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Here's a must-do checklist for personnel managers

May 25, 2009

This column is a continuation of one that appeared Jan. 26.

If you are a human resources professional, now is an excellent time for you to assess the human resource function in your company, take the following action now:

• Review the gender and race composition of your company. Does your company's work force look similar to the geographical "community" of potential candidates from which you recruit? Consider developing an affirmative action plan, including the identification and implementation of steps to assure that your work force is a fair representation of the recruiting area. If you are a federal contractor or subcontractor, your company may be required to have a formal affirmative action plan and update it each year.

• Review all employee benefits—those you are required to provide (statutory benefits) as well as those you voluntarily offer. Make sure statutory benefits are being provided and accounted for as required. Also review the non-statutory benefits and make sure you are receiving appropriate value for the expense. Some benefits should be re-bid annually.

Compare your benefits with those provided by similar employers. Consider providing low-cost or no-cost employee benefits. (An employee survey may provide suggestions on what benefits your employees would appreciate.) Finally, plan to provide your employees with an annual employee benefit statement—a summary of their pay and benefits.

• Conduct an employee survey. An employee survey is one method of measuring the "pulse" of your company. Employee surveys should be focused, brief and confidential. Online surveys may improve confidentiality and assist with the compilation, interpretation and communication of the findings, which should take place soon after survey completion. Follow up with a feedback session during which employees can express their opinions. Report what actions you will take as a result of the survey.

• Conduct a market-salary survey.

First, determine your company's "pay philosophy." Do you want to pay employees less than, more than or equal to what is being paid for similar jobs? What do you want to pay (reward) employees for: longevity, results, impact? Then conduct a market-salary survey of those employers and competitors that are similar in location, type and size to your company. Use that information, to help determine your company's salary structure.

• Read and revise your company's employee handbook. The handbook tells employees what the company expects of them and what they may expect from the company. The handbook also serves as a guide and "rules of the road" to employees, employers and outside agencies. Ideally, employers should review and update their handbook annually.

• Keep an eye on pending legislation. There are many proposed regulations that will affect the employer and the workplace. Devise a process and select resources that will keep you updated on proposed regulations. Select those that have the most impact on your organization and get involved.

• Plan work-force gains and/or losses.

Are you planning to increase (or reduce) your work force? In either case, develop a specific plan. Questions to consider if you are planning to grow include: Are there alternatives to adding employees? Will the increase be temporary or permanent? When will the positions be filled? What pay and benefits will you offer? How do you integrate the new jobs and employees into the work force? What recruiting, screening, selection and placement process should you use?

Questions to consider if you are planning to downsize include: Are there alternatives to reducing the work force? How will you communicate the work-force reduction to employees, customers, vendors and the public? What outplacement assistance will you provide those employees being laid off? What are the legal issues you should consider before reducing your work force? What process will be used to determine which employees will be terminated and which employees will remain?

These actions, along with those described in our Jan. 26 column, will ensure that, in these challenging economic times, no additional burdens will be imposed on your company because of failure to do what is best for your company and employees.
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Phillips owns Phillips & Associates HR Services in Greenwood and collaborates with writer Gail A. Bradford on this quarterly column. They can be reached at smallbizhr@ibj.com.

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