If your company is like most organizations, change takes time. And, changes in HR are even more difficult to make because often the decisions affect all employees and are not seen as time critical. In fact, January 1st is the best time to implement updates and changes to your HR policies and practices. First, it naturally coincides with the beginning of the annual cycle for payroll and other government compliance and reporting regulations. And, January often begins a new company planning cycle, which changes in HR policies can be designed to support.
HR Compliance Now is the time to look at how well you are doing and allocate time to fix little problems before they become big, expensive ones. Here are a few areas to be sure to look at:
Employee Handbook – Your Employee Handbook is your first and best line of defense against employee claims. Honest answers to these questions will protect you and your company:
- When was it last reviewed and updated?
- Do you have documentation that employees signed off on the latest version?
- Are there changes that need to be made to stay in compliance with newly enacted regulations for 2011, including California specific ones?
Employee Recordkeeping – Documentation, not just the minimum set of required paperwork, is also critical to not only protecting yourself but to motivating and coaching your employees. Do your employee records include:
- Updated and/or correctly completed forms (e.g. I-9, W-4, employment application, handbook acknowledgement, changes to payroll/employee profile information, etc)
- Separation of protected and confidential information
- Documentation of verbal coaching, performance, goals and objectives and other trends (good and bad)
- Documentation of any accidents, safety training, etc.
- Documentation and tickler of any expirations of required licenses, certifications, skills, etc.
Required Postings – Do you have all the required postings in all of your locations? Are they current and do they reflect accurate, California-based information.
Supporting Your Company’s Mission and Goals HR policies and practices play a critical role in supporting the goals of your organization. When is the last time you evaluated if what you are doing (or not doing) relative to HR conflicts with how you want your employees to treat your customers, your critical suppliers and each other? Here are a couple of areas that often cause conflicts between HR policies and company goals:
Leave Policy – If you just copied your leave policy from a handbook template that you got off of the internet, your leave policy may be more generous than it needs to be and may put you in a position of critical staff shortage when you least expect it.
Compensation – There are so many ways that compensation can create work habits that are right in line with your goals. And, unfortunately, compensation practices can also create a conflict between how your company should operate for optimum success and what your employees are doing based on compensation incentives (or disincentives). Don’t forget that compensation is not just salary, it is the full compliment of employee benefits, time off, retirement, and salary.
Employee Benefits – It is getting more and more difficult to keep pace with the need to offer competitive benefits for employees and their families and the ever increasing cost of benefits. And, there are many changes coming in this area. While most brokers are experts at helping you control costs, managing your benefits also needs to take into account your ability to recruit and retain critical staff to help your company meet its goals.
So, as you can see, there is a lot of work to do and just a few short months to do it if you want to implement any changes for the New Year. In attacking this project, it’s important to ask yourself:
Do You Have The Time Or Expertise? It’s not as simple as doing Google searches and seeing what other companies are doing or joining an HR association. Be honest with yourself and if you don’t have the time or knowledge to get these important things done, ask for help…before another January passes by! Help can take many forms:
Hire an HR Consultant – Bring in a local HR professional to help you tackle a specific project. Be sure to get references for the type of work you need done, a Scope of Work and estimate of hours prior to engaging them. And, be sure you feel comfortable that you can work with the consultant’s “style”
Outsource – Outsourcing day-to-day HR Administration (payroll, HR, workers’ comp and benefits administration) is one way to ensure not only ongoing compliance but also best practices and periodic reviews of your policies and practices. And, in many cases, this may be the least costly option in the long run.
Don’t let your HR review get put off another year, exposing you to increased risk as the government gets more aggressive in enforcement efforts and employee claims become more frequent.
If you find you need help or are considering outsourcing, now is the time to start. In the HR world, January is right around the corner.