5 Costly HR Mistakes

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These common HR mistakes have very costly consequences for many businesses. Find out the symptoms of these mistakes and their warning signs and how to avoid them.

1. The one-person HR department.

Symptoms: HR functions are managed by individuals with no HR experience such as an Operations Manager, Office Manager, or a Controller. HR responsibilities are delegated to line managers.

Results: When the HR function is managed by individuals with other responsibilities, or those that haven’t been properly trained in HR, important tasks tend to fall through the cracks – like meeting compliance deadlines and keeping up with changing legal requirements and trends. The basics may be accomplished, but more strategic issues are overlooked.

Solutions: Training anyone involved in an HR function or responsibility on the basics of HR, outsourcing HR projects (i.e. compensation, benefits analysis, performance management process overhaul, training and development), and using experienced consultants to help with strategic issues are ways to support the one-person HR department.

2. Losing control of hiring and recruiting.

Symptoms: Your organization receives an unmanageable number of resumes, has hiring managers that ask their own interview questions or use biases to make selection decisions, is frequently rushed to hire anyone to fill a position – which oftentimes is not the best hire, or lacks a consistent method of selection (different candidates are evaluated on different criteria). Or, your hiring process may be so lengthy and inefficient and require so many individuals’ involvement, that candidates lose interest and patience.

Results: Your organization experiences new-hire turnover, turned down job offers, vacant positions, lost productivity, and low hiring manager and new-hire satisfaction. You may experience difficulty managing applications and resumes and overlook potential top talent. You put your organization at legal risk because selection is not based on objective and consistent criteria. You rush the process and end up with a poor hire which affects your bottom line and that you inevitably terminate.

Solutions: Investing in an applicant tracking system, training hiring managers in the basics of interviewing and selection, and developing standard hiring policies and processes are all ways to make your hiring process more efficient, consistent, and productive. Also, establish reasonable timelines for the hiring process and only include those that need to be involved. Lastly, make sure that you believe the person you are hiring is the best candidate for the job and will be a top performer. Don’t just hire to fill a spot – it is far more costly in the long run.

3. Not reviewing performance.

Symptoms: In light of not providing pay increases the past few years, your organization may have skipped its annual performance review. Or, your performance review process may be lackadaisical – reviews aren’t completed on time and supervisors don’t take them seriously. Your organization may not even have a formal method of reviewing performance.

Results: In turn, either a portion of your workforce or many of your employees don’t receive feedback about their progress, leading to disengagement and less productivity. Documentation about performance is lacking, so when you need to terminate someone, you’re at a loss. Measurement of performance may be questionable, especially if supervisors don’t take the process seriously, and this could affect other programs like variable pay. Employees are dissatisfied with how their performance is measured and consider the tool invalid.

Solutions: Reviewing performance annually (at a minimum) is important. Develop either a standard review form or goal setting process, and consider employees’ feedback in the development of the system for buy-in. Additionally, train your supervisors in performance management (especially conducting a performance review) and hold them accountable for performance management duties in their own reviews. Make the performance management process mandatory, but not cumbersome (i.e. too many reviews to do at once, too lengthy form, etc.).

4. Failing to know your competitors.

Symptoms: Your organization doesn’t invest any time in learning about or benchmarking other organizations’ pay, benefits, or workplace practices. It doesn’t track HR data or metrics. It doesn’t know who its competitors are in terms of talent.

Results: Job candidates turn down offers or provide direct feedback that pay or benefits are below that of other organizations. Voluntary turnover of employees is prevalent in certain pockets of your workforce or throughout the organization. You receive consistent complaints about pay, benefits, and development opportunities.

Solutions: Identify the organizations in which you compete for similar types of talent and define their industry, size, and location. Select a few sources of data that are most relevant to these organizations. Compare your internal data with the information in these sources. Use the data to make adjustments to your pay, benefits, and workplace practices.

5. Not protecting your business.

Symptoms: Your employee handbook hasn’t been updated in a few years. Compliance changes have been neglected, as have risk management and disaster recovery plans. You haven’t created succession, development, and staffing plans to assure that you have the right talent in place to meet short and long term business objectives. You don’t look at demographic trends that will impact your business – like retirements or family needs.

Results: Your organization finds that it can’t make termination or disciplinary decisions without legal risk because it lacks certain policies. You realize that you don’t have the right skills or competencies to meet your organizational objectives. One of your key leaders leaves and you don’t have anyone prepared to fill the missing role. An employee goes out on FMLA and no one has been cross-trained to fill their shoes.

Solutions: Create succession plans for key roles and create plans (with timelines) to develop individuals in your organization to take on these roles, such as leadership development training or preparation. Conduct an annual “skills inventory” each year of your employees and compare the results to your strategic objectives. Do you have the skills you need? For what skills do you need to develop or hire? Do you have back-ups cross-trained? Coordinate training and staffing plans with this inventory. Finally, update your employee handbook at least annually (and always after a change in employment law) and obtain an outsider’s perspective – such as a consultant or legal counsel. These individuals will be able to notice gaps or deficiencies in your policies and make recommendations to protect your business.

Additional Resources

HR Consulting & Project Support
ERC is a leading provider of quality, affordable HR consulting and project support services in Ohio. Our HR consulting services provide the crucial strategic and technical expertise needed to support your HR goals and workplace initiatives. Contact consulting@yourerc.com for more information.

Compensation & Benefits Surveys
ERC publishes many compensation and benefits surveys to help Northeast Ohio employers benchmark their pay and benefits practices.Our ERC Salary Survey, Wage Survey, and Executive Compensation Survey provide local pay information for over 300 positions.