HR SHOULD use the current war for talent to become dedicated recruiters as opposed to over-complicated theory and policy guardians, a recruitment expert has said.
“Many Australian HR practitioners tend to over-complicate what they do with innumerable theories and policies. Yet despite all this ‘high-level’thinking, most organisations neglect the very basic tenets that attract people and make them happy in their workplace,” said Mandy Johnson, consultant and past-director of Flight Centre’s UK division.
Johnson cited a recent survey which found that HR managers consistently underestimated their company’s staff turnover by more than 25 per cent as an example of the way academic theories have become a major distracter from what is really going on.
“HR managers are busy rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, rather than implementing simple retention strategies such as engaging their people in a meaningful purpose, communicating with them on a weekly and monthly basis, or reorganising their business into small teams in which people can be happier and more productive.”
Traditionally, many companies have treated HR as poor cousins to what they considered the important strategic areas such as marketing and sales which has been part of the problem, Johnson said.
This under-emphasis on the importance of HR areas has seen many departments understaffed and highlighted the HR role as guardian of policy, over recruitment.
Johnson said that in a recent consultancy with a 300-person company that had 66 vacancies, the HR department was busy filing, doing payroll and rewriting formats on staff appraisals.
As a result, Johnson believes there is a contagion of bad practice in the HR industry as HR people take their poor strategies from organisation to organisation.
“Some companies put such little emphasis on recruitment they leave it to line managers to do. These people are so busy working on the business they take weeks to read CVs, weeks to organise interviews and by then, any good candidate is gone,” she said.
In an employee market, organisations must begin to treat recruitment as a sales process. Essentially, the HR director needs to be on the executive team.
“If the company is large enough it needs to have dedicated recruiters, not someone doing it part-time in-between payroll and OHS.”
Johnson suggested retention strategies that create an environment where people want to stay be implemented.
“If you sit down with any person in any company, just about anyone can tell you what they really want. As organisations we just have to get better at giving it to them and changing those age-old policies.”
Organisations should therefore not create policies that try and “squeeze”people into roles.
Focusing on the needs and wants of employees and introducing a financial planning in-house team incentivised on increasing people’s personal profit can have a phenomenal impact on retention, said Johnson.
“I think now is a real time for HR to do something like that as companies are starting to feel the effects in every aspect of what they do.”
HR needs to overcome its disassociation with monetary figures on staffing if it is to succeed by putting a monetary value on staff turnover and communicating this with the CEO.
Trials are also another option for HR in terms of demonstrating the importance of their strategies and provide a low risk for CEOs, Johnson said.
Get someone dedicated to recruitment and show the CEO the difference.