You're the boss. It's your business, so you can do what you want, right? Well, technically, yes, as long as it's not violating any laws. But just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should do something. Here are 5 things you need to stop doing, even though they are legal.
1. Conducting the background check after bringing someone on board. This seems to be more and more popular. Don't bother about that pesky paperwork; just get someone started. After all, time is money, right? In the past week, I've received two emails from people who accepted new jobs, started those new jobs, and then got fired within the week because they didn't pass the reference check. Talk about wasting time and money. You do have to pay those people for working, so no money saved.
2. Forcing people to resign. You may think you're being nice in giving an employee the option to resign, by demanding that she write a resignation letter. Just stop it. If the person deserves to be fired for cause, fire her. If it's a layoff, or a generic poor-performance termination, or you just don't like the person, you can give the option of resigning, but honestly, just terminate the person, and don't fight unemployment. Recruiters don't look fondly on people who resigned without a new job lined up anyway. You're not helping, and you're a cheapskate who is trying to get out of a bump in unemployment costs.
3. Paying new hires significantly more than your long-term, loyal staff. It's totally true that it's easier to keep an employee than it is to coax someone to leave a job and come to work for you. And it's also true that market rates change, and that it's not required that you have all staff members doing the same job making exactly the same amount of money. After all, people bring different skills and experiences and expertise. However, when you need to offer the new guy $10,000 more than your loyal, long-term, hard-working, high performer is making, that's a sign that you should give your long-term employee a big raise. Don't treat current staff poorly because you can.
4. Giving false performance appraisals. I don't mean that you're forging or plagiarizing performance appraisals (although using the copy-paste method in which all your employees get the same "feedback" needs to stop as well). I mean reviews in which you rate someone highly and tell the person she's doing great, and then three months later, you want to fire her and blame "performance." Someone who was a star three months previously deserves help. If you want to fire her so that you can hire your cousin, say that. If you want to fire her because you've hired a new manager who hates this person, consider why on earth you are getting rid of a trusted employee over a new person who has the maturity of a seventh grader. If it truly is a performance issue, why did you say your employee was doing great a few months ago? Be honest. Always.
5. Refusing to give copies of documents. If you stand behind what you've said in that writeup of your employee, why won't you give the employee a copy of the document? If you demand a signature "right now!" when the employee says she would like to talk to her attorney first, you are a sleazy, slimy boss. If the document won't stand up to legal scrutiny, you shouldn't be asking for a signature.