The SESCO Report – April 2007


What to Look For on an Application or Resume

The application or resume can be a valuable source of information. Applications can also produce significant liability if not reviewed properly. Consider:

Wages earned — Typically, an applicant expecting to earn $12.00 an hour would not be happy in your organization if you expect to pay $8.00 per hour. This information gives you an idea about the needs and expectations. Also, under this general information section, you learn why the applicant is changing jobs. Is coming to your organization considered a promotion — advancement in pay?

The Education section provides a complete chronological education history — You can quickly see if there are any time gaps which need to be evaluated. You are also told if the applicant has taken special courses which serve as an indication of aggressiveness, ambition, and qualifications for technical jobs.

An applicant should provide you with three (3) employer references —
The Reference Section is very important. Too many employers tend to by-pass this step in hiring procedures since it is felt that previous employers will not say anything about an applicant. Nothing can be further from the truth. A great deal can be learned from calling references. If employers know something bad about an individual, they will usually tell you, in one form or another (silence vs. a response).

Under the section on Service in the Armed Forces, you can learn a great deal about abilities and ambitions of an applicant — If an applicant spent four (4) years in the Armed Forces without a promotion in grade or rank, you might, for example, question the seriousness of purpose or ability to lead and get along with people.

You should carefully check to make certain that the employment dates are consecutive and that there are no time gaps — Should there be gaps in the employment history, this should be investigated carefully.

In addition to having an applicant's reasons for leaving previous jobs, you should contact the former employers — Ask them the reason to verify this information. A comparison of the two can be most interesting and revealing.

An employer should carefully review the answers given to the question raised about an applicant's criminal record — Many applicants will misrepresent themselves on these questions, and the answers should therefore be carefully verified when possible.

This employment application form contains a statement which is signed by the applicant certifying to the correctness of the information given — The applicant's signature authorizes you to check with former employers, personal references, and any other persons. The applicant also agrees to be employed according to your introductory requirements, agrees to abide by all the present and subsequently-issued rules of the employer, and agrees to submit to a physical examination if requested.

SESCO recommends that all employment applications be maintained for 12 months to comply with the various federal recordkeeping requirements. To simplify retention and reduce liability, all applications should be considered "active" for a period of 30 days (or a specific time period). After 30 days, applications would be considered "inactive" and filed separately for the remaining 11 months. Call SESCO for more information on application retention practices and our full line of personnel forms including our application form for employment, form EEO-4 ($15.50 per 100).

SESCO Client Feedback

"I just wanted to thank you again for your help with the employee handbok for the Alleghany-Bath Free Clinic. The Board of Directors met last night to approve the book and was very appreciative of your help. Luanne Osborn the Clinic Director was also very appreciative."

- Debbie Lipes, CEO Bath Community Hospital

Keys to Successful Performance Planning

To positively impact the performance of your work group and begin to evaluate an employee's performance, the employee must understand what the job is, how it fits into the organization, and what their responsibilities are. Additionally, the supervisor must do two things:

1. Assume responsibility for the performance of their work group, and

2. Set and communicate standards that are challenging, but reachable; and then monitor your employee's performance against these standards.

Keys that will improve the performance appraisal process include:

1. Describing the job and its importance to the organization ? Explain the key responsibilities of the job and how the accomplishment of these responsibilities impacts the overall organization. Help your employee see the big picture and not just a small part of the picture. Explain how their results impact the success of the company.

2. Establishing clear performance expectations ? Next, establish performance expectations. These expectations often come in terms of standards for the job. There are a variety of standards including both tangible and intangible standards. Tangible standards are those that are clear, concrete, specific, and measurable such as the number of items produced, shipped, received, deadlines, project completion dates, etc. Intangible standards are those that relate specifically to human characteristics such as attitude, morale, ethics, and cooperation.

Most people want to do their jobs well. It's hard to do unless your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected on the job. A standard or expectation should be specific and clear enough to let the employee know what is expected, but should also allow the employee room to look for new and improved ways of doing things.

To set clear expectations, you should review:

? Job descriptions
? Organizational goals
? Departmental goals
? Past performance

3. Identifying the skills and resources required to successfully get the job done ? Discuss with your employee the skills and resources required for them to successfully accomplish their job. If your employee is experienced, ask them what they think will be needed to get their job done. Make sure there is understanding and commitment from the employee on these key areas.

4. Setting priorities ?
As the supervisor, you have the responsibility of making sure that all tasks get done. If your employees aren't sure what tasks are more important than others, key objectives may not get accomplished. Work with your employees to list the major tasks and activities and then rank them in terms of their importance. Be sure to notify your employees if priorities change due to special projects or organizational goals.

5. Review and check for understanding and commitment ? It is critical to both your success and that of your employee to make sure that you understand each other. To accomplish this, ask your employee to restate the standards and review the priorities as discussed during the meeting. Listen effectively to hear and understand what the employee says.

Good performance planning requires more than simply telling an employee: "This is what I expect from you." It takes thought, planning and commitment from both you and the employee. An effective way of developing the goals and expectations is to hold a planning meeting between you and your employee. This is basically a planning meeting for performance and not an evaluation session.

SESCO specializes in developing performance management systems and leadership training.

Leadership Quotes

"A good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do."

- Anthony T. Dadovano

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that's assault, not leadership."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

How to Respond to a Sexual Harassment Complaint

1. Take the complaint seriously.

2. Remember that there are no stereotypical recipients of sexual harassment and there are no stereotypical sexual harassers.

3. Immediately conduct a thorough investigation as confidentially as possible in compliance with your company's procedures.

4. Follow up with the complainant quickly — preferably within three (3) to five (5) days — to give the outcome of the investigation.

5. Document all conversations and any disciplinary actions which may have occurred.

Talking with the Alleged Recipient

1. Encourage the individual to speak specifically.

2. Ask:
- Where/when did the behavior occur?
- Who was involved?
- Were there any witnesses?
- Has this happened before?
- Did you tell the person his/her behavior was unwelcome?

Talking with the Alleged Harasser

1. Be serious and to the point.

2. Describe the circumstances surrounding the complaint. Initially, avoid revealing the identity of the person who brought the complaint.

3. Ask the person to respond to each allegation separately.

4. If the person admits to the behavior, tell the person that the behavior must stop.

5. When dealing with an alleged harasser who denies the allegation, explain that you have two sides of the story and that you will be doing additional fact-finding before making a determination.

6. Take appropriate corrective action based on your findings of the investigation and based on your organization's policies.

Talking with Witnesses

1. Do not initially identify the alleged recipient or the alleged harasser.

2. Say to the witness, "Your name has been given to us as a person who may have observed an interaction between several employees, and we'd like to talk to you about your observations."

3. Describe the situation and circumstances of the alleged harassment. For example, "Were you in the hallway by the water fountain this morning?"

4. Focus on the witness' observations, not assumptions or opinions about the personalities of the people involved in the allegation.

SESCO Client Inquiry — Staff Response

Question: How does an employee's Medicare entitlement affect his or her COBRA continuation rights for health care insurance?

Answer: The timing of the entitlement is what will determine a qualified beneficiary's (QB) right to COBRA continuation coverage. If the person becomes entitled to Medicare before electing COBRA coverage, entitlement cannot be a basis for terminating the QB's right to COBRA coverage. In contrast, if the person becomes entitled to Medicare after electing COBRA coverage, the statute allows for this person's coverage to be terminated as of the date of entitlement
to Medicare.

The COBRA regulations clarify that simply being eligible to enroll in Medicare does not constitute entitlement; the qualified beneficiary must have actively enrolled in either Part A or B to be considered entitled to Medicare. Social Security has further clarified that entitlement to Medicare involves actively applying for benefits or submitting a claim that Medicare pays.