By Johnna Major
With the economy gradually shifting out of the recession, employers are cautiously setting goals for 2010. These include sales and growth targets, customer satisfaction goals, and financial targets. As you look ahead, it's important to ask yourself: Do your human resources programs support these goals?
Know What Motivates Your Best Employees
Are you at risk for turnover when the job market starts to improve? Many people have stayed with jobs because (a) there aren't other options or (b) they aren't willing to take the risk of starting a new job in an uncertain economy. At the same time, many have endured pay cuts and benefit cost increases. Employers need to understand how their most valued employees are feeling about their jobs. Are you confident that your employees will stay with you and not be looking for new opportunities as the economy improves? If you don't know the answer, now is the time to find out.
Many employers mistakenly think pay is the driving motivator for employees. While it is important, a fair salary alone won't keep an employee with you, if they are not being challenged or recognized for their work. To get a clear picture of your employees' sentiments, take steps to find out how they are feeling, what will continue to keep them motivated and challenged, and what is frustrating them. Then, act on their feedback.
Hiring Process Needs to be Structured
Getting ready to hire again? Need to replace an employee? Make sure that you have a thorough and objective process to ensure you are getting the best talent. As with performance management, an effective recruitment process begins with a well-defined job description that outlines the results and expectations of the position, along with the skills, knowledge and abilities required. It is also critical that you have an objective, structured interview process. This will help to assess each candidate and determine if they have the required skills for the job and if they will be a good fit for your company culture. The investment of time up front in a rigorous, objective recruitment process will help prevent an expensive bad hire.
Breeding Effective Employees
Once you have hired someone, do you provide a thorough orientation to the company, their department, their internal and external customers and their job responsibilities? It is essential that you provide the training for an employee to be effective in their job and get the results that you expect from the position.
Manage Fairly and Quickly for Better Morale
Do you have good performance management tools to (a) provide timely and meaningful feedback to employees and (b) provide legal protection? First, set clear expectations for job performance and behavior with a well-defined, outcomes-based job description. Then, sit with your employees regularly to review and provide feedback on how they are doing in relation to these objectives. This should be through both informal check-ins and written performance evaluations.
If an employee is not meeting expectations, it's important to proactively manage them and hold them accountable. Don't put it off, thinking it will get better. One of the biggest contributors to low morale in the workplace - especially for your high performers - is a company's tolerance of poor performance. Deal with poor performance quickly and fairly. Document the performance problems and give the employee an opportunity to improve, but if they do not, take the appropriate steps to terminate them.
Create a Community Employees Love
Does your corporate culture foster the sense of community that is important to employees? If you follow companies who are considered the "best places to work," you'll note a common thread: people feel like they're part of a family or community and they love going to work. These companies take the time to keep their employees informed about what's going on, get their feedback on what's working, and get ideas from employees about what could make the company better. They also provide plenty of opportunities to socialize both during work hours and through company outings, volunteering, etc. Stop to think about the culture you are creating. Is it satisfying for your employees? Knowing this will help you to be proactive in creating an enjoyable place to work.
As you look ahead to 2010 and the success factors required to meet your company's goals, don't overlook the human resources programs that will make or break these goals.