10 Essential HR Best Practices

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invest in an employee handbook

The handbook is a terrific opportunity to make your expectations of employees known and to communicate your corporate culture and mission. If you don’t have one, we suggest taking steps to get one in place right away. Your employee handbook is a vital tool in protecting yourself from lawsuits over wrongful termination and other similar issues. Having your disciplinary procedures and policies clearly defined in the handbook is your first line of defense when involved in a lawsuit.

offer a robust menu of benefits

Research shows that employees’ value workplace benefits and they can assist in attracting and retaining top employee talent. These benefits don’t have to cost a fortune. If budgets are tight, you can offer a broad array of benefits to your employees that are little or no cost to you. This can be achieved by offering voluntary employee benefits or Section 125 (cafeteria) plans.

Embrace technology

Computer tools have come a long way, especially in the last few years with the advent of cloud computing. According to the HR consulting firm ADP, organizations that use cloud services experience 20 percent higher levels of HR satisfaction than organizations that don’t.

elevate HR to the top ranks of executives

Your employees are as important to your business as are your financial projections, research and development, and new products. Too many times, companies relegate HR functions to a junior employee, operating far removed from the management team. HR deserves VP and CEO level attention, including resources, and support. This is true even if you outsource the HR function to an external company. While they may be handling the day-to-day procedures for you, remember that these are your employees.

know who you want to hire (before you event have a vacancy) 

Stay in touch with the top talent in your community or industry. Search for new hires in a variety of professions and other disciplines. Their proven excellence at competing companies and neighboring firms is a very reliable indicator of their ability.

review benefits

Take the time to review your benefits package to ensure it’s still competitive and relevant. Remember that your younger employees may 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.

establish mentorship programs

On average, the pool of employees between age 25 and 44 will shrink 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.

pay up

In most situations, you get what you pay for. 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.

execute basics to perfection

Although 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 things such as payroll, benefits administration, compensation, EEOC compliance, and sexual harassment complaint handling. They need to ensure people get paid correctly and 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.

nail the exit interview

If an employee is leaving, that’s a great opportunity for your HR staff to hear the unvarnished truth as perceived by the outgoing employee. 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 develop a solution. Outgoing employees may be disgruntled, but they’re no longer worried about not rocking the boat. Having your HR person interview people leaving the firm voluntarily is especially important. Additionally, don’t blame HR when they relay the information learned at the exit interview. Typically the problem isn’t HR-related but likely a management issue.