January HR Checklist.

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A new year, new HR? No – that’s not something we advocate for. But we do think that January is always good for a tune-up. Kind of like an oil change (although, hopefully you do that more than once a year!)

Her’s the thing – while HR strategy and planning should be aligned with your organization’s strategy and goals for the year, there are still things that each company could do to make it easier.  The following list will give leaders, managers and HR practioners a play book to what could be reviewed in January to start the year with a bang:

  1. Identify Success – In 2021, engagement studies we conducted amongst 2000+ team members indicated that only 62% of teams knew what success looked like as a company or as individuals. This is a pretty big deal because that means 38% may not be rowing the boat in the same direction that you are! Even if you feel you’ve communicated it, ask around to see what people think when you ask if they know.  Getting that deer in a headlight look? Change up the way you communicate.
  2. Speaking of which…Communication Channels – are your current channels of communication working? Slack, Teams, Zoom, Email, Phone, In Person – you have to be adaptable. But more importantly, you have to be prepared to change up the way you communicate based on different preferences. Just because you like in person communication, doesn’t mean everyone does. Just because you like an agenda before hand, doesn’t always mean it’s the most efficient. Just because you think that meeting could have been an email, doesn’t mean everyone is getting the same thing from everyone. (Most likely, but not always). Ask yourself – the last big project you had, how was the communication? Who heard it, who complained, who was on board vs who wasn’t? Is there something you could do differently to communiate in a new way this year?
  3. Collaboration between teams – Ask yourself how collaboration is working amongst your teams? Are the same people contributing while others are simply shutting down? Have you spokent to those who aren’t contributing and asking how we could be making it better? Are the teams actually part of the solution or are you trying out a cool new technology because you read about it on your break? Between teams (like Marketing and Software Development) is important because we want to do what we can to break down silos. Asking the groups what would make collaboration better is a great first step.
  4. Job Descriptions – Job descriptions are not job advertisements. A job description should change and actually, doing it right means it can help you to identify success too. So begin with what success looks like (see point 1 above) and then reverse engineer the job description to ensure you are held accountable and responsible or the things that help you to achieve your success points. Then you can ensure your performance and compensation can also be reviewed appropriately too. In 2021, only 45% of first time engagement respondents (this means they are new clients to us!) said their job description was up to date!
  5. Benefits – This is a great time to ask yourself if your benefits are first of all, communicated (your team members know how they work) and second of all, that they are indeed benefits. When we realized that our team members weren’t using the benefits, but our rates were still going up, we moved the plan to a Flex Spending Account (note: this is different than a Health Spending Account and gives the most flexibility). We still offer Life Insurance and Long Term Disability and matching RRSP’s too, but I was paying $275 / month for single family benefits and they were going to the insurer. Now I pay $350.00 / month (my choice) but my team has TOTAL flexibility – they want a  yoga pass? Buy it. They want to buy a Blue Cross plan for their family – they can buy it. They want to just flip it all into their RRSP’s? Go for it. Benefits have to be benefits and if your plan is traditional and you’re paying into a reserve, there are other options out there. But you got to ask the question first. And then ask – what else are you offering?
  6. Policies and Procedures – Okay fine. This is not sexy or fun but there is no time like the present to update your policies. My favorite way to tackle this is to reflect back on 2021 and ask – where was there a situation that came up that you didn’t have an answer for?  Example: A new bonus was paid out in August, but some people were on leave during that time. How do you determine if they were eligible or not? Or – someone decided to talk about pricing to a client without talking to sales first. These are easy fixes and can easily be addressed based on the decisions that were ALREADY made.
  7. People Analyzer – We love using the people analyzer in January to assess indiviual (origianlly coined through Entrepreneurs Operating System) . Some organizations call it a caliboration exercise. We do it scoring each team member on values (scale of 1 – 3) (this is different tha EOS) and then a we use their series of questions: Do they get it? Do they want it? Do they have capacity to do more? We score this from a binary perspective – yes or no (score of 0 or 1). Then we add it all up and see where the stars shake out, plotting them on an old school 9 Box Grid. Seeing where team members fall from a visual perspective helps to develop true development plans and serves as a reminder on who your stars really are (so you keep investing in them!)
  8. Mentorship – Finally, we’ll end off with mentorship. How are you looking for mentorship opportunities? What are you teaching other team members to do as you look for mentorship opportunities? Have you set up each of your stars (as outlined in 6) up with a mentor? Have you had that solid conversation with your stars to talk about where you see them going?

This list may seem long and difficult to do in the first week back. The key is to not overthink it. Start by asking the questions. Have you done it or not?  Then break the items down by what will make the biggest impact for your team, and then, just like eating your father-in-law’s over cooked steak, you bite off one piece off at a time. It doesn’t matter if you do it all, or just one thing on this list – it will help make the employee experience better!