As organisations continue to demand greater efficiencies and ROI from every department, Peter Byrne, founder of Woking-based law firm esphr, tells BQ how to wring every drop from your HR budget.
Whether a HR budget is lavish or low-key, organisations are quite rightly scrutinising their spend. The aftermath of the economic downturn remains very real, which means business owners continue to demand more from their investments than ever before.
So what is the secret to getting the most from HR funds?
Define what the Human Resources department needs to achieve
Aligning HR objectives with the wider strategic aims of the business is the first crucial step to maximising ROI. If business growth is on the cards, for example, budget must be allocated for recruitment and retention. If absences are a concern, investment in wellbeing initiatives may be imperative.
It is unlikely that the department can avoid spending money, so making careful expenditure decisions and seeking added-value are probably the priorities instead.
Look to your peers
Knowledge transfer is becoming the norm, so however busy your working week may feel, try to find the time to investigate what other HR teams are up to and learn from them.
Direct competitors may be unwilling to reveal their ‘secrets’ but Human Resources is a professional sector with CPD strongly encouraged by the industry’s official association – the CIPD.
Look for advice-led blogs, networking opportunities and even LinkedIn forums – all provide a great way to stay informed, seek ‘real life’ guidance and pick up budget optimisation tips.
An ‘always learning’ mentality is important internally too, as it will ensure the ongoing upskilling of the workforce, irrespective of a formal external training plan.
Examine how much you pay for legal advice
Legislation is constantly evolving and tribunals are on the up. The support of a trusted employment lawyer is, therefore, a great aide.
But frequent ad-hoc queries for operational tasks and events can soon become costly, with such spend unlikely to translate into comparable commercial benefits.
A subscription to an HR helpline provides a more affordable alternative but guidance is typically generic and risk-averse, which often means HR teams don’t receive the most appropriate advice for their individual scenario.
There are more cost-effective ways to ensure legislative compliance and client-focused commercial progression, such as seeking the support of an ABS law firm.
Such a legal partner is more likely to develop a proactive, collaborative relationship with the HR team, as there’s no ‘clock watching’ involved.
Think outside the box when it comes to reward
Rather than presuming what would make employees feel valued, ask them! Often simple (and free) recognition such as a “thank you”, will boost their morale.
There are endless options, of course, ranging from end-of-month lunches and colleague-nominated awards to structured career progression and the provision of flexible working.
The key thing to note is that, amidst all the staff perks that hit the HR headlines, there are far more affordable – and often more meaningful – alternatives that employees truly seek. So, look beyond the expensive gimmicks!
Prioritise fairness throughout
Open and transparent communication with managers and the wider workforce will hopefully mean any possible HR issues are identified before they escalate.
When potentially problematic scenarios do arise, remember to keep a clearly evidenced audit trail of the processes followed and the conversations held, and maintain a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory attitude throughout.
This will help to avoid any lengthy – and costly – investigative exercises further down the line and, most importantly, will hopefully resolve the matter(s) as soon as possible.
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