The HR team and HR manager seem to have mixed levels of authority from one company to the next. In some companies they are the black hand, the iron fist, and the final resting place of meek and low profile employees. HR has become synonymous with notions of people getting fired for fat-shaming a dog and committee meetings on how one should address the metro-sexual woman in the room. Yet, the HR team, and especially the HR manager, are able to affect real changes, usually by proxy, in a way that can genuinely and sustainably improve employee morale.
Keeping People Trained
When you commit to training employees with new or updated skills, then you send a clear message to the employee. You are saying that the employee is valued and that your company has a long-term plan for that employee.
Many employees will think, “Great, another thing to put on my CV when I leave,” but this is only a surface notion. Even if the training course is just a skills update, people feel like they have achieved something when they are put onto paid training courses. That feeling of achievement has a lasting effect on somebody’s morale and self esteem. More can be gained from something like paid financial courses than 100 promises of prizes, perks, and extra holidays.
Keeping People Motivated
A good HR manager will understand that people cannot stay fully motivated forever, you have to allow for high and lows. This is especially important if you are setting different layers of employee reprimand because some of the best performers may have the biggest lulls, and yet all you see are frequent behavior reports filed during the unfortunate lulls. Know what keeps people motivated, and take these tips on board:
- Do not punish over performers – If somebody gets their work done before others in the team, do not automatically pile on more work.
- Understand that most people are there for the money – That is why your motivational newsletter and your team building is not affecting productivity.
- People’s tolerance for misery is high – In other words, poor quality managers can work for years by making people miserable and scaring off the good employees.
- Stop social media criticism of the company – The “REAL” reason this is so damaging is that it sets a culture precedent and makes hating the company the norm.
Keeping People Happy
Dennis Prager said it best when he said, “Happiness is a Serious Problem.” It is not your job, or the manager’s job, to make your employees happy. However, happy workers take less time off work, they steal less, they betray the company less, and they do not actively work against the team or the company.
As an HR manager, you have some facets of power that affect happiness. Most think that incentives and perks create happiness, but this is false. The best thing you can do from your position is to repeatedly discover what makes employees unhappy, and work to eradicate those things, for example:
- The phone workers may be upset that it takes 3-5 seconds for a call transfer to action. It doesn’t sound like a big problem, but when it happens 16 times per day, 80 times per week, then it becomes grating.
- Night shift is upset that day shift leaves empty boxes for them to clear. Fix this and not only will your night team be happy, but they will also feel satisfied that their concerns matter to the company.
- The senior manager pushes time-based targets even though the system goes down at least 3 times per week. Dealing with the manager, altering policies, and keeping managers in check can really help raise company morale.
If the company you work for has a high staff turnover, then you already know the reason. The jobs you offer may be repetitive, or the corporate office will not increase wages, or whatever the reason.
If you are not addressing the problem, it is probably because you cannot. In which case, the best you can offer is to make the job as trouble-free for your employees. Exploit whatever power you have, but at the end of the day, the responsibility of retaining staff and keeping them productive is assigned to people with a far higher pay grade than yourself.