Beginner’s Guide to Managing Human Resources
By Trinity Hanson, Last updated: 2023-01-11 (originally published on 2022-01-04)
In recent years, companies have had lots of discussions, debates, and, to some extent even fears, that the rise of technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will leave people jobless. Whether this is true or not is a different topic, but the fact is that we’re not even close to getting there yet.
People continue to be the most significant resource and the driving force for businesses and economies worldwide. It is no news that, unlike machines and robots, human beings have emotions, feelings, and limited energy, which often affect their work quality. As the research conducted by Atlassian shows, teams with high-performance experience less anger while working at 16%. Low-performing teams experience irritation 30% of the time.
This is where the human resource managers step in to make sure that, simply put, employees are happy and motivated to work. But things are not as lovely and easy as they might seem at first sight.
For that reason, in this article, we will explore a guide to managing human resources and understand what some of the challenges and potential solutions are.
What is human resources management?
Very often, people have different understandings of human resource management. Some immediately associate it with hiring people and planning talent management. Others perceive it as the concept of managing existing employees. Then there is this other group of people who think of both at the same time. For that reason, before any further due, let’s define what human resource management is.
According to the world-known Cambridge dictionary, it is the process of managing company employees through activities such as hiring, training new workers, managing employment records, supporting in case of problems, maximizing performance, and ensuring employee engagement. All of these activities are essential for ensuring that a business is competitive. Of course, the definition is generic, and the functions may vary from company to company. But to break down the main processes that go with human resource management, we can start with the initial stage-hiring.
Finding new talent is not an easy task, especially if you are looking into hiring a skilled person and looking for team members who share your company mission and culture. After hiring, it is necessary to train and acquaint people with the company, product that they are going to work on, and in some cases, this can go as far as teaching them a skill or an entire profession. Simultaneously, human resource management requires the hand-in-hand management of the existing team. This can be logistical and bureaucratic matters, all the way to the mental health of the employees.
The mental health aspect itself is extensive, and it can be helping employees with resolving arguments and misunderstandings in the team in a just and fair manner. Interestingly, in recent years an interchangeable term for human resource managers is happiness officer. At first glance, the new position title may seem goofy, but at the same time, it has become a good indicator of how much businesses started signifying employee happiness.
As one can tell, overall human resource management is not a simple process. It may require an entire team and enterprise project management software. However, underestimating human resource management is never a good idea as it can affect your competitive advantage big time and cause problems that will cost businesses way more.
What do HR managers do?
The human resources manager is someone who takes care of the things and procedures mentioned earlier. These people have always been essential parts of businesses. However, nowadays, their role is more critical than ever due to the competitive environment of companies and even talent hiring.
Let’s dive in and take a better look into what HR managers do and their critical responsibilities in companies. Usually, they participate in all stages of the so-called employee lifecycle, which goes from hiring people to firing.
Search for and recruit new candidates
Hiring the right talent requires an entire action plan, marketing strategy, and proper social media management to put the word out there about the company being a great workplace. This process is so crucial that different professionals, recruiters, come to help human resource managers. Recruitment is not a one-stage process, and it has many stages. In some companies, the stages might be more than in others and include strategies such as business mentorship, but it is usually not as straightforward as you might imagine. It requires collecting and reviewing numerous CVs, resumes, and cover letters.
HR managers also filter candidates to interview them, conduct a proper reference check, and select the appropriate candidate. The recruitment process also handles things such as compensation and benefits, and finally, hiring documentation. Let’s take a better look at each of these stages and see how they work.
The recruitment process starts with listing the skills, knowledge, experience, and even personality traits the company is ideally looking for, in other words, defining the perfect person who would do the job.
After making a list, recruiters start making active job posts and sending out messages to people who might potentially be a good fit. In some cases, this goes to Linkedin marketing to increase the reach of potential candidates. The perfect outcome of these processes for a recruiter would be collecting many good resumes and preparing to review them. It is worth mentioning the numerous automation tools that make these processes faster and more efficient.
For example, you can automate job listings, resume filtration, and even the messaging process with potential candidates. This might save businesses more money and, most importantly, much more time than the scenario where everything is done manually.
At this stage, businesses should also consider investing in data analytics systems to make data-driven decisions. This will help companies analyze the number of applicants, interviewees, and the best channel for acquiring the best candidates. Similar reflections after each hiring process will help companies save money, time and constantly improve recruitment procedures over time.
To improve your hiring processes, consider doing the following:
- Improve your job descriptions and make them detailed and comprehensive. But do not overwhelm people with too much information.
- Value quality of applications over quantity. This should apply to your recruitment budget, and consider making job posts where you know good candidates can be found, even if they are more expensive.
- Promote employee referrals. Encourage your employees with monetary or non-monetary rewards to find suitable candidates for your job openings.
Draft now: Employment Agreement
Once recruiters filter through resumes, manually or through automated processes, the following stage interviews, ideally, at this stage, recruiters sit down and get to know the better-qualified candidates to make more informed decisions and the company’s management.
Even though this is a crucial stage for the hirer and the candidate, this should not take too long. If the process takes a long time, there is a high risk of losing most candidates as some of them might lose interest or find a different job. A recent study has shown that 92% of companies offer candidates at least within a week after the interview. This shows how critical it is to take action as fast as possible to ensure you do not lose candidates to competitor companies. This is very likely to be the case as most people looking for a job talk to several companies simultaneously.
The interview process itself is a fundamental science, and the techniques for getting the most out of it can be discussed in an entire book. To make things short and straightforward, be transparent and ask questions. Try to understand if the person in front of you is qualified with experience, knowledge, skills, and personality for the position.
Reference checks are another essential part of the recruitment process. This is when the human resource management team connects with hiring companies, creates an online community if needed, or uses other networks to gather information and details about the candidate. In this process, companies can learn more about the candidate’s work history, their responsibilities at their previous jobs, and how they have performed.
Some questions you can consider asking during reference checks are about productivity, strengths, weaknesses, failures, successes, culture fit, communication skills, and whether the person is a good team player or not. These are some generic examples of reference check questions so that they may vary from position to position and from company to company.
Another essential reference point that recruiters should never forget is the internal reference. In other words, what do people who will work with the given person think of them? This might be difficult to do in more prominent companies, but the people who will closely work with the given candidate should be heard in the hiring process to prevent future conflicts and potential problems.
Selection is when the human resource management team or, in some companies, department managers and even C-level executives sit down and explore the findings by recruiters. This is very similar to puzzle-solving activity as you need to sit down and bring the pieces of strengths or weaknesses of different candidates together for a clearer picture.
There are many factors you should consider during this stage. Start with looking into how reliable the source that brought the candidate to you is. Was it word of mouth, an online job post, or a headhunt? Which one is more reliable for you as an employer? Then obviously, it is necessary to assess the skills and experiences of different candidates and their personalities and motivations.
Very often, employers face problems like not finding any suitable candidates. In such cases, it is common to ask the candidate to go through a trial period where the company and the given person can better understand if it is worth collaborating or not. However, in some other cases, companies come across several equally good candidates where the selection is very challenging. In such cases, you can look into the compensation amount and the benefits each candidate requires and go with the candidate with the best offer.
To have a better selection process, make sure you follow these steps:
- Do not be scared of diversity. Encourage diversity. It will pay off.
- If you have a background check process, try to make it as hassle-free as possible.
- Stop looking just for skills. Look for attitude, since skills can be trained at any time.
- Make sure you are bias-free through tools and automation.
Compensation and benefits
Hiring is a very competitive process from a company’s standpoint. If you are hiring good specialists with high qualifications, it is crucial to be ready to compensate for it competitively. Many companies also try to keep their competitiveness with company benefits such as free membership to a gym, free library, free courses, or tech products to improve the working experience. These things are bonuses on top of compensation that may make your business look more attractive to candidates.
Since we’re living in a digital world, it’s almost impossible to go around the options that make these processes easier. Using tools like an online invoice generator can help save your time, be more professional, and send a request of payment successfully.
Be prepared to introduce and discuss compensation and company benefits during earlier hiring stages, such as interviews. During job interviews, questions about payment and benefits are often asked, so do not be surprised when candidates raise those questions. However, whatever is discussed during interviews is usually not final and can be negotiated during further stages of the hiring process. For example, in some cases, candidates may agree to work for lower pay. In other cases, they might ask for higher compensation than what was discussed during interviews.
Finally, do not forget to consider a new excellent method for compensating your employees, which can often be viewed as a benefit-cryptocurrencies. Consider Binance exchanges as a great option to pay for transactions and compensations since this is the largest exchange available. The trading fees for cryptocurrencies are much less, especially compared to the traditional banking fees. This is better for the company and employees since it ensures the safety and security of financial transfers.
The final phase of the recruitment process is set up and managing hiring documents with the chosen candidate. At this stage, the recruitment manager and the human resource management team are preparing contracts required by their local labor regulations and law.
You should also have a comprehensive list of documents that you need to collect from each candidate. Considering that remote work has become very popular recently, you should also be prepared to handle these processes remotely, with digital versions. These documentations should be handled and treated with as much attention as you handle the paperwork when you are acquiring new customers.
So, to be on the safe side, make sure you obtain personal data from your employees for emergencies. This is a great approach and crucial information to collect if you want to reinforce safety in your company. Examples of similar data can be a brief history of medical records, emergency contacts, and if you provide food, then a comprehensive list of food allergies and preferences.
Ensure successful performance management
As it was mentioned before, human resource management is part of all stages of the employee lifecycle. Therefore, another crucial stage in that lifecycle where the effective involvement of human resource management is essential is performance management.
Let’s dive into each of the substages of performance management a little bit deeper.
Planning and processing
Performance planning is a critical stage in performance management. It is a beautiful method for giving your employees a sense of what path they should take and gives them room for more growth.
On a high level, it is an engine that helps companies drive employees towards constant development and growth, which is beneficial for employees and overall business growth. The plan would ideally set milestones and goals for individual employees, teams, or the organization as a whole and define steps for achieving those. Even the most minor steps for achieving those goals ought to be communicated with employees or their managers.
The plan should also list the tools that would be necessary for the process of achieving such goals. This is a big part of the planning process to ensure that the company can offer those tools and fit within the company budget. Maybe you plan to do an SMS integration strategy. What type of professionals would you need for this? The overall process should always align with other plans and strategies, such as your sales and marketing team has for, let’s say, user acquisition.
Human resource management should also have plans and processes defined for handling cases when there is a deviation from the master plan. In other words, what are the goals and the processes when an employee underperforms or does not meet the expectations that the company has initially met? Is the company planning to fire such people? The absence of such plans may cost a lot for business and cause some severe problems.
Finally, the human resource management team should define plans and processes for handling cases when employees overperform. This, too, is very important. Otherwise, your employees may feel bored or lose motivation, so be ready to give them new challenges to overcome and opportunities to grow.
To break down the process of planning, these are the stages you need to go through:
- Assess and estimate what is the capacity of your human resource management team.
- Forecast and be ready for new HR trends that are likely to happen in the market.
- Come up with talent management strategies and make sure they are prepared to be implemented at any time.
- Review your plan and pivot it to make sure it is up to date.
Tools and strategies
The set of relevant tools and strategies may vary from business to business and from niche to niche. However, to give you an idea about some general and appropriate tools across most industries, you can look into key performance indicators, also referred to as KPIs. These are measurements that indicate how well the business, projects, teams, and individuals are performing. Well-defined KPIs can be a good navigator that should help you understand where you need to retouch and pivot your strategies.
Another tool you should consider regardless of your business niche is 360-degree feedback. This tool should help you collect answers to questions such as how your employees are performing from the standpoint of those who are beneficiaries of their performance?
For example, let’s say you are a company producing electric skateboards. Are your users happy with the quality and the performance of those skateboards? Or do they suffer injuries due to malfunctions that may result from mistakes that your engineers made? This is a question that has an application to any business. After all, all companies have consumers and beneficiaries.
Finally, it would help if you defined reward and recognition programs. If your employees do not feel appreciated, recognized, and rewarded, the chances of not using their full potential are very high. Additionally, if you want to appear more professional, make sure to use proper tools for operations such as invoicing, feedback, etc. Of course, these must be decided based on the budget that the company can afford. Also, make sure that you know your employees’ preferences and interests through fun surveys, questionnaires, and tools that should be conducted from time to time. These can, later on, be used when you try to reward them by buying them a new online course or giving a gift card for top eCommerce platforms.
Employee learning and development
Finally, as part of your business human resource management, make sure to involve employee learning and development. Interestingly, it is often viewed as a strategic move for ensuring that a business is constantly growing, retaining valuable employees, and increasing productivity.
In short, employee development is a win-win for businesses and employees, so there are no reasons for avoiding it. If you lack a budget to buy expensive masterclasses for your employees, you can even consider gathering a small library or recommending podcasts to listen to. In addition to that, you can organize coaching and mentoring programs, where more experienced employees will guide less experienced ones.
However, it is worth it if you have the resources to invest more in employee learning and development. Consider offering your employees online courses or training. Nowadays, we have a wide range of online platforms that provide fun courses designed not to overwhelm your employees while balancing work and study lives. This can help them always be on top of new worldwide trends and always in “good shape” from a professional point of view.
Moreover, in some cases, this goes as far as companies supporting their employees pursuing higher education. They can offer tuition fee waivers or, in some other cases, partial compensations, which could be a substantial financial help to be able to afford a university education. Last but not least, always keep in mind that having a good employee development process is a big “selling point” that can attract many good, ambitious professionals to your company.
Foster positive relationships within the company
As we move forward with the employee lifecycle from a human resource management standpoint, we should not forget about positive relationships within the company. Positive company culture is essential in making your employees feel good at work, motivated, and enjoying what they do.
To contribute to such relationships and boost them, you need to have a plan as part of human resource management.
So, what are some ways to achieve a successful fostering process in your company?
Employees want and should know about what is happening in the company outside of their day-to-day tasks. If you keep them on track with updates, they will feel like they belong to the company, feel more motivated, be ready to take more responsibility, and, most importantly, do not lose sight of strategic, long-term goals.
The need for transparent and responsible communication should be a requirement, culture, and the norm in the company at all levels. Throughout the team, the communication should be clear so that everyone knows what they are working on. To keep such communications more structured, formal, and consistent, you should highly consider setting up meetings specifically to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Some of these meetings can be daily, where team members can share what they are working on and some of their blockers.
Other meetings can be scheduled weekly or monthly, where they discuss the upcoming tasks and touch base with the long-term team and company goals. However, do not confuse the idea of clear communication with overwhelming employees with too much information. Instead, you need to figure out what is the necessary information for the team to know. Otherwise, it is going to be even distractive, confusing, and unnecessary for most employees.
Finally, make sure that the team members communicate well together when it comes to helping one another solve different problems, asking questions, and showing support. Again, there are several techniques to do this. A straightforward example of this can be matching the employees with similar interests, work ethics, and other commonalities.
From parties to hikes and games, to any activities unrelated to work are part of team building. These are refreshing gatherings that help employees get to know one another better and discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a new environment. But do not forget the fact that this team building will be simply pointless if they are not appropriately planned enough.
Team buildings require clear thinking through them, planning, execution, and management even on the ground during the activities. This way, it would be possible to get the most out of these events and make them serve their purpose of connecting team members on another level while having a good time. These activities can also be an excellent exercise for better division of work for future projects. Moreover, they unite people for a specific goal and result in much higher productivity. Eventually, these kinds of events help groups in balancing some core parts of an excellent team.
Teambuilding exercises can also serve as a motivation for potential candidates to join your team. So make sure to publicize these events on social media platforms and increase your reach to larger audiences through relevant marketing tactics. For example, if you are posting fun photos and videos, make sure to use the right Instagram hashtags or ads if you have a dedicated budget and want to emphasize the fun side of your business.
Examples of some fun, popular team building games and activities are:
- Marshmallow spaghetti tower for teamwork, problem-solving, and collaboration.
- Back-to-back drawing or salt and pepper for communication skills.
- Toxic waste for creative problem-solving.
- Community service as an ice breaker and for collaboration.
- Campfire, hiking, or other outdoor activities.
Conflicts at the workplace, unfortunately, are unavoidable. What is undoubtedly possible to avoid is not being ready to handle those properly as a human resource management team. If you choose to ignore such conflicts, these are going to cost you lots of money.
To be ready to manage similar situations, you as an HR should understand the causes behind such conflicts at your workplace. This is necessary if you want to prevent disputes in the first place. For example, if you feel that two people working together on the same thing have personalities that conflict with one another, make sure to place them on different projects to avoid possible casualties.
Interestingly, conflicts are always associated with negative things that we all want to avoid. However, there are types of disputes that are good and, to some extent, necessary for your company. How do you expect your company to grow if everyone has the same personality, work ethic, way of thinking, opinions, and so on? Different views and, in some cases contrasting ideas are the first step for critical thinking and growth. As long as you create a safe environment where people are comfortable with disagreeing with one another, you should even embrace such ‘conflicts.’
Health and safety
Last but not least, the human resource management team is expected to have apparent health and safety plans that would be prepared to protect company employees during unexpected dangerous situations. The virtue of the health and safety plans may broadly vary from company to company and from industry to industry.
While working on these plans, make sure that they are compliant with local laws and regulations. Using SPF checker for efficient email deliverability and specific tools that help prevent hackers’ access to employee data is an important aspect of safety. Ensure that the company is free from hazards and harms and those that are impossible to eliminate. There is a clear plan of avoiding those at times of catastrophes. As an HR manager, you need to know how to plan and test them repeatedly by simulating hazardous situations to build a plan that will eventually work.
If you work in an office where there are no constant physical hazards, make sure your team is prepared to respond to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, and so on. Also, do not forget about the mental health of your employees. Be sure to have a clear plan for protecting your employees’ mental health, especially if they have high stress, tight deadlines, and type of work. This is not done for the sake of protecting and showing love to your employees. These are also things that companies do to increase the productivity of their company.
In other words, if your employees have issues with mental health or physical health, this will affect their productivity and, therefore, the overall work at your company.
If you own a business with no human resource management team, be sure to acquire one significantly if your company is growing. If you are a human resource manager, encourage your company to properly handle the processes mentioned above and procedures. They are the core for building a company with a healthy environment and high productivity.
Investing in human resource management is not a waste of money but money invested in preventing problems before they appear. So be sure to explore the stages and processes discussed in this article and consider them for future strategies. Plan, implement, pivot, re-test, and try again: this is the formula for the process.
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