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.

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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.