Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Audit Tips For Training Programs

Audit Tips For Training Programs

Organizations waste more money on training than on any other area we audit.

To reduce the cost of training without losing its effectiveness consider pre-testing all potential training participants prior the scheduled date of training. The test should measure the skills/knowledge intended as outcomes of the training. If a trainee scores above the level considered acceptable, then the training should be voluntary for them. You will save countless man-hours by reducing the number of participants sitting through training for skills they already have.

Also, measure the success of your training programs by quantifying the outcomes you seek. Most training programs include a post-training evaluation, but these tend to measure things like room accommodations, trainer enthusiasm , and if attendees enjoyed their bran muffin. Instead training program success should be determined by outcomes. For example, successful harassment awareness programs should result in a measurable decline in harassment related incidents, complaints and litigation and/or improved employee attitudes and behaviors determined by employee attitudinal surveys. Supervisory skills training success should be measured by changes that occur following the training, i.e. improved employee morale, increased retention, fewer conflicts, increased productivity or reduced costs. Without measurable results from training, the only things for sure are that the program reduced productivity and increased costs.

Check to ensure that job descriptions include both "essential" and "non-essential" skills. Only include "essential" skills and not all desirable skills. 62% of our sample was non-compliant.

Use the same standards/management practices established for the organization's supervisors when managing the HR department. That means, doing timely, thorough performance appraisals, posting openings, documenting discipline etc. 78% of the HR departments in our sample, did not follow their own policies, procedures and management practices.

Don't just track turn-over. Instead track what percent of all turn-over is among experienced, skilled and high performing staff. Even a low turn-over of say less than 10% can be problematic if a disproportionate number of those leaving are top performers. Increased turn-over can be desirable if the increase is among those with the poorest performance or unacceptable conduct.

Establish quantifiable goals for all training programs. Don't worry so much about whether the instructor was affable or the room temperature comfortable. Instead measure the outcome based on your objective for having the training in the first place. For example, whether your organization's liability and the frequency of formal complaints decrease after harassment/discrimination training. Be prepared to answer the questions, "What is the return on the investment for the training program?"

Allow trainees to "test out" of attending training programs . If they already know the material why make them sit through it? Instead, consider incorporating them into training team for a portion of the program. Remember, only employees who are willing to learn, and need to learn the material will benefit from the training. Those who are unwilling or already doing what is to be trained will not benefit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

HRM Effectiveness Audit

The HRM Effectiveness Audit: A Tool for Managing Accountability in HRM


HR Audit means the systematic verification of job analysis and design, recruitment and selection, orientation and placement, training and development, performance appraisal and job evaluation, employee and executive remuneration, motivation and morale, participative management, communication, welfare and social security, safety and health, industrial relations, trade unionism, and disputes and their resolution. HR audit is very much useful to achieve the organizational goal and also is a vital tool which helps to assess the effectiveness of HR functions of an organization.

Scope of Audit:

Generally, no one can measure the attitude of human being and also their problems are not confined to the HR department alone. So it is very much broad in nature. It covers the following HR areas:

. Audit of all the HR function.
. Audit of managerial compliance of personnel policies, procedures and legal provisions.
. Audit of corporate strategy regarding HR planning, staffing, IRs, remuneration and other HR activities.
. Audit of the HR climate on employee motivation, morale and job satisfaction.

Benefits of HR Audit:

It provides the various benefits to the organization. These are:

. It helps to find out the proper contribution of the HR department towards the organization.
. Development of the professional image of the HR department of the organization.
. Reduce the HR cost.
. Motivation of the HR personnel.
. Find out the problems and solve them smoothly.
. Provides timely legal requirement.
. Sound Performance Appraisal Systems.
. Systematic job analysis.
. Smooth adoption of the changing mindset.

Approaches to HR Audit:

There are five approaches for the purpose of evaluation of HR in any organization:

. Comparative approach
. Outside authority
. Statistical
. Compliance approach and
. Management By Objectives(MBO)


The auditors always prepare and submit an audit report to authority of the organization, which may be clean or qualified. The clean report indicates the appreciative of the department's function, but the latter one represents the gaps in performance and therefore contains remarks and remedial measures. HR Audit is very much helpful to face the challenges and to increase the potentiality of the HR personnel in the organization.
William.B.Werther and Keith Davis, Human Resource Management and Personnel Management, 5th edition, McGraw-hill, 1996.
K. Aswathappa, Human Resource Management and Personnel Management, 4th edition, McGraw-hill, 2006.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Job-Search Efforts After a Layoff.

1 in 3 May Sabotage Their Job-Search Efforts After a Layoff

According to Right Management research, one in three people may sabotage their job-search efforts by acting with haste after a job loss. Right Management is a provider of integrated human capital consulting services and solutions across the employment life cycle.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of 1,029 survey respondents recognized that people who are displaced from their jobs should initially take time off to re-evaluate and develop a plan. Thirty-four percent indicated they would immediately jump into a job search, potentially sabotaging the very goal they set out to achieve by being unprepared and reactive.

"You should avoid rushing into the job market," cautioned Douglas J. Matthews, president and chief operating officer of Right Management. "Don't panic. Take time to think about what you want to do next in your career. You may wish to explore career possibilities such as changing functions, industries, or even a range of work-life options such as part-time employment, entrepreneurial and retirement alternatives.

"Matthews recommends what NOT to do immediately after a job loss:

1. Don't make calls and send e-mails to networking contacts asking for job leads.

2. Don't contact recruiters, respond to ads or post to Internet job boards until you've carefully reviewed and updated your resume, set clear goals and developed a plan.

3. Avoid making negative comments about your previous employer. Try to project a positive attitude.

Matthews offers this advice to employees facing a new job search:

1. Take time off to reassess your career and determine what you want to do next.

Immediately following the loss of a job, many people are not completely prepared, are still too emotional and have no comprehensive plan to launch an employment search. Assess strengths, identify goals, focus on the future and create an action plan before moving forward.

2. Continually build and maintain professional relationships in your network. Successful networking means gathering and sharing ideas and information. A helpful attitude and a genuine desire to be a useful contact or resource for others will make you a valuable connector. Right Management research shows that more than 50 percent of new jobs are found through networking. Leverage online professional networking to expand the reach of your traditional network.

3. Be prepared. Most employees can typically expect to be displaced from their jobs at least once during their careers. Keep your resume up-to-date. It should describe you at your highest level of accomplishment, telling the story of your career, how you can help contribute to an organization and provide solutions to their needs.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

HR as an Arbitrator

Human Resources is exactly it says: resources for humans – within the workplace! Its main objective is to meet the organizational needs of the company it represents and the needs of the people hired by that company. In short, it is the hub of the organization serving as a liaison between all concerned. Depending on the size of the company, the HR Department might be called Personnel with a manageable workforce that can be handled by a personnel manager and a small staff. For larger, more complex organizations with hundreds of departments and divisions, the task is much more demanding, taking on a life of its own. Some companies have more than one HR Department - Corporate and Union. For example, a food service industry might have a Corporate HR Department that oversees “white collared” employees and an HR Department that oversees the “blue collar” workforce with an emphasis on labor relations. The organization will, thus, institute these two HR Departments to manage the unique needs of both union and non-union employees.
Organizational Development:

To ensure its success, a company must establish a hierarchal reporting system. The funnel of responsibility is critical to the efficiency of a smoothly operating business entity in which there is a clearly defined understanding of who is responsible for what. They provide consultation to a company's management team to identify what the company's core business and culture is about, and proceeds to plan and map the company's organizational infrastructure to support those needs.
Employee Recruitment and Selection Process:

There are many steps to recruiting and selecting qualified employees. First, a department head must inform the HR manager of an opening in their department. Then the HR manager must obtain the job description to formulate a Job Description Sheet for publication either internally, publicly, or both. Then HR must field the (many) responses to that job announcement to weed out the qualified from the unqualified applicants. Once that is completed, the interview process must be coordinated. They prepare the job description, contact the newspaper, run the ad, field the calls, compile a list of potential candidates, submit that list to the department's hiring manager for approval and selection, contact the chosen candidates to set up preliminary interviews, and interview the candidates! Although most interviews are with the hiring manager or their associates, not all applicants get to meet with the department's hiring manager right away. It is not uncommon for a company to filter out those who fail to impress the HR manager first. For those select few who make it through, the HR manager schedules interviews between the department's hiring manager and potential candidates, and follows up with the hiring process to establish the new hire with the company. Employee Training & Development: As a company and the requirements of a position evolve, a company needs to take certain measures to ensure a highly skilled workforce is in place. The Human Resources Department oversees the skills development of company's workforce, acting as an in-house training center to coordinate training programs either on-site, off-site, or in the field. This might include on-going company training, outside training seminars, or even college, in which case an employee will receive tuition reimbursement upon earning a passing grade.
Employee Compensation Benefits:

This covers salaries, bonuses, vacation pay, sick leave pay, Workers' Compensation, and insurance policies such as medical, dental, life, and 401k. The Human Resources Department is responsible for developing and administering a benefits compensation system that serves as an incentive to ensure the recruitment and retention of top talent that will stay on with the company. When an employee is hired, the company's Benefits Coordinator is required to meet with employees one-on-one or in small group settings to explain their benefits package. This often requires an employee to make an informed decision and to provide their signature for processing purposes.
Employee Relations:

With the increased rise in unethical practices and misbehaviors taking place in today's workplace such as age, gender, race, and religion discrimination and sexual harassment, there needs to be mandatory compliance with governing rules and regulations to ensure fair treatment of employees. In short, employees need to know they have a place to turn when a supervisor abuses his or her authority in anyway. Whether corporate or union, the HR Department will get involved to act as arbitrator and liaison between legal entities, regulatory agencies such as Human Rights, supervisors (who might be falsely accused), and employees to properly address and resolve the issue at hand.

Policy Formulation:

Regardless of the organization's size, company policies and procedures must be established to ensure order in the workplace. These policies and procedures are put in place to provide each employee with an understanding of what is expected of them. Similarly, these policies and procedural guidelines will assist hiring managers in evaluating their employee's performance. These policies can be established company-wide or used to define each department's function. It is Human Resource's responsibility to collaborate with department managers on the formulation of these policies and regulations to ensure a cohesive organization. A common practice is the development and implementation of an Employee Procedure Manual or Employee Handbook that is either distributed to each employee at the time of hire or a master copy allocated one to a department.

The Human Resources Information Systems keeps track of the vast amount of data, a human resources department must have a good HRIS in place to automate many functions such as planning and tracking costs, monitoring and evaluating productivity levels, and the storing and processing of employee records such as payroll, benefits, and personnel files. It is very important that you, the job seeker, understand how the HR function works – specifically in the area of candidate recruitment. If you are considering a career in human resources, you can choose to become a Generalist or a Specialist. Whether a job seeker or an HR professional, research a company well before applying for a position.


The Human Resources (personnel) department has staff relationship with other department / managers in the total organization. The personnel department is responsible for advising management from Managing Director to the lowest line supervisor on all area relating to the personnel management and industrial relations. Personnel department also performs various functions of employment, training and development. It represents management in many of the relationships that affect the organization as a whole. It is also responsible for representing various workers problems to management.

Personnel department generally acts in an advisory capacity; it provides information, offers suggestions and is not responsible for the end results. The personnel managers must exercise control very tactfully in order to win the confidence and cooperation of all line managers. He has to persuade the line managers to work with staff specialists and not against them. The authority of personnel manager should derive from concrete personnel policies and programs and from the advantage and result of accepted specialized knowledge.

As a Source of Help:

In certain situations (when line managers lack skill or knowledge in dealing with employee problems) experienced personnel managers assume line responsibility for personnel matters. But it may be resented by the very managers who ought to seek staff assistance in meeting their personnel responsibilities. Personnel managers should learn the reputation and confidence of line managers of being a source of help rather than a source of threat to line managers. Staff assistance is likely to be effective when it is wanted rather than imposed.

As a Change Agent:

Personnel Manager should work as an enabler and change agent regarding personnel areas and he should be familiar with different disciplines like management, technology, sociology, psychology and organizational behavior as organizational adaptability, viability and development are dependent on the human resources development. So the personnel managers should work as a consultant of an organizational development by providing necessary information and infrastructure to line managers. Thus, the role of personnel managers is more concerned with providing information and offering advice to the decision makers rather than making decisions.

As a Controller:

Nevertheless it is still true that effective personnel executives advise on policies that help managers in implementing their programs and provide service and exercise the monitoring and control function sparingly.

Responsibilities within Personnel Department:

As other managers the manager-personnel is also a line manager in relation to subordinates within the personnel department. Personnel Manager is responsible for the success or failure of his department in contributing to the organizational goals. In most of the organizations the personnel manager is responsible for supervising the activities of his subordinates, like employment manager, wage and salary manager, manager for training and development, manager-industrial relationsetc. He is also responsible for the operations of personnel manager at divisional and branch levels.

As the Chief of the Personnel Department the Personnel Manager has to get effective results with the co-operation of all the employees working in the department and by showing the validity of the concept of the team work. The success of the personnel department should be measured in terms of its contributions to the personnel programs.

The effectiveness of HR department can be gauged by the fact how smooth they conduct the negotiations with workers union without the workers resorting to strikes and how fast the periodic agreement (once in 3 or 5 years) is signed with them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Misconceptions About The Temporary Industry

The temporary industry has exploded over the last two decades and the idea of what a Temporary employee is has changed over the years.
Temporary workers are used in virtually all industries, in both private and public sectors. Previously, we would think of the temporary worker as fill-ins for a front desk or warehouse person. Today, there is a temporary worker for every imaginable skill set---marketing, human resources, accounting, office support, and today, larger companies are establishing and maintaining (or employing) in-house temporary services on a permanent basis, as part of their human resources department. Many large Fortune 500 companies have in-house programs.
Mary Meunier, Branch Manager of Kimco Staffing Services, believes there are many misconceptions about the temporary industry. According to Meunier, many applicants do not perceive temporary work as "a real job." In fact, temporary work can be an excellent vehicle for transitioning or as an audition for a specific job or a specific company.
Why are temporary workers used?

The temporary workforce serves several purposes:
-As an extension of a busy human resources department
-As a way to internally groom and develop an employee
-As a means to recruit a large number of applicants at once
-To assist with overload or cyclical projects (many businesses have predictable growth periods – such as "tax season")
Who works for temporary agencies?

Working as a temporary can either be a smart job search strategy or a life style choice. If you are a career changer, re-entry worker, or someone wishing to get your foot in the door, or to supplement your income, temporary work might be a possibility.
How do you maximize working with temporary agencies?

First and foremost, find out how they operate. Who are their customers? Who do they primarily serve? What skill levels do they serve? Do they specialize in a certain sector of the job market? Remember: using temporary work is one of many tools you should use in your job search. However, it should not be the only tool.
How do you work with agencies?
A good agency will look for a good fit—both for the employer and the applicant. Do you have the right skill set? Will you fit with the other workers? An agency looking to place you quickly without knowing more about you probably is not the best fit. Ask yourself how you were treated? Did they take time to get to know you? Was the office professional in their customer service? Your intuition is important. How well you were treated is very important to the overall success of the experience.
What should you ask the agency?

Find out about their key clients and the industries they serve. Do they cater primarily to temporary work? What is their rate of temp conversion into permanent placements? Can you be considered for both temp, as well as permanent assignments? How long will this assignment last? Can you be exposed to a particular industry, such as biotech or high tech? In short, how they can help you? What company representative will be assigned to you and your point of contact?
What else is important?

Communication! Communication, communication, communication! It is important for both parties to keep in touch. Ask your company representative, how often should you be in touch? Once a week? Every two weeks?
Communication at all levels is important from getting insights into the company to receiving feedback about your resume and interviewing style. Also, if you are in the job search process with a company, the interviewer or placement specialist needs to discuss this with you. Have you been offered a job? Is it in line with your career goals? Do they call you on a regular basis for assignments? Or have you not been called at all? If that is the case, you need to know why.
A final word: don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!
Every temporary agency caters to different employers. Sometimes, employers will use a number of temporary agencies to fill their needs. They will have a primary and secondary source. Why not use 3-5 agencies in order to reach your career goals?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Key Orientation Planning Questions

Human Resource professionals and line managers first need to consider key orientation planning questions before implementing or revamping a current program:
1. What things would new employees need to know about this work environment that would make them more comfortable?
2. What impression and impact would I want to make on new employees' first day?
3. What key policies and procedures must employees be aware of the first day to avoid mistakes on the second day? Concentrate on vital issues.
4. What specific things can I do to ensure that new employees will begin to know their co-workers without feeling overwhelmed?
5. What special things (desk, work area, equipment, special instructions) can I provide to make new employees feel comfortable, welcome and secure?
6. What positive experience can I provide for new employees that they could discuss with their families? The experience should be something to make the new employee feel valued by the organization.
7. How can I, as the supervisor, ensure that I will be available to new employees on the first day to provide personal attention and to convey a clear message that they are important additions to the work team?

Remember, first impressions are crucial. Here are some tips for putting your best foot forward.

  1. Begin before the new person does. Send an agenda to the new associate with the offer letter so the employee knows what to expect. Stay in touch after he or she has accepted the position to answer questions or help in other ways. Also, make sure the new person's work area is ready for the first day of work.
  2. Make sure everyone knows the employee is starting and encourage them to come to say hello before orientation begins.
  3. Assign a mentor or partner to show the new person around, make introductions, and start training. Let the mentor have sufficient notice so he or she can make preparations.
  4. Start with the basics. People become productive sooner if they are firmly grounded in the basic knowledge they need to understand their job. Focus on the why, when, where, and how of the position before expecting them to handle assignments or big projects. Don't overwhelm them with too much information.
  5. Provide samples on how to complete forms as well as the individual's job description with the orientation packet.
  6. Have some fun. Do not spend time on every aspect of the handbook, only on the very important topics. Play some games because this can help the learning process. Games such as:
    a. Photo match after the tour. Each employee is provided photos of other employees and a list of names. The object is to match the name with the face.
    b. Signature hunt. While employees are touring the facility, provide them with a piece of paper with names of several associates they will be meeting. They are then asked to obtain the signatures of the people they meet. The employee who obtains the most signatures, gets a prize.
  7. Provide a list of frequently asked questions with a contact person/department, and phone number or extension.
  8. Plan to take them to lunch. The first day on the job the new employee is left in the lurch. This is a good time for the manager/supervisor to take the employee to lunch; include other co-workers, making sure the employee is at ease.
  9. Give the new person some responsibility for his or her own orientation. Offer opportunities for self-directed learning, under appropriate supervision.
  10. Keep the new person's family in mind. A new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially if they have relocated. Do what you can to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable in the community.
  11. Ask for feedback. Find out from former new hires how they perceived the orientation process, and don't be afraid to make changes based on those recommendations. You can send an evaluation two to four weeks after the employee has started, saying something such as: Now that you have been with the company awhile, did the orientation meet your needs? After they have been working there awhile they find out what they should have known but did not. At Mecklenburg County, one of the trainers, Allyson Berbiglia says, "We recognize that we have to continuously improve orientation to meet the changing needs of our customers. What works now may not serve our employees well next month or next year."

Failure of Orientation Program

The main reasons orientation programs fail:

1. The program was not planned.
2. The employee was unaware of the job requirements.
3. The employee does not feel welcome.

All new employees should complete a new employment orientation program that is designed to assist them in adjusting to their jobs and work environment and to instill a positive work attitude and motivation at the onset.

A thoughtful new employee orientation program can reduce turnover and save an organization thousands of dollars. One reason people change jobs is because they never feel welcome or part of the organization they join. The most important principle to convey during an orientation is commitment to continuous improvement and continual learning. That way, new employees become comfortable with asking questions to obtain the information they need to learn, problem solve and make decisions.

A well thought out orientation process takes energy, time and commitment, however it usually pays off for the individual employee, the department, and the organization. One such example is Mecklenburg County's (North Carolina) success in revamping its employee orientation program, to live up to its credo of employees being the organization's greatest resource. In 1996, as part of a larger initiative to redesign services to meet customer needs, the Mecklenburg County Human Resources Department staff made a smart decision- they viewed new employees as part of their customer base and asked their customers what they wanted.

Employees were asked what they wanted and needed from orientation. They were also asked what they liked and didn't like about orientation. New employees were asked what they wanted to know about the organization. Additionally, the organization's senior management were asked what they believed was important for employees to learn when joining the county payroll.

Using feedback collected from employees, Mecklenburg's HR training staff first realized that meeting employees' needs required more than a half day session. Trusting employee feedback, the trainers crafted a one-day orientation that gave employees what they said they wanted and what senior management believed employees needed to know. Essentially, the mix includes the topics that lack excitement-W-2s and various policies and procedures-but it also includes details that let the employee know something about the organization.

Employee Orientation

Employee Orientation - Keeping New Employees on Board

Orienting employees to their workplaces and their jobs is one of the most neglected functions in many organizations. An employee handbook and piles of paperwork is not sufficient anymore when it comes to welcoming a new employee to your organization. The most frequent complaints about new employee orientation are that it is overwhelming, boring, or that the new employee is left to sink or swim. The result is often a confused new employee who is not productive and is more likely to leave the organization within a year.

With an ongoing labor crunch, developing an effective employee orientation experience continues to be crucial. It is critical that new hire programs are carefully planned to educate the employee to the values, history and who is who in the organization. A well thought out orientation program, whether it lasts one day or six months, will help not only in retention of employees, but also in productivity. Organizations that have good orientation programs get their people up to speed faster, have better alignment between what the employees do and what the organization needs them to do, and have lower turnover rates.

Purposes of Orientation

Employers have to realize that orientation isn't just a nice gesture put on by the organization. It serves as an important element of the recruitment and retention process. Some key purposes are:

1. To Reduce Startup Costs
Proper orientation can help the employee get "up to speed" much more quickly, thereby reducing the costs associated with learning the job.

2. To Reduce Anxiety
Any employee, when put into a new, strange situation, will experience anxiety that can impede his or her ability to learn to do the job. Proper orientation helps to reduce anxiety that results from entering into an unknown situation, and helps provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, so the employee doesn't have to experience the stress of guessing.

3. To Reduce Employee Turnover
Employee turnover increases as employees feel they are not valued, or are put in positions where they can't possibly do their jobs. Orientation shows that the organization values the employee, and helps provide the tools necessary for succeeding in the job.

4. To Save Time For Supervisor & CoWorkers
Simply put, the better the initial orientation, the less likely supervisors and co‑workers will have to spend time teaching the employee.

5. To Develop Realistic Job Expectations, Positive Attitudes and Job Satisfaction
It is important that employees learn as soon as possible what is expected of them, and what to expect from others, in addition to learning about the values and attitudes of the organization. While people can learn from experience, they will make many mistakes that are unnecessary and potentially damaging.