HR Matters – Don’t Treat Human Resources As DIY

While do-it-yourselfers are reportedly shaking up the real estate industry by jumping into the market to sell their own homes, a do-it-yourself human resource strategy is rarely as successful. That’s because human resource management doesn’t just represent one aspect of managing people; it is a broad and complicated function. It typically includes eight functional areas including recruitment and selection, employee and labour relations, performance management, training and development, career management and succession planning, organizational development, compensation and benefits, and administration and records management.

You need to have expertise in each of these areas to ensure your organization is running smoothly from the people side of the business. Therefore, today’s business and the complexity of the people issues experienced by organizations no longer support the old “add-on” strategy of tacking HR as a responsibility to a front-line operational manager. There are just too many risks.

For instance, high turnover is one risk that can cost an organization up to three times the salary for a frontline worker and much more for highly skilled professionals. Low morale is another costly risk as poor performance management, a failure to deal with internal employee conflict, low support for training and development and/or the lack of advancement opportunities can cause havoc with employee productivity.

Finally, let’s face it, employees are more quickly reaching out beyond their employer for help or restitution. If their employer fails to address a work situation, employees will turn to their human rights commissions to seek justice for issues such as failure to accommodate for disability, sexual harassment and other employment-related issues. And from a business point of view, it doesn’t matter whether a situation is a win or a loss, the cost of legal fees, possible awards for damages as well as the overall public scrutiny that will surely result can be quite scary.

It doesn’t matter whether your organization is big or small or whether you operate as a business or a not-for-profit, human resource management matters. In fact, human resources starts and ends with your business. So, let’s look at what a human resource role in your organization can do and why you should invest in this function.

Ask yourself the following brief questions and learn how a human resource professional can help make your business successful.

Meeting customer needs – What organizational skills and capabilities are needed to ensure your products or services not only reach your customer on time, but meet their specific needs. Will new employee skills be needed as your products/services change to meet market demand? A human resource professional can help by conducting needs assessments, sourcing training and/or developing programs inhouse.

Responding to market trends – What are the trends for your industry? Are you downsizing? What plans are you making for this strategy? Who do you need to keep, how will you decide? Or, are you in growth mode? How many staff do you need and where can you find them? A human resource professional can put the strategy and systems in place to handle both of these organizational situations.

Annual productivity goals – Can you meet your productivity goals with the staff you have? Are there pockets of discontent that need examination? Are you experiencing turnover and losing key staff? A human resource professional can conduct an organization review, determine whether your structure is effective and/or whether job roles need to be changed or expanded.

Confronting change – The world is speeding along at so fast a rate that managing change is now a daily issue. What changes are you being confronted with? What will the impact be on your employees? How will you manage the transition? A human resource professional can act as your change champion, planning for all the stages of change and managing the process.

Meeting market compensation value – What compensation do you pay compared to your competitors? What is your pay philosophy and how is this implemented throughout your organization? When was the last time that you examined internal pay equity? Are your employees experiencing a positive “fair felt pay”? A human resource professional can review your compensation practices and ensure that compensation becomes an employee retention strategy.

These business elements are only a fraction of how a human resource professional can contribute to your organization. But how do you know you are ready? Ask yourself, “Where exactly are you spending your time?” It is my experience that if you are spending more than 20 per cent of your daily schedule dealing with human resource management issues, then it’s time you created a role for a human resource professional in your organization or contracted with an outside professional for help. Don’t wait until you are experiencing a great deal of pain, because by then the damage is done.

What does a human resource management professional look like today? What are their qualifications and credentials? The human resource profession has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years. While earlier in the history of the profession, most people entered from the operational side of the business, today, people are specifically choosing the profession and receive specialized training. Most young people graduate with a business degree while others come with an alternate undergraduate degree and an MBA or master of leadership or organization development. Today as well, there are numerous professional designations such as the Certified Human Resource Professional (CHRP), Senior Professional (SPHR) and the new Global Professional (GPHR).

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