Innovation@work: From Entrepreneur to Boss – Considerations for Hiring Your First Employee (Part 1)


Innovation@work: From Entrepreneur to Boss – Considerations for Hiring Your First Employee (Part 1)

By: Hilary Holmes Rheaume

As an entrepreneur, you have worked hard to develop your business. At some point, you realize that you need to hire your first employee. Although that can be an exciting indication of success, it can also become overwhelming as you try to navigate the complexities of state and federal law.

This post is the first of many in a series intended to help guide the process of hiring your first employee.

To start, here is a list of topics to consider when thinking about hiring your first employee:

  • Job Description
  • Employee Classification (Exempt vs. Non-Exempt)
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Paid Time Off
  • Employment Policies/Discipline
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Required Postings
  • Safety Programs
  • Record Keeping/Personnel Files
  • Youth Employment
  • Application for Candidates/Interview Process
  • New Hire Forms
  • Initial Training

Each month, I will discuss one of the topics above to help simplify the hiring process. This month, we will start with job descriptions.

Job descriptions are important in several areas of the employment relationship, including:

  • Recruiting and Hiring: A written job description is useful for preparing an accurate job posting.
  • Setting and Reviewing Compensation: An accurate job description can also help you evaluate compensation levels to ensure that it is comparable to similar positions within the industry, consistent across various positions within the company, and adjusted appropriately if the duties and responsibilities of a particular position changes.
  • Managing Performance: A written job description provides employees with information about their duties and responsibilities, which serves as a foundation for performance reviews, goal setting, bonuses, and salary increases. Additionally, a job description can provide the standard for measuring performance and provide support for a decision to discipline or terminate an employee for non-performance.
  • Legal Implications: An accurate job description can reduce your company’s risk for liability in an employment-related lawsuit, such as a claim for a failure to accommodate a disability or a wage and hour violation.

A job description should include the following information:

  • Job Title
  • Job Classification: The job description should include information about whether the position is exempt or non-exempt from minimum wage and overtime payment requirements under applicable federal and state laws. Additionally, the job description should state whether the position is full-time, part-time, seasonal or temporary.
  • Duties and Responsibilities of the Position: To determine the accurate duties and responsibilities for a position, you should think through the various tasks that the person in this position would be required to perform. Additionally, you could consider observing employees at other local companies to determine their responsibilities for a particular position.
  • Qualifications for the Position: The job description should include information about required and/or preferred qualifications, such as (1) education level, (2) professional licenses or certifications, (3) prior work experience, and (4) skills.
  • Physical Requirements: The job description should include information about the physical requirements of the job, such as standing, sitting, or lifting requirements, along with any work environment information, such as exposure to dust or fumes.
  • Additional Information: The job description could include additional information, such as location, travel, and working hours.

As you draft a job description, you should also consider the following best practices:

  • Use appropriate words and phrases: It can be tempting to inflate the duties and responsibilities to make a position appear more desirable to certain candidates. However, it is more important that you draft an accurate job description, since the description could impact your company’s liability in a number of ways.
  • Include a disclaimer: You should include a disclaimer that the job description is not intended to be a comprehensive list of duties and responsibilities and such duties and responsibilities may change without notice.
  • Conduct periodic reviews: You should review job descriptions on an annual basis to ensure the description accurately describes the position.

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