Monthly Archives

June 2013

Hiring The Best

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At some point in your career as a business owner or manager, you’ll need to lead a hiring process. Before you do, take the time to think about how to hire the best people for your business. Many managers still rely largely on gut instinct or simply accept the first person who comes knocking at the door. Taking a more planned approach can be an important competitive advantage.

If you were purchasing new equipment, you would first consider the financial investment. You wouldn’t pick just any equipment, you’d identify what the equipment should be able to do, choose the features that most closely match your needs, and ensure a level of reliability and return on investment that makes the financials work. You might even set up a maintenance schedule, so you could respond quickly if the equipment didn’t perform to optimal levels.

Though people are immeasurably more complex than equipment, using a similar thought process can help you see that the investment in hiring great people is well worth it. Once you include benefits and other costs, such as training and skills upgrading to keep up with technology advancements, hiring a new employee at 40K a year will likely cost your business more than half a million dollars over 10 years of employment. That’s a huge financial investment. The costs are even higher if that same employee leaves the company and you have to start all over again.

Hiring without a process is like trying to hit a target wearing a blindfold; you may know the general direction in which you aim, but precision is unlikely. Here are a few ideas to help keep your hiring on the mark:

  • Prepare your job ad with the reader in mind: know your most important audiences and place your ads accordingly.
  • Ask all applicants to include a cover letter along with the resume or application form. The cover letter may offer otherwise hidden clues into an applicant’s ability to formulate and communicate their thoughts and their ability to stand above the crowd.
  • Review the resume and cover letter and pre-screen the top few candidates by phone. Asking a few questions related to their background and competencies will save you interview time by weeding out those who clearly don’t meet your minimum criteria.
  • Respond to each and every applicant with whom you speak, even those who are screened out. This helps enhance your company’s brand. Be mindful that the applicants may also be your customers, suppliers or vendors, if not now, in the future.
  • Rely less on the top 100 interview questions from the Internet and more on your knowledge of the job. What skills will the ideal candidate need to possess to thrive in your workplace?
  • Schedule a consecutive block of time to interview the candidate using quality questions that address the competencies you require of the position. Strong      responsibility and proactivity skills are essential in most roles.
  • Before the meeting, turn off your cell phone and avoid interruptions. Your candidate has set aside time from their schedule to meet you and they deserve your undivided attention.
  • Explain to the candidate how the interview will proceed. At the end, offer an opportunity to ask questions as a way to signal the wrap up of the interview.
  • Again, communicate with all candidates to share the good and bad news. It’s only fair to let them know the outcome so they can begin planning right away or move on to the next opportunity.

The measure of whether or not your hiring process is successful is in the effectiveness of your new employee. The best advice is to recognize that your ‘gut instinct’ probably has merit, while using solid interviewing and assessment skills to make the final decision.

Reporting Your AODA Progress

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By now many of you will have heard or read about the AODA – Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Customer Service Standard was the first of five standards that, by 2025, will form the entire AODA. The AODA dovetails with the Human Rights Act to provide structure to how we, as Ontarians, will build our communities now and in the years ahead. That said complying with this legislation is a bit different than complying with other more familiar employment legislation.

Other employment legislation requires adherence in a silent way. The expectation is that employers will comply with each requirement, and only when deficiencies are identified as a result of an inspection, accident or complaint, does government action take place. Compliance with the AODA requires that employers file regular reports with the Province.

Depending on the size of your company, your obligations differ.  Basically private sector organizations with 1 or more employees were required to meet certain AODA requirements by January 1, 2012.  Companies with 20 or more employees have an additional requirement to report annually to the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS). Word on the street is that companies who haven’t filed have received a phone call reminding them of their obligations. MCSS is proactively following up to ensure your compliance related to accessibility planning, training of employees, web content, and accessible information, among other elements of the standards.

So if you haven’t filed your report for 2012, you may wish to set aside some time to take care of it. The Province has created an online tool to help you file your report. An introductory link to more information can be found in the Accessibility Wizard at www.appacats.mcss.gov.on.ca/eadvisor.

The online report is located at www.Ontario.ca/AccessON. Navigating the site can be a little challenging, so here are some tips to save you time and frustration:

  1. Be sure to have your business number and official business name handy, you can find your business number on your federal or provincial tax payment or refund.
  2. You’ll be setting up an account with Service Ontario’s ONe-Source for Business, where you’ll create a user name and password and answer a few questions in case you forget your password. Next, you will set up your business profile before clicking on the AODA reporting tab to answer the questions.
  3. The 15 questions you will be required to answer for the report can be viewed at: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/customerService and click on ‘questions’ at the bottom of the page
  4. Any staff member or volunteer can complete the accessibility compliance report. However, it must be certified by an individual who can bind the organization.
  5. Set aside one to two hours to complete the report for the first time, from setting up your account with AccessON to completing the report.

2025 sounds like a long time away, but with multiple standards coming into force between then and now, complying with this legislation may be more complex than you may expect. The AODA is far-reaching because it covers customer service, information and communication, employment, transportation and the built environment, and applies to virtually every organization in the province.