Human Resources

The 7 Worst HR Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them



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When you’re working in HR, it’s true that you can never be too careful. Everywhere you look, there’s a minefield of potential workplace issues that you could run into if you’re not cautious.

To help you steer clear of anything blowing up in your face, we’ve outlined seven of the worst HR mistakes you can make and how to avoid making them, leading you safely back to your desk - entirely unharmed.




1. Mishandling Information

Mishandling information is a big no-no in the HR industry.

It’s considered best practice to document everything - from employee information to in-house policies and procedures. Documents and paperwork should also be kept private and secure at all times and filed correctly. If you fail to do so, you’re risking sensitive workplace or employee information getting out, which could result in consequences as severe as losing your job.

To avoid any issues, we recommend creating digital files for every occasion and archiving employee documents. We also recommend backing up or creating physical copies of important documents to secure a reliable paper trail in case technology were ever to fail.

This way, if a situation arises, you have the information you need where you need it with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure you’ve done your job effectively.

Some easy additional solutions to implement include:

  • Controlled security access: Use passwords, encryptions, and firewalls that are updated and changed regularly to keep information secure.
  • Lockable storage cabinets: If you want to archive physical documents in an office file cabinet, it’s always good to add a lock and key for that extra element of security.
  • HR-specific waste bins and shredders: Utilising a confidential area with HR-specific bins and shredders to dispose of private documents is a great idea if you want to ensure that out-of-date but sensitive documents are not seen and shared by anyone else.
  • Secure document delivery: For physical documents, always use a reliable courier service. For digital file sharing, it’s a good idea to look into a file-sharing program with a trusted provider.
  • Employee training: Training employees about the importance of protecting confidential information is key, including how to use secure passwords and phishing scams.


2. Not Updating the Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is the guiding light of HR professionals.

It should include, among other things, information on workplace guidelines, benefits and leaves, health and safety, and the code of conduct. However, as businesses change, employee handbooks are often left without revision, which can cause confusion and issues down the line with potential employee-related claims.

This is why HR should ensure that the employee handbook is updated swiftly as business changes come about. This way quick edits and updates will become routine and takes away the need for HR to be constantly involved.

Another bonus is that since each member of staff agrees to abide by the rules and regulations of the employee handbook upon being hired, when the handbook is up-to-date (and employees are in the loop), it passes on a large part of the responsibility of maintaining behavioral standards to the employees themselves.

In other words, it’s got you covered.


3. Inconsistent HR Training

Subpar HR training can be a genuine problem across all sectors, with many organisations having little to show for its improvement as time goes by.

Onboarding, health and safety and skills training, for example, is often held when a new hire starts with an organisation, only to never be refreshed or or upskilled again as they settle into their roles and best practices or guidelines change.

To combat this, It’s important for HR to adopt an effective, long-term relationship with employees through a powerful HR strategy that takes onboarding and training options (with us, for example!) into serious consideration.

As HR is a constantly evolving industry, the set of parameters it exists in are always growing and changing too - meaning learning and development is meant to be a continual, ongoing part of the employee lifecycle if it’s to be implemented successfully.


4. Flawed Recruitment Practices

While the hiring process might seem relatively straightforward, there’s a lot more for people professionals to consider than a candidate with the right skillset and qualifications. HR managers need to think about their approach to hiring as well!

To do the job effectively, HR needs to bring their A-game when it comes to hiring top talent, meaning it’s important to avoid:

  • Informal and poorly written job descriptions
  • Asking the wrong interview questions 
  • A lengthy hiring processes that lose the candidate’s interest 
  • Making assumptions based on diverse backgrounds and cultures
  • Neglecting to utilise efficient HR software solutions (i.e. HR analytics)

Instead, having well thought out and innovative recruitment practices will ensure your business selects the right candidates for the right roles who will remain loyal to your organisation for the long-term. This means eliminating what doesn’t work and replacing it with what does to avoid costly mistakes.


5. Failing to Recognise Payroll Pitfalls

The last thing any employee wants to deal with is being overworked and underpaid, however, it’s not uncommon for staff to chip in here and there and work some unpaid overtime if it means getting the job done.

It’s critical, however, that HR teams don’t take advantage of this generosity and compensate their employees in compliance with employment law, especially in circumstances concerning overtime or wage allotment, for instance.

This includes understanding how to properly classify and pay salaried, hourly, part-time, and full-time employees and being well-versed in your payroll software.

Detailed knowledge is the only way to cover your bases here, as the guidelines can get tricky and that can land you in hot water.


6. Failing to Be Resourceful

Working in Human Resources can feel like you’re working in emergency services, putting out fires wherever you can and praying for minimal damage - especially if you’re part of a small team or a solo HR generalist.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to solve an HR-related problem, don’t be afraid to reach out to senior staff or utilise additional resources to help you along.

These might include your HR network, online blogs, or forums - all of which you can leverage to your advantage and avoid a situation billowing out of control.


7. Forgetting the ‘Human’

When you work in the people profession, you often become used to veiling yourself to keep a level of professionalism with your coworkers. This can lead to your peers sometimes believing that you’re cold, detached, and even unapproachable.

It’s important to remember, however, that it’s okay to have comradery with your colleagues. While you don’t want to get too familiar, it’s completely okay to develop meaningful relationships with them.

In doing so, it establishes a level of communication and trust that enables staff to come to you with any issues they may be having so you can help with a solution. It also keeps you in the loop on what’s happening with people at the core of the business.

The main element to HR is, after all, the ‘human’ component, and it would be the biggest mistake of all to forget that.

Now that you’ve read through the seven worst HR mistakes you can make, we hope you can better understand how to avoid them, and when the time comes, be an exemplary resource for those who need you.

Learn about how you can enhance your HR career today with an online CIPD qualification with us. Get your free online CIPD course guide today to get started.

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