Employees are people doing their best to juggle a dozen responsibilities. To make it all happen, they depend heavily on human resources for employee support, direction, and advocacy.
Just how heavily do employees rely on HR professionals? Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the need for human resources specialists is projected to grow at an above-average rate of 8% between 2021 and 2031, and during that time there will be nearly 82,000 openings for human resources every year. More importantly, Gartner reports that 66% of organizational change factors relate directly to talent, making HR a central component bridging the gap between a company’s transformational goals and the people who make them happen.
Of course, for this to be possible, organizations need to ensure that their HR policies and processes are up to the task.
What Are HR Best Practices?
Human resources best practices are policies that have been shown to produce positive results in the department’s key responsibility areas.
HR teams the people within organization responsible for effectively managing the company’s workforce, both on the individual and collective level. This means human resources often take the lead in recruitment training, development, managing employee benefits, maintaining company culture, and supporting employee-employee relations.
HR Practices vs. HR Activities
It’s important to note the distinction between practices and activities in HR. Understanding the distinction between these two elements is fundamental for HR professionals seeking to streamline their operations.
- HR practices are strategies that provide a roadmap for effectively managing an organization's workforce. They align with the company's broader objectives, forming the guiding principles that drive HR operations. You can think of them as the 'what' and 'why' of HR management. Examples include defining the mission and goals of the HR department, organizing its structure, and measuring the impact of HR programs.
- HR activities are the tangible, day-to-day tasks that bring HR practices to life. These activities constitute the 'how' of HR management, like payroll processing, recruitment, employee training, compensation and benefits administration. They bring the HR practices to life.
The real magic happens when HR practices and HR activities align, advancing the same goals in sync.
11 HR Best Practices Across The Employee Lifecycle
Because HR has such a large mandate (I mean, what parts of a business don’t involve employees?), we’ve broken the best practices of HR down into 6 key areas:
Recruitment and Hiring Processes
You want the best business? Hire the best people. Pretty simple, right?
Maybe not. Recent research suggests that nearly three-fourths of all businesses are experiencing difficulty finding qualified candidates. And just getting them to the interview isn’t enough — 49% of candidates in high-demand fields have turned down job offers because of poor experiences during the hiring process. HR plays a significant role in recruiting and hiring new talent, meaning the responsibility to build a strong foundation of exceptional teammates falls squarely on its shoulders.
HR Best Practices for Recruitment and Hiring:
- Keep interview panels small: It can be stressful enough for applicants to sit down and have their skills and experience judged by a stranger. It’s exponentially more so when the other side of the table is populated by a veritable army of interviewers. Interview panels can be useful — having more than one interviewer adds additional insight and perspectives — but don’t overdo it.
Panels of two to four people are optimal (at least according to the US Office of Personnel Management). Google’s hiring practices further reinforce that panels of four interviewers make the same hiring decisions 95% of the time when compared to larger panels. So, there’s really no need to go big.
- Focus on the right metrics: How effective is your current recruitment strategy? If your answer is shrug, then it’s probably time to take a more quantifiable approach to how you hire. Understanding and tracking essential recruitment metrics will provide data-backed insights you can use to streamline your processes, identify weak points, and have greater success attracting the right people.
- Take a marketing approach: Reaching the best candidates requires strategic campaigns designed to target the right audiences. Today’s HR professionals need to become part marketer so they can meet high performers on the channels they frequent. In fact, 86% of HR professionals believe that recruitment is becoming more like marketing. This means that — more than just saying what skills you’re looking for — you need to build and share your employer brand in a way that generates interest from potential applicants.
Compensation and Perks
Why do candidates apply? To help your business reach new levels of success, of course — what other reasons could there possibly be? Well, there’s the little issue of, well, payment. Joking aside, compensation (in the form of income and benefits) is a critical consideration for most candidates. Employee perks (forms of compensation that aren’t included in salary) can also make a big difference in hiring, retention, and employee satisfaction.
HR Best Practices for Compensation and Perks:
- Provide various compensation options: Not every employee wants or needs the same things, particularly where benefits are concerned. If you’re only touting your amazing childcare-support benefits, for example, or the fact that you provide lengthy paid parental leave, you’re only broadcasting your support for employees with families. Instead, create multiple compensation packages so your people can pick and choose the benefits that fit their lifestyles.
- Know which perks to double down on: Money is so, so important. But on a day-to-day level, it just isn’t the best motivator. So what motivates employees? Perks. Consider that 35% of today’s employees say that remote-work options are essential. And let’s not forget about employee health: 89% of employees say they would be more likely to stay in their current role if their employer prioritized their wellbeing. You just need to know which ones matter the most (and employee surveys can help you there).
Managing and Aligning Employee Expectations
Too often there’s a disconnect between boots-on-the-ground employees and the management teams that support them. HR departments need to fill the role of liaison, ensuring that employee expectations and company needs are fully aligned, and that everyone has a realistic understanding of responsibility and reimbursement. With the Great Resignation continuing to chip away at talented workforces, this responsibility is more vital than ever.
HR Best Practices for Managing and Aligning Employee Expectations:
- Establish expectations early on: Even though it takes time for employees to understand how best to perform their duties, it shouldn’t take any time at all for them to understand what’s expected of them. Work with your employees to set clear expectations, define roles, and establish responsibilities as they relate to company objectives. This is a discussion (or series of discussions) that should begin on day one.
- Measure, measure, measure: Clear expectations are built on equally clear goals, and those goals only take on any real significance when they’re measurable. That means HR should actively determine which performance metrics are relevant to the position, and then track the heck out of them. Goals should not only be measurable, they should also be specific, attainable, and time-bound. And, yes, the employee should have a hand in setting them.
HR’s job is never done. Long after the hiring process is through, human resources are still fighting the good fight to ensure employees have effective training and development opportunities. Good HR practices prioritize training and development well beyond the baseline of what’s necessary for employee onboarding.
HR Best Practices for Training:
- Train them early — no, earlier than that: What’s the earliest that training can start for your full-time employees? If you said “on their first day,” then you might be thinking too narrowly. What about interns? Why not start training them to do the job your company needs before they graduate and make the transition to full-time work? This will better prepare them for their future employment while also saving your company money on full-time training costs.
- Provide development options: About 3 out of 10 workers would consider quitting if they don’t have chances for growth in their current employment, SHRM reports. They also note that about half of employees expect their employers to play an active role in their career development. You put these pieces together, and you get an opportunity!
Companies that deliver professional development — beyond just what’s needed for an employee’s current position — create an environment of learning and advancement that benefits the business.
Transparency and Communication
Finally, a crucial component of HR is transparency. Top talent isn’t content to operate in the dark — they need to know they can trust their supervisors and their coworkers to be open and honest about relevant issues. Effective communication is a major element in transparency, and that makes it central to some of the most effective HR best practices.
HR Best Practices for Transparency and Communication:
- Get social: For a company to operate smoothly, employees, teams, and departments need to be able to share concerns, brainstorm ideas, and workshop solutions, and that takes communication. But while internal communications can go a long way toward motivating employees, your people are probably much more inclined to open up when they’re out of the office and off the clock.
If improving communication is your goal, then creating fun, low-stress, team-building activities for your workforce may be the answer.
- Provide clear feedback: Whether they’re doing a fantastic job or their performance leaves something to be desired, employees need to know about it. It’s not fair to hold team members to standards they aren’t aware of, and it’s just as inexcusable to see them go off course without correction. Consistent, ongoing feedback is an effective solution that helps promote vital transparency in the organization. But don’t feel you have to leave reviews only in the hands of management! SHRM reports that incorporating feedback from supervisors and co-workers helps improve the effectiveness of performance reviews.
Implement HR Best Practices for Organizational Wellness
HR best practices are the cornerstone of organizational wellness. They are designed to provide your most valuable resources—your employees—with the guidance, support, encouragement, and motivation they need to excel and drive your business forward.
While selecting wellness benefit offerings are an important component of HR best practices, you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Talk to a Gympass wellbeing specialist to uncover which types of offerings are best for your employees.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.