4 Ideas to Reengineer Your Human Resource Practices

From time to time Strategic Growth Concepts utilizes this blog to present articles for our readers from HR consulting firms which are a complement to our own expertise.  The following is an example of this with an excellent article from Kelly Jackson, Founder and President of the KJ Group.  We encourage you to review Kelly’s advice, and put it to use to help your organization.

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4 Ideas to Reengineer Your Human Resource Practices

Got budget?

You’re not alone. Corporate belts are cinching all across America. While a few unfortunate companies are struggling for survival itself (including the once-invincible General Motors Corporation), nearly all organizations are looking for ways to become leaner. The solution however, isn’t as simple as cutting HR budgets by 15%. The challenges the HR professional faces today are more complex: maintaining productivity while reducing staff, for one. A company can be facing contraction and experiencing growing pains, at the same time. Staffers at OHM, Inc. (OHM), a regional engineering and architectural firm are working twice as hard, just to maintain last year’s revenue. At the same time, the company is growing geographically and adding new services to its offering. These conflicting challenges forced OHM’s leadership to look beyond simple budget and staff reductions to reengineer its human resource practices. And OHM is not alone. Across the HR field, companies are finding creative ways to “do more with less”.  Following are four simple ideas you can use to help you reengineer HR:

  • Analyze Your HR Practices
  • Develop a Strategic HR Plan
  • Embrace Technology
  • Leverage Your Resources

Analyze Your HR Practices

Everyone gets stuck in a rut. You are so busy putting out fires that you have little time to think about the big picture or the smaller details. Reach out for another pair of eyes to give you a fresh perspective. One valuable tool to help you gain insight is an HR audit. Find an HR expert to review and evaluate your company’s HR operations, top to bottom. An audit is an extensive examination of a company’s systems and practices.

What’s on the list for an HR audit? These areas are likely suspects:

  • Recordkeeping
  • Compliance
  • Salary and Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Professional Development and Training
  • Performance and Recognition
  • Recruiting and Retention
  • Safety and Health
  • Culture

With a successful audit, you’ll uncover those compliance risks that can derail an organization, learn how your company’s practices compare to industry leaders and get a host of new ideas to improve your results.

Don’t overlook local, state and federal program resources either. Recently OHM used free safety consulting services, offered by the State of Michigan, to develop a comprehensive internal and external safety plan. The results? The company minimized risk and saved cold cash through reduced rates for workmen’s compensation insurance.

Develop a Strategic HR Plan

You want senior leadership to understand that HR brings value beyond the basic hiring and firing functions. A strategic HR plan aligns the department’s goals with those of the organization. Is your company’s executive team planning to enter new markets? Sell off a low performing division? Any major corporate actions are sure to have an impact on HR. When a regional service firm created a 5-year strategic plan to expand its single-state presence to the entire Midwest through a series of acquisitions, the firm’s HR executive created a plan to support those goals. She focused on learning the employment laws in the new states, securing regional benefit brokers and creating step-by-step processes to integrate the acquired staff members.

Embrace Technology

Technology can streamline HR workflow, provide communication and accessibility to a non-centralized workforce and allow your staff greater flexibility. Some great technological time-savers: web-based payroll and HR Management System applications, employee intranets and electronic applicant tracking systems. The HR manager at an 160-person, five office company, partnered with the IT department to create a simple intranet-based tool for employees to make annual benefit selections. Going electronic with this process saved the organization more than 50 man-hours annually by eliminating the production, collection and tabulation of paper benefit enrollment forms from multiple offices. The electronic entry system also reduced errors by 92%, resulting in additional time saved.

Leverage Your Resources

This concept is about accomplishing HR objectives, especially those strategic goals, more efficiently. Break free of traditional practices. Rather than hiring a new staff member to fill a long-term but ultimately temporary need, consider alternate forms of employment, such as payrolling. Payrolling is the practice of referring a contingent worker to a staffing vendor or payrolling provider. The vendor acts as the employer of record, responsible for employer taxes, payroll, and all legal matters pertaining to employing workers, thereby reducing contingent workforce costs.

Your company’s employees can be an invaluable resource, too. When Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston challenged the hospital’s staff to volunteer creative cost-saving ideas, he received hundreds of suggestions. Putting some of those ideas into practice, BIDMC was able to save enough expenses to reduce necessary layoffs from 600 to 150.

In another cost-savings example, Workforce Management (June 2009, Speizer) highlights the case of Florida Power & Light (FPL), which put its benefit plan out to bid, rather than just renewing with existing providers. FPL forced vision, dental and other benefit providers to openly compete using an auction-style process. Cost savings are estimated to be $1.1 million annually. 

Don’t overlook the importance of employee morale during an uncertain economy. Enterprising HR departments can give employees valuable benefits, without blowing the budget. OHM offers its staffers bimonthly brown bag lunch-time enrichment events, led by local vendors, experts and service providers. These vendors deliver their programs at no or nominal charge to the company. Topics can be work-related subjects such as time management and presentation skills, or take a personal bent, such as choosing a workout program or creating a will.

Times are tough, all across America. Just as the bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM is forcing the Big Three to reinvent themselves, Human Resource leaders can use these four concepts to reengineer their service offering. Leaner, stronger, smarter and faster – no matter what business you’re in, those are goals we all share. 

Kelly Jackson, a Human Resources professional with nearly 20 years experience, is the founder and president of KJGroup, a human capital management firm that delivers People Peace of Mindsm. Kelly is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®), and a Business Coach. For more information log on to www.kjgrouphrconsulting.com

Even in Today’s Economy, Finding Qualified Job Candidates Can be Difficult; Here are 10 Tips to Increase Your Odds

Employee graphicYou would think with today’s economy that  all you would have to do to attract employees would be to stick a sign in the window of your business that said “Hiring” or place an advertisement in the local newspaper and then pick a new employee out of the hundreds that applied. However, as needs become increasingly more technical and specialized, jobs for businesses small and large are going unfilled – even with today’s surplus of available labor.

However, this situation doesn’t mean you should give up on hiring new staff.  In many ways, small businesses have an advantage in hiring because all things being equal, there are many qualified candidates who would prefer to work for a small business. The following tips for attracting employees will help you increase your company’s chances of finding the specialized staff that you need.

1. Find out what the going rate is for the available position and insure that your company is at least matching it.

One common mistake many small business owners make when creating a position is to base the salary on their budget rather than market realities.  This strategy serves to insure that their employee recruitment efforts will be unsuccessful.  Why should the most qualified prospects work for your company at a lower wage when they can earn more with your competitor?

2. Offer a comprehensive employee benefit program; and remember, not all benefits cost money.

In situations where a prospective employee has the qualifications that allow them to pick and choose, an excellent employee benefit program can move your company into the preferred position. For successful employee recruitment, your company needs to offer employees life, medical and dental coverage at a minimum. If your small business does not have an employee benefits program, it’s time to speak with your insurance company about setting one up. You can often achieve cost efficiencies in the purchase of those benefits by joining business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce where you can take advantage of their larger group rates for members.  Additionally, don’t forget about the small things that can be of big importance to employees because they add to their quality-of-life; items such as:  flex-time, birthday’s off, personal days, paid time off to perform community service work, bringing pets to work, etc. can provide a nice incentive that set you apart from other companies competing for these highly-qualified employees.

3. Make lifestyle part of your employee recruitment offer.

Since many employees today are just as concerned about quality-of-life as they are about the amount of money a position offers, the area your business is located in can be an added benefit toward luring prime employee talent. If you’re fortunate enough to be located in an area with great skiing, beaches, extensive hiking/biking trails, excellent golf courses, limited traffic issues, great weather or other attractive features, be certain to emphasize those benefits during conversations with prospective employees.

4. Emphasize the benefits your small business offers that many companies do not.

Make your company more attractive to potential employees by offering things such as work-at-home or flex-time options, Adoption Assistance, Education Assistance, On-site Daycare, In-chair Massages, or other benefits that provide the potential employee an added incentive to join your company.

5. Find creative ways to offer perks similar to those of ‘the big guys’.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks large corporate companies are able to offer their employees due to cost – but you may be able to offer a reasonable facsimile. For instance, many large companies offer on-site health facilities such as a fully equipped gym. Chances are good that as a small business, you’re not going to be able to add one of these to your premises, but you might be able to offer employees coupons to use local gym or spa facilities, or a company-paid gym membership.

6. Offer employees opportunities for advancement.

Most employees aren’t looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next thirty years. Typically they are seeking a position that offers opportunity for advancement, as well as a way to insure they achieve that advancement.  For example, will your company offer the chance to develop new skills?  Do you have an actual career-path designated for new employees which insures their ability to advance?  Do you offer a mentor program in which they can learn the best ways to succeed within the company?  All of these programs provide added incentive for a prospective employee to choose your company.

7. Create an employee incentive program to drive performance.

Employee incentive programs not only reward good employee performance, they also give prospective employees something to look forward to if they select your company. Whether it’s an annual company-paid retreat, a program where employees collect points that they can trade in for cash, or awards that are highly-recognized and coveted within the company and/or your industry, employee incentive programs can increase your chances of attracting the most qualified employees.

8. Institute a profit-sharing program.

There’s possibly no better way to incentivize an employee’s performance and loyalty than to give them a stake in the company’s success. A business that appears to be on an upward trend – and provides profit sharing – can be a powerful inducement to motivate quality recruits to join your firm.

9. Sweeten the pot – up-front!

When competition for the best employees is fierce, a plain old signing bonus may be what’s needed to move the needle in your direction. If you elect to add such a program, there are two things to keep in mind:  1) The signing bonus has to be large enough to matter, and 2) the signing bonus must be contingent upon remaining with the company for “x” amount of time or it will require repayment. (Otherwise you’ll have a revolving door as people sign up, take the money and run.)

10. Broaden the scope of your advertising.

It’s not enough anymore to place an ad in the ‘Help Wanted’ section of the local newspaper. In today’s hiring environment, it’s imperative that you place advertising in online job boards, in trade association publications/online media, and that you post them in a wide variety of social media such as LinkedIN and Twitter.

It also helps to get your current staff involved in the employee recruitment process as they already have knowledge of the company culture and can typically identify those who will ‘fit’ and those who won’t. Signing bonuses can be made available to those who successfully refer a new employee.

There are many qualified people who can do the work you need done, no matter how specialized;  you just need to develop the right incentives for them to select your company over others they may be evaluating.  Make sure you utilize every conversation with an employee as an opportunity to ‘sell’ the advantages of working for your firm to insure that you can build the best-qualified, most highly-motivated team possible.