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Back to school: 6 important elements of HR you need to rethink now.

If there’s anything we can take from the students streaming back to school this time of year, it’s that there is always more to learn. Not only as a kid in the classroom, but as an experienced HR professional as well.

Recruitment, employee engagement, and people management are changing quickly. No matter how many years of expertise you have under your belt, you may find it challenging to stay ahead of the curve—especially after a nice, loooong summer vacation. Turn over a new leaf this back-to-school season and rethink the following six essential elements of HR.

1. Vacation Policies

Your company vacation policy might have treated you well for decades, but that’s no reason to avoid a facelift. Is it still serving your employees well or is it at odds with your company culture and values. Has your vacation policy kept up with the times? Does it meet industry standards and is it comparable to your competitors’ offerings?

2. Work-Life Balance

Even if your current vacation policy offers a lot for employees, do they actually use it? A study of U.S. workers found that only 54% of them utilized all of their vacation days, despite all of us knowing that we feel way more relaxed and productive after returning from holiday.

The most common reasons include:

  • Fear of falling behind on the workload (returning to a mountain of work)
  • Belief that no one else could fill in while they’re out
  • Unwillingness to inconvenience coworkers
  • Suspicion that managers and company leaders will view them as uncommitted, which may lead to negative repercussions in the future, such as being fired or not receiving promotions

This may not be a huge issue for your company, depending on its workplace culture and the culture of your company’s home country, but you might be surprised to hear that some employees still feel guilty about using vacation—or at least feel expected to respond to emails and phone calls while on holiday. Not exactly relaxing!

In these cases, it’s up to HR to reassure coworkers that stepping away from work is not only allowed but encouraged. Tip: Use our out-of-office tips to build a better work-life culture.

3. Attendance Report Cards

Speaking of stepping away from work, allowing employees to work remotely 60% to 80% of the time can significantly increase engagement (even one day or two per week can be helpful). If you don’t allow workers to telecommute at least part of the time, ask why. Is there a good reason or are you simply balking at trying it because of remote work horror stories?

If the latter, see whether employees and management would be open to the idea. Come armed with evidence: remote workers can not only save the company money on real estate and overhead costs, and show employees that you trust them enough to function independently, without in-person oversight. Plus, who doesn’t like problem-solving in pajamas?

Tip: Make the most of your remote workforce. Avoid these mistakes!

4. Visiting the Principal’s Office (aka Performance Appraisals)

Old-school performance appraisals are quickly going by the wayside. It comes as no surprise—they can be ineffective at best and toxic at worst. Switch up your employee objective-setting and performance assessment processes, ensuring that all team members have a chance to review their managers as well.

5. Parental Support

It’s hard enough being a parent without the added stresses of an unsupportive workplace. In fact, more than 50% of working parents struggle to balance parenting with work… and honestly, we’re surprised that figure isn’t higher. Are there processes in place to support parents’ special considerations, such as responding to family emergencies or limited working schedules?

6. “New Kid At School” Syndrome

If employees feel like the new kid at school, they’re probably not going to stick around for long. Take stock of your onboarding program to see whether new hires are more engaged and productive after their first week compared to their first day.

High turnover, low employee engagement scores, and an onboarding program that hasn’t been revisited since the Stone Age—these are all signs that onboarding needs a revamp. Gather all of the employees who should be involved in onboarding and get to work before the beginning of the new school year!

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Topics: HR
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