Situation: The CEO of an early stage company has identified a person to help her as an assistant. This will be her first real employee. Prior hires have been contractors who have been paid on revenue generated. This individual’s salary will be an expense without clear association to revenue. What guidelines do you suggest as she makes this hire? How do you hire your first employee?
Advice from the CEOs:
Create a cash flow projection to make sure that you have the cash to afford an employee.
If you consistently expect 40+ hours of work from this individual, consider a salaried position which will give both of you more flexibility.
Paychex currently handles your payroll and benefits. Work with them to make sure that all labor law compliance issues are covered. Also, consider hiring a labor law consultant to help you avoid minefields.
Do a background check even if you have known this individual for a long time.
Consider working with a professional employment organization that can provide back-office HR support for you.
An employee handbook is unnecessary at this point. However, think through how you will want to handle issues that may come up including vacation, benefits and paid/unpaid leave like bereavement leave. Document these for inclusion in a future employee handbook.
Under the current health care law employers with less than fifty employees are not required to provide health benefits without paying a penalty. This may change as the law continues to evolve.
Situation: A company recently hired two employees. In their first weeks of work, they were observed using company computers, on company time, to do personal work – in one case to monitor a personal web-based business. What is the best way to communicate company policy to these individuals?
Advice from the CEOs:
Everything starts with the orientation on the first day of employment and the atmosphere established in the first weeks of work.
Particularly in a small company, new employees should meet with the CEO whose job it is to describe the culture of the company, the vision for the future and broad expectations of the role and contributions expected from employees.
Matters concerning personal work on company time and with company equipment should be clearly addressed in the employee handbook. Key points should be reviewed by a representative of upper level management, along with a conversation to assure that these key points are clearly understood.
Particularly during the initial weeks of work, new employees should have frequent meetings with their immediate supervisors to assure that they have the resources they need, that any questions they have about their work are addressed, and that they are performing to company and role expectations.
Given what has been observed, you, as CEO, should definitely speak to them about the behavior observed, and give them the opportunity to explain what is happening.
Clarify expectations of all employees, and ask whether these individuals understand these expectations.
Document the meeting. If the behavior continues, take action.
What is being done by other employees, and is there a broader issue to be addressed? Are other employees behaving similarly? If so, the new employees may just be responding to what they perceive as allowable behavior within the company.
Start with a company meeting or a letter to all employees. Highlight relevant passages from the employee handbook, and speak in terms not only of company culture but of the destructive impact that this behavior has on company performance and viability. The future of everyone in the company is tied to company performance and success.
Key Words: Leadership, Team, Expectations, Personal Work, Company Time, Policy, Orientation, Culture, Expectations, Employee, Handbook, Evaluation Period, Supervision, Documentation