8 tips to revive your HR department

When companies grow, and as people move on, the Human Resource department can often be left behind as the business concentrates on operational excellence.  Refreshing your HR department will not only make it more efficient it will also make sure that your people processes are adding value to the organisation as a whole.

As a way of helping you on this journey we’re presenting a few tips to assist you with revitalising your HR crew and getting them on the road to being world class.

Tip 1 – decide what you want great to look like.  It seems simple but it’s surprising how few people have really decided what a world class HR department looks like. You need to sit down and sketch out how things should operate in the new world. Make sure you take in the thoughts of your senior managers as the ‘customers’ of HR.

Tip 2 – communicate your vision. It’s no good having a vision of how you want your department to look without telling anyone about it.  Communicating your vision of how you want things to be will do two things. It will instil confidence in staff that they are not forgotten after all and when they understand the plan and their part in it you may be happy to find that they begin to take action themselves to make it happen.

Tip 3 – Put the right person in charge. HR is a difficult discipline to master and too often people in charge are simply the people who understand it best. It is a fact that a top class department needs a top class manager. Putting a livewire, motivated HR professional in charge who has experience in business partnering for example will encourage the staff to think a little wider and start to add value to the business.

Tip 4 – Make sure you have the right staff and the right skills in place. As businesses grow they find that they outstrip the skills that were once perfectly adequate. Take a look at what skills you need for the future and the skills that are currently in place. Then assess whether you can invest in training your staff to increase capability or whether you need to bring in specialists from outside. A small investment in some training for staff will also help motivation. You also need to be fairly realistic about the potential of the people in place; are they square pegs in round holes? Do they have the capability of rising to the challenge?

Tip 5 – Get the basics right. Make sure that you have a sound footing for your department by having a comprehensive and legal set of policies in place. If you have to then spend money on a top class consultant to get them in and sort out your policies and procedures as a great foundation for the future.

Tip 6 – Include your HR staff. When meetings are set that don’t necessarily involve personnel then it’s natural not to include them but inviting a member of the team, whilst it may not add anything directly to the meeting (although often it does) adds intelligence back into the department. HR staff not only feel included but also gain valuable background information for when they are recruiting and setting up training for instance.

Tip 7 –  Think about your systems. This is another area that tends to get forgotten when a company expands but that can often end up being more of a hindrance than a help. Get a specialist in to look at the systems you use and advise whether you need to change and what the benefits will be. The best HR departments run the simple functions of the role automatically, leaving staff to concentrate on the areas where they add the most value.

Tip 8 – Put HR at the centre of the business. People make businesses and relegating your HR department to being simply a functional area that processes staff is to miss the most valuable aspect of the profession. HR is the first part of the company that many staff see and having successful committed people in place simply sets your employees off on the right course for a great career with your business.

This is not an exhaustive list but it will give you a start on the road to having a great HR team which can add massively to the management of the business. A little time spent understanding and communicating how you would like things to be can pay terrific dividends to the firm.

5 Employee perks which don’t cost the earth

Team training

If the experts are to be believed then we are due for another period of slow down in the economy.

That being the case it is likely to become all the more important for employers to be able to give their staff valuable perks that don’t eat up the cash.

Here are 5 ideas for perks that we love and that you might like to try in your company.

Perk #1 – Fruit

As office dwellers it’s very easy to fall into the bad habit of an afternoon chocolate bar so employers that keep a few enticing bowls of fresh fruit about the place are not only looking after their employees health but also telling them that they are valued through the medium of food.

Ok so the odd cake is allowed and an occasional bottle of beer but in the main try and go for some generous bowls of fruit to pique people’s interest. And make sure they are available for visitors too.

The great thing is that it costs very little to do, especially if you find yourself a really good independent greengrocer.

We love food!

Perk #2 – Be flexible

More than ever it seems that the world is awake 24/7 so it seems silly that in the Western world we tend to enforce strict 9-5 hours.

Allowing your employees the flexibility to vary their hours is a win-win situation for both employer and workers.

We’ve all worked with people who are useless before 10am in the morning. Similarly there can’t be many people who haven’t met the early riser. Allowing people to vary their working hours around a central core means that the office can be manned during the all important middle of the day but lets people have a bit more of a work-life balance.

Think also about letting people bank hours to use for a duvet day, have their birthday off or have a weekly or monthly ‘work from home’ day.

Apart from the obvious advantage of much more engaged and awake employees the business will also benefit from the office being manned for a longer stretch of time. You’ll find that people are much more receptive to the 2am call to Thailand if they know that they can bank some hours to use later on.

Set some core hours – say 10 – 3 then allow people to vary around these. It doesn’t need to be monitored too closely either, most people act like adults and end up doing longer than their contracted hours anyway!

Perk #3 – Pets at work

Research has shown that offices are happier when dogs are allowed in so think about allowing your staff to bring in their pets.

Maybe not every day, but a weekly or monthly ‘bring your dog to work day’, is something that people really value and costs the employer nothing.

There needs to be rules of course, so angry dogs or disruptive iguanas may need to be banned. You’ll also need to have a system in place for making sure that half of the office doesn’t bring cats and the other half doesn’t bring in dogs otherwise you may have your own version of Tom and Jerry going on!

Perk #4 – music

If you are looking to create a lively and vibrant workspace then having great music playing in the background certainly helps.

Think about getting a Spotify or Deezer account and making up a shared playlist that everyone can contribute to and watch the office debates begin about Beyonce and Mahler!

It costs the grand sum of £9.99 per month and in the UK employers will need to buy a PRS licence but it’s small beer compared to the extra engagement that it produces.

You may also become a fan of Taylor Swift.

Perk #5 – shared experiences

If you want to increase employee engagement then getting people together regularly is a great way to produce team spirit.

Think about getting in a yoga teacher to do an hour session once a week so that everyone can have a go, or look for a masseur who will ease those tired shoulders and necks.

We’ve seen companies who invite potential suppliers in to do a talk about their area of expertise such as a wine and cheese night and a fantastic book club.

One surprising by product of this sort of thing is that it gets talked about outside of work. You’ll find that people will be posting on social media and talking about it in the pub. Before long your Google page ranking will increase and people will already have heard of you when you mention the company name.

These are just a few ideas for ways to add a little bit of spice to your employee’s day but don’t let it end there.

Be creative and come up with ways to liven up the day without it costing megabucks. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much fun it is.