Does 2018 mean a fresh start for your staff base, or big hiring pushes to grow your insurance firm? From an HR perspective, will your hiring and firing decisions stand up to scrutiny?

Whether or not your company is actively growing, you will want to be sure to avoid hiccups due to allegations of discrimination or unfair termination, for example.

Suzanne Rupert, Director of Recruiting for Eli Global, joins us to debunk some major HR myths to give you the strategies to best manage employees while protecting yourself against liability.

MYTH #1: Only bad employers get sued.

It’s not only “bad” employers that get sued. The hard truth is that no matter how great an employer you are, you could find yourself with a federal lawsuit on your hands from an angry employee. And a claim filed against you via the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would be incredibly pricey to deal with, not to mention a PR nightmare.

According to Rupert, one often-overlooked employer faux pas is the issue of compensation.

“Some employers are unaware that is it illegal to forbid employees from talking to each other about their salaries and compensation,” Rupert says, although this is something that still frequently occurs.

During the hiring process, it’s illegal in some states to ask how much a candidate is currently earning, she points out. “The thought around that is employers could offer lower salaries to someone based on previous income.”

MYTH #2: HR professionals are useful only in extreme situations involving lawsuits, harassment, or disgruntled employees.

Of course you’d put a major lawsuit or big problem employee in an HR specialist’s trusty hands, but the mark of a truly resilient insurance company is being fully HR compliant across the board. This means ensuring a compliant interview and hiring process.

For example, standard interview questionnaires show that you have been fair because all applicants have had the same opportunity to answer the same questions. An HR expert will also know what kind of behavioral interview questions to ask, says Rupert.

A skilled interviewer will know how to ask questions that reveal how a candidate handles stress, whether they have leadership potential, whether they’re team players, and so on, she adds. And when an interviewer knows how to elicit the right kinds of questions, you are all the more likely to end up hiring the highest quality employee.

MYTH #3: My firm doesn’t need to worry too much about HR violations as long as everyone has the best intentions.

Yes, maintaining a respectful and professional workspace is important and will reduce the number of incidents related to HR compliance. It’s also just an overall good idea, to boot.

But it’s always important to STAY ALERT AND RESPOND! If you’re made aware of something, you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. You have to investigate it.

Having normalized HR policies in place during the hiring and termination processes are also important preventative measures that will protect your company against future issues. Exit interviews, for example, go a long way toward staving off retaliatory actions. Don’t wait to clean up messes when you can take proactive actions to prevent them in the first place.

MYTH #4: Investing in a designated HR specialist diverts from other staffing resources.

On the contrary, having a dedicated HR professional frees up time and space for managers and other employees to focus on growing and maintaining the company most efficiently. An HR professional will be an expert in updated laws and regulations, and how to comply.

When you hire a new employee, there is a lot of documentation and oversight of follow-up record keeping that must follow strict protocols. It’s going to be hard for someone who doesn’t have HR experience to process all the required hiring documents—such as the I-9 that must be filed within three days of hiring, Rupert cautions.

You need someone to manage personnel file retention and understand security so the confidentiality of the documents isn’t compromised.