Running a Shop Human Resources

How To Make Your Onboarding Orderly

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Just how well do you know your employees?

According to Jared Rosenthal, CEO of StaffGlass, a digital company that helps small- and medium-sized businesses onboard staffers, assuming you know everything about your people is one of the areas in which  body shops can slip up.

“‘I know my guys; these guys are fine,’” he says, mimicking the mindset of certain shop owners. “That’s the biggest [mistake]— just making that assumption.”

Employing people without proper vetting, Rosenthal says, can open up your shop to liability should things go sideways—a staffer steals a car, or worse, gets into a physical confrontation with a customer.

Background checks and drug testing are just one aspect of the onboarding process, which Rosenthal defines as the time between the decision to hire an employee and when that person shows up for their first day of work. 

It involves collecting that person’s personal information, having them fill out the appropriate tax forms, and performing checks and tests that line up with the type of work they’ll be doing at your shop.

Rosenthal says having SOPs in place for onboarding can save shops from headaches later, and he knows a thing or two about solid onboarding—StaffGlass aims to ease the onboarding process by housing all the needed documents in the cloud, while making it easy for employees to upload their information and schedule needed 

The bottomline when it comes to onboarding, he says, is to treat everybody the same and have uniform practices. Here’s more from Rosenthal on the importance of the process.

As told to Mike Munzenrider

Have an onboarding plan.

Dealing with the HR work is a headache but it’s one of those things that you have to do. Having procedures in place or using StaffGlass makes your onboarding less prone to errors and can put everything in the same place. The easier and the faster you can make it the better. Know what documents need to be filled out and what forms of identification you need from new hires by contacting your state’s department of labor; you’ll also want to create procedures tailored to your shop, like what situations will prompt you to perform background checks.

Perform checks that make sense.

If you don’t run a background check or drug test you’re just taking risks you don’t need to take. You don’t need to take a blanket approach, though, you want to tailor the background check to the job that you're hiring the person to perform. If the person is going to be driving cars, check their driving record. Look out for grand theft auto on their criminal record—you want to know about that before you have a real problem with a client.

Drug tests should make sense too.

As far as drug testing goes, consider some of the same things you would for the background check. Are they driving? Will they be operating heavy equipment? Have them tested.

First impressions make a difference.

While the benefits of reducing liability are obvious, there are others that come from an orderly onboarding process. It’s how you present yourself and your business to future employees, showing them you’re professional. First impressions make a difference, even with the people you’re hiring, it can immediately affect how they see the company. That’s a benefit to that new employee, too.

It’s all about avoiding ‘negligent hiring.’

We work with a number of high-end dealerships and they’re the model for how rigorous you can get with background checks—they’re determined to put their best foot forward for clients who will interact with their employees. A technician who doesn’t deal with the public might not need as thorough a check.

If you don’t run a background check on people, here’s what can happen. Let’s say a guy you didn’t check steals a car and the owner of the car sues your shop. That person’s lawyer is going to ask, “Did you run a background check on that guy?” In that case, you’re toast, because of the doctrine of “negligent hiring.” It’s so easy to run the background check that you’re negligent not to do it, and can be held liable.

We also help companies with post-accident drug tests. You want to make sure everything is on the up and up if someone gets hurt on the job. The best companies are avoiding these types of situations by making sure they’re screening.

Consistency is the message.

The bottom line is to have an onboarding procedure in place and don’t break it, even if you’re hiring family. Employees know when others are getting away with something, and they also appreciate when everybody is held to the same standards. Consistency is the message—nobody likes to feel like they’re singled out—and a consistent approach matters because it increases mutual respect. 

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