May 4th, 2022 | Sterling
Adapt and Shift: How Organizations Are Adapting and Rethinking HR Strategies
The cool office. Bagel Tuesday. Friday Happy Hour. Those 2019 perks may no longer be making you competitive as an employer. Or are they?
Over the past two-plus years, the employment market has experienced tremendous shifts on the work front. With the stress of the pandemic and the swerve to remote work, companies may be confused exactly how to attract and retain employees. On a recent episode of Sterling Live, Sterling’s Social Media Manager, Katelyn Brower, spoke with Jill Berti, Owner and Lead HR Consultant of Workery Consulting, about how organizations are adapting and rethinking HR strategies in light of these massive changes.
“It’s been a wild ride,” said Jill, referring to the last two years and especially to the current topic in media — The Great Resignation. It’s a trend hitting smaller businesses, like the ones she advises, especially hard since they usually have less resources for recruiting, research, and benefits. Jill believes that to compete, businesses must first strengthen their hiring process through analysis — identifying weaknesses and blistering strengths. Secondly, by looking at data, a company can get information about new hires, clients, and more. Finally, taking clues from larger organizations, even those not in your industry, can help businesses learn new tactics, engage in high-level inspiration, and stimulate stalled processes to help the company advance.
The most important tactic for an organization, Jill believes, is to stay open to feedback from candidates. “If you can’t accept feedback from that perspective,” she says, “it’s going to be really hard to accept feedback from your team.” It all goes back to exactly what type of culture you want to create in your business.
Adapt and Deploy
Face it: If you were in business two years ago and are still running, you have had to adapt. “But if you are doing exactly the same thing that you were doing two years ago,” Jill said, “I can guarantee that you’re not being as productive or competitive.” One major lesson Jill and her colleagues have learned over the last two years is the need for deployment, the ability to move a project or asset to the exact place where it will be most effective. “If something has to shift, incorporate it into your strategies.”
Think Beyond Paychecks
While salaries are always going to be important, present-day workers are no longer relying solely on salary to guide their job decision. It depends on each individual candidate, but work/life balance is more important than ever. “Being able to work from home is always going to stick around because so many people got a taste and enjoyed the flexibility,” Jill explains. It would also make sense for hours to be personally tailored to meet the needs of employees. For instance, someone who has a growing family might find being available nights much more attractive than the traditional 9 to 5.
Jill also found that during the pandemic a lot of clients asked more about benefits, in particular, health insurance, because many workers were left uninsured or badly insured. Top of everyone’s mind is, what if it happens again? For that reason, make sure benefits are competitive; an obscenely high deductible could drain salaries, limit the doctors workers can see, and cause stress unduly. Jill suggests first getting your team’s feedback on what’s important to them, then compare with other companies. Most importantly, offer benefits your teams can utilize comfortably and effectively. For instance, you might have a great PTO policy, but workers might not feel free to take time off.
Engage Your Leaders
The companies that are most successful at retaining teams, Jill says, are those that focus on the leadership skills of their managers. According to Jill, leaving a company is usually tied to an issue with management. If you have great managers, an employee is much more likely to stay and be engaged. Introducing favored candidates to the team during the interview process can give them a better understanding of the organization’s values and perspectives.
Speed Up Onboarding
Efficient onboarding is also essential in retaining new hires; if the process takes too long, there is always the risk a candidate could be lured away. Utilizing technology is probably the number one way to make onboarding safe, fast, and effective. Jill notes that many companies she has worked with still operate mostly on paper! Or, if they use technology, breakdowns in communications occur. It is best to use technology in all areas of your organization where it fits , making sure make all the channels of communication are open and identifying. For example, these days more workers are using a tablet or phone so requiring the candidate to print out a form might delay the process.
Streamline Background Checks
We agreed with Jill on the importance of examining, in detail, your company’s background screening process. She recalls a time earlier in her career as a young HR professional when her company hired someone for a high-level sales position. Only down the road did the company request a criminal background check and discovered the employee had some serious underlying issues. Such things happen commonly, however, especially in client-facing industries. That’s why using a streamlined background screening process and training an in-house reviewer to analyze reports is essential. “It won’t do you any good to run the background check, print it, and put it in the file, if no one is actually utilizing it,” Jill says.
When you hire employees who aren’t locally based, obstacles can arise. First, there is the misconception that you can hire anyone at any time, anywhere. Even when you hire within different US states, you need to register in the states where your employees are residing (for paying taxes, unemployment, etc.). Jill says some organizations are paying international employees via PayPal — which is absolutely not legal. To protect your assets, research the states and countries where you’re looking to hire; some countries have a very high employer tax and required bonuses; some demand big incorporation fees. All good reasons why you should work with a professional that is knowledgeable about the countries in question.
Embrace Hot Topics
In this tumultuous society full of shifting values, policies, and perspectives, it’s okay not to have all the answers. Jill suggests first finding out where your employees fall within the spectrum of activism and how they are communicating their opinions in the workplace. Also, think about the greater political climate and how you plan to navigate it with your team. For that, you need an expert — from a PR perspective — plus diversity and inclusion coaches. And be sensitive to the types of consultants you bring in so they don’t alienate your team. This can cause employees to leave.
From Jill’s perspective, HR teams that are proactively strategic with issues before they become bigger ones have happy teams. She strongly advises organizations to invest in a dedicated employee or outside consultant who is focused on strategy, changes in the law, and how to adapt to ever-evolving hiring needs, because “the ROI will be tenfold.” Keeping your team compliant is a huge factor in staying in business and not being sued. Putting these foundational practices into action can smooth the process as you expand your business and bring more people in.
For forward-thinking consultants like Jill Berti, know that HR is no longer just a paper pusher getting people in the door. To meet the present needs of any industry, HR is a strategy role that deserves a seat at the leadership table — a position involved with the entire employee experience, from recruiting to background screening to onboarding. If you’re a manager, director, or business owner, be open to the idea of change, and then be adaptable. Whether you’re utilizing a third-party consultant or training someone to do an audit in a different way, an open-window approach to strategy can bring fresh and innovative ideas into your business.
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