by Shayne Thomas
27 Nov 2019
3 Things a New HR Professional Needs to Succeed
Seize every opportunity to set yourself for success right from the very start
There are probably many reasons why you decided to become an HR professional in the first place. Perhaps it’s because you’re driven by a desire to help others learn, grow, and develop in their respective careers. Or maybe it’s because you’ve got a sharp eye for spotting amazing talent from miles away. Or there’s also the chance, for you more “process-oriented” people out there, that you love implementing new platforms and systems to improve day-to-day project and people management. This list really does go on and on.
Whatever your reasons for joining this incredible world of HR maybe—not that we’re biased in any way—it’s highly likely that you constantly think about improvement in some way, shape, or form, whether through recruiting, performance management, learning and development, training, systems implementation, etc. Your goal, just a hunch, is to make day-to-day operations more efficient while also improving overall employee happiness. In short, you are determined to raise the bar in everything you do. For this reason, and many more, we salute you.
However, as “fun” as that all sounds, making positive change happen can oftentimes feel like a Herculean task. This is especially the case for new HR professionals. You start your career with a lot of ideas and aspirations, only to find that, for one reason or another, change doesn’t really ever happen overnight. But don’t let that discourage you. You joined this industry for a reason—and if you stay focused on those goals, you will make a huge impact!
Until then, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve set yourself up for success from the very start. Here are three things you can do to ensure you always keep your eyes on the prize:
Build a solid onboarding and recruiting process
The SMB (small- and medium-sized business) world is unique in the sense that when you need a position filled, you need it filled, fast. You don’t always have the luxury of having “extra staff” on hand to provide air cover while HR finds, recruits, and hires the right person. But that doesn’t mean “speed recruiting” should be your motto. As with any business, your goal should always be the find the right employee to fill a role, not simply a warm body that may (or may not) be able to handle the tasks at hand. Failing to do your due diligence is, at least in the long run, a waste of time, money, and effort—which is something you cannot afford to do.
As a starting point, consider doing the following whenever it’s time to fill an open position:
- Write a great job description: Yes, this may sound obvious, but there is a big difference between the results generated from a “great” job description and those from a “mediocre” one. For example, if you quickly scribble something on paper that ends up being overly generic—in other words, not really specific to the day-to-day requirements of the job at hand—you will get a lot of applications that loosely fit the job description. On the other hand, if you take the time to be explicit about the demands of the job as well as what past experience a candidate must bring to the table, you’re more likely to find someone who fits the bill. Sure, you may source fewer candidates this way, but quality will outweigh quantity.
- Teach managers how to interview: This is also one of those tasks that seems “easy” at first glance, but the interview is often an underutilized tool for identifying the best candidates or weeding out potential under-performers. Not only is it important to ask the right questions specifically related to the job and a candidate’s experience, but also to prod on the more qualitative aspects of a candidate (i.e. will they be a good fit for the team?). The interview is a great way to safeguard against making less-than-stellar hiring decisions. It’s not always fool-proof, but when done right, it can save you a lot of pain and suffering down the road.
- Don’t forget to onboard: Recruiting and hiring a great candidate is only half the battle; getting them up-to-speed is actually the bigger challenge. As we’ve said many times before, if you want to set new employees up for success, you need to help them integrate quickly and seamlessly into your business. This involves providing them with both the resources and equipment necessary to do their job effectively and efficiently as well as training them on your business’s systems, platforms, values, and expectations. Part of a solid onboarding also includes ensuring that there are open lines of communication between new employees and their managers—because, as we all know, more people leave their jobs because of a bad experience with their direct managers. So, for the love of all the good things in this world, don’t leave your new hires high and dry upon arrival; make sure they are set up for success from the minute they arrive. A positive onboarding experience sets a positive first impression for new employees. Your business only stands to lose here.
Prioritize learning and development
We may sound like a broken record by now, but we cannot stress enough the importance of learning and development. In fact, it’s a direct offshoot of the onboarding experience. Just because you’ve brought a new employee onto your team does not mean that learning stops there. Quite to the contrary, and especially now at a time when employees constantly strive to learn new skills, it’s important to give every employee myriad ways to become more effective at their jobs as well as to learn additional soft skills—relevant to any role—that can round out their experience in a big way. And aside from the fact that today’s employees truly want to learn, providing these opportunities to learn can be a deciding factor as to whether they stay with your business or jump ship for a better opportunity. After all, learning is a solid way to boost engagement, which, not surprisingly, is a key indicator as to whether or not an employee is likely to stick around for the long haul.
Even more, it’s important to keep in mind that the workforce has changed dramatically in recent years, thanks in large part to the rise of millennials (and younger generations) in the workplace. Long gone are the days when people stay in their jobs forever. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that 64% of millennials plan to leave their current jobs within the next five years, with 71% deciding to leave because they are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed and 42% saying that they weren’t learning fast enough. However, for those who are motivated to stay beyond five years, 68% are likely to have a mentor who guides them through their career development. Long story short: if you want to retain employees and keep them constantly engaged, don’t overlook learning and development.
Invest in HR tools and solutions
Let’s start with a stat: HR managers surveyed said they’ve lost up to 14 hours a week, on average, to the lack of automation in their day-to-day work. That’s almost two full work days! Who has that kind of time to waste? (Answer: no one!)
Unless you want to lose upwards of 200 hours a year in productivity (to manual processes), fail to glean useful insights on performance feedback, and waste time creating learning and development plans that aren’t truly personalized to your employees’ needs, then by all means, keep on doing what you’re doing. However, if you still are a firm believer in all of the reasons why you joined the HR industry in the first place—please scroll to the top of this article if you’ve perhaps forgotten already—then embrace the benefits that smart HR tools and solutions can bring to your business.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s what’s at risk by resisting HR automation:
- 41% decrease in productivity
- 40% more errors
- 35% higher costs
- 18% decrease candidate experience
- 17% decrease employee experience
- 17% decrease in engagement
- 11% decrease in hiring manager experience
Advance technology, tools, platforms, and systems are here to help us. In fact, that are quickly becoming an HR professional’s best friend. So, don’t fall prey to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality that is all too present in many businesses today. Remember, as an HR professional, your goal is to raise the bar for everyone around you. Investing in the right HR tools and solutions will have a positive ripple effect across your organization—and perhaps even make you the team “all star” when push comes to shove.
So, there you have it. If you’re new to the world of HR, these are the three things that you must not overlook when you begin your career. Of course, you may not be able to implement all of these changes at once—because, let’s face it, no one ever seems to like change—but if you keep your eyes on the prize and stay committed to why you joined this industry in the first place, you will succeed and make a huge impact.
If you need a little help on this journey, feel free to reach out to the experts at Cornerstone today. We’re here to help you create a solution that’s tailored specifically to your business’s unique needs and focused on driving your success for the long-term.