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Eight Lessons Worth Sharing from My 25 Years in HR

By May 28, 2024HR

Before I founded MarathonHR in 2004, I was the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of another Georgia-based professional employment organization (PEO). Over the course of the past 25 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in human resources administration. However, there are some truths about the practice of human resources that seem to transcend time.

  1. Pay people right. It may be tempting for employers to hire someone as an independent contractor instead of putting them on the payroll as an employee. However, based on their income and work duties, many workers likely should be treated as employees and receive commensurate pay and benefits.
  2. Don’t try to get creative to avoid overtime pay. Marathon has long maintained that the most surefire way to stay on top of wage and hour rules is to hire hourly employees instead of salaried employees. You won’t get in trouble by compensating on an hourly basis and paying overtime. If an employee qualifies to be paid on a salary basis, be clear about the exemption that applies and the basis. Be prepared to pay overtime when needed.
  3. Hire slowly and terminate quickly. To save yourself headaches later, take care during the interview process to make sure that a candidate’s skills align with the job description. A 90-day probationary period is common language for many organizations, but you can terminate after 90 minutes if you know it is a poor fit.
  4. HR is easy. Treat everybody well and treat them the same. Everyone has the potential to contribute regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies.
  5. When you’re hiring, focus on the job and not the person. Set clear expectations of what the job entails. The better you let them know what the job is like, the more that candidates can determine if the role is right for them.
  6. It is easier to turn the ship when it is only a little off course. Performance reviews should happen more frequently than once per year, and they should be delivered separately from compensation reviews. Regular feedback benefits employees who bring a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences to the job, especially younger employees who may be expecting consistent input from others. I like the concept of a performance review (or “check-in”) at the end of the first week.
  7. Don’t be a jerk. People sue people they don’t like. Take the time to learn what truly makes employees happy.

Lastly, I leave you with an observation from my son years ago. As a six-year-old, he played a video game in which he was tasked with hiring dinosaurs to work in a dinosaur park. After weeks of playing the game, he came to me with the conclusion that, “Employees suck. They take your money, and then they leave.” On that note, I encourage you to watch out for signs of employee disengagement before they become a problem. Make employee retention a priority.

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