The Most Popular HR Questions: Part 1

What should I do if an employee is stealing?  

If you think an employee is stealing, be very careful before searching their property as there are privacy laws that protect the employee from searches of private property.  

Sit the employee down and let them know that you have reason to believe they are stealing.  If they return the money or what they have stolen, then you won’t press charges but otherwise you are calling the police the next day.  Every single time I have done this, the employee reimbursed the company for what they stole. Then of course, terminate the employee.

What should I do if I find out my employees are dating?

Romantic relationships in the workplace are unavoidable.  If they are co-workers, request a written document of mutual consent from both parties that they are dating and that the relationship is mutual and consensual.  This protects you for when the relationship inevitably ends and one of the parties may lash out against the company. You will still need to monitor to make sure the relationship does not impact others in the workplace.  

If the relationship is superior and subordinate that is sexual harassment and the superior must be terminated even if they work in different departments.    Superior subordinate relationships have an imbalance of power. Some companies move the subordinate into a different department but in that case you are actually retaliating against the victim which is the subordinate by making an employment decision based upon his or her’s relationship with a superior at the company.  

Read more detail about the basics of sexual harassment here.   


Should I drug test my employees?

If the employees are driving or operating dangerous equipment or heavy machinery, or interact with children yes.  

Otherwise, you will have to consider the market and the difficulty in hiring.  Drug testing for certain seriously addictive drugs may help reduce theft in the workplace.  Generally though, you can tell if an employee is under the influence at work and it impacts their performance making drug tests not necessary.  

Read more about drug testing here and here


What should I do if an employee asks for a raise?

Be honest and straightforward about compensation.  An honest answer empowers employees which makes them loyal to your business even if that answer causes short-term frustration. When you are honest, they trust you more and on some level, usually understand.  If you can, outline what criteria is needed for higher paying positions at your business. Is it a degree? Is it more experience? More self-leadership skills? No matter how far removed a promotion to management might be, list skill-sets and behaviors the employee needs to develop and help them work on that so they can get a promotion either with you or with the next employer.  Training an employee in valuable skill-sets is an incredible gift to give hourly employees. Training is also low cost to the employer and results in an empowered workforce that believes that their current job will set them up for success down the road even if that means leaving the business. You may think it is counterintuitive to train an employee to work somewhere else. Without an increase, employees are likely to turnover.  Showing an employee you will help them find that next path up, will keep them with you longer although likely not forever. Read more about how empowering employees reduces turnover and improves performance even when you can’t promote in your own business here.


How do I decide how much to pay my employees?

Three factors:  1. What candidates are seeking when you are hiring.  2. Market research you are able to pull from contacts and salary surveys.  A few suggestions for free or low-cost online resources include,, The Bureau of Labor Statistics and The Economic Research Institute.  3. What you can afford to pay.

Related posts

The complete year-end payroll checklist for small businesses

Year-end payroll: It’s a doozy, especially when you’ve got so much on your plate with the holiday rush at the…

Read article

Federal labor laws: What’s new in 2022?

The start of the new year brings both new state laws and federal regulations for employers to follow. Some federal…

Read article

COVID vaccine mandates by state: requirements and bans

The federal government’s COVID vaccination requirement legislation is currently on hold. However, many state and local legislators are implementing their…

Read article

California labor laws: a list of 2022 changes

The new year will bring an onslaught of California labor law changes after a busy legislative session. From COVID-19 reporting…

Read article

5 common wage and hour mistakes every employer should avoid

As a small business owner, you know that failing to pay your employees in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards…

Read article

2022 non-compete agreement law changes by state

A non-compete agreement (or non-competition agreement) is a legal contract from an employer. It prevents an employee from entering into…

Read article