How to avoid workplace headaches before they strike.

Author:Fritz, Scott
Position:Human Resources

Employers often ask how they could've avoided an administrative headache--or even a crisis--after the problem has already occurred. It's easy to figure out what went wrong after the fact. The trick is identifying potential problems before they happen, then taking the necessary steps to avoid them.

Most pitfalls for today's employers can be easily avoided through the implementation of some very simple, very basic--yet often ignored--employment practices. These small steps can go a long way to save an employer from costly mistakes, employee dissatisfaction and even expensive litigation.

Background checks. Start at the beginning--or even before the beginning. Most employers fail to do little more than check references when hiring a new employee, when really the employer is entitled to a host of important background information. Driving records, credit checks, criminal history record and drug testing reveal things that most employers would want to know, but are afraid to ask (or don't have a system in place to do the asking.) Organizations that specialize in performing these kinds of background checks will even offer psychological testing to determine if a prospective employee is the proper candidate for the job.

Employee handbooks. It is truly shocking how few companies have an employee handbook that dearly states corporate policy. Lack of written, posted company policy is the most common reason for administrative questions and concerns. COBRA, Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Department of Labor compliance and other issues carry tremendous repercussions if not dearly defined in a handbook. But handle...

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