The age-old dilemma of whether the HR is for the employers or the employees is a never-ending one – one that raises its head every time you want to safeguard employee interests along with keeping the sanctity of organisational policies in place.
Favouring your employees too much will be questioned by the employer and you may be perceived as not acting as the flag-bearer of the company’s needs. On the other hand, advocating the employer’s set agenda and following every rule by the book may not generate trust of your employees in the human resources department.
In such a scenario, it becomes essential to have a balancing strategy in place, one that effectively soothes out the claims of both the parties peacefully, letting HR function without unwanted stress.
Here’s How HR Can Lay The Employer VS Employees Argument To Rest!
Let’s look at some of the ways HR can strike a balance between the employer and the employees!
1. Handle Layoffs Effectively:
Layoffs are never easy and can be very challenging for the HR. This is one of the situations where the HR risks earning the ire of the affected employees!
But you have to agree that these reductions in force are necessary at some point, and the decisions made by the management are in the best interests of the business.
What you can do as the HR person is to support employees even in an unpleasant situation of a layoff.
Provide honest help to employees. If the reason for layoff is a reduction in force, don’t punish people by making them ineligible for rehiring or refusing to provide references.
The other way you can help their case is to offer a long notice period or a large severance pay. The latter is always better as the employees are free from working half-heartedly in a place where they have already put down their papers and obviously can focus better on the job search.
You can also hold workshops that train employees in interviewing and resume writing as well as provide coaching on job search methods.
Convince the management that the above expenses are useful. Supporting your staff during layoff increases the chances of them getting a job faster, which is great for retaining your reputation as an employer of choice even after the layoff, which was much needed. You fulfil the dual responsibilities towards your employees as well as the employer.
2. Get Salaries Aligned With The Market Rates:
Like any other business, every employer wants to keep their payroll expenses to a minimum, whereas the employees are always working towards earning a pay increase. What should a good HR do in case of such conflicting goals?
Turn towards the market. Your employees should earn in tandem with the market rates. So an accounting manager or a sales head in your team should earn roughly the same as a similarly situated position in all of the other companies in the region.
If employees earn below market rates, then the HR manager needs to put together proposed salary increases that will align the salaries to the market, which should then be presented to the CEO.
However, if the scenario is opposite, which means if the employees earn more than the market rates, gather the information and present to the employees, in case they feel underpaid.
A wise employer will understand that having underpaid employees is bad for the long-term health of the company. They might feel resentful and disengaged and are more likely to find a new job, especially the bright ones who can move their way quickly into a new job.
Similarly, wise employees would not leave knowing their salaries are on par with the market rates. In fact, some of them might be in for a pay raise with their stellar performances. A good HR manager can explain the reasons for the current pay level.
Most importantly, the employees feel that the HR manager listened to them and didn’t dismiss their concerns.
3. Avoid Overworked Employees and High Turnover:
Lean practices are followed by every business from time to time, which are pretty great for the bottom line, but also put a tremendous amount of stress on the employees.
Especially after a layoff, when there is a strain on the manpower and the present employees not only miss their former co-workers but have to take on more work to earn the same paycheck. While the employer is certainly meeting his financial goals, the employees feel unsupported and as an HR manager, what should be your role towards both the parties?
The first step that you can take in this direction is to eliminate unnecessary procedures and processes. Get in touch with business unit heads and encourage them to simplify processes and bring about improvements. Remember, an overhaul of the system operating in the same way for the past 10 years can relieve the significant stress of employees and help save time.
Go Flexi! As simple as that!
In today’s global world, if you want to attract and retain the best talent, it’s time to get flexible. Offering work from home for people who waste precious time in commuting reduces a lot of stress. Likewise, allow people to come in early or late as per their schedules.
Flexibility and autonomy are two most important aspects any job seeker is looking for in a company.
Lastly, remember that overworked employees are not only doing injustice to their own health, but even your company as burned out people can never feel productive and do good work. Employee turnover is an expensive matter, one that should be nipped in the bud. As an HR person, it is your duty that the employer sees the relation between the two and agrees to preventive measures.
Once we have a direction, it is great to also acknowledge the fact that in the real world, both employer and employees might often stand at opposing ends of particular situations. Sometimes, people won’t listen to a perfectly rational reason and sometimes the employer will reject your ideas on how to make the people happy.
Most of the time, however, good listening skills go a long way. Listening isn’t just standing there while people talk, but actively seeking to understand needs and concerns. It becomes easier to address their issues and sometimes convey easily why a change they want isn’t possible.
Avoid getting into an ‘us vs. them’ situation. Deep down, all employees want their company to succeed because then they have a stable employment, and all employers want happy employees because they perform well.
Find ways to support both of them with the help of HR framework and achieve your goals.