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Manage Your Best Resources Responsibly
These human resource tips can help you establish a positive workplace culture and monitor progress in getting the right people and motivating your employees.

By DeAnna Stephens Baker
Date Posted: 9/6/2011

Employees are quite possibly the most valuable and critical resource a company has. Even a decade into the 21st century, machines cannot eliminate the need for workers. However, according to research, recruiting, motivating and retaining employees are frequently some of the biggest challenges faced by small businesses. Partially this is due to the fact that many companies give much more attention to managing other areas than they do to their workers, especially in smaller companies that do not have a full time human resource staff.

As the face, voice and hands of a company, employees have the ability to make or break a business and should be managed with appropriate care. The following is a look at some of the top human resource (HR) management practices used by businesses today. Regardless of whether or not your company has full-time HR staff, these practices can be implemented to help improve the management of such an important resource.


Job Descriptions

Good HR practices start even before you begin looking for a new employee. Before looking for new employees, it is important to develop an accurate description of the position that is being filled. By developing a detailed job description before recruiting begins, a company saves time weeding out unqualified applicants. A good job description includes:

• The title

• Both major and minor tasks that will be performed

• The skills, experience, knowledge and education that are needed

• What will be expected of the employee

• Who the employee will report to

• The date the job needs to be filled

• The pay range for the job


Checking References

Calling an applicant’s references is an important part of the interview process. Yes, this process can take a lot of time, but it can also save the time that filling the same position for a second time would take if the first hire does not end up being reliable. In addition to references, physical exams and criminal and background checks are also an important step to consider.

Kathleen Deitrich, vice president of Priority Pallet in Beaumont, Calif., said that all their prospective employees are subject to complete pre-employment physicals, including back screenings, drug testing, hearing tests and vision tests. “This is costly, but we feel that in the long run, there are savings by not employing an individual with pre-existing conditions that may cause further injury by working in our facility,” Kathleen said. Background and criminal checks do not have to be difficult to do as it can be outsourced to companies that will handle all of the required paperwork.


Integrating New Employees

One of the most important HR practices comes after a new employee has been hired. Don’t just put them to work and forget them. A new employee should be followed up on even after the first day’s orientation, a company should follow up on a new employee. This can be done by spending time observing their work and assigning a more experienced worker as a mentor. Research has shown that an assigned mentor can help new employees better adjust to a new company and as a result, reduce turnover.


Training

Whether it’s for new employees or long-term employees that are learning a new skill, ongoing training is essential to good HR management. New employees should be tested to determine what specific training is required to competently perform their required tasks. All employees should be given the opportunity to expand their skill sets through training.

Research has shown that the opportunity for advancement or further training is one of the top indicators of job satisfaction. Therefore, providing employees the opportunity to further their training serves the double purpose of maintaining a contented workforce and supplying yourself with a more educated and versatile one. Additional training can be as simple as on the job training on any piece of machinery or workstation or can be taken a step further by sending workers to seminars or workshops which can be found through local associations, extension offices or universities. The Pallet Enterprise also has a monthly calendar of events which includes information on events like these.


Utilizing Existing Skills

Finding ways to utilize the skills and ideas of your employees that are currently going unused can increase not only company morale, but your bottom line.


Performance Evaluation

Performance reviews are important because they not only show what areas need improvement, but they can also show what areas an employee excels at and provide an opportunity to boost morale. All new employees should have a performance review scheduled for a few months after they begin; many companies have a three month review. All employees should have periodic reviews. Use the information from these reviews to identify and address training needs, but don’t forget to also focus on positive improvements seen in the employee’s work. Don’t forget to document both the reviews and what is discussed with the employee’s regarding their performance.


Feedback

Feedback includes both positive and negative comments. Though feedback is part of the review process, it should also be an ongoing practice. Telling employees what you think of their work on a regular basis enables employees to adjust practices before they become habits and also builds self-motivation. Research has shown the recognition for a job done well is one of the top things people most want in their jobs.


Work Environment

A safe, happy, and healthy work environment is one of the biggest retention incentives. This includes having the proper equipment to complete tasks, well-lit and adequate space, as well as being surrounded by people that they feel care for them. Periodic surveys are an excellent way to determine if employees are happy with their work environment and if not, what needs to be changed.


Open Communication

Remember that some employees find it intimidating to talk to the boss. This means a lot of good ideas and innovation can be lost in the minds of workers if management doesn’t find a way to create a true open-door climate. Supervisors and senior management can reduce this fear by taking the initiative to interact and engage with all employees. Try to find ways to connect with your employees and earn their trust. Making a point of noticing the efforts of employees can go a long way in helping them be comfortable with upper level management.

The job of human resources goes far beyond the hiring and firing of employees. Research has shown that proper HR management can have significant positive affects on the performance and profitability of a company. Conversely, it has also been found that poor HR practices are a leading cause of the failure of small businesses. Just as you would not buy a piece of expensive equipment and then ignore its maintenance needs until it is ready to be junked, you should not hire a new worker and then ignore them until you are ready to let them go. The workers are one of the most critical resources a company has and should be managed accordingly.








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