Every morning I listen to the news. And every morning I wonder why the White House doesn’t have an HR team to prevent them from doing things like firing people over Twitter or telling someone who’s planning to retire at the end of the week to take a hike two days before earning their pension.
If you’re not in HR, it’s pretty easy to overlook a key responsibility of Human Resources: prevention. HR is supposed to prevent people on your team from doing or saying really stupid things that could land the company in hot water. That’s unfortunate for the White House because a really great HR person would have told them the following won’t fly …
1. Firing via Twitter or any other social media.
We’ve been cautioned for more than a decade now that employees shouldn’t quit over text message or social media. But the same goes for employers. Terminating through social media (or any other media) won’t result in a lawsuit, but the action resonates through all employees, eats at morale, and drives off new recruits. It speaks volumes about your culture and kills your employer brand — not to mention that ugly tweet is now part of the public record.
HR advice: Keep your cool and talk one-on-one with employees, no matter how angry you are. Your HR professional will guide you on how to communicate with an employee you’re terminating, including procedures for written warnings and why documenting everything is necessary.
2. Terminating just hours before retirement.
I’ll admit that it’s possible a situation may arise that forces you to fire an employee shortly before they reach retirement or become fully vested in their 401(K). Most HR experts, however, would prefer you take alternative disciplinary action so the employee can still collect benefits that he or she earned during their years of service. Aside from being the humane thing to do, retirement benefits are a key driver for employees when considering jobs.
HR advice: Unless a law has been broken, allow an employee who is close to retirement to remain on the job until they reach retirement, even if that means placing him or her in a “mentoring” position of reduced authority. Firing an employee just days before earning their vested benefits may also lead to litigation.
3. Ignoring onboarding.
We all make mistakes — both employees and employers. But when a new member of your team lasts less than two weeks before it becomes painfully obvious that they’re not working out, you may want to review your onboarding process. Proper onboarding ensures employees know from day one what is expected of them.
HR advice: Have employees complete all legally-required paperwork electronically so they can be ready to work on day one. This will give both of you a jump start and provide you with digital records of an employee’s acceptance of company policies. Here are several other onboarding tips to implement, both before and on the employee’s first day.
4. Overlooking high turnover.
Some industries, such as restaurants and hotels, are known to have high turnover rates (Compensation Force estimates around 29%), perhaps because little education is required and demands are high. However, the White House’s high-ranking staffers currently have a 43% turnover rate. When you notice a significant increase in turnover at your company, it’s time to dissect the numbers.
HR advice: Watch your turnover rate for key indicators about your workplace. Are your benefits competitive? Is the salary in line? Is there a management problem that’s driving away key employees? Are you hiring people who aren’t right for the job? Your HR professional can help you come up with ways to identify the problem and help you develop a budget-friendly solution to retain key employees.
5. Failing to delegate.
Relinquishing control is a problem all business leaders have to face eventually. Although your instinct may be to quickly post employee concerns via social media, it’s best to discuss your concerns with the employee’s manager and let them determine the best approach.
HR advice: Instead of trying to do everything yourself, let your managers manage.
6. Not following protocol or policy.
Be sure your company’s policies are clearly stated in the employee handbook and include disciplinary action that will result from policy violations. That way your team’s actions won’t contradict your words, and you have consistency from manager to manager.
HR advice: Don’t expect informal policy reminders to work. Have your HR pro update your employee handbook, provide regular trainings on policies, and ensure employees have easy access to the handbook so the temptation to go rogue and use private email or inappropriately discuss confidential information never happens.
7. Ignoring job vacancies.
While running lean and mean is admirable from a budget perspective, it could ultimately cost you more due to high turnover rates, low productivity, a crumbling culture, and simple errors. (See this cost of turnover chart for more details.)
HR advice: Stay on top of your job vacancies to avoid being short-handed. Automate the hiring process with an applicant tracking system to quickly fill available positions with the most qualified candidates.
An effective HR expert can prevent a lot of headaches, hassle, and employment lawsuits, which ultimately saves any business time and money. But you don’t have to be a big operation (like the White House) to get this kind of expertise. Small businesses can outsource HR and get all of the same protections that large corporations and government entities (should) have, which evens the playing field to where every business can succeed. Learn more today by requesting a free demo.
Looking at recent reports from the White House, I’m starting to wonder if their HR team is on extended leave or so overloaded with other jobs that they can’t actually advise on HR issues at the moment.