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10 Best Practices for Your Human Resources Department

1. HR is a potential employee's first impression

Human Resources departments should strive to not just be super efficient and organized with new hires, but should really think of themselves as the first ones to welcome a new employee and make a positive impression. Taking care of a new employee/intern's unique needs is an important responsibility that should be done carefully.

2. Put it in writing and set expectations upfront

Don't assume new hires know what your organization expects. What may appear simple to you is foreign to the next person. Develop a straight forward employee handbook or manual to address the basics including job descriptions, attendance expectations, e-mail communication etiquette, payment methods and more. Review standard operating procedures and set people up for success.

3. Screen for culture fit

Every organization has a culture of its own. It is up to the entrepreneur to choose to define and build it or let it develop on its own. Screening a candidate for a cultural fit is critical. We have passed over numerous talented candidates because they were not appropriate for the culture that we have worked so hard to build.

4. Understand motivation

You must know what motivates your employees—financial rewards and money is not always the best way to give your employees drive. Every HR department must set-up non-financial rewards programs like mentorship lunches, featuring special employees or better parking. Money is not the only driver of strong employees.

5. Go hi-tech or go home

Streamline the HR workflow by using technology to improve communication and accessibility. Some specific examples include HR management system software, Internet based payroll, and electronic applicant tracking. These electronic systems will save time, money and reduce the errors caused by archaic paperwork.

6. Be transparent

Generation Y-ers heavily emphasize workplace culture, benefits and transparency. Sometimes these issues even trump salary considerations. Therefore, the most crucial HR best practice that every business should implement is stressing the transparent culture of the business during interviews.

7. Create a talent community

Turn your careers page into an interactive social community by utilizing talent community plugins  prospective employees. Provide valuable content through these means and regularly interact with interested individuals.

8. Be consistent

After setting up appropriate policies and procedures, be sure that you're enforcing these rules fairly and consistently across all employees. Nothing undermines your respect like the perception of playing favorites (and be sensitive to how things may be perceived). Even if employees do not like certain policies, if they're enforced consistently it makes it much more difficult to be questioned.

9. Keep your eye out for who you want to hire

Relying on applications means that you're relying on people who self-select (and are driven by the need for a job more than anything else). For some positions, that's fine, but you need to keep an eye out for people who are fantastic and already have jobs. Hiring employees away from other companies tends to mean you're selecting the pool of potentials.

10. Be personally involved

As an organization grows, the owner must choose their battles wisely and hiring is one of the most critical because its the lifeblood of your company. Eventually you will need to hire an HR director, but by being involved in each and every hire you set the tone for how your company runs and who is in charge. Employees work harder for owners they can tell are 100 percent dedicated to quality control.
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How to Create More Value From Employee Surveys

 
create value from surveys
 
CEOs often proclaim that "people are our most important asset." Yet many HR departments find themselves unable to play a significant part in translating these words into reality for several reasons:
a) Some HR departments rely so heavily on benchmarking that they fail to customize their strategies to their organization's unique circumstances, thereby almost guaranteeing they will, at best, stay average.
b) Others get too caught up in the flavor-of-the-month programs.
c) Many are so busy putting out fires they have no time to address what's truly important - drivers of business results.
d) Despite its potential, too often the only thing that comes out of the annual employee engagement survey is a big data dump with no real impact.
Analyticscan ensure HR is not pigeonholed as non-strategic and out-of-touch. "It's no longer possible for HR departments or functions to ignore analytics," said Larry Costello, executive vice president, Tyco Fire and Security. "The forces bringing analytics to the forefront are simply too powerful to disregard."
Talent leaders can use a four-step process to create an HR analytics strategy that will transform the traditional engagement survey into a source of actionable business intelligence.
Step 1 - Create a smarter employee survey.
Traditional employee engagement or satisfaction surveys are not up to the task of producing actionable business intelligence. Engagement is necessary to produce great results, but it's not sufficient. For example, in the Harvard Business Review article "Manage Your Human Sigma," while describing an analysis of customer engagement at a multi-site retailer, Gallup researchers state, "Our working assumption was that at least a few of the top employee engagement stores would also be top customer engagement stores. We were wrong.
Just one store appeared on both lists."
There are two major deficiencies in most employee engagement surveys:
1. They pay too little attention to critical organization-level factors such as work processes, hiring processes and informal learning. These factors are big drivers of business results, but are typically not among the top employee engagement/satisfaction drivers. For this reason, they are under-measured in most surveys.
2. They miss the opportunity to tap into workforce wisdom about the drivers and impediments of what it takes for an organization to be a good seller and a good community and environmental steward - both of which are increasingly necessary to an organization's ability to outperform its competition.
Employee survey content should be expanded to include a broader set of questions that go beyond HR's current concept of employee engagement.

Step 2 - "Linkage analysis" to business outcomes.
Next, statistically link the data from the smarter employee survey to data on desired outcomes.
Linkage analysis can be done with soft outcomes data collected within a smarter employee survey, which includes engagement - including employees' intent to stay and willingness to recommend the organization to friends as a good place to work - as well as elements such as employees' reported ability to help the organization achieve its cost containment goals; and the extent to which employees report that the work environment supports excellent customer service.
Data on hard outcomes comes from outside the survey, such as sales, safety, turnover and customer satisfaction, and is then mapped to the survey. This involves aligning these outcomes to the survey responses of the employees who provided them. It is important to note that this mapping requires the survey be non-anonymous. Hence, creating business intelligence from a smarter employee engagement survey requires contracting with an independent third-party analytics firm, since failing to do so is likely to result in less-than-frank responses to a non-anonymous survey.
Thespecific statistical methodologies that should be used for the linkage analysis will depend on the outcome being analyzed. The techniques can range from complex multivariate analysis, such as logit regression or panel estimation techniques, for most individual-level data, to more straightforward univariate analysis - correlations and statistical testing of differences of means - for group data with small sample sizes.
However, it's important not to get hung up on the statistical nuances since there are plenty of experts who can help with this. The critical point is that linkage analysis is the missing connection that allows organizations to move beyond guesswork, hope and intuition on the people side of their business.
"Leveraging analysis that connects areas like employee engagement to important business results is the missing link," said Mary Humiston, senior vice president, global human resources, Applied Materials. "It is helping us to develop a strong fact-based HR strategy for driving improved business results. Identifying the unique human drivers of our business outcomes with precision and rigor is helping us to elevate our game."
Step 3 - Create a rigorous, fact-based process to identify the best areas of opportunity.
It's important to understand that benchmarking is not analytics. For example, knowing that an organization benchmarks at the 90th percentile on a specific survey item should not be cause for celebration - unless linkage analysis reveals that the specific item drives an important business outcome. And a low score on a specific survey item should only create significant concern if it drives a key outcome. Benchmarking provides little, if any, basis for creating a fact-based HR strategy.
Following a survey, many organizations spend lots of time working on their lowest-scoring items. They would therefore focus heavily on seeking to improve survey item A - the item with the lowest overall score.
However, if a second piece of information is added to the mix, a different conclusion emerges.
Remember survey item A with the lowest score? Turns out it's a negative predictor of sales and therefore is actually a poor target for improvement. The best area of focus turns out to be survey item B, which has the fourth-lowest score, but is both an important positive predictor of sales and still an area of relative weakness. While it might be tempting to wonder what the specific survey questions are that correspond to A and B, that would miss the point, which is that each organization must do its analytics homework to determine the survey items that are most important for it rather than accept a one-size-fits-all answer.
The content of the actual survey items in this example doesn't matter; the results will be different for every organization. That's the point of doing this analysis - to help organizations move beyond benchmarking and target survey items that are the most important predictors of their organization's business outcomes.

Step 4 - Make insightful and easy-to-understand recommendations.
Getting to step 3 can be challenging, since it helps move organizations beyond potentially misleading one-size-fits-all benchmarking measures. But to enjoy the full advantage of this breakthrough, effectively communicating the findings from the analysis is essential. Three points to keep in mind:
1. Avoid data dumps and the temptation to share everything learned in the course of the analysis.
2. Home in on the most important findings and implications, and focus on those.
3. Communicate simply and compellingly. This is as much art as science, but it's critical skill to create actionable business intelligence on the people side of the business.
The top areas of opportunity emerging from Step 3 provide a compelling business case to create a fact-based HR strategy to drive business results.
"At Applied Materials we are using analytics to convert both HR data and business data from information into actionable insights," said Angela Sheffield, head of global workforce planning at Applied Materials. "The executive team is very engaged - they are asking for more. It really helps them to understand the link between what goes on in HR and our business results and guides them to where the biggest levers are for improvement."
One of the real beauties of this approach is that it is possible to provide insightful, customized reports to each manager and offer specific recommendations for actions the manager should take - based on his or her specific pattern of results - to help that manager achieve his or her objectives.
Once this has been achieved, it is typically no longer necessary for HR to push the findings of the employee engagement survey onto the organization - the organization starts to pull for the analysis and insights. The move from push to pull is a significant breakthrough in HR's ability to help the organization be truly strategic.
There are powerful forces - in terms of both supply and demand - that are bringing HR analytics to the forefront. First, technology advances have made HR data available on a scale that was heretofore unimaginable. More importantly, the growing economic premium associated with superior human capital management means that HR strategy is simply too important to be left to gut and intuition. If HR doesn't step up to the plate, another part of the organization is sure to fill the void.
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Assess if Employees Are Really Happy


assess if employees are really happy


When it comes to a new employee's journey with an organization, recruiting and on-boarding are top priorities in laying the foundation for human resources in making a new team member happy. But sometimes companies focus too much on making a great first impression, overlooking the opportunity to validate how new employees are feeling in their job in that initial period.
According to Right Management, a subsidiary of the staffing firm Manpower Group, 44 percent of employees say they are "unsatisfied" and not happy at work.

One way to reverse such a discouraging number is to invest in a 90-day happy check program, a mechanism to ensure new hires have continued to progress after the initial on-boarding period has concluded.

In performing a happy check, HR must address three questions: What is it that you want to measure during this check now that new hires have had a chance to experience the culture and interact with fellow team members? Who should perform the check? And how will HR follow up?

Measurement

Regardless of an organization's culture, here are some basic questions to consider as part of a happy check program:

a) On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the happiest, how happy are you that you joined us?

b) How are things going in your daily work?

c) Is the work what you expected?

d) Is there anything we can do to make you more successful in your role?

e) How are things going with your supervisor, manager or coach?

f) Have you had a special moment that sticks out in your mind as an especially rewarding or happy moment since joining the company?

g) Is there anything we as a company could do to enhance the on-boarding process to make it better for future new employees?

Of course, companies should also have their own set of questions to supplement this list, ensuring they are capturing what is most important to them.

Who Performs the Happy Check?


The size and structure of an organization will largely determine the answer to this question. Ideally, the "happy checker" should be someone who plays a neutral role in the new employee's daily work.

For example, perhaps it's the HR representative who was responsible for orientation on the employee's first day. Another candidate might be a new hire's direct supervisor - although there is the risk of not getting complete and transparent information depending upon that employee's relationship with the manager and how safe he or she feels sharing honest feedback with the supervisor.

Happy Check Follow Up


Valuable feedback on various opportunities for improvement may be revealed during the happy check process. To protect the program's integrity, it is important to establish a clear follow-up procedure that ensures the new employee who shared his or her ideas for improvement understands that the feedback was heard and acted upon to improve the company's processes moving forward.

Feedback should also be consistently reported to senior leadership to ensure they have a pulse on the perspectives of newer employees.

Happy checks - or what others may refer to as 90-day reunions - can also serve as a wealth of information that is easily accessed and readily available. When the company is ready to take the steps to implement a happy check program, consider these tips:

1. Set the stage:
Let new employees know during their orientation session that they will be participating in a happy check at their 90-day period with the company.

2. Show the value:
As the company introduces a happy check program to new employees, let them know how much the organization values the process as a way to ensure that things are going well in their job as well as the transparency the company hopes will be shared through any suggestions new hires may have for enhancing on-boarding.

3. Share success stories:
When a company hears about a great idea during a happy check, take the steps to implement it and share the success story with the entire company.
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