Is Your HR Department “Up to Snuff?”

TeamEmployee issues surrounding human resource-related matters are costly and time consuming, and that makes them a threat to the integrity of any business confronted with such concerns. The best defense? A strong, informed, proactive Human Resources department. Does yours measure up? Take a look and see.

Here are three characteristics shared by all top notch HR departments:

Understanding it’s Not a Static Department

There is no room for complacency in a quality Human Resources department, as the staff must constantly evolve and work on ways to improve. Laws change regularly, and it’s the responsibility of every HR manager and his or her staff to make sure that they stay on top of any federal or local changes. Otherwise, the business could be open to litigation, which is an expensive proposition that has shuttered the doors of many otherwise successful businesses.

In addition to changes in the law, the staff needs to make sure that they are using only current training, tax and other employment-related documents, and that no forms they have on hand are outdated or useless. For example, when handing out information packets to new and current employees, any harassment related literature needs to be current. Otherwise, the employee could be in receipt of the wrong information, and that could spell trouble for the business down the road.

Protection of Rights

Any Human Resources department worth its weight will ensure that every staff member is aware of the civil and human rights of all employees and potential employees. For example, most people know that federal law prohibits employers from hiring and firing employees based on gender, race, religion, disability, and age discrimination, among others. But, not everyone may know that some states have expanded laws related to discrimination that also prohibit discrimination based on things such as weight, marital status and sexual orientation.

Discrimination laws don’t stop with the hiring and firing process either. It is the employer’s responsibility, through its HR department, to ensure that their employees are not creating a hostile work environment by discriminating against a coworker who falls under a legally protected status. In order to combat this, one focus of a great Human Resources department should be in training employees on the laws surrounding discrimination and harassment. It’s not a ‘one and done’ fix either. Many states require annual or semi-annual discrimination and sensitivity training, so it’s imperative that the HR staff knows when and what to schedule.

Involve the Employees

Historically, a company’s HR department has been the bane of its employee’s existence. While that may be a slight exaggeration, it doesn’t stretch the truth much. Employees view their Human Resources departments as places to avoid, because it’s where discipline and rules are meted out. However, a great HR department will see this as an opportunity to reach out and open the lines of communication with the staff they’re charged with regulating. This is done by opening themselves up for constructive employee feedback, and then using that feedback to improve, where possible.

Certainly, employees aren’t going to be aware of how many laws the Human Resource staff must abide by, and because of that, many suggestions simply cannot be implemented. But, when employees have a say in how things are done, they become empowered. When the Human Resources staff receives suggestions that can’t be implemented, the quality HR departments will use those as a learning tool to educate staff on why some changes can’t be made in the system. Employees are then not only empowered, but they’re also better informed.


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