Whether you are just posting your job search or are about to finish your employee onboarding forms, there are a few best practices you can use to follow the law. Other than avoiding litigation, these techniques can also help you increase your worker retention and improve your overall onboarding process. Through the right employee onboarding documents and hiring practices, you can improve your

Hiring and Employee Onboarding Best Practices

No matter what stage you are at in your new employee checklist, you should exercise caution about following Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. To avoid disparate treatment or EEO violations, you should focus on the job’s requirements and avoid delving into any topics that relate to protected classes.

If memorizing every rule and regulation feels daunting, you can start by remembering a simple rule of thumb. Always focus on the job and the tasks required for the job instead of focusing on the worker. For example, you should never bring up someone’s disability or protected traits in an interview. Instead, you can describe one of the tasks required for the job and ask if they can handle the task. Your goal is to assess candidates using neutral, objective criteria.

In a recent interview with the podcast “Mission to Grow,” lawyer Brian Shenker brought up this exact topic. Over the years, Shenker has represented employers in a variety of workplace matters. When it comes to disabilities and protected classes, Shenker says that the entire onboarding and hiring process, “should always be related to the job duties and whether this person can perform those job duties.” If something doesn’t relate to the applicant’s ability to do the job, it should not be brought up.

Be Wary of Disparate Treatment

While employers know that you aren’t supposed to explicitly make hiring decisions based on someone’s gender, race, or other protected class, disparate treatment is more subtle. In his interview, Brian Shenker used the example of a rule that all employees must be 5’10” to get hired. While this rule doesn’t explicitly exclude anyone from a protected class, it would serve to reduce the number of female applicants in practice.

Another common situation where disparate treatment happens is in employee testing. When reviewing the test results, Shenker says you sometimes might find “people of a certain race are failing that test at much higher rates than Caucasian people. And so it’s important if a

company’s using tests that, every once in a while, you analyze the results and make sure that you’re not inadvertently excluding certain categories of people from your test.” If your test is having a major impact on who is hired, you may need to revise your test.

To avoid having a disparate impact, you should focus on the job duties instead of the individual’s physical requirements. For example, you may ask all applicants to move a 40-pound box from one side of the room to another. As long as everyone is asked to carry out this test, you do not have to worry about EEO issues and having a disparate impact. If you simply required all employees to be a certain height or weight, it would potentially open you up to disparate treatment claims.

Watch Out for Social Media

There are many legitimate reasons why a hiring manager might want to check out an applicant’s social media profiles before hiring them. They may want to see if the applicant’s job history matches up. The applicant may have posted negative comments about a past employer, which would be a red flag for future employers.

Unfortunately, using social media can also lead to potential issues. According to Shenker, “The problem with social media then is that it creates a lot of risks because social media gives us a lot of information about employees including their protective characteristics.” It is assumed that anything you view during the hiring process could be used to make your hiring decisions, so you want to avoid viewing protected characteristics. Otherwise, the company will have to establish that it only used proper information when making its hiring decision.

One way around this issue is by deliberately choosing which sites hiring managers can look at. For instance, your organization may allow hiring managers to only view Twitter and Facebook accounts. This ensures that your social media approach is consistent for all applicants. Because LinkedIn is less likely to have information involving protected characteristics, many companies review only LinkedIn profiles.

Another recommendation is to create a wall of separation around social media. Designate one person to check social media accounts, and choose a different person to make the hiring decisions. Then, the social media reviewer can prevent the hiring manager from viewing information about protected classes.

Avoid Self-Disclosure Issues

Sometimes, an applicant will self-disclose an issue that you are not allowed to talk about. Many applicants are unaware of employment laws, so they might mention facts that indicate a protected trait. In other instances, the disclosure may be unintentional.

For example, someone may limp on their way into the interview. While their limp could indicate a disability, you should never ask about it. Instead, you can review the requirements of the position. Then, you can ask the applicant if they can perform those essential functions.

As long as you apply the same approach to every candidate, you can inquire about tasks at previous jobs to see if they have handled similar physical activities before. You can also ask them to perform the task to see if they can do it. As a general rule, you can ask about an applicant’s abilities, but you should never ask about their disabilities.

Involve a Mentor

One of the best things to add to your onboarding a new employee checklist is mentorships. Studies show that 97% of people who were paired with a mentor thought the experience was a valuable one. People who are given a mentor report being happier at their job than employees who don’t have a mentor.

Unfortunately, Forbes reports that only 14% of mentor relationships begin when an employee asks someone to become their mentor. To help workers enjoy the benefits of having a mentor, you need to be proactive and add this task to your new employee checklist. During the onboarding process, having a mentor can provide your new hire with guidance and important information about company culture. In turn, being a mentor can help your current employees develop the skills they need to take on leadership roles in the future.

Be Thoughtful About Your Documentation

Whenever you write something down during the hiring process, it is legally assumed that you used that information to make your hiring decision. Because of this, you should be extremely careful about what you write down in employee onboarding documents and interview notes. If an applicant discloses a pregnancy or another protected trait, do not put it in writing.

The same focus should be taken with your employee onboarding forms. Many employee onboarding documents, like W-4 and I-9 forms, are legally required to pay taxes and verify the employee’s eligibility to work. You should also carefully review the employee handbook so that new hires become familiar with the company’s culture and procedures.

Avoid Drawing Conclusions

Likewise, you should avoid concluding the behaviors you see in an interview. If someone starts fidgeting or shifting in their chair when you ask a question, you may naturally assume they are lying. You should not write this conclusion down.

Instead, you can write down a description of their behavior. You may document your observations during the hiring process, but you should avoid making any conclusions. Whenever you write down conclusions, you always run the risk of getting into a forbidden topic, such as a protected class or criminal history, that shouldn’t be addressed during the hiring process.

Pre-Board New Hires

Pre-boarding new hires is one of the top employee onboarding best practices. It helps you get new employees excited about their new role at your organization. At a typical organization, preboarding may start with a simple welcome email. In the email, you can discuss the company’s dress code and what the employee’s first day will be like.

Depending on your organization, you may want to use pre-boarding to get a headstart on your employee onboarding documents. Beyond collecting employee onboarding forms, you can use this time to get employees excited about their new jobs. You can give them a welcome pack with branded pens, hats, or sweatshirts from your company.

Explicitly Offer At-Will Employment

When you decide to hire someone, it is important to provide them with a written job offer. This job offer should explicitly say that the position involves at-will employment. At-will employment is different from a job contract because it does not require you to employ someone for a set length of time.

You also have to be extremely careful when wording job offers. For example, many companies list a job’s pay as an annual salary range. An applicant could argue that this format implies the job was for a one-year contract. By explicitly saying in the job offer that the position is at will, you remove this potential issue.

The job offer should include the total compensation and salary for the position. If you have additional conditions of acceptance, you should include them here. For instance, you may want the employee to sign a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement.

Employee Onboarding Best Practices: Give Your Employees a Great Start

With these employee onboarding best practices, you can take the first step in welcoming new hires to your organization. The right procedure involves more than just employee onboarding documents and a new employee checklist. Instead, your hiring and onboarding process should get newcomers excited about working at your organization. Through the best onboarding a new employee checklist, you can prepare your new hires for success.

Unlock your growth potential

Talk with one of experts to explore how Asure can help you reduce administrative burdens and focus on growth.