3 ways to help clients set the tone for a strong HR department

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As we jump into 2017, it’s time to help clients determine priorities and set goals. Before employers know it, tax day will roll by, summer Fridays will kick in and open enrollment will be upon us. So there’s no time to waste.

Many of us set New Year’s resolutions in our personal lives. While some people stick to them better than others, setting a resolution can be a useful exercise for focusing on the year ahead. Resolutions are aspirational and can be a building block to success, so they can be a great way to set priorities for the workplace, as well.

Considering the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule, Affordable Care Act updates and other regulatory shifts that occurred in 2016, it’s been a year of transition for HR professionals and employee benefit advisers. Now is a good time to shift gears and set overarching goals that may help guide you and your clients through these changes in the year to come.

Also see:The President-elect’s stance on 10 key benefit issues.”

To help you begin, here are three HR resolutions you might want to consider:

1) Be a more strategic recruiter. The war for talent will only intensify, and employers who can quickly and effectively fill open positions with qualified employees will save time and money, and may even gain an edge over the competition. There are several dimensions to effective recruitment, but two quick fixes can help land the right talent.

The first is interviews. They’re an essential part of the recruitment process and can help you gather job-related information that you typically can't find through resumes and applications alone. Asking the right questions can get to the core of how an employee will react in stressful situations. A few sample questions are:
Can you describe a work conflict you've had with a colleague or supervisor and how you handled it?
Can you discuss a time when a client or customer was unhappy with you and how you responded?
If you are hired for this job, what will you try to accomplish first and what do you think might be an obstacle?
What is the most important thing we should remember about you when we're making our decision?
A second recruitment weapon is the benefits package. I’ve written before about how benefits can be a game-changer for prospective employees, so make sure to show your clients how to showcase unique benefits in the recruitment process. A strong benefits package displays how an organization cares for its employees and lets the prospect envision how he or she might be part of it if hired.

2) Master time management. It’s often a personal goal, but time management is an increasingly important organizational goal as well. This practice will prepare you to establish effective mechanisms for accurately tracking employee hours.

Strong time management is more than just leading by example. One key facet of time management is to set explicit and well-known goals. Supervisors should work with their employees to set daily, weekly and monthly goals, setting timelines and providing task management tools when possible. Also, making priorities clear helps employees evaluate their responsibilities based on importance and urgency, and encourages them to complete high-priority tasks first. It can also help a leader delegate tasks when necessary, even if he or she needs to still oversee timelines, budget and progress.

3) Keep developing soft benefits. According to a recent report from ADP, 73% of employers think that high employee turnover is the new normal. Once an employer fills all of its openings with star candidates, there’s still a lot of work left to do to make sure they’re engaged and happy in their roles.

One way to engage employees is to continue building out the suite of soft benefits that an organization offers. Subsidized gym memberships are one way to do this, but there are others that cost the company little, if anything. For example, encourage employees to ride their bikes to work by offering commuter benefits and providing a space for employees to store their bikes during the workday. Under the Bicycle Commuter Act, employers can reimburse employees up to $20 per month to help defray the reasonable costs of commuting by bike (see IRS Publication 15-B).

Other options include professional development opportunities and flexible work arrangements. By using a little creativity, you can help clients keep engagement high and help retain sought-after talent by accommodating the needs of a growing and diverse workforce.

Take a minute to prioritize HR resolutions. It may get your business off to a smooth start before time starts speeding by and next year’s HR milestones arrive.

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