HR practitioners play a role in many parts of the employee experience, from onboarding through to exit.
This means that good HR practices can have a wide-reaching positive impact - but common HR mistakes can have similarly impactful effects. If you’re making these HR mistakes, then you may be unwittingly demotivating employees and undoing your hard work on positive initiatives.
Join us as we take a look at these errors and give you actionable advice to fix them.
Late or Incorrect Pay
This cardinal sin can easily send employees running and ruin the company’s reputation. Any issues with pay, like wrong amounts or payment dates, will seriously affect your employees.
As much as possible, you should pay your employees the correct amount, on time, every time, with clear communication concerning any changes. While this may not be solely down to HR, you’ll most likely be the first port of call for employees with queries.
You should have a clear communication plan in place to ensure that any changes are communicated well in advance, whether they're because of new tax regulations or pension deductions.
You should also communicate that you understand the potential seriousness of any financial changes for your employees. You can invite your staff to ask any questions they have about the changes with yourself or a designated person to build total transparency.
If there are underlying issues with timesheet reporting or overtime payments that are causing pay discrepancies, create new systems or processes that will end the confusion. Employees won’t be willing to put in additional hours if they feel they have to work just as hard chasing colleagues to be paid correctly.
Bad Interviewing Practices and Decisions
If HR takes the lead on interviews and hiring, you have to ensure that this process is designed to get the best hire from the group of candidates. Some common mistakes include not defining the job description, not asking appropriate, measurable questions, or choosing a candidate based on similarity to the interviewer.
Poor interviewing technique leads to poor decision making when it comes to the new hire. This can result in the wrong candidate being hired, leading to a loss of productivity and potentially higher staff turnover rates.
If interviews are informal or lack planning, then you can turn this around to ensure you hire the best candidates going forward. The CIPD advises that interviewers follow this best practice:
“Our behavioural science research suggests that to avoid instinctive or hasty judgements interviewers should pre-commit to a set of interview questions that are directly related to performance on the job and focus the interview on collecting information rather than on decision-making. Insights from the interview should be supported by data from other methods where possible.”
Plan interviews thoughtfully and bring in the managers that can give assessments of technical skill where needed. Use measurable questions, while keeping the interview process as consistent as possible for all candidates. Avoid potentially illegal questions about family, lifestyle, religion or age that could be perceived as discriminatory.
No Exit Interview
If you’re not finding out why your people are leaving, then you’re missing a chance to make real improvements to the workplace. While it won’t stop the employee from leaving, this can indicate the issues that prompted them to do so. Fix these and you can stem the flow of staff leaving the organisation.
The employee may not have indicated that there were any issues during their time with the organisation, but they can be more candid at the end of their notice period. If you’re not arranging these then the same issues can arise for other staff members and prompt a higher staff turnover.
Use these interviews to identify and treat problems in the workplace. Not every interview will yield a huge amount of relevant information, but over time you can build up a clearer picture of life in certain roles.
Inadequate Data Management
HR professionals should be organised and understand the implications of data breaches. Holding confidential data is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as there can be serious consequences in the event of a data breach.
On top of data security, they should also be responsible for documentation where appropriate. This can play an important role if a complaint is lodged, tribunal is brought, or records are requested. Should this be the case and documentation is patchy, this won’t bode well for the employer.
Not only should the HR professional store this data, they also have to do so in a logical manner so that it can be found again. Organisation and integrity are both essential to maintain data correctly.
Making Biased Decisions
HR should function as an impartial department, not swayed by personal feelings or pressure from others. Favouritism or a rush to judgement can be damaging for HR, as employees come to feel like they can’t trust these practitioners.
It’s essential for HR practitioners to hold themselves to a high standard within the workplace, without engaging in office gossip or exclusionary practices. These may be easy mistakes to make, but they can seriously impact reporting rates and employee satisfaction.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with your colleagues, but you do have to establish boundaries where appropriate to prevent any misconduct.
When making decisions that concern employees, you should be as impartial as possible. Subconsciously, you may favour one employee over another but if you examine how and why you came to your decision, you can challenge your biases.
Working in a Siloed Environment
If you find yourself working in a silo instead of as part of a wider team, then the workplace isn’t benefitting from your insight. Nowadays, more than ever before, HR is seen as a strategic partner within the business that can give real credence to ideas and initiatives.
HR is all about understanding the people that drive an organisation, which can provide powerful insight. Productivity and output are intrinsically linked to people metrics, giving HR the opportunity to make a real impact on the bottom line of the business.
Without stepping outside of their department, HR can’t hope to action the insight that they gain from their practice.
To break down these barriers, HR practitioners should be proactive to bring their knowledge into new situations. Asking to be included in initiatives and meetings are both great ways to spread the valuable knowledge that you have gathered.
Outdated or Incorrect Policies
Changes to policies should be documented and distributed to allow them to be enforced effectively. Confusing or contradictory information can extend the time it takes for a new policy to be widely accepted. There are also legal implications, as you can’t discipline an employee for failing to follow a new policy if this hasn’t been communicated effectively in all documentation.
Creating a master list of all documentation that relates to policy changes will help you to edit these methodically.
From the employee handbook to the employment contract, it’s essential to align all this information without disparities. Again, you can use your communication plan to effect this change throughout the workplace.
A Lack of Professional Development
On top of your day-to-day responsibilities, you should be ready to develop yourself in your HR practice and also your colleagues in their roles. Challenging yourself and others to reach new goals is what spurs greater motivation.
Without this development, the workforce can become stagnant and employees are less engaged. Training, coaching and mentoring can all greatly increase the level of engagement within the workforce. Use regular one-to-ones and staff reviews to find out what your colleagues want to achieve and then guide them to get there.
There are many pitfalls awaiting the HR practitioner, which can have a knock-on effect to the colleagues that they oversee. Use these tips to avoid issues and improve the morale of your workplace.