Saturday, August 18, 2007

Do You Treat Your Employees As An Asset to Your Business?

It’s a perfunctory question in this day and age of Enrons and businesses looking to cut costs from their bottom lines. I am of an age where I remember companies used to treat their loyal employees with respect and had sincere concern for their welfare. Employment contracts used to exist where today most states take the At Will approach. Nowadays, the average stay with an employer is 5 years. I remember when employees worked for companies for 20, 30, even 40 years and then were able to retire because their company believed they earned their right to do so for their efforts, where as today, loyalty doesn’t exist. Companies offer minimum wage or below average earnings and take no interest if their employee’s are unable to afford healthcare, insurance, or even a lawyer. I know that many small businesses survive because there is a more personable relationship with their employees and a greater concern for their wellbeing. However, with small businesses, I’m concerned that there is a greater risk for liability among their employees. An assumption of common sense, following of policies and procedures, and law practices are befallen by employers who lack the budget for proper training and education of their staff. State and federal laws protect some employees with regard to these points of action, but the greater concern is the personal consequences these employees may face because their employer is not truly apprehensive as to their practices. As an example, which I used in my last posting, if you hire based on a background check and/or credit check, your practices are only subjugated toward the worthiness of an individual from a personal standpoint. If, however, your practices also issued social security verification, you are proactively taking measures to protecting your company and employees from illegal immigration, terrorism, and identity theft. When statistics show that 70% of all identity theft happens in the workplace, it proves that there are two dynamics happening in this country, 1) employees are unable to afford the basic necessities to survive and, 2) there is a significant rise in illegal employment.

If from reading this, you still choose not to incorporate social security verification into your policies, do you believe you treat your employees as an asset to your business? Before you answer, let me put it another way. If as a result of not incorporating social security verification into your processes, one or more employees had their identity stolen, do you believe they would be able to afford restoring their identity, short of suing the company? If the average employee makes $35,000 or less, a lawyer costs $200-300 an hour, with a significant retainer up front, and the employee has to spend an average of 600 hours and $1600 trying to restore their name and/or financial records, are they treated as an asset?

I’m certainly not saying that social security verification is the only safeguard that companies need to have in place, but I am saying that safeguards need to have serious consideration even if not mandated by law, in order to protect not just your bottom line but your employees’.

Other options to consider are identity theft monitoring/restoration and pre-paid legal benefits, as a payroll deduction, which actually lowers your company’s liability if a security breach were to happen and shows the employee that you value their service and understand their vulnerabilities.