Here’s what I believe about HR:
- It just may be the single most untapped opportunity in business today.
- Marketing is about them. HR is about US.
- HR needs to listen to the criticism, not whine about it, and then do something about it.
- HR executives have a choice to be great…or merely average at best.
- Lawyers have turned HR into “don’t get sued.” HR is much more than that.
- The greatest concerns HR should focus on are hiring people you can trust, getting them to perform and keeping them when they do. These three concerns drive profitability. All other concerns are a distant second.
- People who trust each other don’t sue each other.
- HR executives have to believe in themselves first before they can be truly effective.
- HR would be well served to better understand business acumen in general.
- HR should know all the math surrounding personnel activities.
- HR should outsource as many administrative functions as possible so they can focus on growing and protecting the business.
- HR has to become proficient at using new technologies including HRIS and social media.
- HR has to better market itself if it wants “a seat at the table.”
- HR has to work on “branding” the employee experience.
- HR can be fun and profitable–that’s a choice too!
No matter who we hire, there are a number of critical steps in the process; all of which should be familiar to you:
- Specifically identify the need and then reduce it to a good start is the free O*NET website.
- Be very clear what skill sets and personality traits would most likely result in performance given the job expectations. For example, if you’re hiring a CFO, you can test them on their GAAP knowledge, QuickBooks knowledge, and assess to see whether they have the detailed knowledge for the position. Not doing so will introduce unnecessary variance into the hiring process. Go to www.shl.com
- Conduct extensive background checks – there is no excuse today to not know who you are interviewing. You should conduct a criminal background check on every hire, credit background checks on those where permitted, past employer checks on everyone, degree checks where necessary, and immigration status. As always, I recommend you outsource these tasks to www.globalhrresearch.com.
- Conduct extensive interviews – this includes prescreening, multiple individual interviews, as well as group interviews.
- Prepare necessary offer letters and contracts.
- Lastly, conduct any drug tests and pre-hire physicals.
The above is excellent Hiring 101. I find that people engage in nonsense for illogical reasons. Not following these steps is nonsense and driven by emotional garbage. Sometimes that garbage is desperation, other times it’s infatuation, and other times it is flat out exhaustion. The best way to fight against these variances is by having your hiring process in writing every step of the way and make sure no manager hires anyone without checking off every box in the process. Then you know you have your hiring act together.
One of my favorite questions to ask in the hiring process is “What is one thing that felt unfair to you in your last job?” Of course, if they tell you “nothing” they are lying. When they do tell you what felt unfair, do as a Six Sigma trainer would do and ask “five whys”. Doing so will put their personality on full display. Things are going to feel unfair to an employee at some point in a relationship, just as things have felt unfair to you at work. What you want to know is how people deal with what feels unfair to them before you hire them. Here are additional questions I would ask if hiring a sales person:
- What’s the most important thing you do every day? How do you know if you’re doing these things well or not?
- Who do you like selling to best?
- Have you only blown a sale where it made no sense to lose that sale?
- Did you ever surprise yourself with a sale where you didn’t expect to get it?
- How do you prepare yourself for a prospect meeting?
- How did you get good at ________________________?
- What’s more important to you: making money or making a difference?
- What do you consider to be your greatest weaknesses? What have you done about them?
- Who is the most successful person you’ve met in your position (ask why they didn’t answer themselves).
- Why should I trust you?
- In a perfect world, where would you like to be in five years from now?
- How would you describe your ability to communicate?
Remember this: The cost of a poor hire can be substantial. For example, one of my agency partners made the wrong hire of a sales manager. Not only did they have reduced sales for two straight years, when they fired him they were hit with a lawsuit that cost them thousands more. Even the poor hire of an account manager will cost you $50,000 or more. The point is this: Take hiring seriously. If you’re not willing to take it seriously on your own, then hire someone who is willing to take it seriously on your behalf. It will be worth your time and expense in the end. Remember to also think like a marketer. When we market, we think about the long-term benefits of having a customer or client. If their lifetime value is $5,000, then we would have no hesitation spending $1,000 to land them as a customer or client. Likewise, if an employee is expected to net you $20,000 over the next five years, question what you’d be willing to spend to get $100,000 in return.
Employers are challenged by the fact that many people they seek to hire, have hired, or no longer work for them have engaged in puffery or outright deceit on their LinkedIn and similar social media pages. A company that knows or should have known of this deception can be held vicariously liable to someone who relies on this content to their detriment. The amount of misrepresentation that can come from a desperate current job seeker is downright scary! For example, in one case a former employee was sued for trademark infringement and interference with prospective business relations because he inaccurately alleged that he was the owner of the company at which he previously worked.
What’s an employer to do? Treat misrepresentations made on social media sites as you would any other misrepresentation made by a prospective employee, current employee, or former one. First of all, don’t hire liars. If you find somebody lying on their LinkedIn page or on their résumé, you don’t hire them, no matter what their “story” is. If you find out after you hired them that they misrepresented who they were, then you have the right to terminate them. This right is something you should place in your job applications and other offer letter type documents. See the Sample Job Application and Sample Offer Letter on HR That Works.
If somebody generates the puffery while in your employ, simply ask them to correct it and make sure they don’t do it again. If they knowingly misrepresent themselves or the company then at a minimum document your discipline and consider possible termination. Monitor the situation to make sure the fix occurs and no third party was affected by it.
Lastly, if it’s a former employee, you can certainly begin by sending them a certified letter asking them to remove the inaccuracies and if that doesn’t work, consider getting your attorney involved. The cautionary note here is that you may stoke a fire where this former employee then reacts by blasting you in social media and, in the end, you wished you had never messed with it. If you haven’t worked with your workforce to produce a social media policy that makes sense, spend some time on the Social Media Training Module on HR That Works.
“You’ve got to find what you love – and that’s as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large art of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle!” —Steve Jobs
This issue discusses:
- Editor’s Column: Yesterday’s Over With, So Don’t Be a Dinosaur
- HR Wisdom
- Desperate Times Create Desperate Employees
- The End of the NLRB’S Reign?
- EEOC Sues Employers for Accommodation Violations
- EEOC Charges Hit Record Highs
- Making Your Next Hire
- The Ultimate in Religious Accommodation
- NLRB Poster Requirement … One More Time
We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.
Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.
Editor’s Column: Yesterday’s Over With, So Don’t Be a Dinosaur
The past is gone. Poof. No mas! The challenge is that most of us are deeply rooted in the past and find a great deal of comfort in it – whether it was good or bad. We hear ourselves saying to both loved ones and people in the workplace, “When I was young…”
It’s frightening to go through today’s rapid change. As Buckminister Fuller stated, we’re going through a period of “accelerating acceleration” in which things are happening faster and faster — at a faster rate. Today’s rate of change is generating a significant amount of dislocation, uncertainty, and fear — and that doesn’t feel good.
For the first time in generations, we’re looking to those younger than us for advice — primarily in technology. We’re living in a technological age. It’s not just about production and information, but how technology affects every aspect of our lives.
What are you or your company doing to drive past this fear of change? Have you set out to learn from younger workers? Have you invited them to educate and enlighten you on today’s technologies? Will you and your company embrace the need for this invitation or will lose out to competitors who do?
Change makes us uncertain about what we can contribute and how this contribution can create job security and personal growth. If we can’t do things the “old school” way, then what are we going to do? For example, many employees somehow feel affronted when their company decides to offshore everything, from data management to customer service. What’s left for us to do?
How do we drive past this fear? How do we choose not to play victim to the great change? Fundamentalist religion has blossomed worldwide as one answer. In a sense, we’ve decided to prohibit change. I’ve seen bosses and employees take a fundamentalist view about their work too, doing everything they can to block, sabotage, and resist change. The problem is that when we look backward hoping for a sense of security, we can turn into pillars of salt. Although we might not die physically, we’ve surrendered in our minds. Now all you have to look forward to is retirement — and it can’t come fast enough.
I remember speaking to a top executive at a billion-dollar organization about an opportunity in her business. Her entire conversation was about the lack of support she received from other corporate departments and the retirement she’s looking forward to with her husband. When I asked, “what’s your edge?” she didn’t have one. I can tell you that her department will be going in only one direction — and it’s not one that will please shareholders.
It’s very difficult to break up a relationship with another person, especially when this person is the “former me.” The past provides a false sense of strength in the familiar.
I was speaking with a 63-year-old human resource executive who was laid off from a major corporation and then hired by one of my business partners to help implement our program. This man called our customer support service because he didn’t know how to download and open a Word document. Two days later, he called me to ask a question he could have easily found the answer to on the HR That Works web site. When I began to try to show him where he could get the information, he cut me off and told me that he didn’t “like all this new technology” and wasn’t very interested in using it. He actually asked me if I could send him a three-ring binder with the materials from the web site!
The role of Wisdom within all of this change is to understand and communicate what is continuous or cyclical. For example, long-term investors warned novice dot-com and real estate investors about the rule that cuts across investing: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If these novices listened to the wisdom of the Warren Buffets, they wouldn’t be in a financial mess today. We need to listen to the wisdom that things will always change. Then we have to project our will firmly into the future. We must be open and invite new ideas. We have only begun our life’s story — and many exciting chapters lie ahead.
Here are some steps you can take to reach this goal:
- Identify those things that you wish could have remained the same. You might wish there were no cell phones or electric cars, then recognize the past is over with, give it its proper funeral, and run like heck to embrace what has replaced it.
- Invite an Innovation and Wisdom Dialogue among your workforce. What timeless lessons and cutting-edge technologies can be shared? How can we allow the people in our organization whose strength is wisdom to utilize this ability? How do we empower those whose strength is technology to make full use of those abilities?
- Realize that if you don’t embrace change, you will — or should be — be let go. I’ve seen too many employers face paralysis in letting employees go because they were once productive in the old way of doing things.
We need to force the hand of change. You can create your own game plan for embracing change and moving forward, have your managers do it for you, or start planning an early and unfulfilling retirement. The choice is yours!
- Great HR practices generate a competitive advantage, whether you have five or 5,000 employees.
- The “tipping point” in human resources is the hiring process, which has a greater impact on productivity, teamwork, constant improvement, profitability, and compliance than any other factor.
- According to the HR That Works Cost Calculator, there’s at least a 10% cost or variance of payroll in your human resource practices. For example, if you have a $1 million payroll, your cost or variance is at least $100,000. You’ll need to bring in, at a minimum, $400,000 to put that $100,000 back to the bottom line.
- The greatest risks in employment practices are uninsurable. Despite all the noise of the legal community, poor hires, high turnover, and lack of productivity left on the table every day have the greatest impact to the bottom line. Every company should cap its employment practices liabilities by purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI).
- You need to find HR exciting to be any good at it — even if it’s only one of three hats you’re wearing.
Desperate Times Create Desperate Employees
At a recent HR presentation for CEOs, three of the 15 executives present reported that an employee had embezzled from them or engaged in other financially destructive activity during the past few months. We’re getting similar questions on Hotline calls from Members. Here’s the reality: If you don’t have significant checks and balances around your money, you’re conducting a social experiment and making your business easy prey for the desperate, greedy and villainous.
In one of these cases, a new HR director told the payroll company that she was given a substantial raise only days after joining the company, the payroll company never questioned it, and she made off with thousands of dollars. As the Russian proverb states, “Trust, but verify.”
The End of the NLRB’S Reign?
Many employers, including Boeing (which the National Labor Relations Board blocked from moving to an aircraft assembly facility in Charleston, South Carolina), have been upset with the NLRB for the past few years. In this newsletter and our Webinars, we’ve discussed the Board’s efforts to make unionization far easier, as well as to expand the National Labor Relations Act to social media postings. The NLRB has not had a full complement of five board members for five years. When Craig Becker’s term expires this year, the Board won’t have enough board members to rule on labor disputes. Republican lawmakers will surely try to block any nominations President Obama appoints to the Board. Many employers feel that the NLRB is trying to do through administrative pressure what Congress would not do through legislation.
Expect the Board and Administration to push right up to Election Day.
EEOC Sues Employers for Accommodation Violations
According to a SHRM article, the EEOC has filed disability lawsuits against:
- Ford Motor Company for failure to allow an employee with a gastrointestinal condition to telecommute.
- Kohl’s Department Stores for refusing to accommodate a diabetic employee’s request for a regular schedule.
- SITA for rescinding a job offer when it found that an applicant who needed surgery for cancer asked to delay her start date.
- The Scooter Store for refusing to accommodate an employee’s request for a temporary leave of absence due to a knee injury and then firing him.
Here’s the point: The EEOC is on the warpath when it comes to disability accommodation. Go through the process. Take a checklist approach. Treat your people the way you would want to be treated. Get professional help if you need it. The HR That Works Hotline is a good place to a start for Members as is the Job Accommodation Network: http://askjan.org/.
EEOC Charges Hit Record Highs
The EEOC received a record 99,947 charges of discrimination in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30 — the highest number of charges in the agency’s 46-year history. EEOC staff also delivered more than $364.6 million in monetary benefits for victims of workplace discrimination. This is also the highest level obtained in the Commission’s history. The fiscal year ended with 78,136 pending charges — a decrease of 8,202 charges, or 10%. In previous years, the pending inventory had increased as staffing declined 30% between fiscal years 2000 and 2008. Comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for fiscal 2011 will be available in early 2012.
Making Your Next Hire
In this tight economy, many employers are reluctant to make any new hires. This is a big mistake. The first thing to consider is who it is that you should get “off the bus.” Our test has always been this: If the employee quit today, would you be relieved or upset? If the answer is “relieved,” then do what you have to do: Let this employee go or put them on some type of performance plan that guarantees their success or departure. One of the problems with trying to resurrect poor employees is that they tend to look for job security by filing claims, hoarding knowledge, or other conduct which will make their staying on board even more costly. In our experience, when you let these people go you really learn the truth about them.
Now that you’ve “culled the herd,” don’t replace them immediately with the same level of employee. Instead, take away the lowest value work of the existing team and hire an entry-level employee who you can groom in your way of doing business. How much $10, $15, or $20 an hour work can you take away from the existing team? Do they want it taken away from them or not? Instead of hiring an entry-level employee, many companies outsource administrative tasks to consultants and other third parties.
Taking this approach will increase workforce productivity and revenue per employee. You’ll also be able to give existing employees a raise because they’re adding more value to your organization.
Remember, when recruiting entry-level employees, provide them with a career map so they can see the opportunity in your business. HR That Works has sample “career ladders” to consider.
The Ultimate in Religious Accommodation
This summer, New York City enacted the most “progressive” statute on religious accommodation in the workplace. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be “safe” in any jurisdiction.
According to the new law, the term “reasonable accommodation” means, “such accommodation that can be made that shall not cause undue hardship in the conduct of the covered entity’s business. The covered entity shall have the burden of proving undue hardship. In making a determination of undue hardship … the factors which might be considered include but shall not be limited to:
(a) the nature and cost of the accommodation;
(b) the overall financial resources of the facility or the facilities involved in the provision of the
reasonable accommodation; the number of persons employed at such facility; the effect on expenses and resources, or the impact otherwise of such accommodation upon the operation of the facility;
(c) overall financial resources of the covered entity; the overall size of the business of a covered entity with respect to the number of its employees, the number, type, and location of its facilities; and
(d) the type of operation or operations of the covered entity, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of such entity; the geographic separateness, administrative, or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities in question to the covered entity.
“In making a determination of undue hardship with respect to claims for reasonable accommodation to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance … the definition of ‘undue hardship’ set forth in paragraph (b) of such subdivision shall apply.
“(b) ‘Reasonable accommodation,’ as used in this subdivision, shall mean such accommodation to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice as shall not cause undue hardship in the conduct of the employer’s business. The employer shall have the burden of proof to show such hardship.
“‘Undue hardship,’ as used in this subdivision shall mean an accommodation requiring significant expense or difficulty (including a significant interference with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace or a violation of a bona fide seniority system). Factors to be considered in determining whether the accommodation constitutes an undue economic hardship shall include, but not be limited to:
(i) the identifiable cost of the accommodation, including the costs of loss of productivity and of retaining or hiring employees or transferring employees from one facility to another, in relation to the size and operating cost of the employer;
(ii) the number of individuals who will need the particular accommodation to a sincerely held religious observance or practice; and
(iii) for an employer with multiple facilities, the degree to which the geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facilities will make the accommodation more difficult or expensive.
“Provided, however, an accommodation shall be considered to constitute an undue hardship, for purposes of this subdivision, if it will result in the inability of an employee who is seeking a religious accommodation to perform the essential functions of the position in which he or she is employed.”
This language should seem familiar because it matches that of disability accommodation. Of course, the definition of “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA is litigated on a case-by-case (Don’t you just love the uncertainty of it all?). To learn more, go to http://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/home.html.
NLRB Poster Requirement … One More Time
With so many employers taken by surprise, the NLRB extended its poster requirement to April 30. As of April 30, 2012, most private sector employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. As a practical matter, the Board’s jurisdiction is very broad and covers the great majority of non-government employers with a workplace in the United States, including non-profits, employee-owned businesses, labor organizations, non-union businesses, and businesses in states with “Right to Work” laws. The notice should be posted in a conspicuous place, where other notifications of workplace rights and employer rules and policies are posted. Employers also should publish a link to the notice on an internal or external website if other personnel policies or workplace notices are posted there. You can get the poster, read a FAQ and learn more by going to https://www.nlrb.gov/poster.
This poster is an invitation for disgruntled employees to organize and otherwise complain about work conditions. The only defense is good personnel practices and readily available legal help if you need it. HR That Works Members should watch or listen to the recorded Webinars we did on NRLA requirements. You are also encouraged to post your literature on the wall. Let employees know the company vision, mission, goals and values. Share employee success stories. Remember, the workforce needs a drama. You have a choice of who will write the script.
Here is the poster language that employers should be concerned with:
Under the NLRA, you have the right to:
- Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
- Form, join or assist a union.
- Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.
- Discuss your wages and benefits and other terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union.
- Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union.
- Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.
- Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.
Under the NLRA, it is illegal for your employer to:
- Prohibit you from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms.
- Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity.
- Fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity.
- Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them.
- Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support.
- Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances.
- Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so.
Under the NLRA, it is illegal for a union or for the union that represents you in bargaining with your employer to:
- Threaten or coerce you in order to gain your support for the union.
- Refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union officials or because you are not a member of the union.
- Use or maintain discriminatory standards or procedures in making job referrals from a hiring hall.
- Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against you because of your union-related activity.
- Take adverse action against you because you have not joined or do not support the union.
If you and your co-workers select a union to act as your collective bargaining representative, your employer and the union are required to bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a written, binding agreement setting your terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent you in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.
Form of the Month
I-9 Compliance Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) – There were so many questions after our I-9 Webinar that we created this FAQ to help.
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©2012 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.
Watch this brief video of Don Phin discussing the top seven employment practice concerns.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against insurer United Insurance Co. of America, accusing it of disability discrimination for withdrawing a job offer to a recovering drug addict in a methadone treatment program.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, N.C., in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs. United Insurance Co. of America, Craig Burns applied for a job as an insurance agent and representative at the Raleigh office of Chicago-based United Insurance, a Unitrin Inc. unit that provides life and accident and health insurance.
The insurer extended a job offer, conditional on his passing a drug test.
Mr. Burns is a recovering drug addict who has been enrolled in a methadone treatment program since at least 2004, according to the lawsuit.
His drug test showed the presence of methadone in his system. When United Insurance asked for a copy of his methadone prescription, he provided a letter from his treatment provider explaining his participation in the program. United then withdrew its job offer, according to the lawsuit.
Violation of ADA
The suit filed Tuesday alleges that the job withdrawal was due to Mr. Burns’ disability and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The effect of the practices complained of…has been to deprive (Mr.) Burns of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect his employment status because of his disability,” according to the EEOC suit, which seeks back pay, compensation, punitive damages and injunctive relief.
A Unitrin spokeswoman said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
Article courtesy of www.businessinsurance.com.
Watch this short video of Don Phin discussing the single most powerful interview question you should ask every applicant in the hiring process.
According to the DOL they need more employees so they can do a better job of investigating and regulating already stressed employers. Who says government work doesn’t pay?!
Towards the end of my active litigation career I can remember a woman coming into my office that wanted to sue the law firm she had worked at for wrongful termination. Long story short: she worked for a named litigation partner at a local firm for 15 years. Feeling a bit unappreciated, she put her word out to the grapevine that she was hoping for greener pasture. Apparently, at the same time, a partner at another firm lost his legal secretary with little notice. He was desperate for a replacement and put his word out to the grapevine and therein they met. A few days later they met for lunch. She is a pleasant woman and obviously knew what she was doing given her work history. So he hired her on the spot.
Then the “problems” began. Apparently she wasn’t as quick as his previous legal secretary. Within 3 months she was let go for her non-productivity. That’s when she walked into my office.
So here was a woman over 40, raising some kids on her own, steady job for 15 years, promises of green pasture and then out on the streets 3 months later without so much as a “sorry.” How would you feel if that was you…or your sister? How do think 12 jurors might feel about law firms who treat people this way?
The “old” Don would have loved to mess with this firm. They weren’t especially nice to me on a case I had litigated against them a few years prior. If I could have somehow squeezed past all the motions to dismiss, etc. and taken it to a jury it would be game over. However, this being the kinder and gentler me, and someone who has learned that litigation is a poor substitute for the taking of personal responsibility and moving on, I asked a different set of questions. Like “What was your responsibility in all of this?” “Were you crystal clear about what it took to be a success in this position or did you simply have your fingers crossed?” (As Mary Kay so famously stated “Most folks spend more time planning their vacations than their careers.”)
What does a litigation secretary do 80% of the day? Type. Did the firm or partner have a typing test requirement? Of course not. So what do you think the typing standard was for that job to be a success in it? The client was astute enough to say “My guess is the speed met by the previous legal secretary.” And what was that? Who knew? When I asked what her typing speed she said approximately 80 words per minute in a test she took herself some years ago. (Just an OK typing speed for a high-end legal secretary. I never hired under 100 wpm.) When I tracked down the previous legal secretary she said at least 100 wpm. So there you have it. This legal secretary was a failure the first day on the job and nobody knew about it!
How many employees, not just legal secretaries, are failures on their first day of hire? Fact is, there is no substitute for testing on all aspects of employee performance. For example, you can do an online typing test of your existing secretaries to generate a hiring benchmark and to see who may need some additional training. Here’s an example of one such test: http://www.previsor.com/pdf/FactSheets/Fact_Sheet_Typing.PDF. While you are it, have the attorneys and legal secretaries create a substantive knowledge test too. If it’s a litigation secretary test their procedural knowledge. If it is a secretary to an estate planning attorney you can test for the relevant knowledge there too. I bet half of all applicants and half of all employees will do better than the other half.
There you have it. A simple formula: Test for it if it’s important to you. The failure to do so will guarantee failed employees.