It may be too early to listen to Christmas music around the clock, but it’s not too early to start thinking about resolutions for the new year.
No, I’m not talking about that pledge to go to the gym every day (and the wasted gym membership that results).
I’m talking about resolutions to improve how your agency does business.
Today, let’s look at some of the human resources and talent-related resolutions that you should consider for the new year.
Resolve to update the employee handbook
You do have an employee handbook, right? If not, now is a good time to create one.
But if you have one that perhaps hasn’t been updated in a few years, now is a good time to dig in and see what should be changed.
There are the obvious tweaks needed to reflect changes to laws and regulations, but don’t forget to look at the handbook to see how it reflects your company culture and how you do business today.
Are you having more people work from home? Do the guidelines in the handbook account for that?
If you have a social media policy in there, is it still consistent with how you want employees to use those platforms?
Does your handbook have policies designed to help your recruitment and retention efforts? Anything you would adjust?
It is important to view the handbook as both a business and a legal document, so take a look at it from the business perspective first – then ask your legal counsel to vet it to ensure that it doesn’t run afoul of any laws, regulations, or best practices.
Resolve to consistently provide employee feedback
Sure, you should have a proper, regular employee evaluation program.
But getting the most from your team requires excellent ongoing communications between employees and their supervisors. Nothing in a performance review should ever come as a surprise if good communications exist throughout the year.
There’s no reason to wait until pre-set review times to share concerns or areas of improvement (as well as kudos for work well-done).
It’s usually a good idea to have a weekly 1-on-1 with direct reports to ensure there are open lines of communication – but that requires that both parties feel empowered and comfortable in sharing candid feedback and observations.
Make consistent ongoing feedback a habit of your agency and it will reap rewards for your business.
Resolve not to delay acting on employee performance
How many times have you terminated an underperforming employee – only to wish you had done so sooner?
How many times have you held off on promoting a top performer – only to watch them leave because you waited too long?
A variety of factors cause leaders to delay action on employees. Perhaps you want to save money by waiting to promote. Or you’re simply guilty of procrastinating on the promotion because you can get to it another day.
Similarly, most people don’t like to fire employees – even when it is clear that it is not a good fit for either party. But what problem does waiting solve?
There’s no need to act rashly or impulsively with promotions and terminations, but once you have the needed information and the decision is clear don’t delay acting.
Resolve to review your benefits programs
How much thought do you give to your employee benefit offerings? Did you just set it up once and now pretty much leave everything on autopilot, except perhaps for looking at lower cost health insurance options at renewal time?
Traditional benefits – including retirement programs and health, dental, life, and disability insurance – all have an impact on recruitment and retention.
But there are other benefits to consider like training, education reimbursement, leave policies, flexible scheduling, and more that can have a positive impact (often for relatively small outlays).
With much research suggesting that younger workers in particular value some of these things as much or more than salary, you are doing your agency a disservice if you are not giving real thought to the structure and detail of all of the benefits that you offer.
Don’t allow benefits to become an annual checkbox item. Really understand what you’re offering and how it impacts the bottom line.
Resolve to get proper HR advice
Large agencies have in-house human resources departments, but small- and mid-size agencies may not have the need (or the budget) to support full-time staff.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have HR challenges, though.
Unfortunately, too many growing agencies decide to go-it-alone on HR matters, perhaps relying on little more than Google and gut before taking action.
That can lead to costly mistakes.
The key is to understand what type of support you need – and where you can best get it.
A good HR consultant can often provide most of the high-level advice you need and save the cost of an employment lawyer. However, if you have a tricky employee situation, there may be no substitute for someone with a law degree and experience.
For day-to-day tasks, you might get by with a part-time employee or a fractional head of HR. Some small agencies might even be able to rely on the staff of their benefits broker for a lot of the basic administrative support employees might need.
The key is to evaluate your needs and find the best, most cost-effective solution that will ensure your employees get what they need and you are able to manage resources and avoid risk.