8 Actionable New Year’s Resolutions for HR in 2018

Posted in : HR Updates on 22 December 2017
Anna Lyttle
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

Okay okay… it’s not quite that time of year yet. You may be thinking that even entertaining the idea of a few New Year’s resolutions might dull the Christmas magic?  But… for the planner, the strategiser, the go-getter or the ‘it’s-a-clean-slater’ in each of us, nothing beats the feeling of being one step ahead of the rest.

We all know as HR Practitioners our lists of work-place improvements are never-ending-‘Could I make more time for that?’ ‘Should I make more time for that?’

There is no doubt that there are a million things we know we could do better, and sometimes we lose sight of the million things we are doing right. So to pull a few loose ends together as the curtains draw on 2017, here are 8 high-impact, practical goals you could implement in 2018.

They won’t get in the way of your grander HR strategies, they don’t have to be time-consuming. Maybe they were once top of your priority list and you just need a reminder of how fruitful they were, or maybe you are already actioning them - so you can give yourself a pat on the back.

1. Design a Valuable Onboarding Programme

CIPD 2017 found that 1 in 5 people leave their job during their probationary period, and replacing what could have potentially been a great recruit comes at a cost- both financially, and potentially to staff morale. A well designed and implemented on-boarding program is an essential element of talent retention.

There are a number of reasons an employee will walk out within the first 6 months of starting including  frustration of unclear duties, unexpected job role, doesn’t fit in. But on a basic level, people want to feel valued.  A key objective of a well-designed onboarding process will enable you to demonstrate value and provide value from the start.

Successful onboarding practices run much deeper than making a good first impression. They will familiarise new hires with the culture and brand of the organisation, clearly define the relationship between the programme and the business objectives and clearly set performance expectations that are complimented by a supportive feedback loop. 

A few useful tips: Onboarding should start before day 1- connect your new start with their team. Ensure your managers are following the onboarding checklists in a uniform manner across the different departments. Pair your new starts with a ‘buddy,’ someone other than line management that they can bounce any queries off. Make sure senior management show their face, whether it be the MD giving a warm welcome chat about the history or ethos of the business, or management sitting in on a few orientation days or training sessions.

2. Tightly Manage your Probationary Periods

No matter how thorough your Recruitment and Selection processes may be, unashamedly, there will unfortunately always be a proportion of our new recruits who will not meet performance requirements in a reasonable amount of time after their induction.

Having probationary clauses, with the possibility of extending, in your contracts will enable you to manage the relationship more flexibly and allow for a swift resolution. However, it is important not to forget, that failure to hold regular probationary reviews and  formal meetings to the point that you are effectively ambushing your new start with the revelation that they are not up to the job, can often be interpreted as a smokescreen for other issues, not least by the tribunals- nothing should come as a surprise.

On the other hand, a tightly managed probationary period, with on-going constructive feedback, can be a fast and rewarding growth period for a new start. Research suggests that focusing on the positive induction of new employees, and providing regular review of performance as part of a probationary period will lead to quicker integration, more rapid delivery of required levels of performance, higher retention rates and the ability to reinforce organisational culture, values and expectations. 

3. Review your Checklists

Love them or loathe (making) them, they are an important tool in error management - for all experience levels of HR practitioner. There are a number of complex processes that need to be followed in the employee life cycle. As discussed already - an onboarding process may take a matter of months, and taking up where you left off after a gap leaves room for mistakes and inconsistencies. Whether you are managing a capability due to ill-health, capability due to underperformance or a conduct dismissal, having a pre-dismissal checklist will ensure you are asking yourself the right questions at the right time, and haven’t made a wrong turn along the way. Following your redundancy checklist will ensure you have correctly corresponded with and meaningfully consulted with each individual to avoid a costly car crash process!

The bottom line? Checklists within the HR department will enable you to track yourself and account for yourself, ensure bottom line compliance with the law and prevent potential liabilities and costly employee lawsuits. On top of that, they make delegating, training and inducting, communicating with line managers, and handing over a whole lot easier. 

4. Incorporate Financial Fitness into your Well-being Program

Money can’t buy happiness but it sure will provide peace of mind and a more stress free professional and personal life. January may be the perfect time of year to 1) either incorporate a Financial Fitness element into your already existing well-being program, or 2) make it your starting point.

Just as physical and mental wellbeing programs have always dominated the agenda- given their proven success with an increase in workplace productivity, one of the fastest growing areas companies are focusing on is financial guidance, alongside education guidance and sleep management.

With that, one of the biggest challenges is knowing where to start, and even more difficult, identifying what sort of program your company needs. But one thing is clear, one of the main pitfalls for companies is trying to do too much at once. Focus on a couple of areas, gather the data you already have and some feedback from focus groups, and gradually expand as the wellbeing program develops. Run a manageable pilot that will have management buy-in, has a solid launch and ensures that its effectiveness can be measured and communicated.

5. Fine tune your Annual Appraisals Process

Don’t let your annual appraisals process become, or continue to be, something you, your line manager and your employees simply move through the motions of doing for doings sake. What do your employees want when it comes to being reviewed and appraised? They want to be invested in, to engage more, avail of regular feedback, open dialogue and be a part of a continuous learning curve.

Fine tuning your appraisals process doesn’t have to mean a complete abandonment of the traditional end of year appraisal, there is value still left there. But in order to ensure your employees stay engaged and motivated why not think of your appraisals process in a more flexible, progressive way. What could this look like?  A dynamic process comprised of mid-year and year end reviews, complimented by ongoing 'real time' discussions.

With 43% of highly engaged employees receiving feedback at least once a week it can be seen that there can be real benefits in adopting a movement towards promoting regular discussions and feedback between manager and employee. Neuroscience research tells us that the pursuit of a goal is a much greater motivator than that of goal achievement. Instead of having your employees wait until the end of the year to be told if they have or haven’t achieved their goal, put your managers on the front line and encourage them to take part in continuous interaction and provide on-a-loop feedback. It will be a powerful way of increasing motivation, engagement and cohesion. 

6. Rethink your Company’s Approach to Flexible Working Schedules

More often than not, our first thought is, ‘how great would that be! Wouldn’t really work for us though.’ Granted there are some industries this approach may simply not be feasible. But for those were there is even a glimmer of possibility, taking the time to evaluate and possibly instigate a shift, could be a change that may not only enhance productivity and a progressive work place culture, but will empower your employee’s. On the other side of that, the news that an attractive contract can be the win or lose factor for your perfect candidate is not new. 

We have to appreciate the fact that introducing a ‘Work from Home Wednesday’s’ isn’t going to be every companies starting point. But a shift towards a core hour’s model with a more flexible start and finish time - even by 30 minutes on either side of the day, could be your win-win. Hours worked per week won’t change, absence levels may drop and days taken as dependency leave could drop too. Instigating the conversation amongst management, and seeing it through will be your biggest challenge, alongside realising, you can entrust this benefit in your employee’s, and the return could be high. It requires trust, but the neuroscientific research demonstrates that when given trust (most) people feel empowered and repay that trust by respecting it.

7. Review the Productivity of your Exit Interviews

The exit process in itself can already be chaotic. So often we miss out on capitalising on the potentially untapped data resource an effective exit interview can offer- there’s a good chance a leaving employee will be more forth coming than those still in post.

Unquestionably, the exit process and exit interview of an employee should be handled with sensitivity and care. However, what are you doing with the information collected? Why are you collecting it? How are you processing? How are you reviewing and evaluating it?

A well-managed exit interview offers you a candid assessment to explore why valued staff are leaving, and enables you to form the basis of an action plan to stop them wanting to leave in the first place. The data you process will enable you to assess the overall quality of work life within your organization, identify opportunities to improve retention and inform your employee engagement strategy. 

They are easy to facilitate, run at a low cost, produce high volume, meaningful data- and offer you the priceless insight into the employee experience.

8. A Bonus for you the HR professional

HR professionals often suffer from ‘cobbler’s son’ syndrome. We are so focussed on developing our teams and colleagues… maybe you could take a moment to reflect on what you want for yourself in the coming year. What are the things you’ve been putting off or wanting to do? Maybe you simply need to commit to creating time to take stock and think about your next steps.  Do one thing for you!

Now that you’re at least considering these workplace improvements for the coming year, then you’re already half way there! Remember - no New Year’s resolution was ever achieved without a little December sweat.

Happy Christmas, and have a great 2018!

This article is correct at 22/12/2017

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Anna Lyttle
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Anna Lyttle. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email Anna.Lyttle@thinkpeople.co.uk

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