How to Do Good HR – Simplified!

HR consultants in Lansing Michigan having a yearly planning meeting at the table.
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Someone once said to me that she has always been fascinated with human resources because she’s seen it done well – and done poorly. The stark contrast between her experiences in different organizations signifies the importance of knowing if your organization is GOOD at HR or not. So, how can you tell?

HR touches every person in the organization. It has a dramatic effect on the workplace tone and culture, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless of whether you have a human resources department, every organization has all the functional areas that comprise HR to one extent or another.

Hiring, pay and benefits, leadership and supervision, health and safety, and conflict resolution are just some of the areas that make up HR, but the list is even longer than just these.   No wonder HR’s positive or negative impacts can be felt so strongly by the people in the organization.

There are lots of details that go into a good HR program. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, what to keep, what to add, and what to change. You can take some steps to make getting there a little easier, though.

1) Philosophies about people and work

This is the keystone– the piece that holds everything else in place. The beliefs of individuals in charge of making and enforcing the policies and practices that guide the organization are what the HR system will be built upon.

For example, do leaders believe that people can be trusted? I’m not talking about only an intellectual agreement with that statement, but rather, do their everyday actions support this philosophy? Often overly restrictive policies are put in place to manage the few outliers that may abuse their privileges, but what message do these policies send to the rest of the staff?

If you’re looking to do better HR, it may be time to take a deep look at your policies and practices to see if they are aligned with what leaders deem important. Any misalignment will send mixed messages and lead to confusion and frustration.

2) Using HR best practices

Every organization is unique; therefore, each HR system will look a little different. However, there are best practices that can assure that your organization is doing good HR.

One example that comes to mind is having clear, accurate job descriptions. It can seem like a burden to create detailed job descriptions and keep them up to date, but they are the foundation of many of the other key components of an HR system such as hiring, compensation, and performance feedback. Having these flow from a well-defined job description creates alignment and increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the HR function.

3) Benchmarking to competition

We all know that to attract and retain the best and the brightest, we must compensate people competitively and provide them a benefit package similar to what they can get elsewhere. But are we doing a regular competitive analysis to ensure we are keeping pace with others?

In addition to pay and benefits, it’s important to keep current with other trends in HR. Things like whether working remotely is allowed or whether to allow employees to use the internet for personal purposes while at work are two examples of other HR policies and practices that could draw a candidate or employee to another company.

HR Assessments

It is good business practice to audit your books and your security systems, but have you ever audited your HR function?

A thorough assessment of your HR policies, practices, and procedures is the key to ensuring you are doing good HR. It can also allow organizations who are doing HR poorly to develop to doing HR well.

This can be done internally by a careful review of all areas of HR: what’s working, what’s not, and benchmarking to the outside world. It also includes checking compliance with the myriad federal, state, and local laws that govern HR.

It can also be beneficial to have someone from outside the organization assist with this process. Looking at your own HR function is a bit like re-reading a document several times and still missing the typos. Once you’ve looked at something for too long, you start to overlook the parts that aren’t working well.

Reflect on Good HR – Today!

The impact that good HR can have on your organization is worth the effort. Even small shifts in practices and philosophies can make a huge difference. Spend a few minutes today thinking about how you know if your company or organization is doing HR well. And if you’re not sure, consider how you can plan for an HR assessment next year!

If it seems like too much to take on internally, People Matters can be an outside, neutral party to provide an analysis of your current situation and a plan for how to improve based on decades of professional HR experience. Please give us a call if you’d like more information.

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People Matters supports business owners and leaders in all areas of human resources management including the topic in this article.

HR is what we at People Matters love to do!  We help our clients create great workplaces that engage employees and produce better business results. Contact us if you’d like more information about, or would like assistance with, an HR assessment or other help building a solid HR program.

Please give me a call at 517-925-8257, or visit our website at for more information.

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