10 Essential HR Best Practices

1.) Invest in an employee handbook. This handbook is a terrific opportunity to make your expectations of employees known, and is ideal for communicating your corporate culture and mission. If you don't have one, make one. Furthermore, your employee handbook is a vital tool in protecting yourself from lawsuits over wrongful termination and similar issues. If your disciplinary procedures and policies are spelled out in your handbook, this could be an important item to show in court in the event you are served with a lawsuit. Better yet, a solid employee handbook goes a long way to correcting them.

2.) Offer a robust menu of benefits. Study after study shows that employees value workplace benefits, and they are important differentiators in the ongoing struggle to attract and retain top employee talent. These benefits don't have to cost a fortune. If budgets are tight, you can offer a surprisingly broad array of benefits to your employees at little or no cost to you. How do you do this? Using voluntary employee benefits, or Section 125 (cafeteria) plans.

3.) Embrace technology. Computer tools have come a long way, just in the last few years - especially with the advent of cloud computing. According to HR consultancy firm ADP, organizations that use cloud services experience 20 percent higher levels of HR satisfaction than organizations that don't.

4.) Elevate HR to the top ranks of executives. Your people are every bit as important as your financial projections, your research and development and your new products. They are also as important as your business development effort, because in every case, it's your people that are going to make everything else happen. Too many companies relegate HR functions to a relatively junior employee, operating far removed from the C-suite. HR deserves VP and CEO level attention, resourcing and support. This is true even if you outsource HR to an external company. Sure, they may be handling the procedures for you. But your employees are your people. Don't you forget it!

5.) Know Who You Want to Hire (Before You Even Have a Vacancy) If you need to rely on over-the-transom resumes to do your hiring in a city in which you and your managers have lived and worked for years, something is wrong. This goes even for very junior level employees. Great cashiers are easy to find, because we interact with them every day! Stay in touch with top people in your community or industry in a variety of professions and disciplines. Their proven excellence at competing companies and neighboring firms is a much more reliable indicator for you than any resume or interview technique will give you. You might have to pay up to get them to jump. You'll pay one way or another. This way the money goes to a great employee instead of to a headhunter or to a manager who has to take valuable time out of production to screen and interview oodles of candidates.

6.) Review benefits. Take the time to review your benefits package to ensure it's still competitive and relevant. Remember that your younger employees - millennials - value different benefits than your older baby-boomers nearing retirement. If your business relies on regularly hiring younger talent, you need to ensure that your insurance, education and other benefits are relevant and competitive with those being offered at firms competing for the same pool of talent - whether in or out of your industry.

7.) Establish mentorships programs. Individual situations at firms varies widely, but in the aggregate, the pool of employees between age 25 and 44 is going to actually shrink by 3 percent by 2020, while the population of workers age 65 and older will grow by 54 percent. That's a lot of institutional knowledge and wisdom getting ready to walk out the door. If you don't take steps to harness it, it will be lost forever.

8.) Pay Up. If you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys. There's only room for one bottom rung provider in any market. At the bottom of the pay scale, your managers are likely to spend more time and effort replacing good employees who leave for greener pastures, disciplining or micromanaging bad ones, or investigating employee theft, instead of serving customers and finding new ones. You'll pay one way or the other. So pay for the good employees. Or the other employers who read #5 above will hire your good ones away anyway.

9.) Execute Basics to Perfection. For all the talk about strategic HR management and long-term talent nurturing, your HR people must first master the basics - the blocking and tackling of HR operations. They must develop a solid technical foundation and knowledge of payroll, benefits administration, compensation, EEOC compliance, sexual harassment complaint handling, and the other basics. They need to ensure people get paid right and get paid on time, the first time. So while HR folks may talk a big game, make sure that they're getting the little things right at the same time.

10.) Nail the exit interview. If an employee is leaving, that's a great opportunity for your HR staff to hear the unvarnished truth - at least as perceived by the outgoing employee. But if there is a management or climate problem at your organization, or compensation is not competitive for retaining top talent, the exit interview is your chance to nip it in the bud. Outgoing employees may be disgruntled - but they're no longer worried about not rocking the boat. Have your HR person interview people leaving the firm voluntarily, especially. And don't blame HR when they bring the message they receive back to the management table. The problem usually isn't HR. The problem is almost always poor management.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.


Phone: 708.597.5900 x435

Email: sharon@zeiler.com


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