2015 was, in a lot of ways, a big year of shifting. With a crazy
battle for talent and everybody trying to figure out how to create a winning culture, there were many organizations wrestling to figure out how to flatten their hierarchies and what benefits would really attract the best people. Big companies were using analytics to identify what made the top performers and how to tweak performance incrementally. Companies began ditching the annual performance review, replacing it with ongoing feedback loops. And not to mention dealing with changes to the minimum wage, overtime rules, Ban-the-Box and the Affordable Care Act.
With all that going on, it was interesting to look back over the year to see which of our blogs got the most play. By far, the most popular was the one about the Austin City Council consultant who told a room of newly-elected officials that women really weren’t interested in financial details of proposed city plans. People were also responsive to the lawsuit against LinkedIn for making back-door references available to hiring managers looking at candidates.
Other top posts this year included Five Mistakes of Small Business Owners, tips on recruiting at SXSW and one on Trust and Chickens about how destructive it is to both morale and profits to pit employees against each other.
In my world, all of these things are important, as are HR technology, safety, job classifications and descriptions and many other things. After my morning tea I may talk with a client with a difficult employee they don’t know how to fire, another who has run afoul of some regulation and a third who needs a handbook—yesterday. And that’s before lunch. Because of all the disasters I see coming at clients like giant rocks in an asteroid field, I am a big proponent of planning ahead. But the bottom line is that it’s about how people treat each other. And the most important HR lesson from 2015 is just that. Some leaders think a great culture is free snacks (beware the IRS on that one), or endless vacation hours. I beg to differ. The most important part of a great culture is that the people in it are working together to get things done successfully while communicating effectively and supporting each other. If you actually look forward to seeing the people you work with each day, doesn’t that go a lot farther than a free lunch? With all the sexy culture options out there, it can be a distraction and easy to forget. Reward collaboration, support mutual growth, recognize employees for their contributions, and you’ve got the basics of an awesome culture.
Of course, a strong people strategy isn’t just culture. There are a lot of pieces of information to manage too. There are rules to follow and pitfalls to avoid. As we are just a couple of days from the beginning of a new year, it’s a great time to figure out what you need to plan for in terms of regulations, hiring needs, and getting up to speed with technology that can take weeks of work off your plate.
But the most important review to do is to really think about who is on your team and how you can make “work” a better experience for everyone this year than it was last year. After all, companies with the happiest employees and the lowest turnover also make the highest profit margins and grow much faster than their competitors whose employees aren’t so content. So take a moment, at the end of 2015, to remember that your company really exists because of the people around you. And here’s to an amazing 2016!
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.