New Year’s Resolutions for HR

If you are like most people, you are now a couple of weeks into the new year with a variety of resolutions such as losing weight, getting fit, eating healthier, or getting organized. Without impeding your opportunity for success on your personal resolutions or curing the skeptics who refuse to partake in such resolutions, consider some areas where you can make improvements at work. Do not seek perfection in achieving these goals, but rather evaluate whether there is room for improvement in each area.

1. Train managers. While it would be nice to spend weeks designing a comprehensive training program, many of us face time constraints and reluctance from management to allow employees time away from their jobs. Instead of seeking perfection, consider alternative steps to take. Would it be possible to stop by “crew meetings” and do a five-minute refresher on sexual harassment? While we all dread meetings — especially via Zoom — consider if it would be better to do a shorter presentation at a set meeting instead of having multiple meetings to prepare for training. 

2. Hold managers accountable. We have all met managers who just don’t get it. While training will help with some managers, additional action is often needed to address a manager’s poor work performance or abusive management style. When you become aware of such behavior, discuss the problem with the manager’s boss and make sure the problem is addressed with the manager during the performance appraisal process. 

3. Check the contents of your personnel files. While most of us know that certain things, like medical information, should not be kept in personnel files, how often do we check to see if reality matches our understanding, especially with the increase in medical information such as vaccination status and COVID-19 testing? In addition, any documents relating to an employee’s participation in wellness programs should be stored outside the personnel file. This applies to review files kept by individual managers, as well. 

4. Keep politics out of the office. The old adage “No politics or religion at the dinner table” is good advice for employee discussions in the break room, as well. With the tumultuous couple of years we have had, employees will likely have a wide range of beliefs on political issues. Encourage your employees to keep any discussion of those topics outside the workplace. For employers considering implementing policies that may prevent employees from discussing COVID-19, masking policies, or vaccinations, be sure not to run afoul of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act by unlawfully interfering with employees’ protected activity

5. Have fun. One of the most difficult tasks for a person in HR is to get someone to seek advice before a small problem becomes a large problem. Spend some time building relationships with employees and managers so they do not see HR as the enemy. With the increase in remote work and the reduction of in-person meetings, consider sponsoring activities that allow employees the opportunity to get to know HR and the people in your organization better. When you interact with managers, don’t hesitate to share the successes you have had with other work groups.

6. Take time off. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to get everything done and keep up with the everchanging COVID-19 mandates. But studies show that people who take time off are more productive. Spending a week on the beach is a good way to shake off your frustration and forget about dramatic employees or uncooperative management.

Don’t stress out about completing each resolution. Instead, evaluate each goal and take fresh steps moving forward. You may not be at your target weight, super-organized, or the healthiest eater, but you will have in place changes that will lessen your load and improve your organization in 2022.

Morgan Geffre
Morgan Geffre

Foulston Employment Law Attorney