Trends and Best Practices for Human Resources For 2013

Author : Brian S. Degroat

Human resources for business have changed and with the New Year 2013, more changes have been legislated with several additional dramatic changes pending. Since the Great Recession, demands on HR professionals have intensified. Today, business owners and HR executives are constantly challenged with finding strategies to improve operational efficiencies while still being able to attract and manage top talent. As a leading outsourced HR service provider, we’ve identified some of the top HR issues that small businesses will likely face in 2013, among them pressures involving hiring, professional development, compliance and management of labor and benefits costs.

Finding the Right Talent
Today’s small businesses run lean and mean so attracting the right talent is mission critical. More than ever, hiring is more than simply filling a vacancy within your company with a person who has a particular skillset. Employing the right person can reduce costs related to recruitment, employee training, succession planning, and employee churn. As the economy continues its slow march toward recovery, companies will need to be savvy about balancing headcount and talent with overhead costs. Too many employees can financially overburden a company, and too few employees create an environment of unhappy, overworked staff and under-serviced clients.

In 2013, a clear and strong hiring strategy will be needed for the growth and stability of your workforce and business. It will be vital for HR departments to go beyond budget analysis to clearly understand the company’s skills gaps, recruiting needs and growth mission in order to make informed decisions about the right candidate to employ. In addition, ensure that your company is creating a Functional Organizational Chart. Unlike a classic Organizational Chart, which lists people in a hierarchical fashion demonstrating who reports to whom, the Functional Organizational Chart organizes departments and staff according to function, including the primary, secondary and tertiary functions of each employee. This approach enhances operational efficiencies by helping to develop specializations and collaboration, and by eliminating unwanted redundancies. Companies can more efficiently manage their workforce for optimum performance. This will not only save administrative time, but potentially will help companies avoid future layoffs.

Improving Professional Development and Advancement
The economic recession has led to many baby boomers postponing their retirement. Coupled with slower company growth and expansion, this means there are fewer opportunities for staff to advance in an organization. And, following several years of continued layoffs, many employees feel a lack of job security; so many employees today do not see a long-term career with any one company.

In 2013, HR professionals will need to get creative about ways to professionally develop, reward, and incentivize staff – particularly those most valued employees. HR executives will need to provide employees with a clear career development plan and conduct regular reviews to keep staff engaged. HR executives should also consider alternative, low-cost programs to improve morale and ensure staff feels valued. Cross-training programs and continuing education may keep employees satisfied in a status quo work environment.

Managing Labor and Benefit Costs
With the Fiscal Cliff and Obama Care on our doorstep, business owners are re-examining their labor and benefits costs. Rather than focusing purely on line-item costs, businesses should consider improving management processes and tools, so that your current workforce produces more output at a higher quality. For example, you may be able to substitute cost-saving technology for labor, so work can be done remotely on the web, with software, hardware, or robotics. You may also look to outsource labor-intensive and costly administrative tasks such as payroll and benefits management.

Updating Social Media Policies
As social media increasingly pervades nearly every aspect of corporate communication, many HR executives will be looking to update their social media policies in 2013.

An effective social media policy should:

  • Protect the company against liability for the online actions of its workers.
  • Provide clear guidelines for employees on what they can/cannot say about the company.
  • Help employees distinguish between their private and professional lives.
  • Follow guidelines and case law of the National Labor Relations Board and comply with the law.
  • Clearly state disciplinary rules and sanctions that will be applied.

Once your social media policy is in place, ensure that your employees have read it by making it mandatory that they sign a copy of the policy and then keep it in their personnel files. Be sure to make your employees aware that your company may even take steps to monitor social networking, as employees are not anonymous when engaged in it, and as such may potentially take action if violations of the policy are identified.

No one knows what the coming year will offer in the way of opportunities and obstacles. But, we can predict with a measure of certainty that in 2013, business and HR executives will be challenged to identify strategies that will meet operational needs, improve employee satisfaction and retention, and drive the bottom line. Please return to this blog during the year for updates on HR issues and best practices.

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