Not engaging with employees enough, refusing to recognise their individual career journeys and adopting “fads” without making careful, strategic integrations are just some of the HR mistakes businesses can make.
And making sure these mistakes don’t affect your business isn’t just good practice, experts say – it can make a crucial difference as to whether employees stay with your organisation or not, affecting productivity, efficiency and above all, profitability.
“Human resources and management should be there to empower people,” says Kelly Dickson, head of HR at insurance provider Defence Health.
“I think a lot of organisations get bogged down with KPIs and descriptions, which are important, but they limit peoples’ underlying talents and you can get more from people if you empower them and actually focus on their strengths.”
When it comes to HR and management, Dickson says businesses need to start thinking about how to strategically approach HR in order to reach the best outcomes, which often means avoiding certain practices as much as it means embracing others.
Here are just some of the danger zones they recommend avoiding when it comes to attracting and retaining the best people.
Not recognising individuality among employees
“It’s important to tailor approaches to every single employee,” says Dickson.
While some employees may want to progress along a certain career path, others want to join an organisation to contribute in their role with no particular aspirations for management. Respecting either of those paths is vital, says Dickson.
“You need to recognise that if you’re looking for a team dynamic. You need to tailor your approach to different types of people. A discussion with someone who wants to progress is different than someone who wants to stay,” she says.
“It’s important that you don’t just reward people who want to progress in the company because other people want to stay and are solid.”
Recognising different rewards for those staff is also important, Dickson says.
Don’t get bogged down by process
The feedback you get from employees is more important than the method by which that feedback is accepted, says Dickson.
“Sometimes in an HR team, you can over complicate what the tool or the framework is, and it’s easy to get distracted rather than just listening to the voice of the staff.
Dickson points to an organisation she witnessed in which too much time was spent thinking about the tool used to gather feedback, rather than listening to the actual feedback.
“That was secondary,” she says. “The feedback was what was important.”
Don’t focus on technical skills above everything else
Deborah Peppard, HR expert and owner of HR Staff n Stuff, says too many businesses focus on technical ability as the sole piece of criteria against which candidates are judged.
“You should avoid hiring based on technical skill only, because you have to spend time on getting the cultural fit right,” she says.
Related to that point, Peppard says, businesses need to avoid hiring people based on technical ability rather than consider much-needed “soft skills” like communication, empathy and strategic thinking.
“To be an effective leader you need to have a well-rounded skillset,” she says.
Don’t ignore staff
One practice she has witnessed in other organisations, Dickson says, is HR teams that spend time creating new staff initiatives without engaging those staff for feedback until the end of the process.
“That doesn’t work,” she says. “Where we collaborate you need to invite the voice of the staff in early, and get that buy in.”
Don’t adopt fads without considering wider business
While businesses might be tempted to adopt the latest trends in HR, whether they be a flat HR structure or activity-based workspaces with permanent hotdesking, Peppard says there always needs to be a proper understanding of why an HR strategy will have an impact on a business – for either a positive or negative result.
“I would avoid jumping on a fad unless you understand the changes to your business, and the risk to customers, business operations, productivity and profitability,” she says.
“I don’t know if people are driven to jump on a fad bandwagon because it’s trendy, or because they think it will help them be seen as an employer of choice, but what it leads to is a complete and utter dog’s breakfast if it’s not researched properly.”
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