Three Steps You Should Take to Spring Clean Your HR Department

Managing people can be messy. 

No, let’s face it – managing people can be absolute chaos.  That simple fact is why human resources is one of the most difficult and least understood disciplines of running a business. After all, managing people, and the many different personality types that go along with that process, is easier said than done. 

Yet, as any longtime business owner or HR manager can tell you – problems will quickly snowball when active HR management is neglected.  A little organization goes a long way, which is why we’ve compiled a list of three of the most important steps you can take to reorganize your human resources department to better serve the needs of your greatest assets – your employees.  

1.  Revisit your company handbook.

A successful business is an evolving business. If your business is not evolving, something is wrong, and one of the best ways to gauge that evolution is to consider the company handbook. When is the last time your company’s handbook was updated? Last year? Last decade? 

Just as laws, regulations and procedures change, so should your company handbook. It might be as simple as updating the wording, or as complex as completely rewriting policies. Take the time to look through your company’s handbook and consider whether the policies and instructions written in it are clear, concise, and on-point with your company’s current standards.  Two simple tests: 1) Does your handbook contain policies that are not being enforced? If so, consider removing those policies; and 2) Ask yourself, will this help me or hurt me in court?

After updating the handbook, be sure to redistribute the revised version of the handbook to all of your employees to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the direction in which your company is heading. Also note that one good way to ensure that all employees have read, understood, and agree with the changes or updates is to require each employee’s signature verifying they have read and acknowledged the changes. While you’re at it, this is a great time to go paperless, eliminate outdated print copies and efficiently store them online via Adams Keegan’s HR management system, Efficenter®.

2.  Review FLSA guidelines and ensure your company follows them.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets rules for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in both private and government sectors. As of July 24, 2009, nonexempt workers should receive a minimum wage of at least $7.25 per hour, with time-and-a-half overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week, according to federal law.  Many states and some municipalities require higher wages than the federal law requires, and are frequently updated from one year to the next.

Legal Update: We expect that the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules will take effect later this year, significantly raising the wage standards for salaried-exempt employees.  Now is the time to plan for that.

3.  Review and audit leave management procedures for FMLA and ADA

How do you know when someone is eligible for leave? What happens when that leave expires?  What are the individual benefits? A yearly review of guidelines for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) not only provides valuable information to your employees – it also informs your HR processes when these types of leave need to be taken. In many cases, the need for such leave arises suddenly, leaving a disorganized HR department scrambling to determine an employee’s eligibility or answer questions that will inevitably arise.  How you engage your employees and document their leaves is crucial to your compliance responsibilities and protecting your business.  

Ultimately, revisiting and reorganizing these important parts of HR management might take some time, but after doing it, you’ll be glad you did. It doesn’t take long for a small problem to become a big one when HR management falls through the cracks. Being proactive when managing employees almost always turns out better than being reactive after issues arise. 

Organization and some spring cleaning go a long way in making sure the remainder of the year runs a little more smoothly.