When you’re in the business of serving people, you’ll inevitably experience some stressful challenges. But when they start following you home from the office, it’s time to make a change. Use these strategies to improve your stress levels in five key areas of Human Resources (HR).
Choosing a career in HR naturally involves occasional nightly tossing and turning. Regardless of your organization’s size, industry, or business model, you will inevitably face several challenges, some of which are par for the course, while others are insomnia-inducing problems that follow you home.
Not all hope is lost, though. By implementing a few strategies to combat these particularly vexing problems at work, you’ll be stress-free and well rested at home, in addition to being able to improve your HR operations and benefit from a smoother-running company.
Taming Sleep-Stealing Difficulties
Whether you’re developing your plan for next year or next month, consider how you can improve in five notoriously troublesome HR areas and lay the groundwork for a more stable and less stressful life—both at work and at home.
- Star talent recruitment: Before you keep your employees happy and engaged, you have to find them. It costs quite a bit to retrain new employees, so finding the perfect fit the first time is a goal in most HR departments.
Rather than simply placing LinkedIn® ads or asking for help from your network, try innovative ways to find people, such as thinking about where your target talent currently trains or works and going right to the source to woo those candidates your way.
Found your dream worker? Have standardized onboarding processes in place to get the new employee involved and knowledgeable. Know that when you onboard new employees, you’re often onboarding their entire family into your benefits. Insurance is confusing, and expecting employees to retain the details of their new medical plan and effectively communicate them to their families is unrealistic.
Consider offering insurance seminars or providing online documents to make joining plans easier. The faster employees become familiar with your culture and operations, the less stress they will feel—and you’ll rest easier at night knowing your employees are taken care of.
- Employee retention and engagement: Unless you’re new to labor and employment, you know employees no longer view employer loyalty as a desired goal. The median tenure of employees is 4.2 years, but your younger workers will likely stick around fewer than 3 years, per research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It’s important for HR to understand why workers choose to stay longer than expected. Is it work/life balance they can’t get elsewhere? Does the company have a strong vision? Tap into these priorities to give folks a reason to stay on the payroll. If you find that some of your employees couldn’t care less about benefits, offer them a less expensive plan option so they can stress less about money.
Speaking of money, never assume that employees won’t leave if you’re paying well. Yes, everyone wants to receive remuneration, but a good salary at a bad company won’t prevent a mass exodus.
- Internal leadership development: Are you actively developing the next generation of leaders or merely hoping your star players will step up to the plate eventually? Taking an active role in leadership development of solid performers is a good way to keep them around and ensure the company stays nimble and competitive.
As Deloitte noted in a 2017 report, more than three-quarters of businesses in North America think leadership is a critical issue. Many HR people recognize this but are afraid to be proactive in finding a solution. Instead of worrying that you’ll rock the boat, take charge and encourage a creative way to help people rise through the ranks to become influential.
Look for potential leaders from all ranks in your company. Hidden gems could be hiding in your call center or among support staff. With a little corporate-funded leadership training, they could be your next coaches, mentors, and executives. By funneling future leaders through an established structure to help them hone their guidance and collaboration skills, you may find they turn out to be some of your company’s strongest assets in a few years.
- Change resistance: Few people readily embrace change. HR pros see resistance all the time when they try to move to new systems or initiate processes. Ironically, as a classic Harvard Business Review piece from the 1960s illustrated, the problem usually lies not in the changing parameters but in how people think the changes will affect them. Thus, when workers grumble about moving to a different payroll provider, they are doing so because they’re uncertain of its social implications.
People get stressed when HR and leadership announce changes that will disrupt their lives, which is why it is so important to be connected to your employees so you know how to implement new ideas that won’t be perceived negatively.
Additionally, it’s always good to have a partner who will help communicate these changes during enrollment to ensure that employees understand the positives of the changes. For instance, if you’re switching to a new 401(k) provider, bring in a rep from the provider to answer employees’ questions.
- Benefits and perks management: Feel overwhelmed by keeping track of all the benefits and perks your company offers employees? You’re not alone. One OfficeTeam survey discovered that 23% of HR expertsfound the process to be a serious challenge.
This isn’t a surprise. Businesses have experimented with so many different kinds of benefit packages that it can be tough to keep them all straight. From disability insurance to subsidized school tuition, benefits can look amazing on paper but be messy to coordinate. Plus, when something goes amiss, it’s the HR team who feels the pressure—from both employees and company leaders.
Avoid this kind of stress by securing buy-in from as many people as possible before launching any benefit or perk. When you do launch it, explain it in realistic terms so everyone is on the same page. You may even want to share some of the management with third-party vendors, as long as you trust that they’re not hiding behind a toll-free number.
You deserve to get plenty of z’s—not fret about work the moment your head hits the pillow. Be honest about the challenges awaiting you, and rework your processes to lessen the load. Before you know it, your stressful nights of staring up at the ceiling will be a thing of the past.
Scott Schulte is Vice President and Senior Benefits Consultant at employee benefits company Sonus Benefits. With a deep and varied background in the insurance and employee benefits industries, Schulte promises comprehensive, customized solutions for his clients and has for close to 20 years. A St. Louis native, Schulte is a board member of the Gateway Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.