How long has it been since you really thought hard about your current HR practices? How well do they contribute to the ongoing performance and success of your business?
It is fair to say that there is much uncertainty within certain sections of the economy – businesses large and small are looking for that distinctive edge in the face of increased competition and rising costs (coupled with the strong dollar in export markets).
Utilising effective HR practices needs to be one of the key planks for success for any business. Left neglected, you will fall behind the pace very quickly. Start by looking at your employment life cycle – that is attracting, recruiting and retaining the right staff and getting the most out of their performance whilst at work.
What are you doing to attract the right staff?
You need to consider your employer brand – how clear is the understanding of what your business does and why it is a great place to work? What impressions are you providing the potential labour market through your recruitment techniques or from your website?
The recent CareerOne “Hunting The (Hidden) Hunters – Attracting and Retaining Talent in 2012” report highlights that remuneration, amenities, training, benefits and defined career paths are all equally important “pull” factors in attracting the right staff. Recognition is identified as the number one “push” factor in retaining staff.
Also, a job advertisement needs to provide enough information to attract the right calibre of applicant and be specific enough to discourage unsuitable applicants from applying for the job. You can recruit new employees in many other ways than advertising online or in the newspaper – but be mindful that your business most likely operates in a localised employment market and therefore most of your staff and potential staff live within a localised radius. It is crucial that you always interview the prospective employee and give them a clear understanding of what will be expected of them.
What do you look for when hiring new staff?
The selection criteria are a list of the qualifications, skills, experience and abilities a person will need to do the job. There will be some skills a person must have to perform the job (“essential criteria”) and others you would want the ideal applicant to have (“desirable criteria”).
Preparation is the key to a successful interview. By taking the time to prepare, you can evaluate applicants more objectively and more accurately assess how they will perform on the job. Before the interview, compile a list of the key traits, skills and values you want the applicant to possess. There are a number of questions you might ask to gain a better understanding of the applicant’s personality, skills and experiences including:
- How would you describe your personality?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- How have you tried to develop your skills?
- What are you looking for in a business?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
Ask yourself if you are happy with this person representing your business or throw a hypothetical situation into the interview to see how well the applicant copes, e.g. dealing with an irate customer or client.
Would you re-hire your current staff?
If you persist and settle for under-performing staff you are not reaching your potential. Poor performers also have the effect of putting a handbrake on top performers – or worst yet, driving them away from your business.
In order to be successful, you need to be prepared to make tough decisions on existing staff in the same way you go about the hiring process. If you cannot answer this question with an enthusiastic and overwhelming “yes” – then something should be done. Explore training options and implement performance improvement plans with clear expectations.
Be aware of what is expected of you as an employer in respect of how you manage performance issues – from a HR and legal perspective.
Are your remuneration packages maximising productivity and rewarding performance?
Increased labour regulation and costs are continually challenging business to have a margin to reward performance. Profits don’t grow on trees. They have to be made. Business and its’ employees need to share a mutual responsibility to support increased productivity and in doing so share in its rewards. If bound by the Award system, consider whether enterprise bargaining can provide you with a competitive edge through flexible work practices, conditions and rates of pay. Be prepared to think outside the square and explore your options.
Bonus and reward systems need to match the business. One size does not fit all. In a larger business, one model that may be ideal, but is dependent upon having in place the right tools and metrics is one that can also reward managers who exercise values consistent with business (e.g. in relation to the way they manage and develop their team, align with values and meet objectives around performance management). Also it could be good to include customer service. The question should be asked now, if reward structures are solely geared to profits… at what cost is this achieved? Is this to the detriment of staff morale, development and customer satisfaction/retention?
Importantly, bonus and reward schemes need to be transparent, affordable and reviewed regularly to ensure their effectiveness.
Do you have adequate resources to manage your HR?
Questions you need to ask yourself include whether the above programs can be developed internally or externally – and if so, what resources are available in the business for its implementation. Resources to be considered may include people, time, knowledge and skills, budget, and the availability and affordability of external expertise or assistance.
Outsourcing your workforce and HR to a professional employer and service provider is increasingly becoming the smartest and most cost-effective “bang-for-your-buck” solution being explored by entrepreneurs across Australia. The key advantage being an immediate freedom to focus on growing the business and meeting the challenges in these unstable times, whilst you can be sure that your HR needs are being looked after by professionals with your business interests at heart.