Let’s face it: the Human Resources (HR) departments in some organizations aren’t viewed as significant contributors of organizational value. Often, employees and CEO’s/Presidents see the HR team as transactional, interested in following rules and procedures, as well as properly managing benefits administration.
But there are many that view HR as a positive force and an advocate for employees and the interests of their respective organizations. What’s the difference? A growing number of HR departments have simply learned how to go beyond their administrative duties to engage with employees and their organizations on a deeper level.
Want to maximize your HR efforts, improve employee relations and impact organizational performance? Here are six strategies HR departments should consider.
Perhaps no role of HR is more important than to serve as a leader within an organization. The HR department is typically the first contact with a potential hire and the last contact when an employee leaves. The leadership and direction provided from beginning to end sets the tone for your employees’ experiences and attitudes toward HR.
Having a clearly defined strategy for managing employee relations and establishing structured procedures, parameters and protocols helps ensure that there are no guessing games and that all employees are treated consistently and fairly. Because of the many compliance considerations associated with various benefits and hiring practices, ensuring your employees that you’ve got the tools, technology and know-how to keep it all straight shows competence and builds trust.
When employees feel as though their jobs are stagnant with little opportunity for advancement or improvement, morale suffers and negativity can prevail. Creating a feeling for your employees that they have a purpose and they’re building opportunities for the future within your organization can also help with retention efforts and significantly impact productivity. In essence, create a “strong” employer brand. A recent report indicates that 70% of employees believe better training would help them become more focused, prevent distractions and return more job excitement in the form of continuous improvement. However, nearly as many employees say they don’t ask for learning opportunities. Effective HR departments thus lead organizational development and encourage employees by helping them align their goals with those of the company.
Is your industry experiencing a labor shortage? Robust training programs can help with recruiting efforts by offering on-the-job training to new hires and can reduce their skill expectations in return. Additionally, assessing employee interpersonal skills, training in time management, how to hold effective meetings, technology use, cultural expectations, and other competencies can go a long way in improving job satisfaction, productivity and retention.
There’s a lot of literature and discussion about employee engagement initiatives, and rightly so. The best engagement practices empower employees to direct their own personal career paths and overall happiness at work. A positive culture doesn’t only help improve retention; 38% of workers say their level of happiness impacts their performance. Happy workers lead to higher productivity.
In addition to traditional engagement tactics such as performance management and wellness programs — which can improve physical/mental health and lower insurance premiums — other initiatives should be considered. A dynamic onboarding program coupled with a mentoring initiative, for example, can positively influence an employee’s desire to stay with an organization, and activities planned by the employees such as community service or a fun outing can build rapport. Providing work/life balance also ranks highly among employees, with 34% feeling resentment toward employers that give it little consideration. Don’t forget about the magic word in your application of employee procedures/policies — “flexibility.”
The greatest engagement initiatives encourage employees to play a role in their company’s success. Inviting workers to participate in brainstorming sessions, asking their insights in problem solving and seeking input on company initiatives shows respect, creates a sense of ownership and purpose, and goes a long way in improving job satisfaction.
Encouraging diversity is also a significant factor in creating a healthy workplace culture and an organization that improves its ability to solve complex problems. Being an equal opportunity employer is a given these days, but being proactive creates opportunity. Additionally, though the gap is shrinking, women represent 35% of the average company’s workforce at the professional level or higher. Closing the employment gap isn’t just good for society; it’s good for business. One study showed that companies with at least some women in top leadership positions performed much better than those with mostly male board members and executives.
Not only do employers need to encourage diversity in their hiring and promotion practices; diversity awareness and sensitivity training should be conducted to help employees understand varying viewpoints and to ensure that each member of the team has input to decisions and is treated with trust, dignity and respect.
Significant contributions to the bottom line can be achieved in organizations through it employees. Just review the dollars associated with labor, benefits, absenteeism, turnover, recruitment, compensation, training and development, safety protocols and employee relations, to name a few. The introduction of “Lean” initiatives has taught us that eliminating waste and standardizing processes have large dividends associated with them.
Introduce metrics, measure and improve, educate, create a focus and reawaken our society’s competitive spirit at work.
The reality is that many small and mid-sized businesses can’t afford a full-time HR professional or an entire department to handle all the demands placed on the organization by government regulations, employee requests, benefits administration, payroll, hiring, retention, training, compensation, employee relations...and the list goes on. These organizations can often benefit from enlisting the help of an HR services provider to oversee many of the administrative tasks to ensure compliance and provide strategic guidance on a substantial number of other initiatives.
Outsourcing a portion or all of your HR functions typically costs less than hiring a full-time team member, and the expertise provided ensures compliance, allows you to focus on functions that are your direct responsibility, builds rapport with your workforce, and should have a ROI in less than two years. If you’d like to learn more about how an HR service can benefit your organization, reach out for a complimentary HR Gap Analysis today.