Your Human Resources Strategy
Much of your family business strategy relies on thinking about outside factors, such as competition, pricing, marketing, the economy and so on. However, your overall business strategy would be incomplete without a human resources component. Your employees, whether family members or not, are all internal contributors to your overall strategy. They are the ones who initiate, implement and execute every function that makes your family business successful, after all. Therefore, having a human resources strategy to ensure you hire and retain employees in a strategic way is essential.
Changing from Reactive to Proactive Modes
Many hiring decisions are reactive. We hire because of unexpected turnover or even unexpected acceleration of growth. While some reactive hiring cannot be avoided, much of it can. The key is to assess human resources needs as you assess other family business strategies. For example, if one action item from your overall strategic plan is to develop a new line of business, you could try to spread your current staff to cover the additional responsibilities – or you could hire strategically as a part of your plan for success. As your business changes, so should your job descriptions and their respective qualifications. Human resources should always keep their finger on the pulse of market salaries, benefits packages, workforce trends, technology and the like – and should always keep an eye out for high quality talent so that hiring decisions can be made decisively when strategy dictates.
Balancing Long-term with Short-term
Many of the mistakes made in hiring and retaining employees lie at the feet of short-term thinking. A priority is placed on filling a position, rather than finding a fit. This is partly due to pressures related to short-term business performance, which is a valid concern. However, getting someone in just to fill a slot can be a disaster in the making. Human resources strategies should focus on finding the right person for the job – family member or not – realizing that the long-term payoff will be greater for the family business. On the other hand, human resources strategies should not be so “thorough” as to bog down your recruitment process, which can also turn off – and turn away – your most promising candidates. Attempt to strike a balance that suits your staffing and business performance needs.
Each job description within your organization should come with its own written set of responsibilities and job requirements. Human resources must consider what skills and backgrounds are essential to each position – and your hiring policies should closely follow that description.
Considering Staff Size
Many family businesses make the mistake of trying to operate on a shoestring staff. The rationale is that if the work gets done, everyone is happy. Not so. Your most productive – and therefore potentially most valuable – employees wind up feeling overworked and underappreciated. On the other hand, overstaffing leads to costly redundancies and inefficiencies. Your human resources team must assess the true capacities of each contributor and create strategies for ensuring that the size of your staff matches up to its workload.
Knowing the Labor Pool
Who are your most likely applicants? If you don’t know that, you’re not in touch with your market. Every employer has a most likely pool of prospective employees – those who are graduating from a nearby school, or even those who are emerging from a recent layoff at a competitor. By knowing what kind of people are most commonly available, you can begin to delve into what kinds of qualities those candidates will most likely bring to your family business… and then decide from that group what applicants most appeal to you and fit your firm. Only then can you tailor your human resources strategies to recruit that talent.
Defining Your Appeal to Different Demographics
The best way your family business can recruit and retain quality employees is to recognize that people of different demographics are attracted to different things in employers. The mix of benefits that may appeal to older, more seasoned employees is likely different than what appeals to younger employees. For example, older employees may feel that excellent health benefits outweigh work hours flexibility, whereas the opposite may be true of a younger demographic. Older workers desire stability, whereas younger workers seek out higher rewards. So as you recruit employees, tailor your recruitment messages accordingly to appeal to the demographic that is most appropriate for your staff.
Realizing Your Employees’ Real Value
While your top tier of managers may be your most highly paid employees, highly skilled, technology and “knowledge” workers should not go unrecognized in your human resources strategy. These kinds of employees generate more revenue more efficiently for your family business than other employees – and yet because they are highly skilled, they need less oversight. Your human resources strategies should recognize the importance of these workers by putting in place various policies that accommodate these kinds of contributors.
Creating Workplace Satisfaction at All Levels
Some businesses make the mistake of focusing all their human resources energy on their top performers, management and other highly paid executives. Their mistake is in not realizing the importance of workers at all levels. When all employees feel satisfied in their work – and in their place of work – productivity improves throughout the organization. If only the top tier is satisfied, those who are left out may become resentful, increasing your risk of turnover – which leads to headaches for management. It’s a vicious cycle. So avoid the spiral and focus on building workplace satisfaction for all employees.
Paying Attention to Morale and Culture
Even when tangible benefits are excellent in a workplace, employee morale can still be low – and turnover high – if the family business culture is unfavorable. Human resources should incorporate teambuilding and morale boosting strategies into its overall plan. Examine the practices of management. For example, how are conflicts resolved? Are family members favored over non-family employees? Do you welcome the input of your employees? Do you have hiring and firing practices that may be perceived as unfair? Ironing out the wrinkles in these kinds of issues can help your family business strengthen its people culture and improve employee satisfaction.
Making Human Resources a Priority
For some organizations, human resources is viewed merely as the people who collect benefits enrollment forms once a year. However, your human resources professionals should be intimately involved in the organization from top to bottom, developing relationships with employees at all levels and working with top management in all strategic endeavors. Only in this way can your human resources team help ensure your staff rises up to meet the challenges it will face and to deliver the success and growth you want for your family business.
Contributing Sources: http://www.hrmreport.com/article/Strategic-recruiting/; http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Making_talent_a_strategic_priority_2092