Pre and Week One of the PA Cycle: Prep and Training Week


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Today’s post is a continuation of the Performance Appraisal and Objective Setting cycle and where I start getting into the real meat of the program.  There is some prep work that needs to be done in December before you can start in January so I am covering off on that in addition to covering week one in this post.

Prior to the first week, in December, I launch the upcoming PA and Objective Setting cycle by sending out an email to all the supervisors in the company reminding them that everything will start in January.  I also include a timeline of all the important deadlines in that email.

They, of course, love getting this email just before the Holidays! Who wouldn’t?

I’m kidding and they hate it but it is important to communicate exactly what’s coming up as soon as the holidays are over.  The process is difficult and everybody needs to be ready to roll as soon as the calendar changes to January.  The end of December is a very quiet time for most small companies, except for retail, and let’s face it – most of us are on vacation or checked out and/or stressing out about entertaining family and buying gifts for everybody.

Here is an example of the email I send out:

Company Supervisors,

It is that time of year when everybody is thinking warm and joyous thoughts about the holidays and along with the peace, love and laughter of the season, it’s also time to start thinking about performance appraisals!  Yay.

Here is the schedule for the 2015 Performance Appraisal cycle:

  • Jan 6: 2015 PA Documents made available on the internal company HR webpage
  • Jan 7: PA training via webcast (details coming soon)
  • Jan 20: Preliminary PAs due to HR
  • Feb 2-8: Talent Review Meetings
  • Feb 8-12:  Supervisors to deliver PAs to their direct reports
  • Feb 17: Completed 2015 PAs due to HR

Everything you need and need to know is or will be available on the internal company HR web page, here.

Let me know if you have any questions.


The next thing I do in December is update all the documents from the previous year to the new year. As you will see and as I will explain in more detail in future posts, the forms are on MS Word and Excel – old school but effective and affordable for most of us small HR departments.  I make sure the dates are changed on the forms and I review my notes from the year before and make any appropriate adjustments to the way we do things and to the forms based on suggestions the supervisors made last year.

I always encourage supervisor feedback about how we can improve the process and the forms because they are the ones in the trenches filling out the forms and delivering the PAs and have a good handle on what is and isn’t working.  I try to do everything I can to make it work well for them. Bonus: you will get more buy in on the process if they know you are listening and taking their suggestions and incorporating them in the following years’ process.

Immediately after the Holidays is when the cycle starts full swing and the supervisors are happy and ready to go (that’s what I tell myself, anyway).  They got the heads up from my email in December so there is no surprise when I start sending them information full speed at the beginning of January.

Beginning in week one of the cycle, I post all the updated current year’s documents, training materials, calendars, etc. on our internal company HR website  This way, everything is available to them whenever they need it.  If you don’t have something like this, you’ll just have to send everything via email to your supervisors.

Finally, and most importantly for this week and for the entire cycle, I conduct a training session for all the supervisors on why and how we do PA and Objective setting.  The training materials are fairly extensive and I’m including it with this week’s blog post.  The session should last only approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

I’m thinking I can write several additional posts about the training session but for the purposes of this series, I will just include the training PowerPoint so I can move on to the remaining weeks in the cycle. Much of the content in the attached training session will be included in future posts in this series and I think the PowerPoint is self explanatory since each slide has a script that goes along with it. You’re free to use the training and modify it as you see fit.

Well, this completes the the prep work and week one of the cycle.  Next week will be Week Two – Writing Week for PAs and Objectives where I will include the HHHR Objective Setting and Performance Appraisal forms and detail how they work together.

Here is the PowerPoint version of the training session.  The notes are included and can be seen in the window below each slide as you are reviewing them.
Managers 2015 HHHR Performance Appraisal Cycle Training

Here is a PDF version of the training session and a PDF of each slide with notes.
Managers 2015 HHHR Performance Appraisal Cycle Training

Out of the Blue, a Manager Wants to Terminate an Employee. What do You Do?

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

We’ve all been there. A manager calls us to say they’ve had enough and want to fire one of their direct reports. But we go back and look through the employee’s personnel file and see that there are no disciplinary actions and their performance appraisals don’t reflect a problem.

This is the first time we’ve heard of the problem but the manager, however, has finally had enough of their direct report’s poor performance or conduct and is ready to fire them and move on. But they haven’t done their part and properly supervised their problem employee or documented any of the performance or conduct issues. They spent years avoiding or ignoring the problems because dealing with them is, well you know, awkward and uncomfortable.

Now the puck is in your zone (I’m a hockey dad). You are the HR pro and they expect you to take care of the problems they weren’t willing to deal with.

What do you do?

I’m going to assume you have a progressive discipline policy in place. You just simply need to start the process. Of course, it should have been utilized by the manager before it got to the point they called you. But, as is often the case, that doesn’t always happen.

The progressive discipline policy I use is Dick Grote’s Discipline Without Punishment. I will cover the details of how I have incorporated this method in a later post but simply put, it goes like this: Reminder One, Reminder Two, Decision Making Leave, and final separation. Of course, the ultimate goal is for the employee to make the necessary performance or conduct improvements before the need to take the next step. I will use this method to describe how to terminate a problem employee who the manager has finally had enough of but hasn’t yet documented any of the performance or conduct issues.

First, you need to meet with the supervisor and discuss exactly what the performance or conduct issues are. Find out from the supervisor if they have any documented conversations or criteria that the employee failed to accomplish. Review the past several performance appraisals and look for any statements that are pertinent to the present situation. There usually isn’t any of this documentation in the scenario I presented above but it is still important to double check with the supervisor. Its fine if there isn’t any at this stage because we are starting the process from the beginning anyway.

Second, write up and deliver a Reminder One and title it an Overall Performance (or Conduct) Correction Reminder. Describe, in as much detail as possible the performance and conduct issues where the employee is falling short. This Reminder is not for a specific incident but rather an overall performance correction so there needs to be several examples of where the employee is failing to meet expectations. In addition to the areas where the employee needs to improve, there needs to be steps the employee needs to take in order to improve their performance or conduct. Finally, there needs to be a deadline for immediate improvement. Usually 30 days is an appropriate amount of time. During the 30 days the manager needs to constantly monitor the employee’s performance in order to measure improvement.

When delivering the Reminder One it is important to inform the employee that the goal of this process is to have the employee improve their performance or conduct and not have to go further. But you still must discus the next steps(Reminder Two, Decision Making Leave, and separation) in case there is no improvement in their performance or conduct.

The employee needs to be reminded that it is their responsibility to make the necessary improvement within the 30 day period. You need to meet with the employee on the 30th day regardless if they have made the necessary improvements or not. Hopefully, the employee will get the message, make the improvements needed and the meeting will be a congratulatory meeting. Often, however, the meeting will be to deliver a Reminder Two.
Normally, a Reminder One is delivered by just the manager but because this is an Overall Performance Correction, it would be best if HR is included in this meeting.

Third, if after 30 days there hasn’t been the necessary improvement, you will need to write up and deliver a Reminder Two. It is basically the same as the Reminder One, but just the next and more serious step of the process. Again, this should also have deadline of 30 days for performance or conduct improvement. Depending on the seriousness of the performance or conduct issues and how the Reminder One’s 30 days went, you could shorten the deadline to 15 days. Again, the manger and HR should be present in this meeting.

Fourth, if after the 30 (or 15) days of unacceptable performance or conduct improvement, you will need to take the next and very serious step of writing up and delivering a Decision Making Leave. This is where you again document the employee’s performance deficiencies and what they need to do to improve. The critical step here requires the employee take the next day off, a paid leave, to consider whether they want to continue working for the company. They are required to write a statement explaining how they will make the necessary steps in order to improve their performance or conduct.

They can also decide to resign at this point. If they return with the document describing how they want to continue working for the company and the steps they are going to take to improve, you need to establish another deadline of 15 to 30 days. This time, however, termination will occur if there is no acceptable performance or conduct improvement.

Finally, you now have all the documentation you need to terminate the problem employee with minimal risk. You’ve given them two warnings with the Reminders. You’ve given them a paid day off to make a decision on whether they want to make the improvements necessary to remain employed. If they do, they wrote up their plan. And if they fail to live up to their plan, you have all you need to safely terminate the problem employee.

When Looking for a Job, Take a Chance!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Today, I’m going to tell you a little story about my middle child and how she landed an amazing job in the tech industry before she graduated from college during her senior year.  There was a lot of hard work on her part studying hard and building relationships with her professors and advisers but there was also some chance in the events that led to what she is doing now in her first career.

At her university, like all universities, they have a series of job fairs for graduating seniors.  She attended all the job fairs the university hosted and spent time preparing for each by looking over the list of companies and deciding which ones she was interested in talking to.   I would chuckle when she would call me and ask me if I had heard about certain companies like Boeing and Burlington Northern.

When she arrived at one particular job fair, she spotted a booth at the front of the room but didn’t recognize the company.  It wasn’t on her list of companies she identified the night before but it was a pretty fancy booth so she decided to stop by and talk to the recruiter.  She figured she would take the opportunity to just to get warmed up and get a little real life practice before she started to get serious about talking to the companies she was really interested in.

My daughter ended up having a very good conversation with the recruiter and found out what the company did and that they were looking for some administrative positions in their corporate headquarters and trainers for their software implementations.   But she left the booth without leaving the recruiter a resume!  She figured she was just getting in some practice before starting to get serious with the companies she was targeting.  Later that evening she received a call from the recruiter who she spoke to at that first booth.  It turns out the recruiter was so impressed with my daughter during their conversation that she wanted to talk to her some more.  But she quickly realized that my daughter had left without leaving a resume so she started asking people in nearby booths who she was.  Fortunately, my daughter’s adviser was nearby and had seen the two talking and was able to give the recruiter her name and phone number.  She also had nothing but positive things to say about her.

The recruiter called my daughter that evening and scheduled a formal interview with her for the next day.  She apparently nailed the interview because the company flew her to their corporate office in Denver for a series of interviews.  There, two departments in the company interviewed her since she had expressed interest in both departments.   Ultimately, both departments wanted to hire her.  She found that out when the head of one of the departments actually called her at her hotel room and asked to take her to coffee that evening to talk to her again.  That department head told her this has never happened before – two departments vying for one candidate.   They had a nice conversation and the department head said that she would probably lose out to the other because that other department was more important and influential in the company.

Well, shortly after, she got a job offer from the more important and influential department.  The offer was extremely generous and I strongly recommended that she should absolutely accept.

She accepted the job and has now been working there for almost a year now.  She loves her work and is thankful that she decided to stop by at that first booth to practice before getting serious!

There are four clear takeaways from this story when you are out there job hunting.  First, explore all opportunities that are available.  You may not have ever heard of a particular company, but don’t let that stop you from interviewing with them.  There are more B2B and B2G companies out there that very few people have heard of but are just as prestigious to work for as any B2C company. Second,  relax and be yourself when you are interviewing.  My daughter wasn’t really trying hard to impress the recruiter in that first booth.  She was just there to warm up and practice and because of that she was behaving more naturally and like herself.  This obviously made a strong impression on the recruiter.  Enough so that she made the extra effort to find out who my daughter was and contact her for a formal interview.  Third, always leave your resume with every recruiter you talk to!  Most recruiters won’t take the time to figure out who you are if you didn’t. They talk to a lot of people at a job fair.  And finally, my daughter is awesome and I’m very proud of how hard she worked through college and her ability to start her career at a job she really loves.

The Mommy Track Bias

In a recent article over at SHRM, they discussed the bias against women and men (but mostly women) trying to re-enter the workforce after taking time off from their careers to stay home and raise their kids.  Most hiring managers and HR tend to think these women have lost their edge in their industry and are, therefore, not strong candidates. They are passed over during the hiring process for candidates who have not taken the time off to raise their kids.  I think this bias is wrong and have first hand experience that supports my belief.

I’m pleased that the article is supportive of these women and discuses the positive attributes and skills that stay-at-home parents acquire during their time raising their kids.

…some HR experts argue that stay-at-home parenting actually imparts skills that prove valuable in the workplace, such as patience, persistence, creativity and reliability.

“Careers for men and women, parents or not, are no longer linear, and an accomplished woman who took a career detour to devote herself to motherhood can still be an incredibly valuable hire,” said Marisa Thalberg, founder of, a networking site for working mothers.

Matt Brosseau, chief technology officer and head recruiter at Instant Alliance, an HR staffing and consulting firm, noted that “there’s a level of patience and creative problem-solving you can gain only from dealing with a toddler.”

“When parenting, you are often forced to negotiate with someone who may not be reasonable, and that’s a good skill when dealing with unreasonable clients and others,” he said.

In my time as a store manager at Macys, I hired many women who had taken several years off to raise their kids.  The article does claim the retail industry is easier to assimilate than industries such as law, medicine, and IT.  I can easily say almost all of the return-to-work moms turned out to be fantastic hires and very valuable employees.  Many of them ended up being managers for me who have since gone on to very successful careers.  One in particular, is a regional director for a large specialty retail chain store who has thanked me many times for giving her a chance when she was re-entering the workforce.  Several others are now business owners or are in mid to high level management positions within their organizations.

I completely agree with the experts quoted above who emphasize the positive attributes gained by those who raise their kids. In addition to what they say,  stay-at-home parents learn how to juggle multiple priorities while being constantly distracted.  They have strong interpersonal skills in being able to negotiate and deal with difficult people.  They have learned how to manage difficult situations while instilling a sense of fair play.  They have learned how to motivate people to be their best.  And having and raising kids matures and humbles people.

These are all attributes and skills that are valuable in any workplace!

I want to include my wife who recently re-entered the workforce, in retail, after many years of staying home and raising our kids.  Its interesting to note that there were significant changes in technology that she had to deal with and learn but the core basics of retail are still the same.  It took her a little time to catch on the the technology changes but she did.  Along with her outstanding leadership ability, her selling skills, great customer service, and credit production, she is now a very valuable and highly desirable employee.  Her boss has tried to promote her several times but she isn’t quite ready to take that step yet but I know she eventually will and will be very successful.

Bottom line, hiring people who took time off to raise their kids is not as risky as most people think.  Any parent who has raised or is raising their kids should know how difficult the job is and the skills that are developed while doing so.  Sure, there will be a learning curve at first but there is with all new hires.

The bias against people who are trying to re-enter the workforce after raising their kids should end.  Employers are missing out on very skilled, motivated, and dedicated employees by passing them over.

Three Keys to Being a Good Boss

I came across this blog post over at TLNT, written by Derek Irvine, a few weeks back that really resonated with me.  The post was actually first published in October of 2012 and has been republished a couple times since due to it’s popularity.

I love the simplicity of what Derek sees as the three keys to being a good boss.

Those three keys are Presence, Praise, and Promise.

I’m going to be lazy and simply quote all three of these keys as Derek wrote them in his post.

    1. Presence – You not only “manage by walking around,” you show up to meetings on time to signal that you value the work your employees are doing. When you’re meeting with an employee, you shut off or totally ignore your email, IM, texts and any other interruptions to give your full attention to the employee. If employees need your support to push a key decision forward, you lend your visible presence and direct support.
    2. Praise – You make it a point to give your employees the frequent, timely and specific feedback they need to stay on track and move their projects forward appropriately. You recognize and appreciate them and their efforts that are especially in line with the company’s core values and strategic objectives. Because you are diligent about “catching employees doing something good,” you also help employees receive constructive feedback more readily as they know the feedback is intended to help them advance.
    3. Promise – You help your employees see the future they have with the organization and in their career. You don’t make undue or unwarranted promises of course, but you are committed to helping your team members grow and develop – and they know it. You seek out training and development opportunities for them and encourage them to go. You give them realistic “stretch” goals to help them develop skills.

When I read through these three keys I see one very clear attribute.  Respect.  The boss’s respect for their direct report.

In the Presence Key, the boss is respecting the employee’s time.  Showing up for meetings on time shows respect for the time of those in the meeting.  Giving full and undivided attention to an employee when meeting them one on one shows respect for their time.

In the Praise Key, the boss is respecting the employee’s work and effort.  Giving employees regular feedback and recognizing them for their accomplishments.

In the Promise Key, the boss is respecting the employee’s career.  Helping employees by being honest and committed to helping them grow and develop by delegating important tasks and getting them the training they need.

Showing your direct report the respect they deserve is, in my opinion, one of the most motivating factors in the workplace.  It makes people want to work harder and more effectively.  It makes the employee more loyal to their boss and gives them the sense that they are valued and an important part of the boss’s team.

The Importance of The Morning Greeting

My favorite podcast, Manger Tools, recently released an episode titled The Morning Greeting. I liked the episode because it speaks to an important activity I learned many years ago working as a store manager for the Bon Marche (now Macys).

Basically, it is simply the act of saying good morning to each of your direct reports every day and the positive impact it generates.

Mike and Mark go into quite a bit of detail on the mechanics of how to greet direct reports which I found humorous.  I know there are many managers who find it difficult to circulate and greet their employees so I understand their need to go into detail.  It came naturally to me early in my career as I observed  effective managers I worked with and as I developed my own style.

When I was in retail, I would make the point of circulating through my store every morning and greet each of my employees (direct reports, sales and sales support associates) by name.  Sometimes I would cruise by their department, wave and say “Good morning, Joan!” and sometimes I would  stop and chat a bit – either about business or personal stuff or both, depending on what was going on in the store or in their lives.

I would also make a point of circulating through the store as I left for the day, catching the late shift,  and say “Goodnight!” to each employee by name.

Each time I started in a new store, I would immediately begin my greeting activity and quickly learn every employee’s name along the way.  I was told I was the first store manager who did this and/or even knew their names.

I often startled new employees when I would approach and greet them but they quickly learned I was OK and approachable.  While I did much more than just “the daily greet” to my employees, this simple activity was a significant factor in creating a tremendous amount of trust and loyalty among my teams.

In my current job as an HR leader, I have five direct reports but  still make a point of greeting all 16 employees, by name, in my office every morning.  I also do the same when I visit the mine or the Wyoming office.  Similar to when I was a store manager, sometimes its just a quick greeting with a wave or a chat for a few minutes.

As a result, I am on friendly terms with everybody in the office and know and understand a lot of what is going on at many different levels.  This allows me to do my job, as the HR leader in my company, more effectively and provide greater value to my company.  More importantly, knowing my co-coworkers as I do helps me enjoy my job more.

I would challenge all HR leaders and managers, even Mike and Mark who said it isn’t realistic or practical to greet 30 people every morning, to take the time to greet all their direct reports and steps even if there are 30+ of them.  I did it in a 60,000 square foot store with nearly 30+ people working during any given shift.  The time you take to do this is nothing compared to the value you derive.

It is a simple and powerful management activity.

Co-Working Spaces are Evidence that Flextime and Remote Work are Not Effective for Most

As my readers know, I’m not a big fan of the “flextime/remote work” trend that most of the HR media loves to support and promote.  I just don’t see it as being an effective option for the vast majority of people.  In fact, in my experience, I have found those who most want the option to work from home are those who are least capable of being able to handle and be effective with it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some who can make it work well for themselves – freelancers, startup employees, entrepreneurs, and consultants, for example.  Again, I just don’t think it is effective for the vast majority of employees who work for organizations.

I defended Marissa Mayer back when she reversed Yahoo!’s flexible work arrangements and required all employees to work at the office.  The company was failing and she was tired of the empty parking lot and office and the fact the company’s vpn logs showed light usage.

She was quoted as saying this at an HR conference in LA as part of her reason for making the decision:

…people are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.

While I disagree with the first part of her comment that people are more productive when alone (there are many more distractions at home than at the office), I definitely agree with her that collaboration and innovation are better when people are together.

HR media were quick to criticize Yahoo! and BestBuy when they reversed their flextime/remote work policies and required their employees to come into the office to work.  However, the reversal seems to be a trend.  Just recently, Reddit also announced it is requiring all their employees to relocate to San Francisco in order to get all their “entire team under one roof for optimal teamwork.”

These companies are finding out that it isn’t working.  I predict there will be many more reversing their flextime/remote work policies in the near future.

To quote myself last year, I called flextime/remote work a fad:

I think there are only a limited number of people who can be productive working remotely from home. It’s a fad and will eventually be proven as such. People are social beings and work better when with other people.

It’s important to leave home and all its distractions and go to a place that is designed to get work done – the office.

It seems the marketplace agrees.

I came upon this interesting article in the Denver Post the other day.  It’s about the rise of “co-working” spaces where people who work from home or have flexible arrangements with their company can go to an office with others similar to them and get their work done.

The article proves my point and reinforces my opinion about flextime/remote work.

Turns out, we are social beings.  Who knew?  We like to get together with other people and socialize, even at work.  Interaction with other people generates more innovation and creativity.

The article opens with these  sentences:

After two years of working from home, Bruce Wolk desperately needed a change in scenery.

It was “mind-numbing,” the Denver-based freelance writer said, recalling the many days he spent alone in his small home office.

“The truth of the matter is, it’s so incredibly isolating,” Wolk said. “Each hour seems like three.”

“I needed to find a space where I could work easily and at the same time interact with other people,” Wolk said.

“There can be four, five people here, and everyone will be merrily working along and all of a sudden, a spontaneous conversation will break out,” he said. “You really can’t do that at home.”

Looks like Mr. Wolk is finding that he is more productive at the office.

In addition, co-working spaces eliminate the distractions of being at home and help people be more productive.  In the article, Madison Carroll, who has a remote work arrangement with her organization claims she is more productive in an office environment:

The days she spends at Shift (Boutique Workspaces) are “definitely” more productive than the ones spent at home, too, she said.

“You do laundry, you do something else. You don’t work,” Carroll said. “When I come here, I work. I’m here to work.”

Again, it seems like Ms. Carroll is more productive at the office than she was working at home.

My point here is that even those people and professions most conducive to flextime/remote work are finding that they are more productive and creative in an office environment rather than working from home.

Despite the efforts of most of the HR media, I continue to consider flextime/remote work a fad that will never be mainstream.  The marketplace is experimenting with it and finding that it isn’t working.

It simply doesn’t make sense for the vast majority of people in the workforce.  And it doesn’t make sense for the vast majority of organizations.

A Manager’s Most Important Responsibility

What is a manager’s most important responsibility?  It’s quite simple, actually.

The most important responsibility of any manager is to hire the best people they can.

Think about it.

What happens to everybody’s workload when a manager makes a good hire?  We love it!!

A good hire makes everybody more productive by allowing them to continue their work while being competent enough to do their own. A good hire is somebody who others enjoy working with creating a positive work environment which increases morale and production. It’s motivating when the new hire fits in well  and effectively contributes.

What happens to everybody’s workload when a manager makes a bad hire?  We hate it!!

A bad hire creates more work for everybody as they compensate for the poor performer.  A bad hire can also create a poisoned work environment leading to poor morale and reducing overall production.   A bad hire can make good employees flee the organization if nothing appropriate is done to remedy the situation.  We’ve all made bad, if not horrible, hiring decisions in our career.  I certainly have and have paid the price.

As an HR leader, it’s vital that we train and coach managers on how to effectively recruit, interview, hire, develop, and retain great employees.

So many managers “shoot from the hip” when it comes to these critical steps.  Sure they get it right sometimes and justify their methods by focusing on when they did well.  If they were honest with themselves, however, they would say they got it wrong more than they got it right.

With the huge impact a good or bad hire can have on an organization a manager’s most important responsibility is to hire the best people they can.

What it Takes to Have a Dream Company

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Creating the Best Workplace on Earth, they discuss the six attributes that make an organization a ‘Dream Company’.

I think it can be safely said that we’ve all heard about these attributes at one time or another and it never hurts to go over them again.

1. Let people be themselves.

2. Unleash the flow of information.

3. Magnify people’s strengths.

4. Stand for more than shareholder value.

5. Show how the daily work makes sense.

6. Have rules people can believe in.

These are all excellent attributes that will make any organization more effective and profitable.  But it is difficult to achieve because several of the attributes conflict with common practice and some can be expensive to implement.  There is risk involved with change and many in leadership are, understandably, unwilling and uncomfortable to take on that risk.

It takes a very strong and confident leader to lead an organization to fully embrace and practice these six attributes because there will be resistance all along from all levels.  But in the end and if the leader stays the course, the organization will benefit because as the article beautifully states in its concluding remarks:

People want to do good work—to feel they matter in an organization that makes a difference. They want to work in a place that magnifies their strengths, not their weaknesses. For that, they need some autonomy and structure, and the organization must be coherent, honest, and open.

Filing and Retention of Form I-9

As we near May 7, 2013, the date the new I-9 form is required to be used exclusively, I’ve been continuing my study regarding the form.  Today I want to suggest a filing system and discuss the retention requirements.

First of all, all current employees must have an I-9 on file and they should not be included in employee files.  They need to be maintained separately in a file (Electronic or hard copy) accessible only to the HR department.  Supervisors should not have access because of the protected information included on the forms.   I recommend that the I-9s be filed alphabetically by last name in a binder or in an expandable file to allow for easier auditing using a current payroll list. There should also be a “Terminated Employee” section in the binder or expandable file system which should be organized chronologically by retention date.

The “Terminated Employee” section is where the retention process is managed.  You must keep a terminated employee’s I-9 for the longer of one year from the date of termination or three years from the date of hire.  So for employees that have worked over three years, you retain their I-9s for one year after their termination date and for employees who have worked less than three years, you retain their I-9s for three years after their hire date. Since it can be a little complicated, here is an online calculator to help calculate the correct retention time.

Once the retention period has ended for a particular terminated employee, you should destroy the I-9 and supporting documents of that employee by shredding or burning so as not to compromise that employee’s protected information.

This is re-posted from