Strategies for Greater Retention Rates for HR Managers

For an HR manager, the costs of creating and maintaining a staff can be plagued by employee turnover and disengagement. For most companies, revolving doors are a destructive force for financial growth, considering the cost to replace an employee is roughly 50% of that employee’s annual salary. An effective HR department, therefore, needs to hire appropriately, work to engage employees in the success of the business and constantly monitor observable measurements to ensure that they are on track.

So how does an efficient HR department gauge their progress and ensure best practices for employee retention? How do companies evolve past the everyday, worn-out methods of keeping employees engaged and make the work environment a place where employees can truly thrive?

Hiring Process

The trickiest part of the hiring process is ensuring that HR brings on the right person for the role to not only fill in missing personnel, but foster growth. The person needs to fit the values, short and long term goals of the company. A mismatch of skills, values, and commitment can create loss for a company. For hiring members of HR, there is a host of resources out there for hiring managers who want to maximize their hiring potential and run their small business like a larger corporation.

Primarily, hiring managers need to think about the kind of skills they need to bring into the company as opposed to simply filling a slot or replacing someone who has moved on. Is the company facing challenges? What skills would be the best counter to those challenges? A potential area of growth? It’s easy to fall back into patterns of hiring to replace, but hiring to grow benefits the company far more.

Observable Metrics

A handful of easily observable paper metrics can give HR departments an idea of how engaged and happy their employees are. Turnover is one of the most obvious metrics. If a company is perpetually bleeding employees, there is something seriously wrong. Likewise, the average length of employment can help indicate employee engagement. If most employees leave within a year, or conversely, stay for many years, these are indicators of the company’s ability to engage. The amount of sick or personal days taken can indicate an employee’s level of involvement in their job as well. Finally, the revenue per employee can help companies determine how engaged employees are on the clock.

Observable metrics are just the beginning of the story. An employee can love and be dedicated to their work, but also have a sick family member that leads to absences. When an observable metric indicates disengagement, look past the numbers into the human element. Is there a solution that would allow the employee to contribute in the way they’d like while acknowledging the issue? Would working from home allow them to care for the relative while hitting goals?

Greater Employee Engagement

Once the right employee is hired, the key to maintaining that employee’s performance and commitment is growing their engagement in the company. The best tool for engagement is communication. It’s important for management to keep lines of communication between themselves and their team open. Fostering trust and making employees feel heard helps them feel important, both to the company and as people. That level of emotional engagement is invaluable.

Help employees understand their role in the company — how their efforts aid the company’s success, and how the company’s success affects them. The ability to draw a direct line between cause and effect, both for the company and the employee, creates real stakes that encourages a better work ethic.

Goal Creation and Attainment

Realistic, attainable goals encourage greater engagement and growth of abilities, output and capability. Achieving goals can be rewarding in themselves; they can also be steps for future growth within the company. Goals should be appropriate for the company and for the employee — they should be a marriage of the interests of both parties. Is this something the employee is passionate about and finds rewarding? Is this an area of interest that benefits the company? Do they have the skills to achieve this goal, in a way that benefits the company?

For the employees, goals can include growth of current abilities, or the push to finish a project. Potential rewards for employees can include extra benefits, like a day off, the chance for a promotion (or more eligible to promotion), or a treat of some kind, like free lunch. Whenever a company uses a reward as an incentive for achieving goals, they should be clearly communicated and legitimately achievable. Carrot-and-sticking rewards like promotions is a dishonest method, and will ultimately lead to decreased morale.

Avoid Demotivation Pitfalls

Demotivation can come from many fronts. Lack of communication and transparency between management and employees creates a vacuum of information — one that is bound to be filled with speculation and guesswork. In a workplace without healthy feedback and communication, that guesswork can be powered by anxiety and untruths, which barely benefit anyone. Recognize employees, listen to their feedback.

Make sure the employee who puts her all into her job is recognized and rewarded fairly. Don’t feel the need to treat everyone the same. Follow through on commitments and promises. Show employees why certain team members are celebrated, and help the others find ways to be celebrated as well.

The bottom line is this: HR might be about acquiring and maintaining people as a resource, much like paper or computers, but remember that you and your crew are not robots. Metrics are useful, and numbers don’t lie, but everyone involved is a human. They have human feelings and human motivations, which don’t often conform to spreadsheet analytics. Address the human side of the equation to balance the metrics, and make the most of your skills as a leader to address real, human concerns to foster greater employee retention and engagement.

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Tips for Successful Conference Networking

In order to do well in any industry, you need to know and have the support of the right people. No matter how independently you work, people are the key to success in every endeavor. Although chance encounters do occur, you don’t always meet the right people at the right time.

However, you can increase these chances by setting up a booth at a conference specific to your niche. With different influencers in your industry congregated in the same area as you, the odds will be more in your favor for developing these mutually beneficial relationships.

Being at the right place doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen, though. You’ll need the networking and conversational skills to back you up when you meet a potential customer or partner at a conference too (even if you’re a bit more on the introverted side). Here’s what you need to know to up your conference networking game.

Don’t Skimp on Booth Design

A lot can be said about a person by the way they design their booth. When you have a booth at a conference, how your setup looks is just as important as your own wardrobe. No one will want to start a conversation with you if you look like you put no effort in your appearance.

The same is true for your booth. If you put little work into the aesthetics of your booth design, you won’t attract many people — especially if it looks like it was made the night before or is bland in style. In order to catch people’s attention, you’ll need booth banners and a striking design to flag people down.

Remember, your banner and booth materials are an extension of your brand. If anything is incongruent with your brand image, people will be confused about who you are and what you’re doing at the conference. So double check the colors and and fonts you use match the same ones as your business and other marketing materials; you always want to be more proactive than reactive.

Keep things simple and easy to read as well by designing your booth in a way that showcases what your business is about. Don’t let your message get lost in a cluttered design. Also have your audience in mind when creating your booth and banner.

Use graphics and language that appeal to your target audience so that your setup is the one they’re attracted to the most. Look into applied psychology and color theory, too, and see which shades and hues communicate the message you want your company to evoke while still being pleasing to the eye.

Have size in mind as well and make sure the promotional materials you use are large enough to catch a crowd’s attention while still conforming to the size restrictions of your booth area. Placing your booth in a good light doesn’t hurt either by utilizing lighting equipment that accentuates your display and brings attention to areas you want people to see most.

Overall Best Conference Practices

Once you’re at a conference, it won’t do hoping for the best that the right people will come to your booth. You need to prepare and devise a plan to best utilize your time at the conference. By first seeing what the conference’s schedule is, prioritizing and managing your time for the workshops and panels you want to attend will be that much easier.

Also see which topics will be discussed and which speakers were invited so you can do further research on the two to increase your chances of forming a connection with the influencers speaking and attending. You may not be able to do everything you want at the conference, so determine which events are a priority and which can be missed if you don’t have the time.

Have someone man your booth at all times as well so that your station is not left unattended while you visit various events. It helps to familiarize yourself with the location of the conference and where each activity will occur too. Knowing how long it will take to walk to certain panels and workshops will help you determine which ones you can get to in time, and having a familiar idea of where the conference is and where you can park will ensure you’ll arrive on time.

Don’t forget to schedule in break times for rest and food yourself, either. You won’t be impressing anyone if you’re exhausted or your stomach’s growling through a whole conversation. Speaking of conversations, leave some time for exchanges with other attendees as well since the whole point of you being there is to network.

If you have questions about what you should wear, look at past conference pictures on their website to get a feel for what the dress code is. You’ll want to be comfortable since you’ll be on your feet for a good portion of the day. Check the weather as well so you can plan your outerwear accordingly. Layering up is another good idea since different rooms can be set at different temperatures.

Lastly, consider other items you will need to bring with you to the conference such as a laptop, chargers, pen and paper, and business cards.

Talk the Talk

Once you have a plan of attack, you need to brush up on your networking skills. As you can see, networking is one of the top ways agencies drum up new business.

That being said, there are a lot of people vying for the same relationships you want to cultivate, so it’s up to you to distinguish yourself from the rest. Do this by being more eager to help the other person rather than having them assist you. Showing a genuine interest in the other person will make your more noticeable than a person who only asks for what they want.

Networking isn’t a one-sided relationship. It takes the efforts of two people trying to connect with one another. So be a good listener and ask them questions about themselves. Honesty is truly the best policy when it comes to networking, so speak the truth about yourself to build a solid foundation of trust between you and your contact.

Be consistent with who you are as a person both professionally and personally as well. People have a knack for discovering inconsistencies when talking with a person. Getting caught in an untruth can seriously damage a budding connection.

Also remember to continue the conversion long after the first encounter by consistently following up with them. A true networking relationship only grows and prospers if you put in the work to stay in contact with them.

Take Advantage of Hiring Opportunities

Although you may be going to a conference to form beneficial business connections, don’t forget to network with people who want to form connections with you as well. Especially when you’re hiring your first employees, it’s important to start your hiring process right by recruiting the best and brightest first instead of ones who will just do for now.

The kind of people you hire in the beginning will ultimately encourage or halt the progress of your company altogether. Hiring has a domino effect in that the employees you hire will recommend and attract other employees like them to your company, so it’s best to give yourself a good headstart and hire the most qualified candidates you can find.

Individuals attending conferences will most likely have the qualities you want in an employee, so keep your eyes open for potential hires at these events. It’s good to think in the long-term when considering a prospective employee as well since your business will have to deal with the consequences — negative or positive — of each hire you take on.

You will have to be the judge whether or not the skill sets a person possesses will benefit you just now or many years down the road. It’s also important that you like the person you’re thinking about offering a position to. Company culture is a key part to business success.

If people are miserable with the coworkers they have to collaborate with, this will only lead to setbacks for your company. After all, why would you want to hire someone you don’t like? Employees also work their best and come up with their most innovative ideas if their work environment makes them feel comfortable and encourages research and development that way of thinking. According to HR Gazette, “48% of human resources and recruiters and managers believe that technology helps them make better decisions.” 

Even with the best intentions, many startups and companies fail — but that doesn’t mean failure has to happen to you too. Attending and setting up a booth at a conference is a great way to find lasting and beneficial connections.

However, you can’t just walk in and expect great results to happen. By investing in your booth design, putting together a conference game plan, and brushing up in your networking skills, you will form relationships that will help you and your company progress far into the future.

The Human Side of HR: What Makes a Great Administrator?

Businesses are made up of a multitude of working parts. From upper management down to the mailroom, everyone has a vital role to play. HR managers are an essential part of maintaining a well-oiled machine; they take care of the people who work there and maintain the kind of workplace that inspires people to turn up day after day, year after year. They are the people behind the people. In order to do their jobs effectively, HR managers need to have a variety of skills in their toolbox.

Hire the Right People

Hiring is a major part of HR responsibilities. It’s important to hire the right people; you want them to be engaged, capable, and in possession of a skillset that compliments the current work goals and progress. An experienced HR manager needs to know how to hire the kind of person who fits the company culture and values, and who will assist in reaching long-term goals as well as immediate needs. The wrong person, or hiring a good employee for the wrong position, can be detrimental. The right person can not only fit into your corporate culture but can help that culture grow along with the business.

Effective Training

A good hiring manager can recruit employees with all the skills required to shape the company’s ability to succeed, but they also need to help mold the employee’s skill set into their brand and workflow through comprehensive and effective training. An employee with a wealth of talent needs to know how to apply that talent, not just for best results but also in compliance with legal and labor laws. A thorough training regimen outlines expectations, any company-specific training, as well as what the employee can expect from the company. This communication is vital to ensuring everyone, including the company, can comfortably fulfill their expectations.

Employee Retention and Satisfaction

The link between employee engagement and revenue is well-established. A skillful HR manager is the cornerstone of employee satisfaction — and employee satisfaction is the key to engagement. HR can utilize programs designed to show appreciation for employee work; anything from food to incentive programs can energize employees. Likewise, public praise and spotlighting distinguished employees as well as a culture of positive reinforcement can be effective. HR must also stay on top of employee needs, whether it be in benefits offerings or promotion and salaries. Employees should feel needed, appreciated, and like they have something to work towards.  

Conflict Resolution

One of the more complicated aspects of HR is conflict resolution. An effective HR manager should be patient, even-tempered and able to navigate employee interpersonal and professional relationships (as they apply to the job) with a delicate touch. HR should be attuned not only to the needs of the company but of the employees as they apply to a productive and effective workplace. Conflict resolution can range from small interpersonal spats to the larger legal issues, such as sexual harassment. It is important that HR managers be thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about conflicts of a legal nature, for the safekeeping of both employees and the company.  

Follow Through

Your employees rely on you to make sure their work lives run smoothly. From benefits to paychecks, they need you to make sure the company fulfils their end of the employee contract. Prompt follow-through shows your employees their well-being is important and the company is invested in making sure they are in a safe, productive atmosphere. If employees do not trust HR, they’ll be less likely to seek out solutions to any problems from HR. They will be more likely to become bitter or malcontent, grow stagnant in terms of work or look for employment elsewhere.

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An HR manager who utilizes these skills will be able to work effectively and harmoniously with their company and workforce. Their administration skills can help boost productivity and make the workplace somewhere employees look forward to turning up for a long, happy future.

Five Lessons Learned From 100 Years of Human Resources

Human resources departments are invaluable assets when it comes to protecting companies from potentially devastating losses or game-changing mistakes. All too often, career-ending mishaps could have been avoided with a quick trip to HR, but even the department has occasionally had to learn on-the-job, as it were. After 100 years of HR, you’d think that we’ve learned all there is to know about what companies can, can’t, and really shouldn’t do. Still, here are five lessons that always seem to be a surprise whenever the ball gets dropped.

The Trap of Ignoring Morale

Morale is crucial to working environments. Happy employees are productive employees, after all. When markets move against companies, however, the metrics-based focus of “crunch times” can cause severe loss of focus on this important consideration. As HR, it falls to us to remember to keep the “human” part of human resources in mind at all times. Amazon.com recently found itself under fire for warehouse and worker conditions after metrics-based performance incentives cut the legs out from under the company’s morale. Amazon’s perception in the media and public at large also shifted negatively when word got out about the conditions many workers face in the organization.

The Risks of a Politicizing Company Culture

Company culture can, and often should, change over time. Dramatic shifts, however, should be democratic and involve workers at all levels. When a company decides to make a move that brings it into the political spotlight, it can have repercussions well beyond its own halls. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, learned this the hard way when he announced a $70,000 minimum salary for his employees. The move thrust him into the spotlight surrounding minimum wage arguments in the nation, clients cancelled their work because of differing political views and lawsuits were filed against the company. This came on the heels of the decision to raise wages for employees by slashing his own.

The Snare of Insider Trading

One of the great cautionary tales of HR comes at the expense of financier Ivan Boesky, who in 1986 made over $200 million investing in corporate takeovers. Unfortunately, his seemingly smart predictions landed him in jail as they turned out to be based on insider trading. HR departments around the world send regular updates to stockholders who may have insider knowledge to help them avoid this type of disaster. Boesky also paid over $100 million in fines for his illegal actions.

The Dangers of Old Buildings

When the real risks of asbestos and its link to mesothelioma were exposed to the public sector, companies poured millions into removing the material from walls, ceilings and other key infrastructure. Unfortunately, removal of the material often freed it into the air, causing workers to inhale the substance and suffer effects years, potentially even decades, down the line. It falls on human-resources personnel to make sure that the right persons are responsible for all disaster and cleanup operations, lest the company be found responsible for damages due to its well-intentioned policies of replacement and repair of worn-down structures.

The Pitfalls of Miscommunication

In the BYOD business world, communication moves at about the speed of light (over optical networks). This means that it’s nearly impossible to bury bad news, especially using press releases of good news. HR and PR departments must work shoulder-to-shoulder to make sure that the press doesn’t feel hoodwinked by a show of good news when bad is developing, as happened when Walmart made its grand announcement about its new $11 an hour minimum wage. Unfortunately, the same day, the closure of over 50 stores became public knowledge. The news about the closure spread quickly, as employees are rarely slow to share such information, and bad press followed closely on the heels of the closure news, offsetting any gains from the minimum wage announcement.
As companies strive to keep top talent and protect themselves against lawsuits and game-changing errors, HR departments are more critical than ever. Savvy human-resources professionals aren’t afraid to speak up against bad policy or advise on important matters, and the best are more than willing to go to bat for the future of their companies. With 100 years on the job, HR pros understand what is at risk and have the tools to keep businesses going strong in the decades to come.

The Benefits and Challenges of Hiring a Borderless Workforce In Global Economy

Today’s economy is extremely globalized. Many factors contribute to realizing success as a truly global business.

Expanding into other markets isn’t simply a matter of sending a sales team on an overseas mission. There is so much more required. According to a recent report by Accenture, companies need a human capital and HR strategy that is fully aligned with the business growth strategy. Often, the HR component of a business strategy is looked at as a follow-up measure to consider after the advanced team has established some presence in a new market.

To be successful, however, senior leadership must agree that this component isn’t a follow-up, but something that is part of the globalization vision from the very beginning. Additionally, it is critical to find the right balance between international structures and local processes. So, while HR systems will play an integral role in creating global operations that can function in accordance with local norms, establishing local credibility will be a matter of hiring the right people. Local credibility can only truly be achieved through the employment of a relevant and able workforce.

Ideally, it’s nice to think that hiring in a global economy is truly a borderless process. However, this is not the case. Different visa restrictions and legal policies in countries can often prevent the continuous seamless transfer of employees. It is becoming more difficult to bring talent into the United States.

For companies that want to succeed globally, management and leadership need to be well-versed with different countries and cultures. Diversity of board makeup is very important. For example, the board of directors at MasterCard, include executives from the United Kingdom, India, the United States, Mexico, Belgium and Hong Kong. Philip Morris International Management’s board includes members not only from the United States and Europe but also from Mexico and China. Thus, it is often best to bring this talent in from overseas to appropriately lead and orient teams who will be working with a specific region.

Unfortunately, visa requirements are abundant, and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to diversify the way they desire. While H1-B visas are limited and based on luck, another way to bring in talent, even temporarily is through the O-1 visa, for people with “extraordinary ability.” This is especially useful for company superiors and is more acceptable as it does not threaten local jobs. HR professionals need to be aware of possibilities such as these, that allow for a transfer of leadership talent when necessary. In this way, to be both globally efficient and locally responsive when necessary, a company must adapt HR models that are more agile.

A good example is the London-based Diageo, a premium beverages company with offices in 80 countries and a presence in about 180 markets. Diageo created appropriate HR operating models for different markets by using a customized shared services model that provides consistent service to employees and can quickly be adapted to adhere to local market requirements. The company has two centers (in Europe and North America) that serve as virtual hubs, providing faster service to employees, in terms of processing paperwork, legal requirements and more, wherever they are. For instance, a knowledge repository helps standardize functions and process transactions in accordance with local laws for any of Diageo’s offices/markets.

Virtual hubs like that of Diageo’s are only possible due to the major technological advancements in today’s day and age. Digitization has allowed for a plethora of opportunities in terms of streamlining work processes, boosting productivity and efficiency overall. One of the many benefits of digitization that is especially poignant to hiring in a global economy is the ability to work remotely. According to a recent report, 43 percent of American employees spent at least some time working remotely in the past year. So even if it isn’t possible to immediately hire local help in case of a work emergency, or for an entire team to relocate to another country for a short assignment, cross-continental telecommuting is a viable solution. Ease of access today helps with communications amongst worldwide offices, allowing for “borderless” workforces.  

Still, working remotely when it comes to leadership positions is not the smartest business decision, let alone very inconvenient. To be successful in the global economy, global experience and exposure is not a luxury, but a necessity. Sometimes, this sort of experience requires sending American personnel overseas for work. This is often in the form of long-term overseas assignments for employees.

However, there are more creative ways of facilitating this. Take the example of Royal Dutch Shell cited in the report by Accenture. Julian Dalzell — recently retired after 43 years in HR leadership roles with Royal Dutch Shell, employed a different approach. At one point, he had 11 people from his HR team, each with less than five years’ experience, working overseas on short-term assignments in Singapore, Canada, Holland, Brazil, Turkey, Qatar and Kazakhstan, among other locations.

This worked in a myriad of ways. More people were agreeable to sign up for shorter assignments, visa laws were more amicable to short term placements and there was less worry that outsiders were coming in to compete with local talent. Even though overseas assignments require a lot of preparation, Dalzell said “the unintended consequence was that they [employees] came home keen to share the incredible experiences they had and what they had learned. So it sparked an enthusiasm and an energy that we could not have created ourselves.”

In this way, HR processes must be in sync with the growth strategy for any company to succeed globally. Companies must create processes and work in ways that encourage innovation and efficiency at the local level, fostering an attitude of transparency amongst global and local offices, without compromising global set standards. To do so, hiring the right people in the right manner is significant for proper execution. As the world becomes more globalized, it’s easy to overlook some of the barriers that prevent a truly “borderless” workforce. However, with the correct human capital and HR strategies in place, companies will be able to get as close to “borderless” as is possible.

How HR Continues To Evolve, Technologically and Politically

How HR Continues To Evolve, Technologically and Politically

Changes in human resources are driven by a number of overlapping factors, including the demographics of both the workplace and surrounding society; political climate and legislation coming out of it; and the development of new technology.

The rise of tech startups have created a lot of change in business communities and shifted the expectations of employees. Add breakthroughs in cloud services and management software, and authentication into the mix, and it’s easy to see how the tech boom has had a major effect on the procedures and culture of HR.

Hiring and Interview

Finding job seekers is getting easier and easier. On the other hand, as easy as job sites like Indeed and social networks like LinkedIn have made posting ads, they’ve also allowed a larger number of job seekers to respond.

Recruiters and hiring managers must deal with a much greater volume of applicants if they choose to make use of internet job postings. The benefit is that it’s easier to find the right candidate. LinkedIn and resume upload sites have made it especially easy for savvy HR professionals to target the skills they’re looking for and search for candidates more intentionally.

On the interview side, things are changing too. Skype and other video and voice-over IP apps are making remote interviews a more robust and common process. Being able to interview over long distances is exposing recruiters to talent from far-flung places. 43 percent of Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely, according to The New York Times. Remote work is changing office environments, and it’s changing the way companies hire, giving them access to employees hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Company Culture

The hiring process is closely related to company culture, but it’s an idea that goes far beyond the initial hire.

This is where the tech startup world has made a huge influence. “Company culture” has almost achieved buzzword status in job ads. Both prospective job seekers and employers are putting a heavy emphasis on “fitting in” with the company culture.

This has come with advantages and disadvantages. Tech companies in particular have shown how “culture” can be taken way too far. There have been a number of high-profile cases where culture has been used to justify abuse, inaction, or discrimination.

Company culture is a powerful and popular tool to ensure that businesses and employees truly make the most of their personnel. Every work environment is different, and hiring an employee with the right skills but the wrong demeanor can be more damaging than hiring someone who needs extra training.

Contracts and Consent

One of the biggest developments in recent years has been the ability to handle contracts, compliance, performance reviews, consent forms, and anything else that people need to sign digitally. HR departments have been leveraging digital signatures to streamline and more effectively track important documents.

Paperwork that can be signed electronically can be carefully controlled and tracked. A performance review can be signed in order, first by the employee, then by their manager, and added to their digital record without any printing, scanning, or physical transportation. The process becomes shorter and easier to track.

Timestamps recorded on electronic signatures are more accurate, and the digitizing process is better for privacy and compliance because control is kept of the document at all times. It’s easy to track who has access to it. Signing something electronically may not feel very safe, but electronic signatures are built of digital signature technology which provides encryption and verification, making the whole process very secure.

Communications Technology

Some companies are choosing to adopt high-tech communications technology within their workplaces as a way to improve efficiency of both employees and HR processes.

Chat applications are one way that companies improve communication, letting employees interact with each other and their managers in real time to discuss topics or pose questions that they wouldn’t ordinarily interrupt one another with.

Another high-tech communications solution comes with digital signage that HR can leverage to cut down on emails, poster printing, and newsletter composition. Announcements of events, important legal updates or performance metrics can instead be simultaneously displayed across a number of devices. That way, employees have information available at a glance without having to open a distracting email whenever there’s a company announcement.

Safety and Compliance

Workplace safety has changed a lot over the years. From the days of steelworkers clambering unassisted on top of skyscrapers and employees handling asbestos, the law and cultural attitudes about safety have made dramatic turns. So too is it with liability surrounding legal rights of employees, such as overtime laws and “theft of employee time”.

One of the biggest changes has been the uptick in retroactive legal action against companies that engaged in unsafe and unlawful practices. Though HR teams were always tasked with compliance and liability limitation, as lawsuits become more prevalent and potentially damaging, Human Resource’s role in protecting the company, and by proxy the company’s employees, has been magnified in recent years.

HR departments work tirelessly to create inclusive, safe workspaces that don’t discriminate or place employees in unsafe situations without a reasonable notice and acceptance of risk. Digital tools are making this process easier and will continue to influence the shape of human resources as we discover new ways to track, authenticate, and communicate.

Two Challenges Facing Healthcare HR

Two Challenges Facing Healthcare HR

As technology races forward and the aging population places greater demands on healthcare staff, the need for competent HR professionals will only continue to grow. Current healthcare professionals as well as HR specialists in other industries should consider advancing within health administration in order to bring their experience to a rapidly expanding field and help shape the future of healthcare. Here are two major challenges healthcare HR departments face along with strategies for successfully combating them.

Adapting to New Technologies

Thanks to advances in healthcare technologies, health providers can monitor and analyze health issues remotely. Fitness trackers, mobile apps, telemedicine platforms, and devices such as remote heart monitors and insulin pumps are giving medical professionals real-time insights into a patient’s medical conditions like never before. However, these also place new demands on HR professionals.

One major responsibility that falls on HR departments is the task of ensuring healthcare professionals are trained to use the constantly evolving array of technologies. Training sessions and other learning opportunities can be particularly challenging in part because hospital staff are often made up of several generations of people. This includes baby boomers who may lack the technical skills to pick up new technologies right away and may need special support. Millennials may also have difficulty adopting new technologies because information systems can vary greatly between facilities they’ve previously worked for.

Although some technology vendors will provide training to healthcare professionals, there are limits to what an individual can learn and retain. In most cases, it isn’t possible to know everything about each device, especially if training takes place infrequently. To combat this, HR professionals can create in-house training initiatives that stand as a resource professionals can return to.

One example of this is to create opportunities for microlearning. This is an effective strategy because it provides specific information at the moment healthcare staff need it. Medical professionals can view short videos that break down difficult concepts or processes into more digestible lessons, after which they can immediately put the information to use. This also cuts down on the amount of time doctors and nurses have to spend away from their current tasks and patients for training.

In addition to their impact on training, new technologies lower a facility’s need for some positions. For example, as the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems continues to rise, the tedious and expensive process of transcribing, charting, and duplicating medical information is significantly minimized. These digital systems also reduce the chance of medical errors due to conflicting or incorrect patient information. In addition to EHRs, radio frequency identification (RFID) systems can wirelessly track patients’ conditions and provide instant access to medical records, which will eliminate some low-tech clerical positions.

Responding to Workforce Shortages

Hiring and retaining qualified staff may be the most impactful thing an HR department can do to improve patient outcomes. We’re facing a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a number of factors. For one, our population is aging, which means a higher percentage of people are developing health conditions that require medical attention. The fact that more people are insured also places additional strain on healthcare facilities.

The number of primary care physicians, in particular, is decreasing because fewer physicians are choosing primary care specialties. However, HR professionals can hire alternative staff such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners to help fill this gap. Nurse practitioners can provide a similar level of care to primary physicians, and they have kept an even pace with the demand for their position. As an added bonus, nurse practitioners can provide their services at a lower cost than physicians.

As with any industry, HR departments looking to combat the shortage of healthcare professionals should take advantage of hiring best practices in order to find the right employees. Hiring qualified professionals is essential for positive patient outcomes as well as reducing employee turnover. In order to attract quality talent, healthcare facilities should design compensation packages that meet the financial and lifestyle needs of new medical professionals. This includes things like insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and something that has become increasingly important — debt relief.

It’s important for HR professionals to work with unit managers when creating job descriptions in order to identify which qualifications are essential to the position and which are simply preferred. They should also avoid setting experience or education requirements higher than necessary in order to draw from a wider pool of worthy applicants. Pre-hiring assessments can reveal qualifications beyond an applicant’s resume, such as their personality and their ability to fit in with the organization’s culture.

The internet has changed the way people find and apply for jobs, and HR professionals should target a variety of channels to advertise an opening. This includes and job boards that cater to healthcare positions as well as social media platforms and university recruitment programs. Employee referrals are also a great resource for discovering qualified applicants who, in many cases, will also stand a good chance of fitting into the culture of the workplace. Internships offer a low-stakes opportunity to work with an employee and test whether they are a good fit.

Finding and hiring the right employees is only one facet to maintaining a successful workforce. Retaining employees should take high priority within healthcare HR. According to one study, employee turnover is the top staffing concern of a third of healthcare recruiters in the United States. And while the exact number isn’t clear, some studies suggest a 28 percent turnover rate in healthcare jobs. Aside from expensive recruiting and training costs, turnover hurts patient satisfaction, places additional burdens on other staff, and lowers productivity and morale between co-workers.

To increase retention rates, HR departments should focus on hiring employees that are a good fit professionally and culturally. Although recruiters might meet their organization’s goals for quickly hiring employees within a set budget, bringing on low-cost employees who aren’t the right fit contributes to high turnover rates. One strategy for accomplishing this is to include peer interviews within the hiring process. This way an applicant can meet their potential co-workers, and the current staff can gauge whether the person would be a cultural fit.

Employee retention isn’t just about making good hiring decisions, but ensuring current employees have the resources they need to do their job well and stay engaged. Regular workshops in which staff and management can share best practices, personal goals, and success stories is a great way to create a dialogue that will help staff to grow professionally and build a sense of community in their mission as a team. Likewise, employees who under-perform should work with management to set clear goals for moving forward. If timely improvement doesn’t seem possible, it may be a good idea to let that employee go in order to ensure they aren’t placing additional strain on their co-workers and the organization.