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An HR Department of One? You’re Not AloneMost small businesses don’t have a dedicated human resources department. Instead, many have a single person who is responsible for, among other things, HR responsibilities and employee-related issues. Managing HR responsibilities alone can be daunting, whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to the role. Below we offer helpful hints for auditing your current practices and running an HR department of one.

Hiring

Develop policies and procedures that result in quality hiring decisions and comply with federal, state, and local laws.

When establishing and/or evaluating your hiring process, consider these questions:

  • Does your company use multiple recruiting sources to reach a diverse pool of applicants?
  • Do you have candidates complete an application form? Does yourapplication form avoid asking for information that is protected under the law?
  • Do you have job descriptions for each position? Do your job descriptions accurately reflect the essential functions of the job?
  • Are your screening and selection procedures consistent with federal, state, and local laws? Keep in mind that some jurisdictions require employers to wait to conduct background checks until after making a conditional job offer.
  • Are supervisors trained to conduct lawful interviews? Do you ask similarly situated candidates the same core set of questions?
  • On average, how long does a new hire stay with your company? Do you conduct exit interviews to find out why employees leave?

Use an employee handbook to communicate important company information to employees and help demonstrate compliance with various employment laws.

When creating or reviewing workplace policies, consider these questions:

  • Do your policies comply with federal, state and locals laws governing benefits, leave, pay, nondiscrimination, and other terms and conditions of employment?
  • Are your policies consistent with current HR best practices and company procedures?
  • Are your policies consistent with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s guidance? Policies cannot restrict employees from working together to improve wages and working conditions.
  • Does your handbook avoid these policies? Does it include these “must-haves?”
  • Do you review your handbook at least annually and whenever laws change?
  • Do you have employees sign a handbook acknowledgment at the time of hire and whenever changes are made?
  • Do supervisors consistently enforce workplace policies? If a policy violation occurs, does your company take immediate and appropriate corrective action to remedy the situation and prevent it from recurring?Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Ensure your employment practices are free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of federal, state and locally protected characteristics, such as age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information.

When evaluating workplace practices, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a clear policy that expressly prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation? Does your policy clearly outline your company’s complaint process and provide employees with multiple avenues for filing complaints?
  • Does your company conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation following a complaint?
  • Are all employment decisions (hiring, promotions, terminations, etc.) job-related and made without regard to protected characteristics?
  • Does your company take steps to prevent retaliation against individuals who exercise their rights under the law?

Compensation

Use total compensation (salary, health insurance, paid time off, and other benefits) to attract, motivate, and retain talent. Ensure your pay practices comply with all applicable wage and hour laws.

When auditing your compensation practices, consider these questions:

  • Is your company’s total compensation competitive with industry standards? Does it promote internal equity?
  • Does your compensation program effectively reward top performers?
  • Does your company pay non-exempt employees at least the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime when due?
  • Do you have effective timekeeping practices in place? Do you have controls to prevent off-the-clock work?
  • Do all of your “exempt” employees meet applicable salary and duties tests?
  • If you have workers classified as independent contractors, do they satisfy applicable federal and state tests for independent contractors?

Performance Management

Clearly communicate performance goals to all employees, deliver regular feedback, and provide employees with the resources they need to meet objectives.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you evaluate employees’ performance annually? Are supervisors trained to conduct performance reviews?
  • Do you give poor performers an opportunity to improve?
  • Do all employees have specific and measurable goals? Do individual goals align with overall company goals?
  • Do employees receive all the training that is required by law and/or training needed to effectively perform their job?
  • Does your company engage employees on a regular basis to determine their training needs and career development interests?

Federal, state, and local laws dictate which records employers must retain, for how long, and who should have access to those records. In addition, effective record keeping practices can help drive and support employment decisions. Record keeping and Documentation

Consider these questions when evaluating your recordkeeping procedures:

  • Does your company complete all required new hire paperwork?
  • Does your company retain all employee records for at least the minimum amount of time required by law? Does your company dispose of records appropriately at the end of the retention period?
  • Are all performance issues documented, including verbal warnings?
  • Are medical records and documents that may reveal an individual’s status as a member of a protected group, such as requests for accommodations, kept confidential and separate from personnel files?
  • Is access to employee records managed and logged?

Conclusion:

Once you have evaluated your current practices and identified areas that are in need of improvement, develop an action plan. Prioritize tasks based on potential risk – this could be anything from a weak competitive advantage to fines, penalties, and lawsuits. HR411 has a variety of tools and resources that can help.

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