Avoid Bad Employees, Don’t Hire LUZIRS

Best practices for avoiding potentially bad employees and hiring workers to benefit your business.

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In this economy, it's more important than ever for employers to be careful about their hiring practices. Hiring the wrong person can cause catastrophic loss. A bad employee not only costs you potential revenues, it can also damage your bottom line through costly lawsuits and administrative charges. The worst thing you can do is hire one of the LUZIRS (Lazy, Undisciplined, Zero-interest, Irresponsible, Rude, Slackers). Here are some best practices to avoid them.

First, look at your current work force and ask, “Who are my really good workers?” Then, ask: “Where did I find them?” The answers will tell you where to look for workers; in other words, where should you devote your recruiting resources.

Second, use a good employment application. A good application will ask the questions and get the answers you really need, e.g., education, experience, basic background information, references, etc. It will also have important legal information that you want the applicant to know: this is “at-will” employment; there will be a background check, drug test, credit check, and/or motor vehicle record check; lying on the application or hiding material information will result in termination; an arbitration agreement or jury waiver provision applies to any disputes; as well as required legal disclaimers such as “Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.”

Third, analyze the application carefully. Look for gaps in employment. Look for a progression of diminishing responsibilities or pay. Look for vague, unspecified reasons for leaving a job. Be wary of these classic reasons: “Disagreed with policy”  [= fired for rules violation]  “Personality conflict” [= couldn’t get along with co-workers, supervisor, or customers] “Poor working conditions”  [= fired for poor performance]  “Mutual agreement” [= found out s/he was one of the LUZIRS]. You should also look for incomplete or blank responses. If your application asks about criminal convictions [it should], and the applicant doesn’t answer, then guess what that means? There probably is a gap in employment in there, too. 

Fourth, interview candidates carefully. Do this in private where you won’t be interrupted. Ask open-ended questions that get the applicant to talk, and follow the 80/20 rule: let the applicant talk 80% of the time. Ask about likes and dislikes with respect to current or former job duties, supervisors/managers, companies, customers, etc. Do spend your 20 percent of the time “selling” your company and the job. You want the candidates you don’t select to say good things about your company too.

Fifth, check references. It's often a good idea to talk to personal references too. Don’t get stone-walled by a response limited to job title and dates of employment. At least ask if the candidate is eligible for re-hire.

Finally, give the new hire a proper welcome and orientation. Let the new hire meet the “boss” early in the orientation process, and make all levels of management part of the orientation process. This helps the new hire feel truly welcome and sets the stage for good communication later.