Jul 4, 2018
Nina Ross, with Nina Ross Business Consulting, is a free-lance Business Operations Manager. Business owners hire me to assist in corporate decision making and strategy. I provide my professional, unbiased opinion on all matters related to operating your business.
Nina is a problem-solver with many years of expertise managing and resolving issues that occur during the daily operation of a small-medium sized company.
You can contact Nina at www.ninaross.solutions
Full transcript below.
Roy Barker: 00:01 Hello everyone and welcome to Episode Six of The Business of Business podcast. I'm your host, Roy Barker. As a reminder, you can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play so please download and rate and share the podcast to make it easier for others to find. You can also sign up for our newsletter at www.thebusinessofbusinesspodcast.com. You can also go to check out our sister podcast at www.seniorlivingsalesandmarketing.com. So today we're gonna touch on a little bit of human resources. We have a great guest, Nina Ross, and she is with ... She just runs Nina Ross Consulting out of Houston, Texas and so Nina, welcome to the show. If you don't mind, could you just tell the listeners a little bit about how you found yourself in this HR consulting role and then a little bit about what your business does for other companies?
Nina Ross: 01:09 Yes Roy, hi, and thank you for having me today. Again, yes, I'm a business operations manager. I do freelance now so what happened was I started out as bookkeeping and continued problem solving and as I continued problem solving over the years my role with my companies changed to that of business operations manager and now I do freelance. I help small businesses by solving their problems and unfortunately the largest problem is HR so my specialty is now HR.
Roy Barker: 01:47 Okay, great. We appreciate you taking time out of your day to be with us and I think one thing, I follow you on Instagram and also on LinkedIn and I really like the information that you put out. That was one of the things that made me want to reach out to you. As you know through our previous conversations that employee retention is really a big ... It's really a big concern of mine for all businesses and especially in the senior living space in which I operate in most of the time so that was the main reason why I wanted to reach out to you and talk about some different HR issues and processes and procedures and as we talked prior to this show, there's a lot more than we can talk about in one episode so what we'll try to do is break this down into smaller bite-sized pieces that some other listeners can take away actionable items of things that might help them to ... Not only to hire better but also to work through that employee retention funnel and be able to retain their employees.
One thing that I think where we get into a big hurry is, "Okay, I've done my recruiting. I've done my screening, I've done my interviewing and now Jane Smith is, she's my top candidate. I want to reach out to her and I want to extend an offer to her." First off, let's talk about ... What are a couple things that we should do prior to extending that offer to her, but then I also want to talk about now once we do extend the offer, she's accepted. What are some paperwork, what are some things that we need to do. As we talked previous to this call, we're gonna stop right at the point of onboarding and not really get into that because I think that will be a whole great episode all by itself would be onboarding techniques but there's that ... Kind of that awkward period in between where I've decided on her but right before we get her to actually show up to the office to start working. I'll let you kind of dive in and wherever you'd like to start with that process.
Nina Ross: 04:19 Okay. You've already extended your offer to the applicant and the first thing you should do ... First of all, the first thing you should do when extending the offer is of course having an offer letter. Submit your offer letter to the individual and that offer letter should include things like salary, start date, job description. It should include work location, where the person is going to show up for work every day. All of this should be in a packet and emailed to the applicant and then the applicant signs off on the offer letter if they accept it and they submit it back to you. Well why do you put this in an email? Because there could be questions going back and forth because now you're starting to create ... It used to be the applicant, now it's turning into the employer ... I'm sorry, employee. So in case there is questions in between the hire process, you want to have all of that documented and what you will do once the person accepts the offer, you copy all the email correspondence and that becomes a part of their HR record. That way, if there is any questions, "Well when I was hired you told me this," and then, "No, we have it in writing."
Roy Barker: 05:47 I'll be one of the first to say that I really get that for executives and higher levels but I think stressing the importance of that for each and every employee is very important. Sometimes I think we think at lower levels or lower pay grades that, "Oh, it's all right. We'll just hire that person," and we kind of skip through some of these formalities that may turn out to be very important, not only through this offer process but once they become employees, if there's a problem that arises. The way I take it that this is a very good documentation to kind of help the company in case something comes up to kind of say, "Well, these are the things that we hired you for, the place that we wanted you to work ... " You know, the basics like that. Is that correct?
Nina Ross: 06:45 Part of the issue, when you don't take the time to write down those terms and conditions, something may happen to that lower level employee where they say, "I thought we talked about this but instead I'm getting that."
Roy Barker: 07:00 Okay, yeah, so I think that to stress the importance of doing this for each and every employee and just getting in the habit of putting all the details in there that ... It may sound like or you may think that, "Well, it's just unimportant. It's just known." I think the message is just don't take a chance. Just put everything in writing for all levels of employees and you will not only set the expectations going forward but you'll also protect yourself as an employer if anything arises in the future.
Nina Ross: 07:38 Yes.
Roy Barker: 07:39 What about ... Before we get into the extending a letter, let's talk a little bit about checking references, checking employment history, maybe certificates. Things like that. Because that's another shortcut I think that people [inaudible 00:07:58], "Well, they might have worked there," and sometimes I'll be honest and say I'm guilty of saying, "Well, what's the use of calling this other employer," because all they're gonna tell me are start date, end date, and maybe if they're rehirable. Sometimes they might even say they're rehirable if they're not. Am I gonna got any useful information out of making that phone call?
Nina Ross: 08:24 The only useful information you're going to get out of making the phone call is that you will verify that the person did work there, but what you can do is you can check their certificates. One way is to get on the internet and contact those companies or universities or schools that they're claiming on their references that they've attended. You just do that by calling the organization.
Roy Barker: 08:55 Okay.
Nina Ross: 08:55 As I'm sitting here thinking about the calling the companies, yes, I always call the companies, but now that social media is in play, you can get a lot of information, whether it's someone ... Or what type of employee they were on social media and you'd be surprised what people post. You'd be surprised at what I found out.
Roy Barker: 09:21 Right, right, and I think we had previously talked about a situation I had where I had done my interviews, decided to hire a young lady and when I started doing the internet search, and I didn't go very deep, this was very superficial, just looking up places like LinkedIn, Facebook and what I discovered was that she'd given me a resume on paper and it was different from the job history that was on Facebook which was different from the job history that was listed on LinkedIn. They weren't close, it was like they were all made up and so at that point it wasn't just a small discrepancy and then I also found some very unflattering pictures that had been posted and so at that point there wasn't much use in even talking about it but I think if there's some small discrepancies, it's a good thing to ask questions and maybe there's an easy explanation but sometimes you find big enough stuff that you just know it will disqualify that person and it's best for you both to move on.
Nina Ross: 10:36 Exactly.
Roy Barker: 10:37 Like I said, I didn't even have to go deep. It was very easy to find and a lot of this isn't making a judgment on whether it was right or wrong to post the picture but I think it's more about what kind of an image is that going to set for my company if this person is representing me and then also ... It's somewhat of an integrity issue as well but I guess it's ... There's a fine line between holding people responsible for their past and maybe mistakes that they've made versus moving forward but I think there's ... It always kind of gives us that indication.
Nina Ross: 11:26 We're gonna assume that your person checked out. They submitted the offer letter and it's all been signed. So next, you need to gather all of your new hire documents. The longer an employee is working for your company, the less likely they are going to want to sign any documents post-hire. So this is where you get all of the documents that you think you might need and there's a long list of them. This is in accordance with the Texas Workforce Commission and best practices for new hire. Would you like for me to go over each document?
Roy Barker: 12:10 Yeah, if you don't mind. Yeah, you can -
Nina Ross: 12:11 You're gonna get the I-9 and the W-2. Those are the government documents that are required by law to sign. Okay, I'm gonna assume you have an employee handbook and that is something that you're going to distribute to the employee. So you're gonna give them ... It's a document called acknowledgement of receipt of employee handbook, and it basically says I've got this, I read it, I'm gonna abide by it. Now there's also an emergency contact form in case something happens to the employee you need to be able to contact someone next of kin. There's the equipment usage document that I created and it simply states that as an employee, I'm using your equipment. If something happens to it, that is my fault, I will pay for it. I also have a document equipment usage but it's for telephones, cell phones. Then there's the wage deduction authorization. A wage deduction authorization simply states that as an employee, I'm okay with you deducting money out of my check for things like taxes, for things like ... If I misappropriate a credit card or different deductions like that. There's a list of about 14 deductions. There's your non-disparagement agreement. This is what I recommend. This is not required by Workforce Commission or anything like that. A non-disparagement agreement simply states that I'm not gonna say anything bad about you, you're not gonna say anything bad about me.
Roy Barker: 13:56 So how far would an agreement like that go? I guess I understand the egregious things that may be untruthful or insider secrets or things like that but you know with these ... Some of these websites, one I can think about is like Glassdoor. Would that prohibit me from going on and saying that I worked at Company ABC and I just really didn't like that? Could ABC come back on an employee for something like that or is this kind of at a more higher disparaging level?
Nina Ross: 14:43 This document simply makes sure that the individual does not go and destroy the company's reputation or the company's image. If you have a bad experience, you had a bad experience, but if you're gonna go around and tell everyone on the internet this place is bad, this place is bad, that's more what this is about. You have to show a pattern. You have to show a pattern that you are doing this as opposed to on Glassdoor I was let go of this place because of blah blah blah.
Roy Barker: 15:16 Okay, okay, good. Yeah, I think it's ... With the age of social media, I think it's an important document that everybody should have just to help cover yourself in case somebody gets a little carried away if there is a termination or the separation is not cordial.
Nina Ross: 15:40 Yes. Then you have the non-complete, the non-disclosure agreement. I'm not gonna steal your clients. I'm not gonna steal your data. I'm not going to steal your software. Non-disclosure, I'm not going to show or discuss any of the methodologies or procedures that we have within this company. That is very important also.
Roy Barker: 16:05 Yeah, I think that brings up a good point too about the incoming employee. What if they have a non-compete ... You hear all kinds of stuff that, well, they are harder nowadays to enforce because you can't stop somebody from earning but then also once you place a phone call to a specific client of your ex-employer that's a whole different thing. What about an employee coming into this with a current non-compete on them?
Nina Ross: 16:41 If that happens to a client of mine, I would first ... Of course I would consult an attorney. I would produce the agreement that the employee signed at the other company and I would go to my attorney to see if it would be okay for me to hire them and I would do that. I wouldn't hire them until I have some type of okay because they could get sued and you can get sued as well.
Roy Barker: 17:09 Okay. Yeah, I think that's excellent advice because if you've got an incoming ... Somebody that you're considering, it's probably good to get an attorney to check out their non-compete just to make sure ... And then also, that also could affect your offer letter if maybe you have to outline certain things that they can or can't do based on this non-compete. That might be a good idea to spell that out in the offer letter is, "Here's the offer but you cannot contact any of your previous clients to try to get their business or whatever that could be."
Nina Ross: 18:00 Yes, and the non-compete letters that I write, the offer is contingent upon you not having any type of non-compete agreements with another company. That could be a good question that you can ask during the interview process. [inaudible 00:18:16] that's almost common.
Roy Barker: 18:18 Yeah, and that would be something very good to have come out in that the interview process versus the onboarding process or some other point later in the relationship.
Nina Ross: 18:31 Yes, that would be too bad because think about how much money it costs to recruit, interview, decide who you're gonna hire, write offer letters. That's a lot of money.
Roy Barker: 18:44 Yeah, it can get very expensive.
Nina Ross: 18:48 Yeah.
Roy Barker: 18:48 Not only that but also if you have somebody that comes over and ... I was in the brokerage business for a while and we saw that the company would recruit a broker from another company and once they came over they had to be very careful about reaching out. If a customer called the old company and decided to follow them on their own, that was one thing, that was the customer's right to have the broker company of their choice but it's another thing if you reach out and solicit. So trying to get a good handle on all of that because as you said, not only can the new employee be liable but also in some instances I've heard where the hiring company, they can also get in a little bit of hot water and sometimes even if they aren't liable, the time and the money it takes to go through the hoops to try to prove that sometimes can be very expensive as well.
Nina Ross: 19:58 Yes. Now getting back to the other documents, I have of course alcohol and drug testing. Even though you may not do that within your hire process or you don't feel it's necessary, I started adding that into my new hire packet because if you have an employee running an errand on behalf of the company as an employee and they get an arrest, your company could be liable and a lot of insurance companies want drug testing. Let's say you have an insurance policy for employees who are running errands for you. If they get an arrest, then your company is gonna get dragged into that. You want to be able to have a drug test and no one's gonna sign a document after they've been hired and after they've been in a wreck. So alcohol and drug testing, I would put that in a new hire packet as well.
Roy Barker: 21:02 Would you recommend that for any and all positions nowadays or is that still pretty much select for just driving positions?
Nina Ross: 21:12 No, I would recommend that for all positions. I started doing that years ago because you'd be surprised. "Madam Secretary, would you please go to Office Depot to get blah blah blah?" Well that could be considered a workers' comp injury. That could be ... If that person is a distracted driver and they hit someone, the employee is out because you sent them. That becomes your problem.
Roy Barker: 21:12 Right, right.
Nina Ross: 21:46 The first questions that could come out, "Well was this person altered or were they on drugs?" You cannot ask them after an accident, " Please go take a drug test, oh, and sign this." That's why I said, before the person is hired, you have to think of anything that you need them to sign in advance while they're ready to sign. You may never need a drug test on an employee, but there may be that one time where your company is involved in some type of litigation because an employee ran an errand and you have no idea if they were inebriated or in an altered state.
Roy Barker: 22:32 What about having the actual drug or alcohol screen run on all employees pre-hire? Do you suggest that or is that a little bit too much for some positions?
Nina Ross: 22:48 I don't suggest that for the simple reason that a lot of times it's not warranted. If you have someone in your office who has a desk job, drug testing, I wouldn't recommend it. If you have employees who are regularly running errands, who are regularly doing things outside of the company, I would probably recommend doing semi-annual, maybe once or twice a year. Running errands versus always out. We have 10 locations and you employee will be responsible for going to all 10 of those locations on a very regular basis, yes. In addition to those documents, you have the wage overpayment and underpayment agreement. Well what does that mean? That means if there is an error on your paycheck, I, the business owner will be able to go through your paycheck and deduct that overpayment. There was a story on the news where a gentleman was supposed to be paid $990.00. Instead, he was paid $900,000.00, almost bankrupted the company. He refused to give the money back.
Roy Barker: 24:17 Oh my gosh. Wow. What a mistake.
Nina Ross: 24:21 He took the money and went on the land, spending sprees and all [inaudible 00:24:26] giving you this money back. That's what you paid me." The company's hands were tied. I didn't read the story enough to know if they had insurance because business insurance is another topic but they almost went bankrupt. They ended up getting some of the money back and I believe the gentleman did a couple years in jail but that is a big mistake. I doubt if anybody ever does that, a $990,000.00 mistake but a $19,000.00 mistake or a $1,900.00 mistake, yes. You will have authorization to go into that person's bank account and snatch it back, or deduct it from future wages. So that's a just a list of some of the documents that I would have in my new hire packet and in addition to the documents, I would have new hire packets ready in an envelope marked New Hire Packets. Why? Because you don't have to go all over the place to look for them.
Roy Barker: 25:34 Right, right.
Nina Ross: 25:35 I also recommend a new hire checklist. A new hire checklist is just that. It is a list of documents and things to do before the person walks through the doors to be onboarded. As an added feature, what I do, I send all of the new hire packets to the person by email because when they walk through the door, I've already got their signatures on all of the documents. So when they walk through the door, "Okay, I've got all your documents. You forgot this one or you forgot this one," or, "Hey, I've got everything. It's time for you to be onboarded."
A lot of this now, once you figured out this is the person I want to hire, that's when email is your new best friend. In addition to having all the documents signed, you have a record. If your building burns down, you still have those new hire documents that they signed. All you have to do is reprint them and put them back in the file and keep going.
Roy Barker: 26:45 Right. The other part I was going to say is that it's important to document the hiring process and have kind of like a racy chart of who is responsible for what because I've seen in some larger organizations there's a lot of confusion. The new hire comes in, they didn't fill out all these forms. Their direct report manager things that the HR guy is coming around to do that. The HR people think that the direct report managers are handling that or maybe a regional manager or somebody. So I think it's important to really sit down and look at your hiring process from beginning to end. Assign who is responsible for each action in the process and then have a backup. I mean, if Joe the HR guy's the one that's supposed to be doing it and he's on vacation or he's off on sick leave, these are things that can't just not be done. We have to have a one and two backup to say, "Okay, HR guy's out. This is gonna be the next person to make sure that all these things have been done," and then like you said, having the checklist that you can just set down and tick off, references check, employment history check, documents.
I would probably recommend that you have a list of each and every document on this and what I've done before is just like tape them to the inside of a file of the employee's folder and then as you go through them you can just check them off and it's very easy to see what you do have and what you don't have and if somebody ... Let's just say that you're in the middle of this process and somebody has to go on vacation or go out on sick leave and somebody else is picking up this file to finish the process, then they know exactly what has been done and what hasn't been done.
Nina Ross: 28:50 Yes, there is something called a new hire business process which should outline what you said, which is who does what during this particular part of the process and if this person isn't here, then you go to this person. That process is something that should be in a manual. I kept my business processes in a manual on my desk, clearly marked business processes with tabs so if I wasn't there and an employee had a question, they knew they could go to my desk, grab the business processes book and see, "Oh new hire." They'd see the diagram even and say, " Okay, I need to go to this person."
Roy Barker: 29:33 Right. That's a great idea because it happens more than not but also it's just the evolution of the small business. If I'm the business owner, I've always done the hiring and the processing of the new employee, then I hire somebody and get them to do it and we are very close and we talk and we know what's going on, but then all of a sudden, once you hire 10, 15, 20 people and that process becomes further removed from these core individuals, it's always good to have it written down not only because of turnover as well. I mean, you know you have a great HR guy that he knows everything, he's on top of the process, but then if he retires or goes to another company, then all of a sudden, it's like nobody really knew what he was doing and how he did it and then you have to start back over at ground zero. I think it's an important part of a growing business is as you do these things is to document them and like you said put them in a manual where everybody knows where it's at. You can go to it, pull the tab out, not only for the hiring process, for any other functions in the business but it's so important to get that knowledge documented on paper so it doesn't escape us or you don't have to start over.
If you're in the middle of trying to hire somebody, that's the last time that you want to be sitting down, thinking, "What do we really need to do in this process? How do we make this happen?" Because you need to put somebody in that chair, so ... I think that's probably a great point to drive home at this right now is that not only do you need to have all these things but have them documented and have them in an easy place for everybody to find and something else I think you find, if you really sit down and look at your processes and procedures throughout a business, you may find that there are gaps in there or one thing I have found is that ... Kind of that responsibility factors, like when you're talking about it, you're like, "Oh, I thought you were responsible for that," and you say, "No, I thought you were." Here again, it's just clearing up that confusion and then also you can refine ...
Even though you might have a great process, sometimes talking about it, and especially talking about it with an outside third party consultant who is not as close to the situation as the employees or the people that live it every day, they are able to maybe refine it, make it a little bit, and like some things that we've talked about here, adding some of these documents that you may not currently have in order to have a very complete, well-rounded I guess employee file and able to move forward. Not only does it protect yourself during this hiring process but I think it will protect you later on if anything goes wrong between you and the employee.
Nina Ross: 32:48 Yes, yes. It protects your companies and your assets.
Roy Barker: 32:53 Well Nina, I appreciate your time. We're gonna wrap this up for today. I know there's so much more I'd love to talk to you about. Like I said, the onboarding process is top of mind because I think that is something that we really cut short and we don't do it thorough enough or we try to do much in too short of a period of time and so I'd like to extend you an invitation in the near future to come back and we can discuss that.
Nina Ross: 33:21 That's great. I would love to come back.
Roy Barker: 33:25 Okay. Do you have any other final closing thoughts that you'd like to share?
Nina Ross: 33:31 What we talked about today may seem tedious or if you're a small business owner, you're listening to this and you're thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of work." It's a lot of work to set it all up, but it pays off in the long run.
Roy Barker: 33:47 Yeah, I think there's that old adage, it used to be a commercial for an oil filter is that you can either pay me now or you can pay me later. The unfortunate part about that is that the pay later is usually a lot more costly and time-consuming is that ... It's like if you don't think that you have the time to do this right and to just gather these documents in the beginning, you sure aren't gonna have enough time to try to work out any problems that come up after that.
Nina Ross: 34:20 Agreed.
Roy Barker: 34:21 I think that's a good point to make. Well Nina, tell everybody how they can reach out and get ahold of you if they'd like some more information.
Nina Ross: 34:30 I'm on LinkedIn under Nina Ross Business. My website is www.ninaross.solutions and I respond to all emails and I do respond to all inquiries on Instagram.
Roy Barker: 34:46 Okay, awesome, and I can attest to that. I did reach out to Nina through Instagram and she did respond and that's how we ended up here today. Thank you so much for your time Nina and all the great information. I certainly do appreciate it and I want to thank the listeners for taking time to listen to The Business of Business Podcast. Don't forget to download either at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. You can rate and also share the program to make it easier for others to find. You can also reach out to us on our website at www.thebusinessofbusinesspodcast. Thanks again for listening. Until next time, I wish you the most success in your business endeavors.