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Five time- and money-saving tips for HR practitioners

It’s all about doing more with less
Human resources
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By Brian Kreissl

Having to do more with less is a recurring theme in many HR departments these days. With increased government regulation, difficulties finding, retaining and engaging talent, reduced budgets and lower headcounts, HR practitioners need to find ways to become more efficient and effective and meet the challenges of their role — often with fewer resources.

The following are five general hints that can help save HR time and money. I will cover five more next week.

Call a friend

There’s no question that HR practitioners like to network with their peers. That includes reaching out to colleagues, friends, acquaintances and former classmates to find answers to issues and challenges in their organizations.

Chances are you aren’t the first HR practitioner to run into any given problem, and someone you know may have already faced the same situation. It can also be helpful to get together and brainstorm a specific challenge being faced by an organization or even an entire industry.

Just Google it

These days, there is a wealth of information available on the Internet. Search engines now make it easier to ask fairly obscure questions and find answers to those questions.

With so many articles, blog posts, white papers, book excerpts, videos, slideshows and infographics available online, there is a good chance you may be able to find a solution on the World Wide Web.

On the other hand, it is important to ensure the information you’re accessing is credible, current and compliant in your jurisdiction. You may also need to tailor it to your particular situation.

Learn from the mistakes of others

We all know about people’s tendency to gawk at accidents as they drive by on the highway. For some reason, people have a fascination with the misfortune of others — sometimes in a “There but for the grace of God go I” sort of way.

HR and employment law are no exceptions in that respect. For example, HR practitioners definitely enjoy reading plain language interpretations of case law in publications such as Canadian Employment Law Today.

I believe part of the reasoning behind that is employment law cases are fascinating human interest stories. There are often lessons for employers in what not to do.

But that doesn’t just apply to employment law decisions. Even if a case never makes it to court, the news media is full of stories of boneheaded decisions made by employers, and their consequences, leading to bad publicity, financial liability and negative impacts on employee morale and employer branding.

Ask for input and feedback

One of the best ways HR professionals can help solve organizational problems is by asking the people who are impacted for advice and assistance in crafting solutions. Cross-functional project teams, surveys, town halls, focus groups and informal chats can help to obtain input and feedback from stakeholders before implementing a solution.

It is also a good idea to obtain feedback after the conclusion of programs or conduct post-implementation reviews. This is particularly useful for continuous improvement of ongoing or recurring HR programs such as annual performance reviews or flexible benefits enrollment.

Leverage best practices

Like all professions, HR has a specific body of knowledge associated with it. Part of that body of knowledge includes a set of recognized best practices for dealing with various situations.

Best practices are of course highly dependent on organizational size, resources and culture, the industry in question, workforce demographics and even compliance requirements. However, there is a great deal of documentation out there on how leading employers solved specific employment challenges or helped engage their workforces.

That’s not to say every organization can be like Google or that so-called best practices are necessarily always universally effective. There is no guarantee that implementing something “off the shelf” from another employer will work as well in your organization.

Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to try to leverage recognized best practices and possibly “borrow” some ideas from top employers — generally with some tweaking and customization to your own situation.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Brian Kreissl

Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.
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