Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

3 Employee Traits That Can Save Your Biz From Legal Headaches

First and foremost, you want employees that can do the job -- capable, competent, and committed. After that, you're probably looking at an employee's interpersonal skills and how they represent your company to the public.

But there might be some different traits you'll want to keep an eye out for when hiring, like the skills or qualities that can keep your company out of legal trouble. Here are three of them:

1. Great Communication Skills.

It may sound obvious, and maybe this was already at the top of your list, but quality communication skills between employees can save you from quite a few legal headaches. Imagine the sexual harassment claims you could avoid when your staff knows which jokes are appropriate and which ones aren't.

And communication is as much about listening as speaking: employees that are clear on their employment contract, wage and hour expectations, and workplace safety policies are less liable to violate them. Having all your employees on the same page when it comes to expectations, performance, and review can also help avoid wrongful termination lawsuits, so make sure your managers and HR staff have the high level of communication skills you expect from employees.

2. Works Well With a Team.

This coincides with good communication, but you want someone who can easily cooperate with the rest of your staff. Keep in mind that employment discrimination doesn't just occur during the hiring process; policies, behavior, and comments that are offensive or discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or disability can all lead to claims of a hostile work environment. So make sure your employees can play well with others. All kinds of others.

3. Self-Motivated.

Of course you want someone eager to work, but having a self-starter on the staff doesn't just boost productivity. An employee who is actively engaged in his or her work and your company's policies and ideals is more likely to act ethically and legally during the course of his or her employment.

In the end, your employees will reflect your own example, so make sure you demonstrate what you expect from your team and your hiring decisions will pay off.

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