Talent is one of the most challenging and discussed topics in our industry. Where do we find great people? How do we create great employees? What can we do to inspire talented people to stay? These are just a few of the big-picture questions I address with many NSCA members. The list of HR questions I receive continues to grow (and, yes, I do keep a list so I can see which questions come up again and again).
Having these discussions with integrators around the country also helps me learn what’s working and what’s not, so I can share best practices and encourage others to continue to invest in HR to address these big-picture issues. If you want to find, attract and keep the best talent, then you better take HR seriously.
There are a few things that your HR team should be dedicated to doing if you want to attract and maintain the best talent pool. These suggestions come from hundreds of conversations with successful integrators around the world. Essentially, it comes down to treating HR as a priority, helping people see growth within your organization and taking employee benefits seriously.
Focusing Solely on HR
Too many companies have just one person assigned to about eight different front-office roles: receivables, payables, order entry, procurement, marketing and HR, for example. I know it’s hard to have specific people assigned to each of these roles if company revenue doesn’t support it. But your staff members want to understand your organization’s HR policies; if one person is responsible for that many tasks, chances are high that they won’t be good at HR-specific functions or answering employee questions about HR offerings. How could they be, without the time or resources to devote to it?
Serving as a Mediator
Everything done in HR should help employees perform better. One of the functions of HR includes helping people understand their growth potential within a company. If HR is only 10 percent of one person’s role, there is no way they can serve this need. Too often, employee jobs experience scope creep. A lot of “do-the-work-and-get-the-job” is promised by managers, but the big promotion or raise never actually happens. This leads to unhappy people who end up leaving the organization. HR can solve this conundrum by serving as a mediator between stakeholders, employees and business objectives.
In many ways, a robust HR department can hold managers and departments accountable through checks and balances; it can also help with things like figuring out how to update job roles, assign the right job titles and set appropriate compensation levels to align with company strategy. HR can also add value by ensuring that employee performance is recognized and rewarded.
Creating Enticing Benefits Packages
Too many companies underestimate the importance of employee benefits. At the time of hiring, many people dial in to the salary because it’s the one thing everyone seems to understand. In a climate of uncertainty, however, where healthcare is expensive and retirement plans feel like a thing of the past, these benefits absolutely matter.
Good managers use employee benefits to sell against the competition; smart employees and prospective employees see the importance of having good benefits. Companies should also have a strong understanding of how their benefits stack up to competitors. Salary and healthcare take the cake, but it’s the entire package that people consider. What are some small perks and differentiators that can be offered? It may be as simple as snacks in the breakroom, jeans days, flex time or paying for gym memberships.
These three things hardly make up for the plethora of questions I receive about HR, but addressing them first can make some of the more specific HR questions, such as about things like 401(k) offerings, drug testing and safety requirements, become more manageable.
Much like sales or installation, HR is a critical, but all too often ignored, function of an integration company. If you believe that your talent is important, then there’s no denying that making an investment in supporting talent through HR is a sound idea.
Many integration firms are challenged when it comes to HR because they don’t have the resources to hire more staff, or they can’t make the case for more HR team members given the overall size of the organization. That’s where third-party options come into play. There are partners that offer HR services to integrators, from acting as your entire HR team to offering one or two specific HR solutions. They can also help smaller firms find ways to offer great employee benefits. If this sounds like a possibility for you, NSCA can connect you with an HR business accelerator that can help cover the HR gaps in your current team. Visit www.nsca.org/insperity to learn more!
And if you have any HR questions, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to answer them, and add them to my ever-growing list.