Happy New Year! (More or less by now…)
During 2016, you “worked your guts out”! You invested…no, dedicated… no, devoted your time, your talent, your treasure (money, that is), your energy, and all your capacity to building and operating a successful business. Whether you are an owner, a manager, a line employee or a newbie, you were “all in.” And so you shall be for 2017, as well.
A long-lasting saying in business is that a company’s greatest assets are its human assets. But, that well-worn motto does not go nearly far enough. Certainly, people are productive entities. But, they are by no means binary, digitized work units. They are so very much more. Each employee offers your enterprise an entire universe — of thoughts, creativity, and (see above) energy and capacity. Each has his or her own perspectives, aspirations and dreams. It is crucial for employers to understand the nature of the human element of their businesses to harness this limitless “ROI” potential.
So, now that the editorial above is concluded, it is time to think about making sure your company’s personnel-related activities are optimized during 2017 so your employees have the infrastructure within which they can produce. Accomplishing this outcome involves a systematic, proactively risk-managed methodology to implement the policies, practices, and procedures that make the technical elements of human resources management second nature and allow management to facilitate employees to perform their “best and brightest.”1
Doing so requires a checklist approach to ensure ongoing compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations — perhaps even to flip that compliance mode on its head and regard the overall effect of these same activities as creating a value-added benefit to your company.
So, let us now look at some of the fundamental personnel management functions to review (and perhaps revise) during the beginning of this new year.
- Employee Jackets – Pry open the “Employee” file cabinet drawers. What do you see? Probably some thin folders for many employees, possibly in alphabetical order. What should be in those drawers are files for every employee containing the records from application to today. There is work to be done.
- Employment Documents – Now, look at the documents you actually use such as advertisement forms (hopefully containing “equal employment opportunity” and “drug-free workplace” language), applications, offer letters, contracts, review forms, union forms, benefit package receipts, accident reports, disciplinary notices, termination notices, exit interviews…and more.2 When were your documents reviewed and updated? (Hopefully once each year. Put this review cycle on your recurring calendar.) Let’s focus a bit on employee handbooks. Are they up to date, since the required and prohibited provisions change periodically? Do they address intellectual property ownership, internet/email usage, “bring your own device” rules, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination, reporting/whistle-blowing and workplace safety?3
- Pay & Benefits – Your employees like to get paid. And, employees like to have access to benefit options, even if they are not employer-paid. Is your “benefits package” comparable to your competitors? Given generational shifts over the past several years, are your “competitors” for employees even your business peers? Here is an area where you have to seriously consider the ROI of compensating your employees in ways that will keep them on board. (Remember, it is more expensive to hire and start new employees than it is to retain incumbents.)
- Safety – When was the last time you got up from your desk and walked your workplace? In terms of safety, would you want to work there? Are your company’s “things” where they are supposed to be (such as in storage bins, warehouses, loading docks and even locked areas for certain supplies like chemicals)? Is your equipment maintained and operating properly? Overall, is your environment conducive to workplace safety? If not, it certainly should be. Because…it is less expensive to prevent employee accidents and illnesses than it is to heal them. And, in terms of ROI, it is more likely that people will gravitate toward safer worksites and away from marginal employers.
- Training – Employees want success at work, and that entails ongoing opportunities to improve and create. And, that means lifelong-learning to become state of the art in actionable knowledge, skills and abilities. Are your employee education options (live or online) engaging, or perhaps even entertaining, so your employees will absorb and use the techniques they learn? (Again, an ROI outcome.)
- Recognition – Scroll back up to “Pay & Benefits.” A nonmaterial, psychological form of communication is meaningful recognition. People like being noted for “jobs well done.” Certainly, promotions and bonuses are very rewarding, but “public” attention for merit is also worthwhile. Question: Does your company have employee recognition in place? Perhaps it should.
In summary, the discussion above highlights a number of recurring themes. Schedules. Return on investment. And…checklists.
Next time, more about systematic approaches in business — this time, concerning a business’s real estate assets. Stay tuned…
For more information, call Philip N. Kabler, Esq. of the Gainesville, Florida, office of Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. at 352-332-7688, www.boginmunns.com/gainesvillelawoffice, where he practices in the areas of business, real estate, banking and equine law.
PHILIP N. KABLER is an Incubator Resource for the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) and has taught various courses at the UF Levin College of Law and at the UF Warrington College of Business Administration (undergraduate and graduate). He is also the current president of the North Florida Association of Real Estate Attorneys.