The Role of AI in Human Resources

Author: Kim Coombs, Talent Director, EMEA at Riverbed Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is improving human resources (HR), streamlining processes and empowering employees to perform better. Employee data that was once banished to the archives can now be combined with the huge volume of data running through a business’ network to identify talent gaps, learning and development initiatives and provide recommendations to HR professionals and managers.

It is becoming clear that the future success of businesses will be defined by how well they are able to optimise the combination of human and automated work.

There have been some controversial headlines surrounding automation in the workplace and earlier this year, the World Economic Forum projected that the demand for ‘unique’ human skills will grow. While its research suggests 75 million current jobs will be displaced as artificial intelligence takes over more routine aspects of work, 133 million new jobs will be created. This report concludes that skills in both emotional intelligence and technical intelligence – like technology design and programming – will be essential for the future workforce.

HR needs to help employees strengthen their core skills and capabilities through targeted training or development initiatives. On top of this, they are responsible for proactive candidate selection as part of the recruitment process, which involves an excessive amount of time, resource and admin. AI is opening up new opportunities to enhance the human experience and is expanding the remit of the HR function within a business. It is important for business leaders to consider the introduction of AI-led infrastructure as an opportunity to improve existing, outdated, and sometimes archaic processes and message the benefits of these changes down to their managers and employees.

Kim Coombs photo1
Kim Coombs, Talent Director, EMEA at Riverbed Technology

The human experience

With the introduction of AI, businesses are positioned better than ever to improve their employees’ human experience. In the modern enterprise, AI is already beginning to streamline admin heavy tasks to free up time for employees to focus on adding value to the broader business.

For example, team leaders and middle management are often required to make the same decisions over and over again, including approving time off requests, approving timecard exceptions and scheduling staff. If you speak to managers performing these tasks, you will often find their perspective is the same: they are repetitive, time-consuming, and while relevant, deliver little value. These are precisely the tasks that AI can tackle first —  the routine, daily, difficult processes that will free up the manager to handle more strategic management matters.

With less time spent on the high touch, low value tasks, managers can be far more aligned with their employees’ needs, boosting employee wellbeing and increasing staff retention. In addition to the general alleviation of admin, AI is also making huge strides in the realms of learning and development.

 

Training talent

There is no “one size fits all” approach to learning and development. As the war on talent grows ever more competitive, organisations that can provide their employees tailored opportunities to grow will set themselves apart. Traditionally doing this has involved significant manual workforce auditing and data analysis before programmes can be put in place. However, with the latest developments in predictive and prescriptive analytics, this heavy lifting no longer falls within the remit of the HR team.

AI has the power to monitor business performance and create bespoke suggestions around talent management and recruitment. This technology feeds off data so unfortunately this is redundant if HR does not engage with the technology and embed AI into the workforce’s natural workflow. The more HR engages with the technology and nourishes it with use cases; the more mature the artificial decision making will become. Supporting use on this scale requires a significant cultural shift. Once this shift occurs, HR can begin to embrace more creative and engaging ways to implement learning and development, with actionable data points already provided for them.

 

Combined intelligence

It will be a combination of human and artificial intelligence that will ultimately drive success for the future enterprise. For an AI implementation to demonstrate its full worth, businesses need to first fully embrace digital change in every aspect of their business. Any system is only as fast as its slowest link, and the goal of using AI to free up managers to solve more substantial organisational challenges will never be achieved if manual, high-touch processes and policies remain.

Staff must be onboarded and reskilled effectively. The IT infrastructure should be able to support higher volumes of data, and senior management needs to ensure digital transformation initiatives are given adequate funding and support.

As AI alleviates admin heavy tasks, roles and responsibilities will begin to shift, enabling the workforce to add a significant layer of additional value to their business. More importantly, workers will be able to focus on tasks that are far more engaging and fulfilling. This can only be achieved if HR teams begin to adopt this technology and implement new processes to support AI adoption in the wider business. The winner in all of this will ultimately prove to be the human experience.

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About Workers’ Compensation for HR Administrators

How well do you know the facts about workers’ compensation? Regardless of your business, there is always the chance that a worker can get hurt on the job. If they are, you want to be sure that your company is prepared to proceed appropriately.

Workers’ compensation helps employers and employees alike, so all human resource administrators should brush up on state regulations and know how to tackle a workplace incident. Here is a workers’ comp refresher for those new to HR.

What Employers Need to Know

In general, workers’ compensation is a program meant to protect employees and employers alike when a worker is involved in an accident that results in harm or prevents them from working in the future. The first responsibility of the employer is to have workers’ comp insurance, which is required by most states for a majority of companies, with the usual exception of independent contractors. This type of insurance is instrumental in preventing lawsuits in civil court. 

To prevent a claim from getting to that point, workers’ compensation insurance provides wage and medical benefits based on the requirements of the state in which they work. The insurance also pays death benefits to the families of employees who die on the job. However, there are circumstances that insurance doesn’t cover including intentionally sustained injuries, injuries while intoxicated, and emotional harm.

If an employee is injured on the job, it is important to remember that they cannot be denied medical care. Also, if there is a legitimate claim, then the employer must bring the employee back once they are ready to return to work. Most importantly, a company should not hold any grudge or retaliate against an employee for filing a claim. It is their right to get the help they need, and failure to comply could result in a lawsuit.

Employee Responsibilities and Claims

When an employee gets hurt on the job, they have a responsibility to report the injury immediately to your HR department. HR will then take a detailed report of the incident, including the date and time, the type of injury, and where it happened. If it is an emergency, the employee should be brought to the hospital. For less threatening injuries, they should consult a doctor. In any case, a medical report is needed.

HR is responsible for providing all necessary forms to the employee, including insurance forms and information about their rights, as well as what happens when they are ready to return to work. A claim is then filed with the insurance carrier, and it is there that the claim is either approved or denied. If it is approved, the employee will get an offer or settlement for their damages. If it is denied, then the employee can appeal.

During this time, the company must keep the job open for the potential return of the worker. If the employee cannot return to work due to disability, then the insurance company may continue paying benefits for an undetermined amount of time. All records of the claim must be filed by the employer and kept for a pre-set amount of time as determined by your state laws, which is usually a number of years.

How to Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims

It is very important for employers to not take a workers’ comp claim personally or hold it against the employee. Not only is it the law to avoid doing so, but the employee isn’t out to get you. Instead, they are only trying to get the monetary amount that will allow them to take care of themselves and their family. The best defense against workers’ comp claims is to have a proactive approach and a safe work environment.

Create a culture of safety at your workplace where everyone watches out for one another, and any hazards are immediately reported. Hold safety meetings on a regular basis where you reward employees for meeting safety goals. Create posters and signage to remind employees of general hazards and make sure all hazardous materials are properly attended to and labeled.

Even if you have all of these processes in place, it is possible that an employee could still get hurt by doing repetitive processes without proper safety precautions. Not lifting heavy items properly, using a computer for long periods of time without proper support, and standing in one place for too long can all result in common injuries ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to bursitis, which affects the joints.

Keep in mind that not all states cover repetitive motion injuries, so be aware of your state laws when filing. Regardless of the state law, as HR administrators, ensure that all employees are taking their regularly scheduled breaks, sitting in proper chairs that encourage good posture, and are using an ergonomic mouse that reduces the risk of carpal tunnel.

When it comes to the well-being of your employees, extensive knowledge of state laws and policies is a must. Be informed about workers’ compensation, so your employees can get the care they deserve.

5 Things That Produce Customer Loyalty

Every business understands the importance of attracting new customers. You can reach new demographics, grow your business, and see success when you have a marketing plan that attracts people to your goods or services. 

But, there are a few problems with only marketing to new target audiences. Eventually, those audiences will run out or start to dwindle. You’ll run out of people to attract to your business on your own. Furthermore, small businesses don’t typically have the budgets or resources to compete with big businesses when it comes to attracting new customers. 

So, what’s the answer for a business looking to grow and find success? It’s about focusing more on customer loyalty and their experience as well as building onto your business’ foundation, rather than constantly chasing target markets. 

The best businesses know how to treat their customers well and give them the things they want, so they’ll not only keep coming back, but they’ll tell others about the business. There is no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth, and the best way to achieve that is to create a following of happy, loyal customers. 

1. Make it More Than Marketing

A solid marketing plan is important for the growth of any business. Your marketing plan should have achievable goals you can reach quickly, as well as long-term goals. But when you’re trying to appeal to people and promote your brand, it’s about catering to their psychological triggers. 

What does that mean? Instead of creating a marketing plan solely focused on a new product, service, or deal, determine what the people who already love your business really want. Treat your current customers like royalty. Provide them with superior customer support and dedication. It’s easy to create a marketing plan when you’re trying to attract someone new. But, when you’re developing new ideas, don’t ignore the people who have stood by your business for a long time. By including them in your marketing budget, you’ll ensure that they keep coming back to you. 

2. Cover Your Bases

No business is perfect, but the ones who come close tend to cover their bases in every way so they always appear trustworthy and reliable to their customers.

You’ve probably heard about some data breaches and hacks in various companies over the last few years. Hackers are looking for everything from personal information like social security numbers to financial information like credit cards. When they get that kind of info, they can steal identities, spend money, and learn just about everything there is to know about your customers. While bigger companies can sometimes get away with this kind of hit, not every business is so lucky. 

Protecting your customers is crucial, which is why it’s a good idea to have proper storage solutions in place for records and data. Implementing a business record retention program is a great way to have your customers’ important information at your fingertips. A record retention program can keep track of business records, financial records, insurance records, copyrights, and more. It will also help you to determine how long you should hold on to certain documents and when it’s okay to get rid of them via shredding. 

Covering your bases as a business also means preparing for any possible scenario when you’re ready to launch a new product, service, or campaign. No solid company wants to think about all of the things that could potentially go wrong, but the ones that do are prepared and take less of a blow if one ever occurs. Some companies create user experience scenarios when launching a new product, deal, service, etc. This helps them to see what could potentially go wrong, what they could do better, and how people might respond. As a result, they can go back to the drawing board if needed and make sure their loyal customers will be pleased when the final product or idea is eventually rolled out. 

They’ll also be prepared for any potential problems. For example, take a look at Gap. Back in 2008, the clothing company launched a new logo in an effort to be more modern. The logo instantly received an overwhelming amount of backlash, and it only took the company two days to return to its original imagery. 

Of course, it’s important to protect yourself from a legal standpoint, too. Strong companies fully understand the legalities behind the promises they make and the things they offer their customers. It’s important to have a working knowledge of legal terminology and how to understand contracts when you’re in the business world. It will keep you from getting burned, and ensure the promises you make your customers are always kept. 

3. Offer Rewards

Everyone likes to be rewarded. Attracting new customers and audiences with special incentives and deals is great, but don’t forget about your loyal customer base. Creating a customer loyalty program is a great way to get people coming back. 

For some small businesses, a loyalty program can be something as simple as a punch card — buy five coffees and get your sixth one free! After all, customers are 82.4% more likely to shop at a store that has some type of loyalty system in place. 

If you want to go bigger, you can create a “points” system to reward loyal customers. Popular retailers like Old Navy, American Eagle, and Carters have reward point programs. The more customers spend, the more points they receive that can later be turned into discounts or money to spend at the store. This allows your business to keep adding revenue and tips your hat to those who are consistently spending with you. 

4. Take Feedback Seriously

Customers want to feel as though they have a relationship with the businesses they frequent. So, take their feedback seriously, whether it’s positive or negative. Even small businesses will benefit from some kind of customer support team. When a customer feels ignored or that their comments are falling on deaf ears, it never sits well. Even acknowledging what they have to say will make a difference in their overall experience. 

There are tools you can use to stay within your budget and still handle customer feedback with professionalism. There are a variety of resources that are great for offering customer service on virtually every channel possible. 

Getting caught up in the excitement of attracting new people to your business can be fun, but it isn’t a sustainable business plan that will allow you success and growth. Keep your current customer base in mind when it comes to everything you do. The loyalty you show back to them will end up rewarding your business in the long run. 

 

New ServiceNow Research Highlights What Employees Really Want

Perks at work have become a source of pride and a competitive differentiator for companies vying for top talent. Stocked fridges, catered meals, on‑site fitness facilities, laundry services and complimentary transportation are just a handful of popular perks companies offer to lure new employees. But according to new research by ServiceNow, an effective way to build an engaged and productive workforce is giving employees a better employee service experience during big moments and even small ones in between.

ServiceNow’s “The Employee Experience Imperative” Report, which studies the service experience at work, reveals that employee enthusiasm for work peaks at the start of a new job, but wanes by 22% shortly thereafter. Where are employers missing the mark? The findings tell us that employers aren’t supporting employee’s basic needs on a day‑to‑day basis during the employee lifecycle: 41% still struggle to obtain information and answers to basic questions, like finding a company policy or resolving an issue with their equipment. Furthermore, only 41% believe their employers make it easy to select their equipment before their first day and only 51% of employees believe their employers make it easy to receive equipment necessary to perform their job responsibilities at the onset of their job.

Employees today – regardless of their role or generation – want to be heard and valued, and they want an employee experience that suits their needs throughout their career with an organization,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow. “If an employee’s experience is lacking at the onset of their new job, the impact for some employees can likely be felt until the employee’s last day. By creating beautiful and meaningful experiences and an environment where work gets done efficiently, employers will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce.”

Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow
Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow

Where Can Employers Improve? Mobile Work Experiences

One‑third of our lives is spent at work. And, employees want their experiences at work to be more like their experiences at home – like having mobile technology at their fingertips to make finding information and accomplishing tasks simple, easy and convenient. In fact, more than half (54%) of employees expect their employers to offer mobile‑optimized tools at work. Yet, the majority (67%) report not finding it easy to complete necessary paperwork on a mobile device before their first day and only about half (52%) of employees have been allowed to use a smartphone or tablet to access employee tools from HR or other departments. However, those who do have such access self‑report higher productivity than those without these mobility tools. This is a miss for employers who haven’t yet introduced mobile self‑service to their workforce, especially for those aiming to retain and attract millennials, as over half (59%) expect employers to provide mobile‑optimized tools.

A Generation Gap? It’s Smaller at Work Than You’d Think

Baby boomers and millennials aren’t so different at work, after all. Across the four generations that comprise today’s workforce – baby boomers, Gen‑Zs, millennials and Gen‑Xs – employees want a better experience at work. The research found that, across generations and departments, employees are losing faith in their employers to deliver positive employee experiences:

  • Less than half (48%) of employees believe that employers are invested in improving the employee experience;
  • More than half (61%) of employees rate their employers poorly based on a negative experience with personal leave;
  • Less than half (45%) of employees feel that their opinions and perspective matter to their employer. However, millennials (43%) are more optimistic that employers will address feedback when compared to baby boomers (35%);
  • Only 37% of employees believe that employers automate processes to improve the worker experience; and
  • Less than half (44%) of employees believe employers provide them with easy access to information from HR and other departments; the same number felt they did not have access to the information vital to their job on day one.

A positive experience at work strongly correlates high employee net promoter scores (eNPS)– meaning, employees that create great employee experiences are likely to have more loyal, satisfied employees. That’s real business value.

Digital Marketing Agency vs. Freelancers: Who to Hire?

It is not a secret that digital marketing can give anyone’s business an incredible exposure in and out of the social media world. A small business can be a recognizable and successful venture especially if it is equipped with reputable sites, blogs, and links on reputable blogs, plus excellent customer feedback.

But, the success of any venture will not be possible if the people who will be behind the marketing campaign are not good and credible on what they will do. There are the marketing agencies who are equipped with people with the right attitude and the best of abilities to make your campaign the best. Also, some freelancers are passionate about their crafts in boosting your brand. 

There are many ways to choose between a freelancer or a marketing agency, but in this article, we will discuss reasons to hire either a freelancer and an agency which can surely help you decide.

Reasons to Hire a Freelancer

  1. Greater Flexibility

Since freelancers work as a one manpower man, they are more flexible to work with few people to work with which means fewer and simpler adjustments as well. Also, their dedication to their work is guaranteed since they work on a particular project at a particular time.

  1. Lower Costing

Compared to the rates of an agency, freelancers have lower rates, so they are more practical for simpler projects. Also, some of them are working for a certain project, so there is no need for a longer-term of the contract. 

  1. Focus on your Campaign

Dedication on your brand’s campaign guarantees their focus and passion to accomplish it on the schedule, and with your desired results. Freelance management isn’t an easy task but through finding the right freelancers, you’ll be able to achieve your goals.

Reasons to Hire a Marketing Agency

  1. Guaranteed consistency

If you are looking for a long-term project for a more sustainable campaign, the agency is the answer. Moreover, agencies can surely handle almost every aspect of your marketing aspect, from the website to every content of your campaign.

  1. Better discussions

Digital agencies, especially those that we consider working for the long term, would have to know your company’s visions and objectives so that they can align their marketing projects on the company’s goals. With these, you can talk to them regularly, ensuring that they can cater to your expectations, and expect them to send you comprehensive reports telling them on their developments.

  1. Assured quality of the work

Freelancers can give the best quality of their work too, but especially with a bigger project, digital agencies can make the most for your product. A good digital agency has every person equipped for every aspect the best project can have. Also, agencies always have the strategic methods that will make your project the best one. 

Which One is for You?

Both of the freelancers and digital marketing agencies can both be a great help in bringing your business to a higher level upon invading the digital marketing world. However, being clear of your goals, equipping yourself with researches and determining your budget are some of the things you have to know before fully deciding which of these two best options you will choose. 

How to Maintain a Positive Team Spirit

There are just some periods that you can’t wait for the workday to be over – everyone’s gloomy, tasks are barely being carried out, and the dials on the clock on the office wall seem to have fallen into a stupor so it might need to be replaced with a digital one.  

Naturally, it is not realistic to expect employees to be enthusiastic at all times but a general positive spirit even on slow days is vital for the business to thrive. The happiness and satisfaction of employees are key to their productivity. With that in mind, here are some suggestions on how to foster a positive spirit among your employees.

Organize events and workshops

Events and workshops serve the purpose of facilitating bonding outside of work. The social events that you organize don’t have to be grand, it is enough to get people together for a casual few hours of playing a quiz. To motivate them to collaborate outside of work, escape rooms might be a good option since everyone will get the chance to contribute to the team.

As for workshops, your employees will probably look forward to learning a new skill without the stress of being evaluated at all times. Depending on the type of skill, you can also promote group work and in general, entice socialization which is not strictly related to work topics. Also, you shouldn’t make workshops obligatory since that would defeat the purpose.

Nurture life and work balance

To be able to give their best at work, the employees need to leave their personal problems behind when they enter the office, as well as their business-related issues at work, unless absolutely necessary. So, it is advisable to promote the importance of this balance and provide them with adequate working conditions and the right tools to aid them in their daily tasks.

Another thing you can do for them is to find ways to decrease the amount of stress in the office. For instance, animal-shaped branded stress balls can become a part of the office culture so that every time employees feel stress accumulating, they can take it out on a frog-shaped ball instead of a co-worker. Also, you could introduce darts, so they can imagine the face of the person that gets on their nerves while they aim for the dartboard. 

Be open with praise

Employees who work at the same position for some time, no matter how good they are at their job, tend to embrace routine and forget about how much they contribute. This is why it is crucial to air your praise openly and make sure that everyone knows if an employee is doing a good job or has done something worth lauding. 

If an employee is constantly showing remarkable results, then praising them in public will not suffice. You could consider rewarding that worker in some manner and the reward can be anything from working from your office for a day to an additional day off or a dinner for two at some restaurant. Whichever type of reward you choose, it is essential you honor it since you will not maintain a positive spirit or a reputation if you don’t live up to your promises.

Promote an atmosphere of honesty

The communication flow between you and your employees can be improved if you insist on honesty. An environment of mutual respect, where people feel relaxed enough to share their opinions and ideas is an ideal atmosphere to work in. Of course, the emphasis shouldn’t only be on honesty, but also respect since there is quite a difference between being direct and being rude.

You can establish a practice of preventing dishonest behavior by sanctioning it immediately which will send a firm message about honesty and distinguishing right from wrong. As far as mistakes go, in an atmosphere you are trying to achieve, it is best to address them straight away but not in the form of punishment since that would have the opposite effect and would cultivate dishonesty.

Conclusion

The most obvious reason people are put into teams when working on the same project is the need for communication and collaboration since everyone’s got a piece of a puzzle which needs to fit into the grand scheme. However, another reason for grouping employees is mutual support which develops as a natural result of sharing a task.

Whenever someone is down, there is a co-worker willing to help and that is the real beauty of working together. In any team, there will always be at least one person who carries a spark of positivity and who will share that positive energy on the rest of the team.

Considerations Before You Increase Employee Monitoring

There are all sorts of workplaces out there. Some require clocking in and out so that management can ensure every employee is logging a certain amount of hours each week. On the other end of the spectrum is the type of company that doesn’t invest in any employee tracking at all, other than for security purposes. Their staff can come and go as they please, create their own schedules, and even work from home. 

However, even seemingly lax companies may monitor employee email or software use. When it comes to employee tracking, ethical and legal issues pop up, along with issues surrounding company culture. Understanding how and why companies track employees is the first step toward deciding what’s right for your business.

Types of Employee Tracking

There are numerous ways for a company to keep an eye on what employees are doing. From direct observation in the office to secretly logging every keystroke an employee makes on their computer, some types of monitoring are helpful, while others can feel invasive:

  • Direct monitoring: If a manager wants to directly monitor what’s happening, they may put workspaces in a central, open area. Using hardware that logs keystrokes is another type of direct monitoring.
  • Email monitoring: Email monitoring ensures that everything being sent from a company email address is in-line with the company’s values. It will also clear out spam before it reaches an inbox, which helps the employee do their job more efficiently.
  • GPS monitoring: Depending on the type of job an employee performs, GPS monitoring may or may not be worthwhile. For example, it’s best when used for the employee’s safety and to prevent accidents, like in the fleet industry. GPS tech can monitor how often a driver hard brakes or speeds, and an in-vehicle buzzer can alert the driver to risky driving so they can improve.
  • Network monitoring: In order to keep the company’s network secure and free of viruses, it’s necessary to monitor it. Network monitoring includes tracking the content that’s sent over the network and monitoring who is accessing files.
  • Software monitoring: For companies with dispersed teams or remote workers, software monitoring allows managers to keep an eye on what’s happening even when they’re not in the same physical location as employees. Software monitoring logs information like changes to files, conversations, and screenshots. 

Regardless of which types of monitoring you decide are right for your business, you have to let employees know how they’re being monitored. You should also have employees sign to acknowledge that they understand how and why they’re being monitored. If your monitoring strategies change, you should update employees right away, preferably before the changes are put in place.

Ethics and Legalities of Employee Tracking

If you don’t approach employee monitoring the professional way, a lot can go wrong. If you neglect to let the employee know they’re being monitored, they may feel betrayed and concerned about working for you. They may wonder, “What else don’t I know?” 

Even if they’re aware of the monitoring, employees may feel like their privacy is being invaded. They don’t want a micro-manager who needs to see every single thing they do at every moment of the workday. They’d rather work for someone who trusts them. 

Furthermore, certain states have specific legal guidelines to follow. For example, in Connecticut, employees cannot monitor employees without getting consent first. Ensure that your organization is legally compliant in order to avoid issues down the road.

Alternatives to Employee Tracking

Consider why you want to track your employees. There may be another way to achieve the same results. For example, let’s say you’re worried that employees are wasting time at work. They seem to be meeting deliverables and deadlines, but every time you walk into their workspace, they’re on social media or chatting with one another. Instead of monitoring what they do to catch them in the act, talk to them to find out if they’re bored or not challenged enough at work. The problem could be that they don’t have enough to keep them busy.

Here’s another example: Let’s say you need to cut costs, so you want to see who’s clocking in late or leaving early. Unless you have a good reason to think this is happening, a better first step is to audit the workplace and see where waste can be reduced. You may discover that you’re regularly replenishing inventory that isn’t actually being used or that you can use alternative packaging that’s less costly and wasteful. 

Final Thoughts

There are times when tracking is useful to both the company and its employees. For example, applicant tracking systems make it easier for companies to source potential hires and go through hundreds of job applications to hone in on the best ones. For the applicant, that means they’ll get a response sooner rather than later because managers don’t have to manually sort through tons of applications. 

On the other hand, some employee tracking feels unethical, giving employees the impression that they’re not trusted by the company they work for. Getting to the root of the issue and determining why you want to track employees will help you decide the best way to monitor them or if they have to be monitored at all.

How HR Can Help During Tax Season

While HR is generally seen as being associated more closely with payroll than taxes, there is a huge overlap between the two. This means that at some point any given business will end up relying on its HR team to help in ensuring that its taxes are filed and paid appropriately. HR professionals can provide invaluable help with both employer and employee tax filing if they educate themselves, stay organized, and keep up to date on the ever-changing tax code.

Both Employers And Employees Rely On HR During Tax Season

Though HR professionals are by no means tax experts, their role within a business often leads to tax questions from both employers and employees. A well-trained HR team will be able to address questions from both with ease, whether they are related to personal or business taxes. HR departments are the main conduit of communication between organizations and employees, and it is important that they be able to help either when it comes to tax preparation.

The tax code changes relatively regularly, so it is to be expected that employees may have questions that go beyond how to appropriately fill out a W-4. For example, many employers encourage their employees to open health savings accounts, and employees who do might find themselves wondering what contributions to their HSA are deductible or what the limit for annual contributions might be. HR staff should be prepared to assist with these questions as it will ultimately help both the employee and the organization.

Assisting your employer with proper filing and helping employees with any questions they might have is important as an HR professional, however, there are limits to what can be done. HR teams can give as much advice to employees as they like regarding how to fill tax forms like a W-4, but filling one out for an employee is illegal. Understanding the limitations of how much an HR department can and cannot do helps to maximize efficiency while reducing any legal risk to the organization.

Organization Is Key

When HR teams assist a business with the proper filing of taxes, it is of utmost importance that they maintain a high level of organization. Keeping an accurate record of tax records through digitally scanning them and avoiding using easily lost physical documents is essential. Additionally, keeping a detailed log of business expenditures within the HR department and any documentation that might prove useful when filing taxes should be a priority.

Timekeeping is also incredibly important for HR professionals. Keeping track of nonexempt employees’ hours worked is essential in order to remain compliant with both national and state tax authorities. Doing so will prevent headaches in the long run and make the job of filing appropriately that much easier.

The ability for HR professionals to keep tax-relevant documentation organized is increasing rapidly. This is due largely in part to the rise of advances in cloud storage and big data. These new and powerful technologies allow HR professionals to not only execute their daily operations more efficiently but to keep important information like tax documentation organized and readily available as well. Despite the ease of the cloud for storage, however, it’s imperative that HR professionals understand how to make and keep backups of all important data as well, in case of emergency.

Keeping Up With The IRS

The IRS processes around 240 million tax returns every year generating nearly $3 trillion in tax revenue. While this is impressive, the IRS relies on both private citizens and companies alike to file their taxes promptly and appropriately in order to avoid having to perform an audit if there are any discrepancies detected. Avoiding an audit is obviously preferred for any organization, so ensuring that all levels of an organization, including the HR department, are well versed in recent changes to tax code is a good idea.

The United States tax code recently saw its most substantial reform in over 30 years in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The changes made to the tax code by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have far-reaching implications for both employees and the organizations that employ them and because of this, it is imperative that HR professionals understand how the changes to the tax code affect their business. 

Payroll systems had to change across the board after this legislation passed as it affected individual income tax rates and brackets. Additionally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ability to deduct the expenses from popular employer-provided fringe benefits such as deductions for parking and transportation expenses for employees. 

In an era where transparency is increasingly appreciated by employees, especially when it comes to salary and payroll, it is important for HR professionals to be able to explain these changes if questions arise. While there is no certainty what future tax code reforms might hold for employees and organizations, HR professionals would be wise to remain up to date on any changes that might affect them.

HR teams are some of the most important and unsung aspects of any business or company, and the ability to assist both employers and employees with tax filing questions adds yet another notch to an already impressive list of skills. If HR professionals stay on top of keeping the appropriate documentation organized and accessible and stay on top of any changes to the U.S. tax code, they will be more than equipped to answer nearly any question asked of them.

How HR Professionals Can Be More Supportive of Parents

In about 46% of two-parent households in the United States, both parents work full time. This is a shift from the past, where more women stayed home to raise the children and take care of the family. 

More parents want to keep working and further their careers after having kids. It’s possible to do so, but companies and large organizations need to take steps to facilitate continued career growth for these individuals. Businesses need to support parents by offering a better work-life balance. This will help them attract new employees and retain current ones. 

There are many benefits to supporting parents within your company. It starts with understanding what parents really value and what they need. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can be more supportive of the parents who work for you or will work for you in the future.

What Expecting Parents Really Want 

When companies and HR professionals are considering which benefits to offer their employees, they have to hit the right marks. One survey suggested that 80% of employees would prefer a better benefits package over a raise. Benefits are likely even more important for parents or for those who are expecting. 

Support for new parents or those who are about to have a baby can make a difference in employee retention. For expectant couples, supportive benefits can include things like paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as insurance benefits that will help employees deal with the medical expenses of having a new baby. 

It’s also essential to avoid discriminating against expectant mothers in your workforce. Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is unethical, but it still happens. By making sure your policies reflect a positive and non-discriminatory attitude toward pregnant employees, you can create a more welcoming and comforting family atmosphere within your business. 

The number one priority for any pregnant woman is to keep herself and her baby as healthy as possible. Here are some ways to make your workplace more inclusive of pregnant mothers:

  • Your company can support that by offering things like healthy complimentary snacks or water. 
  • Make sure restrooms are easily accessible for everyone. 
  • Offer exercise or yoga classes for expectant mothers who want to stay active. 
  • Encourage more flexibility in their hours so they can have more time at home to rest and get some sleep

It’s a good idea to include some pre-birth perks for expecting dads too. Paternity leave is important and should be a part of any benefits package. Also consider sponsoring birthing classes and encourage expecting fathers to join support groups to know what to expect. 

As with expectant mothers, flexible hours for fathers-to-be can also be a big draw, as they allow men to go with their partners to doctor’s appointments, classes, and more. This can be especially helpful for same-sex couples who are going through the adoption process or using a surrogate. Some companies actually offer surrogacy compenasation, which can be huge for same-sex couples or couples who can’t have children on their own. 

As you can see, none of these offered benefits or resources have to blow your budget. By making a few small policy changes, you can create a complete shift in how pregnant women and even fathers who are expecting are viewed and treated within your company. 

Better Benefits for Families

For individuals or couples who are already parents, employers can offer more paid time off, daycare services, lactation support services, and more flexibility. 

Offering various family insurance plans, as well as life insurance plans can also attract new parents to stick with your company, since they’ll know they can be protected if anything were to ever happen. Life insurance can be used to protect a family, to pay off debts, or for parents to simply have peace of mind when it comes to leaving something behind for their children. Even if your company chooses not to offer life insurance, it’s a good idea to have a few agencies in mind to work with so you can point your employees in the right direction. 

New parents might want to return to work, but that can be hard to do with a baby or young child at home. To show your employees their real value, offering work flexibility can make a huge difference. This includes offering non-traditional hours or even work-from-home opportunities. Thanks to technology, working from home has become very popular. It’s a great option and can be very successful for single parents, and there are many companies that cater to these families. By offering that kind of flexibility, your employee is more likely to take the job seriously from home, and they won’t experience burnout or resentment from having to leave their family. 

How HR Makes a Difference

When it comes to supporting new parents, your focus should be less about money and more about relationships. While a raise is always nice (and likely always appreciated), you can form a better lasting relationship with your employees by showing them you care about their families, their health, and their overall well-being. 

When your employees are ready to get back to work, keep the benefits rolling, and they’ll be likely to ease back in comfortably. Companies like Amazon offer “on-ramp” programs that help employees to start working again at a comfortable pace. It starts out with a shorter schedule and offers a lot of flexibility and paid time off. 

If you’re not sure what the parents working for you really want, don’t be afraid to ask! Taking an interest in your employee’s wants will show them that you care about their lives, and they aren’t just a number to you. Being a parent and working at the same time isn’t always easy, and it typically requires a lot of juggling. You can make it easier on your employees, boost their sense of self-worth, and give your business a boost when you offer the right kind of support.

How To Start Your Own Recruitment Company

Starting a recruitment company, just like any other, requires a decision, a bit of vision and a lot of dedication. The good news is that this is a process that has been repeated in the creation of successful companies for decades or even centuries. The bad news is that it is never easy. Each new beginning is just that – a beginning. Let us take a look at some of the options that can help you or affect you negatively on your way to creating a business from scratch.

Impact of experience

The best position to be in when starting a recruitment agency is probably if you’re coming directly from a recruitment management, training or HR position in a larger company. This gives you an overview of the market and, hopefully, means you are bringing a lot of important connections with you. Luckily, previous experience, although helpful, is not obligatory. As with any other company, if you put in strategic planning, hard work, a commercial mind and long hours, you are good to go. As the Entrepreneur says, evaluate yourself and see whether your skills and passions lie here and work accordingly.

The power of Internet

It goes without saying that you need to have your own website and logo, so you can start building your brand as soon as you can. As far as the paperwork is concerned, there are many online options for this. For example, if you aim to register a company in Australia, this is perfectly doable without leaving your house, just like in most countries of the world. Add a bank account to the mix, find an accountant and start some insurance going – and all of this can be done online. What a time to be alive!

Size and location

This depends on your initial capital and business plan, of course, but most recruitment companies remain in the boutique phase with less than 10 workers. This also means you can utilize your own space, such as a shed or basement for work purposes. Alternatively, you can share office space with someone, or go co-working which is a popular option nowadays. If you are planning to go back, that will most certainly involve rather large expenses on office space, whether you purchase or rent it. The good news is that your job is mostly done via internet and phone, so the actual location of your office is not that important.

Who do you recruit for others?

Just like in any other profession, you can choose to specialize or to take the general route. The problem with generalization is that you might be spending too much time and resources on keeping track of everyone and everything. The problem with specialization or niche recruitment is that your focused strategy is good for a smaller number of clients, which leaves you at a disadvantage. If you have the skill and connections, you might aim for recruitment of executives, such as CEOs or CFOs. A good option for pretty much all recruitment companies is graduate recruitment, because those who are starting a business are usually aiming at lower salaries, while the companies are always on the lookout for young, inspired workers.

Who do you recruit for yourself?

Some would say that this should be the easiest thing in the world, to do for yourself what your company is doing for others. Ask any marketing agency about the time they did marketing for themselves and you’ll probably hear some interesting stories. Regardless, this needs to be done and you want to pay attention to experience, but more so to personal traits, as they are very important in recruitment as a business. People skills are quite necessary as your employees will be meeting, talking to and judging a huge number of people. Sales and negation skills go hand in hand, because you want your company to make good deals. And finally, top it off with a nice layer of self-confidence – a genuine, engaging confidence that will appeal to both ends of the recruitment rope.

Software makes your life easier

As you are providing other business with potential workers, you are bound to keep on top of databases and software that can help you. Some software packages will have features such as: absence management, expenses, timesheets, asset management and more. HR software can also help you train and manage people who work for you, while also helping you set goals towards which you can work together. The software is necessary but can be expensive for a startup. Remember that sometimes even simple things that you have just not heard about before, like Boolean search, can help you utilize resources you already have, without the added cost. It is up to you to decide what really is vital for the future of your recruitment company and spend the money accordingly.