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5 Critical Planning Steps for 2018

The most important piece of advice we can provide you as you review the below planning steps critical to HR in the coming year is this.  Strategic Human Resource Management Planning is NOT to be treated separate and apart from all your other strategic planning for the business.  The human capital asset of your business must be tied closely to all your other financial, operational, and strategic planning activities if it is to be effective, and add value to the overall planning process for your business.

Harassment Prevention Training

Protect your business and educate your workforce.  It is your responsibility as business owners or leaders to establish and promulgate both culture and workforce expectations in your organization.  At the same time, you need to educate and inform your employees on their rights and obligations.  Each individual employee should feel safe and secure in going to their place of employment each day.  Free from harassment of any form, trained on methods of reporting, and confident in management’s commitment to prohibit retaliation.

This training is not only about sexual harassment prevention, but should be inclusive of all forms of harassment, bullying, hostile workplace, professional and ethical misconduct, reporting channels and obligations, and the employer’s retaliation policy.

Training should be documented, employee personnel files should reflect their attendance in the training, and an outcome assessment to demonstrate knowledge gained from the training should be included.

This form of training should be provided to every new hire, and on an annual basis reviewed, updated, and then provided in a refresher format to all current employees.

This form of training is often viewed as boring, humorous, unimportant, repetitive, etc.  Regardless of the views of the leadership or employees, this training is critical in protecting the workforce through education, and protecting the legal risk and liability for the business WHEN, NOT IF, a complaint or allegation is ever raised in your workforce.

Employee Handbook Review

Federal laws and regulations change at a slow pace; however, you are out of touch if you have not recognized that state and local regulatory agencies have been business in 2017 and this trend will continue for years to come.  State and local leave acts and laws experienced significant activity this year, as did wage laws, recruitment and hiring practices, and emphasis on employee classification and wage and hour enforcement.

The benefits world is also ever changing, and the information and content you placed in your employee handbook more than a year or two ago is most likely inaccurate or outdated.

You should be reviewing your employee handbook, specifically the human resource policies and practices, annually to ensure your current practices align with your actual policies.

Postings and notices to employees may have changed, or new notices may be required.

Please remember, an employee handbook serves two major functions in the establishment of policies and procedures.  (1) Establish and document expectations of the employees in the workforce. (2) Establish and document what employees can expect from management in the workforce.  This communication tool is one of the first engagement experiences of a new hire, providing guidance necessary to be successful in your business.

Communication Strategy

Review how you communicate with, not to, your employees.  Are you transparent enough, is enough information shared to ensure employees remain aligned with the vision, mission, and goals of the business?  Have you established effective methods of feedback from your employees, and have you provided the training necessary to teach the workforce the effective approach in building a business case and presenting it to management?

A well-informed workforce becomes connected with the business and can align their own goals and values with that of the organization strengthening the relationship and improving job performance and commitment.

Performance Expectations and Goal Setting

The beginning of the year is the appropriate time to reflect on the job performance of the workforce last year, and leverage this information to inform on the goals and expectations in the coming year.

As you wrap up your performance management activities in 2017, take the opportunity to engage the employee and uncover their goals for 2018.  Blend this information with where the employee has fallen short or needs development.  Then document and agree upon expectations of performance in 2018.

Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timebound.  If they lack this structure, reviewing performance and providing feedback becomes a challenge.

Goal setting is also a great time to solicit input from your employees on process improvements.  One great strategy is Stop, Start, Continue, which one of our recent articles provides guidance on.

Retention and Talent Acquisition

You should be assessing the past year’s retention success and future growth objectives to establish a plan for business success.  This requires an honest reflection on what positions became vacant during the year and why, and if they were regrettable losses that your company should focus resources on to correct.

You may learn that while hiring is easy, keeping people is a challenge, resulting in a strong focus on your retention strategy.  This includes a review of your culture, working conditions, training programs, compensation, communication practices, performance management, and benefits.

As you recognize the need to increase the workforce in size to support the delivery of your products or services, you should be examining the impact of new hires on the business not only financially, but from a workflow, structure, and impact perspective.  Defining the role and recruiting appropriately for the right talent is easier said than done, and bad hires are extremely costly to your business.  There are also compliance risks in recruiting, classification, and hiring.  Do not leave the activity of talent acquisition to just an inconvenient easy step in adding people to the workforce.  Appropriate time and resources should be dedicated to this initiative to accomplish the goals of the growth in line with the needs of the business.