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Six Common HR mistakes

We’re running a workshop for managers with people responsibilities or those new to HR on 4th March. Do join us! Below we’ve outlined some of the most common mistakes.

1.  Poor recruitment practices
Getting the right people into the right places in a business is essential, but so many employers rush into recruitment without properly thinking through their requirement and doing the necessary planning.

The starting point is an accurate and up-to-date job description and person specification. Job descriptions are high level documents. They only need to contain three elements. Firstly, there should be a job title. Secondly, have two or three short sentences which summarise the key purpose of the role. The last section sets out the key tasks. It doesn’t have to contain every task the job holder might ever do, just the key tasks. Make sure you include a bullet point that says the job holder must also “Carry out any other reasonable management request”.

The person specification includes the qualities/ attributes/ experience/ skills/ knowledge etc without which the job holder could not do the job. In other words, don’t confuse merely desirable qualities with those which are essential (a very common mistake).

Use the job description and person specification to produce a factual advert and information pack, including details of the selection process.

Interviews are still the most frequently used method of recruitment. You can make them more effective by using competence based questioning ie asking very specific questions about relevant competences and asking for detailed examples to evidence competence. Couple this with objective testing to make the selection process really rigorous.

2. Poor or no record keeping
Good record keeping is part of the workplace landscape, especially from a compliance point of view. But documenting employment activities such as training, feedback, performance or conduct issues is equally important. Unfortunately, it’s usually put off or not done at all. Yet unless you have clear and accurate records, it’s impossible to speak with any authority about a particular matter, especially if it was several weeks or months ago.

Recording informal discussions about performance or conduct is necessary because it proves that you have taken reasonable steps to correct under-performance or misconduct and shows that it is now appropriate to move to a formal exploration of the problem.

3. Not issuing terms of employment
Make sure that you issue written terms of employment within eight weeks of a new employee starting. The terms (often referred to as the contract) can contain basic policies such as grievance and discipline. They are required by law, but they are the foundations stone of the employment arrangement so they have to be up-to-date and robust. They can be read in conjunction with an employee handbook. Incidentally if your T&Cs are more than three years old, they’re too old. Give the poor old things a break and talk to us about updating them.

4. Avoiding dealing with poor performance.
This is another issue that employers tend to shy away from.  Perhaps it is because they would prefer not to sit down with the employee and speak about the performance issues face to face and they fear possible conflict.  Us British are not very comfortable with delivering bad news.  However, poor performance is a financial cost to businesses - direct costs are loss of productivity and profit and indirect costs of morale of those employees who watch the poor performer not being dealt with.

5. Failing to deal with Chronis Monday-it is
Most organisations have them – people who regularly call in sick with all manner of ailments (some rather more fantastic than others) on Mondays, Fridays and before or after bank holidays. Nip things in the bud before they get out of hand by having an informal conversation to begin with about the problem. This is all about finding out what the problem is and doing what you can to help. Often simply making it clear that the issue is visible is all it takes, especially if there’s a pattern of absence and you enquire about it.

6. Poor quality investigations
Before you take any disciplinary action you must establish the facts. This is just about finding out whether there are standards, they have been communicated to the employee and evidence that the employee has not met them. The investigation does not set out to determine guilt, just whether there is a case to answer. It will be for another person to chair a formal discipline meeting and decide whether there is guilt and if so what sanction is appropriate.

Employment law an HR is an absolute maze, especially when you’re new to it. Get a practical helping hand! Book a place on the workshop and find out how to avoid the hassle of getting it wrong. Click here for information.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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