Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Five Tips for Better HR Management in 2015

It’s a new year and employers often make resolutions about managing their workforce. Here are five tips that will make any workplace operate more smoothly and efficiently.

1. Train or re-train your supervisors.
Many employers with a stable workforce worry less about training or refresher training of supervisors and managers. Good supervisors and managers are  usually up to speed, but even the best of them can get caught up in the sticky details of FMLA, ADA and Worker’s Compensation, for instance, or fail to realize that an IT assistant is probably not going to be an exempt employee until you’re hit with an overtime claim. In addition, new legislation, such as the amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect pregnant workers, should remind employers that regular training of even the best supervisors keeps them abreast of changing responsibilities and creates a forum for them to easily ask their employment questions.

2. Audit your employee classifications. 
Job duties often change over time so that the exempt job from five years ago is no longer exempt, or the other way around and a non-exempt position is now exempt.  This may occur , for example, as a result of the expansion of a department and splitting one job into two, with one of those jobs being assigned all the exempt duties, or because a different person is filling the position who is either more or less skilled than the previous employee in the position. Whatever the reason, an audit can reveal necessary changes that may either save you money or save you from costly wage litigation.

3. Update your personnel policy and procedural manual.
Each year, new labor and employment laws are enacted.  For instance, this year in Illinois, interns and pregnant employees gained protections under the state’s Human Rights Act, and the consideration of an applicant’s criminal background was legislatively restricted for some employers. Legislative initiatives may require changes to an employer’s policies and procedures. Not only do new laws often result in the need for new policies, but new laws also may result in the need to amend existing policies in response to changes in coverage or responsibilities to employees.

4. Conduct timely evaluations.
Some organizations are better at keeping on schedule with employee evaluations than others. Not only are evaluations an excellent tool to monitor and address employee performance, but when evaluations don’t occur on time, employees sometimes infer negative or personal reasons for the delay, which results in misguided accusations or poor morale. And, let’s face it, it just might look suspicious when a sporadic evaluation occurs shortly before an employee is discharged. Regular and timely evaluations not only create excellent documentation in the cases of poor performers, but many employees actually appreciate the recognition that an evaluation gives them.

5. Stop delaying the inevitable.
In all but the most serious situations, employers generally hate to discharge or layoff employees. No upside exists, though, for employers to retain poor performers, toxic employees and those who engage in misconduct.  Difficult as it might be, separating these employees usually helps the workplace and often times co-workers are grateful because they have been “working around” that employee for a time. This is not to say that we promote cold hearted hammering of employees, but sometimes it is just the right result. Occasionally, even the terminated employee comes around to seeing that point. In any event, keeping an unproductive or disruptive employee around does no one good in the end. Employers should make timely personnel decisions in order to keep the workplace operating at optimal efficiency. The same is true for layoffs. Once information of a downsizing leaks to the workforce, it is only merciful to complete the layoffs as soon as practicable. It’s torture for employees to spend weeks wondering if they will lose their jobs, and work grinds to a halt in that time period in favor of employees speculating, gossiping or calling in sick.

When employers manage their employees well, they improve employee morale and productivity along with efficiency.