performing background checks) until later in the hiring process – remain popular with state legislatures.

Some version of a ban-the-box, also known as “fair chance” laws, have been adopted by a total of 31 states, the District of Columbia and more than 150 local jurisdictions across the country.

Specific to private employers, 11 states have such laws in place: CaliforniaConnecticutHawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New JerseyOregon,Rhode Island,Vermont and Washington.

A total of 17 local jurisdictions have also joined the movement with their fair chance laws for private employers: Austin, BaltimoreBuffalo, Chicago, Columbia (Missouri), District of Columbia, Kansas City (Missouri)Los Angeles, Montgomery County (Maryland)New York CityPhiladelphia, Portland (Oregon), Prince George’s County (Maryland)Rochester (New York),San Francisco, Seattle, and Spokane, (Washington).

Credit check restrictions still relevant

Less popular with state legislatures than ban-the-box laws and prohibitions on salary history inquiries, credit check restrictions remain an important consideration for employers.

Ten states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawai’i,  Illinois, Maryland, NevadaOregonVermont, and Washington – as well as Chicago, the District of ColumbiaNew York City, and Philadelphia, all place restrictions on employers’ use of credit reports with exceptions for such checks when required by law or the responsibilities of the position.

Job descriptions. Make sure you have a job description for each position in your company. Job descriptions should reflect careful thought as to the roles the individual will fill, the required skill sets, and other attributes that are important to completing their tasks.

  1. Compile a “success profile.” In addition to creating job descriptions, it’s important to develop a “success profile” of the ideal employee for each position.
  2. Draft the ads, describing the position and the key qualifications required. Be sure to post ads in the places most likely to be noticed by your target candidates.
  3. Develop a series of phone-screening questions. Compile a list of suitable questions you can ask over the phone to help you quickly identify qualified candidates and eliminate everyone else. This will save you time compared to bringing every candidate into the office.
  4. Review the resumes you receive and rank your best candidates. Once you start receiving resumes…you will have to go through them and eliminate those that are a poor fit.
  5. Use the phone to screen candidates. Once you’ve narrowed your stack of resumes to a handful of potential applicants, call the candidates and use your phone-screening questions to further narrow the field. Using a consistent set of questions in both this step and your face-to-face interviews will help ensure you’re evaluating candidates equally.
  6. Rank your candidates and schedule those that are the best fit for an in-person interview. Based on the responses to your phone interviews, select the candidates you feel are best qualified for the next step in the process.
  7. Assess your potential candidates for their skills and attributes using a proven assessment tool. A resume and phone interview can only tell you so much about a job applicant, so you’ll need a dependable assessment tool to help you analyze the core behavioral traits and cognitive reasoning speed of your applicants. For example, a good test will provide insights as to whether the individual is conscientious or lackadaisical, introverted or extroverted, agreeable or uncompromising, open to new ideas or close-minded, and emotionally stable or anxious and insecure. The success profile you created for each position will help you determine which behavioral traits are important for that position. For example, you would expect a successful salesperson to be extroverted. On the other hand, someone filling a clerical position might be more introverted.These assessment tests can be administered in person or online. Online testing and submission of results can help you determine whether the applicant should be invited for a personal interview.
  8. Schedule and conduct candidate interviews. Once you’ve selected candidates based on the previous steps, schedule and conduct the interviews. Use a consistent set of 10 or 12 questions to maintain a structured interview and offer a sound basis for comparing applicants.
  9. Select the candidate. Make your selection by matching the best applicant to the profiled job description.
  10. Make your offer to the candidate. The information you collected during the interview process will provide you with important insights as to starting compensation levels and training needs.
  11. Order a report for employment screening purposes on the candidate to uncover any potential red flags. 

Employment background screening legislation remains popular with both state and local lawmakers. To help keep track of the ever-changing legal landscape, we have compiled a list of the jurisdictions that have enacted “ban-the-box” measures, credit check restrictions and salary inquiry prohibitions.


Ban-the-box jurisdictions continue to grow with new 2018 additions

“Ban-the-box” measures, which generally prohibit employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history (including performing background checks) until later in the hiring process, and impose significant compliance requirements, continue to expand to jurisdictions across the country. A total of 31 states, the District of Columbia and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted some version of a ban-the-box or “fair-chance law.”

Specific to private employers, 11 states have laws in place mandating the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The most recent entry to this list is Washington. Enacted this year, the state’s ban-the-box bill requires that employers wait to perform a background check or ask about criminal history until after determining that a candidate satisfies the basic criteria for the job and is “otherwise qualified” for the position. Policies that categorically exclude applicants with a criminal record are also banned by the law, and employers are prohibited from advertising in a manner that excludes those with criminal records from applying. Washington’s new law took effect June 7, 2018.

A total of 18 localities have fair chance hiring laws in place for private employers. Austin, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbia (Missouri), District of Columbia, Los Angeles, Montgomery County (Maryland), New York City, Philadelphia, Portland (Oregon), Prince George’s County (Maryland), Rochester (New York), San Francisco, and Seattle, were all in effect as of 2017.

2018 has seen new additions in Kansas City (Missouri) and Spokane, Washington. Kansas City initially enacted a ban-the-box law in 2013 that was limited to city workers. This year, the Kansas City Council expanded the measure to encompass private employers as of June 9, 2018. In Spokane, the ordinance was enacted in December 2017 and took effect with regard to private employers as of June 14, 2018.


Credit check restrictions less popular, but still relevant

Roughly a dozen jurisdictions also feature restrictions on the use of consumer credit reports for employment purposes. Ten states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – as well as Chicago, the District of Columbia, New York City, and Philadelphia, all place restrictions on employers’ use of credit reports with exceptions for the use of such checks when it is required by law or the responsibilities of the position justify it.

While less trendy than ban-the-box legislation, prohibitions on the use of credit reports remain a relevant concern for employers given the variances across different states and cities.


Bans on salary inquiries expanding rapidly

One of the hottest trends in state legislatures is the passage of bills that ban inquiries into an applicant’s salary history. The trend grew out of the equal pay movement, based on the theory that by relying on prior salary to select the pay for a new job, employers are perpetuating a wage gap. Many states – and local jurisdictions – have jumped on the bandwagon to prohibit employers from asking candidates about their salary history. Below is a collection of the jurisdictions that have enacted legislation for private employers.

  • California – Effective January 1, 2018, employers are banned from asking about an applicant’s pay history or using such information (even if the applicant volunteers it or the employer already has it). Within the state, San Francisco has its own law, effective July 1, 2018, which prohibits employers from asking about or considering a candidate’s current or prior compensation.
  • Connecticut – Beginning January 1, 2019, employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s pay history unless the individual voluntarily discloses the information.
  • Delaware – One of the first states to prohibit salary inquiries, the law provides that employers may not ask candidates about salary history or screen applicants based on past compensation. Once an offer is extended, the employer may confirm the information.
  • Hawaii – Another newcomer to the legislation, the ban on asking about salary history goes into effect on January 1, 2019 and includes a prohibition on considering the information when determining salary, benefits or other compensation during the hiring process.
  • Massachusetts – Part of a package of employment-related laws enacted by the Bay State, employers are prohibited from asking applicants for salary history information. Once an offer has been extended, employers are permitted to confirm prior pay. The law took effect July 1, 2018.
  • New York City – In addition to banning prior salary inquiries, the City’s ordinance does not allow employers to use such information if they already have it. Two counties in New York state also enacted their own laws: in Albany County, employers may only request information about past compensation and benefits after a job offer has been made, while in Westchester County, information about prior wages may not be requested and may only be confirmed under limited circumstances.
  • Oregon – Another early adopter of the ban on salary inquiries, the state’s statute requires that an offer of employment be extended before employers may ask about pay history.
  • Philadelphia – The City of Brotherly Love enacted a ban on salary inquiries only to have the measure challenged in court as a violation of the First Amendment. In May 2018, a federal court judge granted a preliminary injunction halting the ordinance in light of the pending litigation.
  • Puerto Rico – The Commonwealth outlawed inquiries into salary history as of March 8, 2017, although the measure contains exceptions for confirmation after a job offer has been made as well as voluntary disclosures.
  • Vermont – Another recent adopter, the Vermont legislature prohibits employers from requesting pay history from candidates as of July 1, 2018. If the candidate volunteers the information, an employer may only confirm after an offer of employment has been made.

One of the hottest trends in employment in recent years has been the passage of “ban-the-box” and salary inquiry prohibitions in states and cities across the country.

Limitations on salary inquiry have popped up in recent years as part of the legislative fight against wage discrimination and the gender pay gap. Proponents of such prohibitions argue that salary history questions feed into the discrepancy between what male and female employees are paid by continuously repeating history.

Currently, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon and Puerto Rico have banned inquiries about prior salary, as have cities including New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia, with dozens of other states and local governments considering such measures.

The colloquial term “ban-the-box” refers to a box that applicants check to indicate they have a criminal record on standardized application forms. About 20 states and more than 150 local entities have already enacted legislation addressing inquiries into criminal history. The trend even went federal in 2015 with the Fair Chance Act introduced in Congress. Although the measure did not pass, it demonstrated the popularity of the movement.

The proposed federal legislation also shined a light on the situation facing multistate employers, with different laws in different states and in some situations, different laws in different cities or municipalities within the same state. One law may contain an outright ban on inquiries into salary or criminal history while another may place restrictions on the timing of the questions. Some laws define covered employers to include businesses with five or more employees; another may not apply its limitations to employers with less than 50 workers.

As an example, although the state already limited employers’ ability to ask job applicants about any juvenile court matters, the California legislature broadened its ban-the-box protections for employees with a new law in 2017. Employers in the state are restricted from making hiring decisions based on an applicant’s convictions records and forbidden from considering conviction history until a conditional offer of employment has been extended.

If an employer elects not to hire an applicant because of a prior conviction, the employer is required to conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether the history has a “direct and adverse relationship” with the job duties that justifies denial of the position. Written notice must be provided to an applicant that his/her conviction history has disqualified the applicant from employment, along with five days to respond and dispute the decision. A second notice must be provided with the final decision not to hire.

In contrast, Vermont’s ban-the-box measure takes a different approach, allowing employers to question applicants about their criminal records during the job interview, albeit providing an applicant with the opportunity to explain their record. And under New York City’s law, an employer commits a per se violation of the statute by using recruiting materials of any kind (including advertisements, solicitations or applications) that express, directly or indirectly, any limitation or specification regarding criminal history.

While the overarching principle remains consistent, the details of the laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For multi-state employers, coping with such a patchwork of legal requirements poses a serious challenge.

As the number of state and local jurisdictions with laws addressing salary inquiries or criminal history continues to expand, multi-state employers should brace themselves for a giant compliance puzzle – and consider getting help from an expert.