What Does A Company Owe Its Employees?

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I’m reading an excellent eBook entitled “From Q&A to Z, the Hiring Manager’s Complete Interviewing Guide.” Inside are a number of excellent hiring tips.

You might ask, why would I promote a competitor’s product here?

Well, it’s a big world, and I imagine my company’s clients and prospective clients can benefit from quality information from more than one source.

Here’s the link to this eBook. When I tried the link just now, it wasn’t working, but I believe that’s a temporary issue. If you’re not able to access the eBook from the link, send me a message here and I’ll forward you the eBook directly.

From this eBook, I noticed an intriguing question you could ask your applicants:

“What does a company owe its employees?”

The answers you get are likely to be all over the spectrum.

Some may say they expect a great deal from the company and you may get a long list of specific items the applicant believes they are owed.

Others may tell you the company simply owes them a proper monetary exchange and that the APPLICANT wants to perform at a high level and demonstrate their value to the company before additional exchange is considered.

Between those two views will be a variety of responses.

And I’m sure your personal view of what your company “owes” your employees will influence how you interpret the responses you get.

All things considered, your applicant’s answers will tell you a great deal about their future expectations with you.

Then of course it comes down to whether you feel you can meet those expectations.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Contribution Goes Both Ways

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A good number of us are searching for that new employee who will come on board and contribute at a very high level.

We envision this person quickly grasping the duties of the position and working hard and smart. We see this person getting along super well with other employees, being extra productive and, in just about every way, being an ideal employee.

Is there anything wrong with this picture?

Of course not. There’s everything right in wanting that phenomenal employee who not only produces like mad, but helps others around them produce more than usual.

I’ll mention two components here that will help you attract and keep such an employee.

1) Advertise to prospective employees that you’re looking for people who want to contribute at a very high level AND who expect that same contribution coming back to them.

2) Deliver on your end of it.

I’m going to assume you’re willing to carry out number 2 here.

So what are some ways you can do that?

The obvious one is to pay someone what they’re worth. If they produce like gangbusters for you, and their contribution has a tangible effect on your bottom line, then exchange accordingly.

But there are other ways to contribute back to real producers.

The first and most overlooked one is:

Acknowledging them for what they do.

When they produce well, let them know you appreciate it.

“Bob, you did a fabulous job with that client.”

“Mary, you really handle the daylights out of the reception area. It makes a real difference around here.”

“Frank, I really appreciate you putting in the extra time to get that project done. You’re a real life saver!”

A little acknowledgement goes a long way. Just remember the last few times somebody genuinely validated you for a job well done.

There are other ways to show your appreciation. Perks of various kinds. The key point of this tip is:

The best way to attract and keep top producers is to convince them you know that contribution goes both ways and then keep your end of it.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Underpaid and Overpaid

Under and Over Paid

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You’re essentially going to ask two questions here. One question may get you several answers. And the other may produce a blank stare.

“Fred, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were underpaid?”

The concept of being underpaid is a fairly easy one for us to understand. We felt we were not adequately compensated for our work.

Perhaps we worked longer hours than what was initially bargained for.

Maybe we felt we worked much harder than our co-workers.

Or maybe we didn’t feel the quality of our work was financially appreciated.

So, when asking an applicant about having been underpaid, go over some of the above possible scenarios, dig in a bit and see what comes up.

After you feel you’ve covered this side of the coin, move forward with this question:

“Okay Fred, that was good to know. Now, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were overpaid?”

This question might get you a long pause, maybe even a fidget or two.

Be patient and let the candidate come up with an answer.

If Fred doesn’t come up with anything you could ask:

“What would it mean to be overpaid?”

That is not directly connected to Fred and his past, so you should get a fairly good answer here.

Then, ask the earlier question again, with this slight modification:

“Fred, with that in mind, were there any jobs in which you felt you were overpaid?”

Yes, I realize this is a difficult question for many applicants to answer. If the person feels he was overpaid, then that begs the question:

“Well, why didn’t you perform to the level of what you were being paid?”

So, your applicant may feel it’s a “trap question.” But it really isn’t. You’re looking for a glimpse into the integrity level of your applicant.

Fred may say,

“Well, a few years ago, I was working for Company X and they paid me very well. It was a very cushy job and I just kind of glided along, happy to be making a good deal of money.

“When they downsized—and that included me—I wished I had rolled up my sleeves and had been much more productive. I may have been spared the pink slip.

“That was a big lesson for me. From that point on, I stopped gliding and got my act together.”

That’s a refreshing viewpoint, right?

Whatever you do find out with these two questions, I’m pretty certain you’ll get some keen insights into your applicant.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Perks, Perks and More Perks

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When it comes to hiring and holding onto your staff, especially top-notch staff, perks can be a prime consideration.

As we know, perks are employee benefits provided in addition to normal wages or salaries.

Some examples are health insurance, paid sick leave, vacation pay, daycare, retirement benefits, and continuing education paid by the employer. There are others, but those are some of the more common ones.

And, by the way, the word is spelled ‘perq’ in British English. There’s no extra charge for my including that key piece of information in this tip.

Sometimes perks are given to only specific employees. In these cases, it might be based on performance, it might have to do with seniority or the employer just may want to hold on to particular employees.

Here are some other perks being offered:

Exercise equipment on location and time allowed to use the equipment. Some employers have found the more they help their staff become and stay healthy, the better they perform. And there are of course financial benefits to the employer when the staff are healthy.

Some employers provide pet care. Now, that’s an interesting perk.

How about back and neck massages delivered right at the employee’s desk?

Today I heard about companies that have a dry cleaning facility on their premises.

I imagine the list could go on. You could get very creative with this.

When deciding on whether to offer a particular perk, the two most important factors are:

1) Can you afford to offer it?

2) Is that employee benefit really meaningful to your staff? If it’s only a great perk in your mind, then you might want to reconsider it.

There are other concerns which we’ll take up in more detail in future Hiring Tips. In the meantime, if you see me applying for a job at your place of business, please know that I’ll be interested in your pet care program. My Miniature Dachsund may need her own space away from the others.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Terminations and the Law —
Payout of Vacation Days on Termination of Employment

Devora L. Lindeman, Esq., Partner at Greenwald Doherty LLP, is providing us with insight and information regarding the hiring process. Ms. Lindeman is a management-side employment lawyer and has exclusively represented managers and companies in federal and state agencies and courts with regard to their labor and employment needs for many years.

Questions addressed to Ms. Lindeman may be addressed in this column.

Hiring and the Law
By Devora L. Lindeman, Esq.*

Question: I just let an employee go for not meeting job expectations. She sent me a text message asking when I would be sending her payment for the vacation days she didn’t use. Do I have to pay her for those?

Answer: The response to that question is again (as I’ve noted in other columns) a very lawyerly “it depends.” In this case, the answer depends upon the state your company is located in, as well as what your vacation policy says. Don’t have a vacation policy? Then the response defaults to your state’s law.

Many states have little to no legal requirements when it comes to vacation pay – unless the state includes accrued vacation days in the definition of “wages” and also has a requirement as to when all wages must be paid to an employee whose employment has been terminated.

Many states require final payment to terminated employees to be made no later than the next regular pay date. Some states, however, like California and Massachusetts, require you to hand an employee their pay—the final pay check—in the termination meeting—and specify that “final pay” includes accrued but unused vacation days.

Other states, like New York, tell employers to follow their own policy with regard to the payout of vacation days to terminated employees. These states allow employers to have what are called “use it or lose it” policies: if the employee does not use his or her vacation days, they are forfeited and not paid out upon termination of employment. If, however, your vacation day policy does not specify that days are forfeited, and is silent on that issue, you may be required to pay them out. If you are in a state that permits “use it or lose it” policies, it is prudent to include language both forfeiting unused vacation days upon termination and indicating that unused days will not be paid out.

If employees believe that they are owed for unused vacation days, and your state’s laws or regulations require that vacation days be paid out, terminated employees can usually go to your state’s Department of Labor and file a wage payment claim against your company seeking the value of the unpaid vacation days. Companies can handle such wage claims in the DOL alone, without the assistance of an attorney—but government agencies usually will provide more assistance to the employee than they will to you.

If your state has no law requiring pay out of vacation days, but your policy clearly says they are paid out and then you do not pay them, the employee would need to bring a lawsuit against your company (probably in small claims court) seeking payment under the policy probably alleging a breach of contract (i.e. the company promised to pay out unused vacation days and broke its promise (violated the contract) with regard to this employee). How successful such a lawsuit would be depends on a number of factors, including the language in your vacation pay policy and whether the court will consider the policy to be an actual contract the court can enforce.

Thus, to answer your question you need to first look at your vacation pay policy. If you don’t have such a policy, look to your state’s wage laws. To find them, go to your state’s Department of Labor web site (or the website for the equivalent state agency that handles employee wage issues for your state; for example, in Oregon the agency is called BOLI – Bureau of Labor and Industries). Most such web sites have an “FAQ” (frequently asked questions) section specifically for employers and often you can find your answer there. You also probably can call that agency and ask the question without giving any identifying information about yourself or your company—but that is not always the case. For certainty in terms of what to do (and how to fix your policy if needed for the future), consult with a management-side employment lawyer familiar with the law in the state where your company is located.


*Ms. Lindeman is a Partner at Greenwald Doherty LLP, a law firm that exclusively represents businesses in all aspects of labor and employment law.  These columns are intended to be general information regarding the topic discussed and are not to be considered legal advice regarding a specific situation. Contact a management-side employment attorney familiar with the law of your jurisdiction for specific advice.  Ms. Lindeman is admitted to practice law in NY and NJ and may be contacted at DL@greenwaldllp.com.  She is under no obligation to respond to reader inquiries personally, but may answer general employment law questions through this column.

© 2011 Greenwald Doherty.  May not be reprinted without permission.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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