Everyone makes mistakes – but not all mistakes are created equal. Especially in human resources, some oversights can be disastrous. Today, we are going to go over three of the most egregious transgressions in this industry. Avoid these at all costs – and ignore them only at your own peril.
Your human resources department has one of the most important jobs in the organization. They’re responsible for keeping your business’s most critical resource – its people – in good shape. For ensuring your business has the proper processes, procedures, and guidelines in place to navigate through interpersonal issues.
For making sure your business’s hiring process is top-notch and brings in only the best applicants.
Not surprisingly, this means that when an HR department doesn’t know what it’s doing, it shows. When an HR professional makes a mistake, it can lead to more than a bit of lost revenue – it can result in unhappy employees, fines, and potential lawsuits. Let’s talk a bit about how you can avoid those things.
We’re going to go over a few of the biggest mistakes an HR department can make – and how yours can avoid making them.
A lack of documentation
A good general rule for any human resources professional is to document everything. If an employee comes to you with a complaint, get that complaint in writing. If there’s a performance issue or conduct violation, make sure it’s accurately recorded, and be as thorough as possible. This paper trail of communication, improvement plans, and disciplinary actions are critical if the employee is upset about their termination. With documentation, nothing should be a surprise to an employee, and you will have plenty of evidence if the employee claims they did not have support.
You don’t ever really want to go ‘off the record’ with any employee. Maintain organized records of all personnel files, and ensure they’re strictly guarded to ensure their confidentiality. Make sure you’ve got a well-defined process for data retention, and make sure to conduct periodic audits of your employee records database.
And while we’re on the topic, never share confidential information about an employee with someone else.
Orientation is a prime opportunity to teach your employees about its policies, procedures, and culture. An incomplete orientation or one led by someone who is not engaging could lead to disastrous results.
Present the information in a digestible format. Sitting and reading several company process documents and handbooks is not an effective way for new employees to learn information. Try framing the process as a scavenger hunt or provide quizzes at the end of each section to ensure the employee is ready for their new role. Provide plenty of time for breaks and questions.
Orientation, even for remote companies, should include a healthy amount of interaction with current employees. A sense of community will help the new employee feel comfortable and perform well in their role.
A bad interview process
A casual question addressed to the wrong person can be grounds for a lawsuit. For example, let’s say someone of indeterminate nationality applies for a job at your organization. The interviewer, ever well-meaning, casually asks them about their ethnicity – they’re just curious.
Now, if that person ends up not getting the job, they could make a claim – accurate or otherwise – that they’re a target of discrimination. The same rules apply to asking if someone is pregnant, certainly not a question that interviews should ask. In regular settings, it is rude and insensitive, but in corporate settings, it is illegal.
Get around this issue by having clear talent acquisition, interviewing, and onboarding processes. Ensure interviewers know only to ask questions related to the job. Don’t think you are overstepping if you provide a list of interview questions. It is better to have these guidelines than have interviewers liable for the consequences.
Even in an era of technology and hyper connectivity, human resources remain one of the most important business arms. It’s imperative that you make sure your HR professionals know what they’re doing from the recruitment process to the exit interview. Because if they don’t, you could find your entire company in hot water.
About the Author: Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.