I recently cleaned out my closet and discovered an outfit that I last wore to my 10-year reunion. Let’s just say that my 20th has come and gone, so finding that outfit was a surprise.
It then occurred to me, “What can an organization carry in its human resources area that hasn’t been looked at in over 10 years?”
For example, are you still calling your human resources operation “personnel?” That dated term refers to the largely administrative and clerical function of an organization that has evolved into human resources, which is much more strategic and focused on an organization’s mission.
Recruitment. Are you using the Internet to find job candidates? More and more applicants are using the Internet to search for jobs, and fewer and fewer are looking in newspapers. In addition, over the past few years, online communities such as Craig’s List and Linked In are filling more and more jobs.
Employee handbooks. They can fall out of fashion, too. Almost every major labor law has had some revision over the past 10 years and a great number within the past three. In addition, just like clothing styles, organizations change: They grow, shrink and sometimes change direction. So what was appropriate a few years ago may not be now.
In many instances, a poorly written handbook is worse than no handbook at all and can increase a company’s risk of legal problems. For example, a handbook may unintentionally promise employees “permanent” employment or imply that they won’t be fired after three months.
A good handbook does more than outline policies and benefits. It should convey the company’s culture and values as well, and it should reflect current state and local employment law. For this reason, it’s best to have the handbook reviewed by an employment lawyer before distributing it.
Employee satisfaction. When was the last time you asked your employees what they thought? Are they happy? How do you know? Several recently published surveys have indicated that as many as two-thirds of employees may be passively or actively looking for a job at any given time.
Job descriptions. Do your company’s job descriptions still match the jobs being performed? Chances are, many employees are doing significantly more – or less – than is expected. While updating job descriptions is not exactly fun, accuracy is important so your organization can comply with minimum wage and overtime laws, conform to the Equal Pay Act, provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities and avoid discrimination claims.
Time-off policies. Review your approach to paid leave. Many organizations are changing the way they structure paid time off, lumping all the time together instead of separating it into vacation, sick leave, personal days, etc. This approach not only addresses employees’ need for flexibility to deal with sudden emergencies, such as a sick child, car trouble or a child care snafu, it also allows them to be responsible for managing all their time. Organizations that shift to this model are actually seeing a decrease in employee sick time.
Benefits and compensation. How is your benefits package? Do you have a flexible spending account and retirement plans? Do your benefits meet the needs of your employees? Are your employees fairly compensated? Do you regularly compare your compensation structure to that of other organizations that are like yours?
Performance. Is your review a form or a process? When was your process last revised? Studies have shown that regular and effective feedback is essential to an employee’s success. Yet many organizations simply wait until an employee review to provide that feedback, and even then, the feedback isn’t necessarily valuable.
Employee files. Do you maintain good employee records? Accurate record-keeping is critical if an employee must be terminated. Does your record-keeping system comply with HIPAA? Are you following your record retention policy? Do you even have a record retention policy? Many times, organizations keep information either for too long or not long enough. Neither is good. Find out what the rules are, and follow them to the letter.
Eileen Levitt SPHR, is president of The HR Team Inc. in Columbia, Md.