Is Employee Engagement Really That Important?

Employee engagement is not just another of those ‘buzzwords’ used by management consultants, but an important business concept which has a direct impact of a company’s profitability. Communication, trust and mutual respect are key to effective employee engagement. In combination, these make staff feel valued and lead to greater motivation, higher staff retention and improved productivity.

Part of the family

Fortunately, the days of staff clocking in and out with punch cards and time clocks are long gone. Old-fashioned time and attendance systems not only treated employees simply as numbers on a payroll, but implied their honesty was suspect. As a result, shop floor and management were poles apart; employee engagement was unheard of so it’s hardly surprising that increasing productivity was challenging.

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, summed it up when he said “Our first priority should be the people who work for the companies, then the customers, then the shareholders. Because if the staff are motivated then the customers will be happy, and the shareholders will then benefit through the company’s success.”

Welcome to work

The advent of modern IT-based systems has revolutionised time and attendance not only by simplifying and automating clocking in, but also by incorporating interactive communication channels to enhance employee engagement.

Imagine arriving at work every morning and simply placing your finger into a smart terminal. This immediately identifies you, greets you with a personalised message and automatically advises payroll that you are on site and ready to start work. It then opens a wealth of direct communication channels between you and your manager, central admin and even head office.

Maybe there’s a change to work schedules, a new contract, new staff, somebody’s retiring. It’s good to know what’s happening and a personalised message as they clock in really makes employees feel they are a valued part of the organisation, and overcomes the feeling that big brother is watching.

Your flexible friend

It may seem a paradox that monitoring attendance actually provides greater freedom to employees. In the modern working environment, not everybody works in an office or a factory. Staff may be out on site, or working from home, and that can also apply to managers.

Time and attendance systems can integrate with smart phones, tablets or virtual networks. This means staff can clock in wherever they may be and at the same time provide information about their location. It also means managers can be fully updated with real-time staff reports, even when they are working remotely

Help yourself

As the lines of communication are two-way, it provides a further opportunity for employee empowerment. It’s so much better for employees to interrogate their own attendance record, see how much leave they are due, and even make requests for holiday or leave instead of bombarding HR and admin staff for information. It gives employees a feeling of greater control over their own personnel data as well as reducing the workload for admin staff and line management.

Staff support

One of the real benefits of modern time and attendance systems are the additional employee support functions they can offer. An absence management module can be a really valuable management tool. Not only will it allow you to monitor employee attendance levels in real time and create alerts when pre-defined thresholds are breached, it can calculate the Bradford Factor, a KPI for attendance levels. This can help identify absence patterns and aid in the early recognition of causes, such as stress, before they become serious.

Everybody wins

Engagement is making sure all staff members feel they are an integral part of the company, crucial to its success and not just another number on the payroll. It’s about trust and fairness, and this has to be reciprocal. Employees should feel that the organisation is treating them fairly, with respect, and appreciates their role in the business’s success, while employers must be confident that employees take ownership of their job, work effectively and provide real value to the business.

The latest time and attendance systems with their modular software and complementary apps are in a prime position to improve efficiency, productivity and support an effective employee engagement strategy.

Surveys have shown that businesses with engaged employees have markedly higher productivity, and highly engaged employees have a significantly lower absence rate compared to non-engaged employees. It should therefore be no surprise that engaged employees enjoy their job more and are more productive, which leads to future success for both employer and employee.

Bodet Ltd is the British subsidiary of the Bodet Group, which have been leading the market in time measurement products since the 1860s. The Group have five subsidiaries across Europe exporting to 60 countries and have expanded from clock-making into IT-based time and attendance, access control, school class change systems and sports scoreboards.

The Bodet Group has over 35,000 clients including Fedex, Serco, TalkTalk and the European Parliament as well as state and independent schools and individual public sector institutions such as DVLA and NHS.

What Do You Do When Your Staff Asks for Flexible Workdays?

Under Fair Work Legislation, every business must provide a family friendly work environment for their employees. Providing staff with the option to work different hours or work from home does not have to mean a loss of productivity. In fact, even smaller businesses are finding it advantageous to accommodate their staff’s needs for flexible work arrangements.

However the initial request for more flexibility is often confronting for many employers. Here are 3 points you need to consider.

1. It’s not a one-way exchange

While it may not be applicable to every member of your team, most employers have loyal, hardworking staff members they know they can trust. If you wish to keep these people, you need to be adaptable as they balance their work and family obligations.

Unhappy workers leave their current jobs – especially if their new employer promises more opportunities to gain work/life balance. So if you want to keep your best workers, you will need to consider their request for flexibility.

Building a culture of trust

Accommodating a staff member’s needs for flexible work arrangements makes a strong statement that you trust and value their contribution to your organisation.

When workers feel valued, they tend to work harder and be more loyal to their employer. So while the initial request for flexible work arrangements may seem inconvenient for your business, it could provide a boost in productivity.

2. A request for flexibility is the start of a conversation

The legislation around providing flexible work arrangements clearly states that a business can refuse requests for flexible working arrangements “on reasonable business grounds”. The key word here is reasonable and this is where personal biases can cloud an employer’s decision.

The legislation also states the request for flexibility must be made in writing describing what the request is and the reasons for it. The employer must then respond within 21 days. Use this time to become less emotional about the request. Instead, focus on the impact to your business if the staff member takes unplanned leave or resigns from your organisation.

Negotiate if you can’t say “yes”

If you are unable to completely satisfy your employee’s request for flexibility, try to negotiate a middle ground that satisfies the needs of both the employee and the business. For example, if your employee asks to work from home 3 days a week, maybe they could work from home 1 or 2 days a week with a review of the situation after 3 months.

3. Explore ways to create a flexible workplace by redesigning work flow practices

Technology and customer service expectations are both changing the way the world does business. Many industries now operate in a 24/7 environment with businesses of all sizes embracing the cost savings of running virtual offices.

For some businesses offering 9 day fortnights or longer work days in exchange for rostered days off are proving a viable way to remain profitable and customer focused. They often report other benefits such as reduced unplanned leave because workers have the flexibility to balance their work and home responsibilities.

Performance Appraisal and Personal Development – The Unholy Alliance

There is currently an increasing emphasis on maximum performance from each individual in organisations. At the same time there is a corresponding concern as to how to achieve this in a way which is effective and focused for the organisation, and motivating and constructive for each employee.

In most organisations the assessment process take the form of an annual performance appraisal review between the manager and the employee. This interview provides the opportunity for a full and frank discussion about the individual’s job performance for the previous 12 months, and for both parties to agree the key performance and development issues resulting from the discussion. These issues normally include updated performance measures, new personal objectives, and the delivery of training and personal development plans.

Whether appraiser and appraisee admit it or not, pay is also an important part of the agenda, and in the future it will become even more so, as remuneration becomes increasingly performance-related.

However, the irony of the current situation is that whilst Performance Appraisal is being undertaken by many organisations with a fresh urgency and focus, feedback from managers and employees suggest that very little is being achieved. In fact, current Performance Appraisal procedures seem to excite most staff to a level comparable to a visit to the dentist!

Why? Surely an organisationaly-supported discussion which gives managers and employees the opportunity to discuss their views and ideas on critical work issues like performance, pay, and career development should only benefit both.

What Is Going Wrong?

There are a number of key issues which organisations need to urgently review:

– unclear and unreviewed job roles

– ‘woolly’ or ill-defined performance measures

– inconsistent and unimaginative pay and performance policies

– ‘wayward’ and frankly inconsiderate interpersonal skills on the part of the managers.

However, the most critical factor requiring a complete re-think is that of a personal development planning forming an integral part of the Performance Appraisal Discussion.

For the majority of employees, the Annual Appraisal Meeting is still the only time that their career path and personal development will be discussed in any detail with their manager.

Many employees complain that their personal agenda of career development, job satisfaction and personal development is just ‘tacked-on’ to the Performance Appraisal discussion, and in an atmosphere where all too often subjective options about performance are being expressed and a pay award is up for grabs?? Not easy.

So why is the atmosphere of the Performance Appraisal meeting not at all appropriate for Personal Development Discussions? Because the emphasis and focus of each should be different.

Performance Appraisal

– Manager led

– Results based

– Past performance

– Organisational needs

– Pay/Compensation related

– Judgmental

Development Discussion

– Employee led

– Skills/Talents based

– Future growth

– Individuals’ needs

– Career related

– Developmental

Performance and pay cannot be sensibly discussed alongside growth and development. The danger is that the shorter term pay issue will always cloud the longer term development issue. The development issue, which is actually of greater long-term benefit, will always come a poor second.

Organisations must recognise and signal that employee success is not just about past performance, it’s as much about their future personal development.

So What Is The Remedy?

1. Personal career and development planning requires the same organisational priority as performance management, assessment techniques, training and compensation. It needs to stand alone as an essential piece of personnel practice in its own right.

2. The view that career development can only be measured in promotional terms has to be put into perspective. The stark reality is that ‘right-sizing’ will preclude promotion for an ever-increasing number of employees. Organisations and employees need to accept this and redefine the meaning of success at work.

3. Each employee must be taught how to take responsibility for their personal growth and development. They need time and encouragement to prepare a regular personal development agenda for discussion with their manager.

4. Growth and development should concentrate on an individual’s personal skills and talents, particularly those which individuals want to use more and are also crucial to job success. The result is a win/win for the individual and employer.

5. People’s growth and development will require more flexible organisational job structures where new responsibilities, assignments and projects will provide the opportunities for personal growth.

Recent research has shown again and again that growth and development are amongst the top motivational issues for employees today. To increase corporate performance the personal development issue must be tackled as a strategic issue.

Employees must be given quality time and opportunity to discuss with their manager their development and growth plans and aspirations. They also need a means to achieve this.

Just as Performance Appraisal never works in the hands of untrained managers so it is with Personal Development Discussions. They simply won’t happen unless Managers are trained to handle them effectively.

Performance Appraisal Meetings and Personal Development Discussions are essential for any organisation wishing to increase performance, maintain motivation and retain their staff. Both activities are ultimately inter-dependent and interrelated, yet with an emphasis and focus which are different.

Performance Appraisal discussions should focus primarily on ‘how effectively did you perform against the objectives which we discussed and agreed, and what needs to be done to improve performance in the coming year?’

Personal Development Discussions should focus primarily on ‘what actions do you feel need to be taken to make your job more satisfying, and to make greater and more effective use of your talents and skills?’

There is a ‘wind of change’ blowing which recognises that individuals hold the key to organisational success. Individuals will provide the organisation with increased performance if the organisation provides the individual with real opportunities for personal development and growth. Organisations won’t grow if the individuals within them are not growing.

Some Great Ideas For Employee Motivation For A Small Business

What kind of business would a business be without employees who were satisfied with what they do and enjoy coming to work every day? In a perfect world, one’s business would have enough money to afford the workers enough luxuries to convince them to stay. In the real world, a small business’s funds are limited and they have to come up with some intriguing ideas in order to motivate the employees. This article will discuss some simple ideas that an owner can use to help improve employee well-being.

#1: If Funds Allow, Have The Employee Take Any Class Of Their Choice Such As An Exercise Class Or Cooking Class

What can be more exciting for the worker than having a chance to partake in a hobby of their choice? Maybe he/she likes to learn how to cook, learn pottery, or they enjoy some kind of exercise. Whatever the case, it is important to allow the worker some time to pursue a personal interest of theirs by offering to pay for a class or set of classes that can help them pursue that interest. This will help improve the work environment by giving the employee a sense of well-being, that they have a life outside of work and that they are able to pursue that life.

#2: Every Month, Week, Or Whatever Period Of Time That Funds Will Allow, Have A Social Gathering Of Some Kind

Nothing may be more important in a work environment than employees who get along with each other. Some of the best work environments are the ones that engage in social outings whether it would be a small office party, a happy hour at a restaurant or bar, or any gathering where co-workers can talk to each other about their personal lives along with other interests. Whatever the case, it is always important as business owner to allot some time for employees to discuss personal issues and other interests with others since it will give them a stronger sense of well-being and make them feel like they belong in the environment. This, in turn, will help motivate the employees and keep them around.

The 12 Most Annoying Work Colleagues

We spend up to a third of our lives in work, so inevitably we end up spending an awfully large amount of time with our co-workers. For many of us there are always likely to be a few annoying odd balls who we have to try our hardest to tolerate. These individuals wield the power to potentially ruin our working days and drive us up the wall with their sheer annoying tendencies. Here is our rundown of the top 12 most annoying work colleagues… everyone will know at least one of these. If you know all 12 then you may need to consider getting a new job sharpish.

1. The stupid question generator

No question is too stupid for this individual. Explained and covered a topic countless times? Well this person always finds another pointless or obvious question to ask. Wonderful, all those dumb questions mean your meetings are literally never going to end.

2. The work gossiper

Anything you tell this co-worker in strict confidence will be common knowledge around the whole office within a matter of hours. These individuals actually believe they live and work on the set of Coronation Street.

3. The drama queen

These individuals suffer a small run of the mill issue and proceed to blow it out of all proportion with their amateur dramatics and temper tantrums. And the Oscar goes to…

4. The know it all

Congratulations, you were correct on one occasion! Well done! Now we’ll have to hear about it for the next five years. We are fairly sure it is mandatory for every single work place in Britain to have at least one know it all.

5. The comedian… who isn’t actually funny

The person who believes they’re a stand-up comedian but is in actual fact is one of the least entertaining people you work with. Why did the chicken cross the road?… to get away from these wannabe Peter Kays.

6. The Weirdo

This type of co-worker does not understand the concept of personal space. Experts in the art of creeping people out. Strange and intrusive conversations are their bread and butter.

7. The entitled co-worker

Deep down everyone hates the person who has a family or friendship pass with management. They can often be seen walking round with a false sense of entitlement and importance.

8. The loud phone person

Their phone conversations drown out every other sound in your work place and can lead to cases of tinnitus in extreme cases. What makes the crime even more unforgivable is more often than not, the conversations are painfully dull.

9. The work bully

Miss the days of getting your head flushed down the toilet in school? Well these are the people who probably did the flushing back in the day! Work bullies are one of the most serious inclusions on this list and can make work tough for anyone.

10. The food stealer

This person always manages to “accidentally” consume your food. Food stealers can often be found lurking in the kitchen waiting for people to drop their guard. Take your eyes off your sandwich for a second at your peril.

11. The obsessed scheduler

You can’t do a single thing with this person unless it’s in their diary. Looking for a 2 minute chat? Not in the diary? Then forget it. This kind of person schedules their toilet trips.

12. The chain email sender

Forward these meaningless words displayed on your screen to someone else and some magical fairies riding unicorns will come and solve world poverty overnight and deliver you a winning lottery ticket. Chain emails were all the rage about 10 years ago. Not cool anymore. Not cool.

Finding and Promoting Added Meaning and Purpose in Life Within Organization Settings

Introduction

Everyone has plenty of meaning and purpose (M&P) in life. Some, however, are more aware of what gives their lives M&P. How about you? Where do you fit on a continuum from being unaware to well aware of what gives your life meaning? How conscious are you of the purposes that animate your passions, causes and lifestyle choices?

Let me condense both questions into one: What would you say if asked “How do you find M&P?”

A friend asked this question the other day. It took me about five minutes to come up with a response. I’ll share my answer-shortly.

But first, I’d like you to experience the process. This could be a form of self-discovery. Go ahead-put the reading aside for a moment so you can list a few ways you find M&P.

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Interpretation and Explanation

There is no “correct” or incorrect answer.

One objective of this exercise is more awareness of approaches you’ve followed. Most M&P evolves over the course of many years.

Another objective is to discover how these choices became part of your life. Did you consciously decide? Or, did most or all derive from traditions, customs or teachings of your parents and the cultures of which you were a part?

Either way, the third objective is to decide if there might be other possibilities.

Before continuing, let me do what I promised-share my response to this question.

My Response

I find M&P In varied ways:

• Through connections with friends, associates and others.

• With my wife and children.

• By having many things to think about and do.

• From books, music, exercise, food, wine, nature, etc.

• Opportunities to do what 19th century orator Robert Green Ingersoll noted in his creed: “To cultivate the mind, to become more familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world.”

• Via happiness, laughter.

• Sex (in an earlier time in life, this might have been mentioned much sooner).

Psychologists who study human motivation generally agree that self-determination is largely affected by three psychological needs: relatedness to others, autonomy and competence. We all seek some degree of control, the freedom to make choices, the liberty to become good at something and opportunities to influence the direction of our lives. All efforts or actions that serve these needs give M&P. Success in doing so boosts mental health and increases our degree of happiness. Work, that is the organizations with which we practice our professions and build our careers, along with the education we obtain and the romances we experience, also play a big part of our M&P.

A Sampling of Visions

Some forms of M&P seem ambitious and out of reach. Sure, we all want to support our families, become familiar with the demonstrated facts of science, work for more responsible government and so on. However, get even more ambitious. For example, I read the other day that Bertrand Piccard, one of two pilots of Solar Impulse 2, the sun-powered airplane on a globe circling voyage, has an amazing mission. He wants to promote “a world free from reliance on fossil fuels.”

Pretty impressive. I can see how that might infuse a person with a solid sense of M&P. Nice work, if you can get it.

But M&P is not a competition. Helping one’s organization play a valuable role in the community could be satisfying, as well. Not everyone can circle the earth, climb the highest mountain, set a world record or take advantage of remarkable opportunities.

A Remarkable Depression-Era Book

On July 15, 1931 during the Great Depression, Will Durant wrote over 100 letters to “bright luminaries in contemporary life” here and abroad. He wrote to famous people for whom he had high regard. He asked, “Will you interrupt your work for a moment and play the game of philosophy with me?”

In a lengthy composition, he asked his correspondents how they manage to derive worth and meaning in life. He said “this question dwarfs all other problems of philosophy and religion, economics and statesmanship.” All else, he added, “becomes a transitory trifle unworthy of serious concern.” (Source: Will Durant, On the Meaning of Life, Ray Long and Richard R. Smith Inc., 1932, p. 3.)

The lengthy letter reviewed scientific breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution. Durant believed there was great disillusionment. He called his own a “philosophy of despair.” It contained sections on problems that were “nearly breaking the spirit of the race.” The letter provided an overview on the status of religion, science, history and what he termed “the suicide of the intellect.”

Excerpts

I thought you might enjoy excerpts of advice on M&P from a few Depression-era celebrities. The following are responses to Durant’s question: “Tell us where you find your consolation and your happiness, where in the last resort your treasure lies.”

These are excerpts; I recommend you order a copy of this truly great book from your local library.

Next to agreeable work as a means of attaining happiness (M&P) I put what Huxley called ‘the domestic affections’ – the day to day intercourse with family and friends. H.L. Mencken

•... get a few laughs, do the best you can, take nothing serious… and don’t start ‘seeking knowledge,’ for the more you seek the nearer the ‘Booby Hatch’ you get. And don’t have an ideal to work for. That’s like riding toward a mirage of a lake. When you get there it ain’t there. Believe in something for another world,but don’t be too set on what it is, and then you won’t start out that life with a disappointment. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead. Will Rogers

• To have a great purpose to work for, a purpose larger than ourselves, is one of the secrets of making life significant, for then the meaning and worth of the individual overflow his personal borders, and survive his death. Jawaharlal Nehru

I want to be restless, I want always to be in action, and to be trying for some kind of beauty and perfection. Even if I may be lacking in talent, I shall have the pleasure of action – and there is always hope – at least in a young, restless heart. Helen Wills Moody

How the devil do I know? Has the question itself any meaning? George Bernard Shaw

In Summary

We all seek forms of consolation and happiness, and the “locations” where our treasures might lie. Like G.B. Shaw, however, we don’t usually think in these terms.

Some truths seem evident, among them that we should think in these terms now and then, we have to find our own forms of M&P, that some outlets are better than others in giving positive, life-enriching results and that the organizations we serve can, under the best of circumstances, enrich the M&P we experience.

Another truth might be this: By pondering these issues, you increase your prospects for more satisfying M&P at work and elsewhere.

Be well, look after yourself and stay open to possibilities.

Human Resources – Can’t We All Just Get Along?!

In my many years of running a company, I have always thought it best to follow the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you are an overbearing boss, who wants to nitpick, and look over your employee’s shoulder at every turn, you will succeed in inspiring hatred and resentment. Your employee may not show it but, guaranteed, they are feeling it.

Getting up and going to a job is difficult enough as it is. Please don’t make it any more difficult by having an attitude of this being “your company”, so that you can do whatever it is that you please.

If you are a manager of any kind, it might be best to shed whatever is chipping away at your shoulder. You will get rid of the pest, and you will feel much, much better.

A prime example is how I work with an artist of mine. Because her portfolio was extremely strong to begin with, I saw that she has an incredible imagination. So much so, I trusted her to do what she does best, and, for the most part, get out of her hair. She really enjoys the process of illustration, and also helping people out. I simply gave her a copy of my book, and then asked for some sketches. It wasn’t anything too much in the beginning. It never is. She surprised me by creating some beautiful pieces, and providing enough information to where I could somewhat imagine what the final product might look like.

In terms of timeline, we agreed on something that was equitable for the both of us, and moved forward. If you hire great people, you won’t have to dwell, and nitpick over silly details.

After I either approved, or request enhancements and updates to the artwork, we again agreed on a delivery time. The artwork is incredibly imaginative, and absolutely works with the subject matter.

It totally helped that she is not really attached to any of the work, and can accept when I request changes. If you provide a solid working foundation in the beginnings of a project, you have something to build upon for the future.

I have found that if you treat the other person like maybe one day they might hire you, this works to everyone’s advantage. Why? Because you never know if that might happen!

If a relationship isn’t working out within the first week or two, it’s okay to professionally end it. In the long run, it will be better for them, you, and perhaps most importantly, the project.

So, next time you are looking over a stack or résumés or pouring over portfolios, after feeling all of the fine details out, go with your gut. It’s 99.9% of the time correct!

See our gorgeous artwork today!

Top Tips for a Successful Company Conference

Some surveys show, disappointingly, that many company conferences or ‘away-days’ aren’t always favourably perceived by employees.

There are many reasons for that and no simple article can analyse them all.

Here though are some of the chief reasons cited by attendees and this relates to internal conferences held in locations outside of the normal place of business.

• “A huge disruption to my normal work”. This suggests that people see the conference as something that simply means they’ll be asked to deal with a backlog upon their return. This can only be addressed by making sure that the conference benefits outweigh the negatives arising from the disruption to ‘business as usual’.

• “A non-stop talking shop with no outcomes”. Many conferences do have real beneficial outcomes but these aren’t always well communicated after the event. Make sure you periodically update attendees as to progress based upon things that happened at the conference.

• “A major travel and expense inconvenience for me”. It’s hard not to have some sympathy for attendees who are forced to undertake disruptive and potentially expensive travel for the day(s) concerned. Consider providing transport – luxury coach hire can be very cost-effective and something of an incentive. It’s also ‘greener’ than everyone using their own cars.

• “It’s just listening to the guys at the top talking their own egos up”. This is commonplace where attendees have little to do other than to passively watch presentation after presentation. Try to get participatory sessions arranged and aggressively canvass input and contributions from the majority during the conference – and don’t allow senior participant ‘grandstanding’.

• “Everybody’s far too tired once they get there and many just doze off”. A surprising number of people comment negatively about unrealistic arrival time expectations that are set without any consideration of the impact on attendees. This is particularly demotivating and resentment-generating when keynote speakers, organizers and ‘important’ personnel are known to have stayed overnight in a local hotel while everyone else had to get up at (e.g.) 4am to get there from their own homes. So, set REALISTIC not pointlessly macho start-times, in order to give people a civilized departure time from their home base.

• “Nobody has a clue what the conference is about”. Incredibly, it’s not unusual to find significant numbers of attendees who are unclear as to why they’ve been asked (or told) to attend or what the objectives are. This is a major indictment of pre-conference communication at the very least. If, in fact, the organisation doesn’t have any clear objectives for the conference so can’t communicate them anyway, then arguably it should be cancelled. Make sure that there are firm objectives and communicate them clearly, together with their success measures, in advance.

• “The guys at the top just spend all the time talking to each other”. If you observe the social interaction sessions (e.g. lunch etc.) of many corporate conferences, you’ll see a tendency for more senior personnel to group together for networking or political manoeuvring purposes. While this is sometimes subconscious, it is nevertheless massively demotivating for other personnel attending. It re-enforces perceptions of elitism. So, make sure all senior attendees have it made clear to them that they should be using the conference to interact with people outside of their normal comfort zone circles.

Deal with some of these things and your conferences will become more productive and motivating to all!

Human Resources Interview – Mistakes to Avoid

The Human Resources interview is often the first step in the job interview process.

It’s also one of the steps that job searchers tend to look at as being unimportant. Job searchers who treat the HR interview as being unimportant risk losing out on jobs.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been helping a job candidate prepare for a job interview and have had to convince them that the Human Resources interview that they are preparing for is one that they actually need to take seriously.

Many people seem to think that they are smarter than the HR person they are going to interview with and think that they can confuse them with technical jargon and bluff their way past HR to get to the hiring manager.

If you are not making it past the HR interview stage for various jobs you are applying for, you need to understand the differences between interviewing with an HR interviewer and the hiring manager.

HR is brought into the interview process to represent the company and to determine whether or not you are a fit for the organization.

Here are some things you should consider when preparing for a Human Resources interview.

1. Human Resources can prevent you from getting hired.

I’ve seen cases where the HR representative prevents the hiring manager from hiring someone who the hiring manager wanted. HR can have significant input into the hiring process in some companies and in some cases can be the final say as to whether or not you get hired regardless of whether you interview with them first or last and regardless of how badly the hiring manager wants you.

2. The Human Resources interview will assess your suitability to join the company.

Before a company invests potentially tens of thousands of dollars (or more) by hiring you, they are going to ensure you will fit within the organization. If you can’t answer questions about yourself, why you want to join the company and other HR-type questions why would they hire you? The questions may seem trivial to you but they aren’t to the HR person interviewing you, trust me.

3. Understand how Human Resources can help you get the job.

I’ve seen some HR reps who tell me on the phone that they particularly like one candidate over another and basically tell me that they are going to try to steer the hiring manager towards that candidate and away from the one they don’t like as much. They aren’t necessarily playing favorites, they’ve simply decided that one candidate suits the company better than another. HR can be your advocate if you take them seriously.

4. People hire people who they like.

All things being equal, a company will someone they like over someone who they don’t like as much. When two candidates are equal in all areas, a company will hire the person that they feel will be a better fit in their organization. It’s really that simple. Performing well during the Human Resources interview can only help your chances at getting the job.

5. Don’t assume the HR rep doesn’t know what you know.

Unless you know the Human Resources person interviewing you or unless you’ve seen a copy of their resume, how you can tell what they know and what they don’t know? Don’t assume that they won’t understand your business or profession or that you’ll confuse them by using technical jargon. For all you know, they may have done your job in the past and be very familiar with your job. They may interview people with your skills regularly so believing that you can confuse them by mentioning technical terms and phrases might end up costing you when they see right through it.

Help! I’m In Charge of Human Resources – What’ll I Do Now?

Out of the blue in addition to your other responsibilities you’ve been placed in charge of Human Resources. This happens within many small businesses as they begin to grow. Someone is given a title, perhaps with a remark, “I know you will do well.” Don’t panic. You are not alone. And luckily there are resources available to you . . . and you probably will do well.

You need to take Human Resources seriously, but not to the point that it immobilizes you like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. As you gather your wits about you and begin making plans, there are two main areas you should be aware of: legal issues and improving your workforce. Actually, consider the two main areas plus the budget. The longer you are involved with HR the more you’ll know, and since there are roughly four dozen HR categories for training, you need to realize there are many things to learn, but as a beginner there are only few basics you need to cover.

Legal Issues:

  • Hiring and Firing
  • Respectful Workplace: Harassment – Disabilities – Diversity

Improving Your Workforce:

  • Management/Leadership
  • Team Building
  • Communications
  • Customer Service

Learning more about legal issues will protect you and your organization. This is the best place to start. When hiring and firing there are some things you can do and some things you can’t do. There are training videos that will take you step by step through the interview process for hiring, so you hire a person that meets your qualifications. One of the best training videos for this is a product called More Than a Gut Feeling. This program has been around for years and has been updated repeatedly. The video comes with a training guide as well as a the book, More Than a Gut Feeling.

Training points from the package include:

  • How to plan a logical, structured interview that includes pre-planned interview questions
  • How to use interviewing techniques that allow for interviewer control
  • How to recognize why some questions cannot be legally asked in the interview process

As you can see, the package gives you a good baseline of information to help you select the best candidate and it also gives you information about the kind of questions you shouldn’t be asking. Before you begin firing anyone, you should also take a look at legal issues in firing as well, but hiring will probably be your first need.

Every worker has the right to expect that they will work in a safe and respectful workplace. This is why each organization has the obligation to be aware of problems with harassment (harassment, sexual harassment, and workplace bullying), the ADA (American’s With Disabilities Act), and the acceptance of diversity. A policy encompassing workplace violence and harassment prevention along with respectful treatment is a must. There are many products to help you develop your own policy manual and many even come with blank form for you to fill out.

Once the legal aspects of employment have been addressed, you can move into training. There are special assessments you can purchase to address your training needs as a whole as well as the needs of individuals within the organization, but as a newbie Human Resources Director, I would recommend you simply meet with your fellow employees and brainstorm about training and education needs. The more you communicate with your employees, the better understanding you will develop with them about their abilities.

Possibly the best place to start in training are the areas of team building and communications. If your organization isn’t working as a team you make management harder and if communications isn’t working you make most aspects of working together almost impossible.

Training videos may run between a few hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars or more. Many of the John Cleese business training tapes cost about $870, while Jamie Oliver’s new tapes (of the Food Channel) run a little over a thousand dollars to purchase. Renting is an option, but I follow the “better to own the cow” philosophy. The John Cleese videos use lots of humor to illustrate their points and Jamie Oliver is really popular, so both of these factors make these training videos well worth the money.

There are more economic tools available, however. There are pre-packaged workshops for off-the-shelf training that contain scripts, handouts, and overheads (all on reproducible .pdf formated files) AND an illustrative video accompanies the presentation all for less than $400. You can adapt the script for presenting a half day workshop or as much as a two day workshop. You can put the workshop instantly into your schedule and then bring it back for review (and new employees) a year or two later. And, of course the second time you use the package, there is no additional charge.

You can also purchase three-ring binders which contain simple activities, which can be used time and time again. Activity collections are available for many HR training categories and cost around $140.

I recommend you plan a budget that enables you to begin stocking a library of products. You can add to them and share them with fellow workers and managers. As you share programs and your desire you improve your organization you should be able to find fellow employees that will help and assist you.

You can start off your Human Resources career by initiating your own training programs, by hiring HR trainers to come in an consult with you and possibly run programs that you can run the next time around, or by hiring professionals at each level of training. The needs of the employees and your budget should be your guiding light.

Human Resources should be both fun and challenging. Enjoy.