Author: Jason Hanold

office

7 HR Processes You Need to Automate Now

Increasingly, HR automation is becoming a standard practice across a broad range of industries. In large and small companies alike, more and more HR departments are leveraging digital tools, systems, and platforms to more efficiently manage routine administrative tasks and free up valuable time. As a result, HR professionals are better able to focus on broader strategic goals and business objectives and direct their energy toward critical decision-making functions, rather than being bogged down by the mundane but essential tasks associated with people management.

If you’ve been thinking about automating some critical HR functions at your organization but haven’t been sure where to start, check out the following round-up of seven HR processes that are prime targets for automation.

 

  1. Timesheet tracking

If your organization is still processing timesheets manually, you could be losing countless hours of HR personnel time every month. Automating timesheet tracking is not only one of the simplest ways for HR departments to embrace automation, but it also yields results almost immediately. Automation enhances efficiency, reduces the risk of mistakes and miscalculated hours (which, in turn, means better compliance and decreased risk of employment law violations), and ensures the immediate and automatic update of employee records in the system. Automated timesheet tracking is advantageous for employees as well, as this system allows them to track and log their time from any location on any device.

 

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  1. Recruiting

Basic recruitment tasks can eat up days of valuable HR staff time that is better spent elsewhere. Better to delegate these functions to an applicant tracking system (ATS), a data-driven platform that stores information on potential recruits and allows all relevant parties to access up-to-the-minute details about each candidate. The pre-screening tools offered in a standard ATS, like the ability to search candidates’ resumes for keywords, help make the initial selection of applicants to interview a snap, while functions like video interviews help your HR department widen the net and connect with the best available talent, no matter where they may be.

 

  1. Onboarding

Not only is automating the administrative aspects of onboarding a new hire a better and more efficient use of everyone’s time, but it also gives the new employee a streamlined introduction to the company and sets the tone for the level of digital integration they can expect in the workplace. An automated onboarding process can also help a new hire feel more empowered and in control. For example, using a tool like a personal dashboard—where new employees can input all their current information and details, access training and orientation videos, and view onboarding checklists—can help new hires absorb important onboarding information at their own pace so that they’re ready to hit the ground running.

 

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  1. Performance appraisals

With the advent of HR metrics, performance appraisals have shifted from being subjective, often personality-based reviews to data-driven assessments that leverage KPIs to clearly indicate areas of excellence and areas where improvements are needed. Automating the performance appraisal process, therefore, means that management has access to constantly updated, real-time information on an employee’s performance, helping to make the evaluation process more accurate and fair. In addition, many companies report that using this type of metric-driven review system, which clearly lays out targets and expectations, has had the effect of significantly increasing employee engagement and, consequently, performance.

 

  1. Benefits tracking

Tracking benefits is one of the most complex HR processes there is, so why not simplify it by using an automated process that leverages real-time analytics? This way, employers and employees alike can easily track progress toward performance rewards and can see at a glance what has yet to be achieved. Implementing a self-service function into this process can also be a useful way of helping to keep employees in control of their own personal details and remuneration information.

 

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  1. Payroll

Between sourcing information from many different legacy systems and managing compliance obligations, payroll can be a logistical mess for HR personnel. An easy and simple solution is to have a single, integrated HR and payroll system, which cuts down drastically on the number of admin hours it takes for payroll to be processed while also enhancing accuracy. It can be a big money-saver as well. According to the American Payroll Association, an estimated 8 percent of total payroll expenses are lost to errors that arise from manual processing.

 

  1. Holiday requests

In today’s workplace, no HR professional should have to sort through saved e-mails in search of an employee’s request for time off or search last year’s calendar to find out how many vacation days an employee is still owed. An automated workflow process to handle holiday requests can turn this ordeal into a seamless process, saving everyone a great deal of time and hassle. Using a centralized platform, approval for time off can be sought and given immediately, and holiday allowances can be smoothly and automatically updated to reflect an employee’s real-time holiday status.

 

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staffing

9 Things You Need to Take Care of during HR “Spring Cleaning”

Now that winter is ending (in most parts of the country, anyway), there’s no better time for HR departments to take care of some much-needed “spring cleaning” tasks. Just like your office, HR policies, procedures, and daily routines can fall into disorder over time, so it’s a good idea to set aside a few days this season to refresh all your essential HR functions and get them working smoothly again. Here are nine of the most important tasks to add to your HR spring cleaning checklist:

 

  1. Personnel files

Personnel files need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect changes to an employee’s status, compensation, performance, medical or health situation, and contact information. It can be helpful to allow employees to review their own personnel information and let you know of any errors or discrepancies that need correcting. This is also a good opportunity to ensure that the proper systems and processes are in place to protect the confidentiality of personnel file information.

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  1. Benefits audit

Health insurance renewal season always seems to be upon us sooner than expected, so get a jump on things by conducting an internal benefits audit as part of your spring cleaning. Ensure that all employees who should be receiving benefits are, in fact, receiving them and payroll deductions for those benefits are occurring as needed.

 

  1. Employee handbook

As employment laws and regulations change, employee handbooks can become outdated very quickly. You can make sure that your employee handbook is a useful and up-to-date guide for employees by expressing your policies clearly, eliminating obsolete or outdated policies, and including all necessary information. It’s a good idea to pair this task with an overall compliance review so that you can make sure your company, as well as your employee handbook, is current with existing legislation and has not overlooked any recent changes to state or federal law.

 

  1. I-9 forms

In recent years, the enforcement of I-9 requirements has become considerably more stringent; even small, correctable errors discovered during an audit can mean a penalty for your company. If you’ve never conducted a complete I-9 audit before, now is the time to do so. Make sure that active documents for employees are kept separate from documents for former employees, renew expired forms (or terminate them if you no longer need them), and ensure that a procedure for retention control is in place.

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  1. HR compliance posters

It’s easy to dismiss them as silly or unnecessary, but HR compliance posters are an important part of the compliance process, and investigators from the US Department of Labor will check for them and will enforce penalties if they are not displayed. Check what posters you are required to exhibit, and make sure they are posted in an easily visible location that isn’t used for other purposes. Remember to verify state requirements for posters (these typically include posters regarding workers’ compensation and child labor) as well as federal ones.

 

  1. Job description updates

All too often, employee job descriptions are not updated until the employee in question is leaving their position (or, worse, until after the employee has already left). Unfortunately, this usually leads to inaccurate job descriptions that don’t give incoming candidates the best idea of what it is they’re signing up for. Avoid this problem by making a review of all job descriptions part of your spring cleaning process. This not only ensures that appropriate job descriptions will be ready at a moment’s notice for recruitment or talent acquisition efforts, but it helps spark discussion with current employees about their role, responsibilities, and compensation.

 

  1. Temporary and seasonal employee review

In today’s economy, more and more companies are relying on an increased number of temporary and seasonal employees, such as independent contractors or summer interns. But if these workers are misclassified, it can expose your company to liability. Take the time this spring to review your current temporary and seasonal employees (and make sure they are classified correctly) and ensure appropriate processes are in place for the hiring of future temporary workers.

 

  1. Vacation schedules

With summer just around the corner, requests for time off are soon going to start rolling in (that is, if they haven’t already done so). To avoid scheduling errors that result in an entire department being away from the office at the same time, conduct a careful review of your time-off scheduling systems and processes. This will save you a good deal of hassle—and your employees a good deal of frustration—during the summer months.

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  1. Actual cleaning and organizing

That pile of documents and forms on your desk that you’ve been avoiding all winter? Now’s the time to deal with it. Make sure that any documents that need to be retained are properly filed and confidentially dispose of those that aren’t needed.

business

How HR Can Encourage Professional Development

Businesses both large and small can reap the benefits of a more educated workforce. Employees who want to keep up with the latest developments in their field will be interested in continuing their education, and employers who encourage them may ultimately enjoy a more productive workforce. One study conducted by The EvoLLLution revealed that 96 percent of employers reported that continuing education improves job performance. The same study also found that 87 percent of employers said that continuing education was directly linked to higher worker salaries. In a competitive global economy, companies who value employee education—and the employees themselves—can expect to fare better overall.

Traditionally, professional development through continuing education has been reserved for professionals such as attorneys, doctors, engineers, and others who are required to take continuing education units (CEUs) to renew professional licenses. However, in recent years, companies in a variety of industries have begun to encourage their employees to pursue professional development and continued learning. These organizations understand that more education usually results in more productive and happy staff members.

Some employers have been slow to promote continuing education for their employees, mostly due to fears about the cost and the tangible benefits to their bottom line. Other employers worry that providing a comprehensive continuing education program—or simply encouraging employees to pursue education on their own—could prompt them to take their newfound skills and knowledge to a competitor. While these concerns are valid, ignoring professional development is not a good idea. Here, we’ll go over the main benefits of continuing education and some ways your organization can provide access to it.

 

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Continuing Education Encourages Employee Commitment

One of the biggest problems companies face is high turnover. Many organizations have an issue attracting talent and getting top performers to remain with the company over the long term. Very few of today’s employees stay with the same company throughout their career, so employers are always looking for ways to increase employee longevity. The typical reasons why employees leave jobs include lack of appreciation from their manager, low motivation, distrust of their employer fueled by a lack of transparency, and limited or no growth potential.

One way to combat the problem of dissatisfied employees is to encourage them to pursue further education. This can be accomplished through workshops, seminars, in-house training, continuing education classes, certification programs, or incentives to return to junior college, university, or other institutions. HR can assist in developing education and training programs that will not only give employees the skills to perform their current jobs more effectively, but will also help them grow professionally.

 

Explore Education Options

There are several options once a company decides to implement a professional development or continuing education initiative. From online classes to tuition reimbursement, there are multiple ways to encourage employees to obtain further education.

Providing access to online classes can be beneficial for both the employee and the employer. Online courses allow individuals to proceed at their own pace, and they can access these classes anywhere, at any time, via a variety of devices. Although many online courses are offered through colleges and universities, several online learning platforms have sprung up in recent years that allow individuals to learn everything from web development to marketing through easy-to-access, module-based classes. Many of these classes are reasonably priced, costing far less than a traditional university.

Employers can encourage professional development by offering incentives as well. One popular incentive is tuition reimbursement, which helps offset the cost of continuing education. Typically, employers will require employees to maintain a certain GPA or agree to continue working for the company for a pre-defined period of time after the program is complete. Other organizations promise their employees higher pay upon completion, or encourage employees to step into roles with more responsibility once they complete coursework.

 

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Encourage Mentorship Programs

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to encourage professional development is a mentorship program. Many of the country’s top business leaders have had mentors who helped guide their careers, and mentoring can be a great way to expand employees’ knowledge. Organizational needs change constantly, and a mentor serves as an expert who can help up-and-coming employees navigate professional challenges more effectively.

By implementing a mentorship program within your organization, you can encourage teamwork and deliver real-world training that employees can use right away. Mentorship programs can also help promising employees develop the leadership skills they need to move into roles with more responsibility, including C-suite positions. If your company is known as one that cares about employee development and promotes from within, it may be easier to attract top talent.

Additionally, mentorship programs can enhance company culture by enabling experienced employees to share their knowledge with newer hires. The mentor-mentee relationship typically brings together individuals who may have otherwise had very little interaction with each other. These relationships help new employees feel more welcome and demonstrate that the employer cares about their overall success. Mentoring can also help ensure that a senior-level employee’s institutional knowledge is not completely lost when he or she leaves the organization.

Professional development means more than just an incentive program or a professional development class, however. It requires true collaboration between employers and employees. HR departments should work with upper management to develop a continuing education strategy that is cost-conscious and that gives employees the skills they need to excel. Employees should also take responsibility for their own professional growth by seeking new learning opportunities and bringing ideas to management.

law

10 of the Most Important Employment Laws HR Pros Should Know

Ensuring regulatory compliance is one of the most important functions of an effective HR department. Compliance not only helps companies avoid legal fines and other penalties, but it also creates and promotes a working environment in which all employees can feel confident that they are being treated fairly. Read on for a look at 10 essential employment laws and regulatory acts that every HR leader should know about.

  1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC is not an act in and of itself, but rather a federal law enforcement agency that investigates complaints and enforces laws related to workplace discrimination. A number of different employment laws fall under the EEOC’s jurisdiction. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s religion, sex, race, color, and national origin; and the Equal Pay Act, which specifically prohibits wage discrimination based on sex.

  1. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Established in 1938, the FLSA was a vitally important piece of New Deal legislation. It introduced many of the concepts that we take for granted today, including the 40-hour work week, a national minimum wage, overtime pay, and the prohibition of most forms of child labor. Critically for HR professionals, the FLSA also addresses the specific details of what work time must be paid, including rest periods, meals, and breaks, as well as special circumstances like travel time, training, and meetings.

 

business-man

 

  1. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Created with the intention of balancing family needs with the demands of the workplace, the FMLA entitles eligible employees to up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualified medical and family circumstances. To be eligible under the FMLA, employees must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months at a location employing a minimum number of people. Qualified reasons for leave include pregnancy, adoption, care of a foster child, family military leave, and personal or family illness.

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

This wide-ranging civil rights law prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in relation to any of the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including hiring, firing, job training, and compensation. In addition, under the ADA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee. The ADA applies to all organizations that employ at least 15 employees. These include private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions.

  1. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Administered by the Department of Labor, OSHA aims to assure safe and healthy conditions for individuals in the workplace. As such, OSHA requires that employers provide employees with a working environment free from recognized hazards (toxic chemical exposure, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, unsanitary conditions, etc.). It also establishes standards regarding research, information, education, and training for occupational safety and health.

  1. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Established in 1974, ERISA sets minimum standards for pension plans offered by private employers. According to ERISA, employers must inform and update plan participants about plan funding and features. They must also hold plan fiduciaries accountable. Further, ERISA gives plan participants the right to sue in the event of breaches of fiduciary duty. However, ERISA does not require any employer to establish or offer a pension plan; it is intended solely to establish a minimum standard for those employers who do choose to establish a plan.

  1. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

Signed into law in 1985 and containing some amendments to ERISA, COBRA gives certain employees the right to ongoing health insurance (for limited periods of time) after leaving employment. The provision that COBRA is best known for is Title X, which states that employers will be denied income tax deductions for group health plan contributions unless the plan conforms to particular standards of continuing coverage.

 

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  1. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA has become critically important in this new era of digitized employee information. Specifically, HIPAA outlines measures and procedures that organizations must follow to ensure that sensitive health information is received, transferred, shared, handled, and stored securely and confidentially.

  1. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The National Labor Relations Board administers this act, which defines employee and employer rights. Some of NLRA’s most important provisions include the right to collective bargaining and the right to engage in activities such as strikes or grievances for the purposes of mutual aid and protection.

The FCRA regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of sensitive consumer information—including consumer credit information—and ensures that credit reporting agencies handle personal information with fairness, accuracy, and privacy. For HR professionals, the important thing to know about the FCRA is that it requires employers who wish to obtain a background or credit check on an applicant or employee to provide a clear written disclosure to and obtain written authorization from the individual in question.