In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Raffa’s Tom Adams talks with Raffa Partners Simone Putnam and Patricia Williams about the role human resources professionals play in helping great organizations thrive. Executives often say their people are their greatest asset, but too often they fail to put effective human resources practices in place to support and retain their staff. Listen to learn about some of their recommendations.
Podcast guests: Simone Putnam (left) and Patricia Williams (right).
Are you under investing in HR? A look at your risks and mission costs
By Patricia Williams, Partner, Raffa Managed Human Resources
Every organization is only as effective as the people who lead it and the staff who do the work. It is hard to argue with that statement. Yet it is often difficult for executives to translate that vague belief into human resources practices that retain and motivate leaders and staff and move the organization towards optimum performance.
Why is it so difficult? Because the risks and rewards of not investing in human resources are typically most obvious in those tragic situations where an executive is indicted or an organization folds due to compliance failure. Or, perhaps, when a lesser HR compliance crisis shifts the attention of the organization to the importance of having a real HR function. Unfortunately, the less obvious costs and trauma of high turnover of staff and low morale due to lack of investment in HR are part of the limitations of nonprofit life for some executives and organizations.
The good news for executives, managers and board leaders is that the HR field has grown in size and ability over the past decade. Organizations have a number of choices for increasing attention to both HR compliance and staff engagement and development. Executives who pay attention to human resource practices not only sleep better because they are not worrying about compliance risks. They also enjoy a more engaged and empowered staff. This translates into greater capacity to focus on mission. And it can ultimately lead to attracting additional resources.
The first recommendation addressed in our podcast is for executives to dedicate the resources necessary to professional HR support. Whether you hire HR staff or outsource to professional consultants, an organization’s HR needs are best served by an individual or individuals with professional expertise in human resources. It is often tempting to assign a capable assistant or coordinator to handle employee on-boarding and someone in finance to handle payroll. This approach leaves the organization vulnerable to compliance challenges. Moreover, the organization may miss out on some of the benefits of having an engaged and focused staff who flourish under well-tended human resources practices and programs. Depending on size, complexity and location of operations, this HR leadership and staffing can vary widely.
As an example, an experienced HR director or consultant can easily manage human resources practices and compliance for multiple locations simultaneously by deploying other consultants and professionals as needed. On a smaller scale, a dedicated HR professional – either employee or consultant – can focus on the individuals in the organization and promote their own development and growth in their roles, while managing day-to-day tasks such as benefits administration, payroll and compliance.
Another recommendation is for executives to review HR capacity with the life cycle of an employee in mind and to closely examine areas such as:
- Recruitment and hiring policies, including compliant, legal interviewing practices
- Fair and reasonable pay practices and adherence to overtime regulations
- Onboarding and timely enrollment with benefits and payroll
- Performance management process
- Employment policies and procedures (Employee Handbook)
Communication is the bridge between the organization’s mission and its strategic plan and each person’s role and contribution to the mission. With that in mind, we suggest that HR can play a key role in ensuring that job descriptions and performance goals are tied to the organization’s strategic plan and that employees understand that connection. Mission and results then become part of the ongoing discussion throughout every level of the organization.
As a result, staff feel respected and engaged and understand what is expected. Employees benefit and thrive when the organization pays attention to staff development.
When an employer’s HR practices are thoughtful and deliberate about developing each person, the result is often improved retention and morale among employees. When an organization hires or engages professional HR expertise the “staff are our most important asset” message becomes real because there dedicated resources in place to make sure that staff are indeed treated as that important asset.
Learn more about Raffa’s Human Resources services.
The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email email@example.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.
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