When employees talk about whether the company they work for is a “good” company or a “bad” company, what exactly do they mean? In some cases, employees rate their companies based on their direct bosses and how they act. Other times, employees rate their companies based on company policies, such as benefits, employee appreciation, and little perks that come their way each day.
A company’s HR department has a lot to do with employee benefits, appreciation, and perks. Which means that the practices of an HR department can determine how the company is viewed, both by employees and potential clients.
What practices make an ordinary HR department into a great HR department?
- Communication. In order for a company to run smoothly, communication is essential. Without communicating, employees won’t know what their bosses want done, bosses won’t know what their employees are doing, and overall chaos will reign. Because the HR department is responsible for so many technical things, including job descriptions, hiring, recruiting, and making sure the company complies with all federal and state laws, proper communication is crucial. If employees feel that they are out of the loop, it can lead to all sorts of mumblings and grumblings – many of which can be avoided if HR has a policy of transparency and communicates all information in an effective way.
- Understanding motivation. The best HR departments are the ones that understand what motivates employees. Through this understanding, they can create a rewarding atmosphere for employees; an atmosphere that encourages employees to work hard, innovate, grow, and basically accomplish the things that the company wants them to accomplish. Through understanding what motivates employees, as individuals and as a team, HR departments can create a thriving, yet stable, work atmosphere that motivates employees to be their best.
- Listening. While it’s important for an HR department to set policies, standards, and expectations of employee conduct and work, it is also important for HR to listen when employees have problems, to their needs and to their aspirations. For example, if the majority of employees want dental care included in their benefits plan, it would be a good move to include it. It is also important for HR to discern when an employee just needs to be listened to, and when further action is required. Sometimes, employees just want someone to hear them out; other times, they want concrete steps to be taken. It is up to HR to discern what exactly the employee is seeking, and what the department can and should do in each unique situation. (Here is a fun example of what not to do.)
- Maintaining the right balance. HR is, by definition, in a tough spot; on the one hand, they need to be on top of all the technical aspects of the company and employees, such as choosing cost-effective benefits plans, hiring new employees, overseeing compliance and performance evaluations. On the other hand, HR is supposed to be the one place that employees can turn to when they have a work-related or personal problem; it is supposed to set a company culture of appreciation, value and motivation. The best HR departments are the ones that are able to balance these sometimes conflicting tasks with grace and aplomb; that can be strict and company-oriented on the one hand, and be open and employee-oriented on the other hand.
- Knowing that happy people make productive employees. The best HR departments are the ones that remember that employees are not just workers; they are people. And studies have shown that happier people make better employees. So yes, keeping employees happy is actually self-serving, but is also a win-win situation. Happy people, productive employees = everybody’s happy.
HR Can Help Everyone Win
While working in HR is not an easy task, it is one that can be extremely rewarding. When you implement practices that make your department great, your company will win, your employees will win, and you will win.
If you have any questions about HR policies that you would like to implement in your company, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to be of assistance!