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The 7 HR Mistakes That’ll Cost You Big

Sarah Landrum

Everyone makes mistakes that are potentially costly, but in human resources, it’s especially important to error-proof your actions and make well-thought-out decisions.

Failing to do so could result in frustrated employees, expensive lawsuits, and other career-damaging situations.

Keep reading to learn about seven common HR mistakes and how to avoid them.

Related Article: HR Horror Stories: What’s the Absolute Worst Thing You Could Do on the Job?

1. Not Keeping Employees Adequately Engaged

When employees are engaged and feel they’re actively making positive contributions to the workforce, they’re more likely to be company assets. However, even though employee engagement is commonly mentioned in the HR industry, it’s often more of a trendy buzzword than an actual focal point. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, only 31.5 percent of employees reported feeling engaged at work, although the amount of engagement went up slightly if the respondents were in management roles.

You can avoid being part of that disappointing statistic by regularly asking for feedback from employees and encouraging them to speak up if they feel their work isn’t being recognized. Always keep staff informed about business developments, and make the company a place where people are proud to work.

2. Firing Employees Too Hastily

Although it’s sometimes necessary to terminate employees who have made huge errors or shown poor behavior across a long time span, view firing as a last resort. When employees get terminated, other workers usually have to pick up the slack, which causes decreased morale. Furthermore, a fired employee may feel resentful towards the company depending on the circumstances. Sometimes he or she may try to tarnish the business’s reputation or convince colleagues to work somewhere else.

Adopt a practice of continually coaching employees so they know if their performance isn’t up to par. Also, give feedback about negative behaviors and give employees actionable strategies for improvement. Be sure to clearly communicate company expectations by making policies known, too.

3. Asking the Wrong Interview Questions

Some HR professionals end up dealing with legal troubles because they casually asked interview questions that were wrongly interpreted after applicants didn’t get the jobs. Taboo topics include:

  • Ethnicity
  • Religious practices
  • Political preferences
  • Questions that cause a person to reveal his or her age

Steer clear of issues by only asking questions that pertain to the job. Otherwise, seemingly innocent queries could cause you to face discrimination allegations from applicants who failed to get hired, but thought they were well-qualified.

Related Article: An HR Manager Reveals: Why I Threw Out Your Résumé

4. Using Outdated Time-Tracking Software

Time-tracking software is arguably one of the easiest and most effective tools at your disposal for discovering things like:

  • How long it takes employees to complete projects
  • Whether certain departments are sufficiently staffed
  • If workers have enough room in their schedules to take on additional work

When your company uses up-to-date time-tracking software, you’ll reduce the chances of getting sued because of allegations about unpaid wages, and could even save time when dealing with payroll concerns. Statistics show that 39 percent of companies that use automated time-tracking systems spend less time on payroll matters and that updating the software can save over $1,600 per employee.

Maybe you’ve avoided updating your time-tracking system because you don’t want to spend money on expensive hardware or storage solutions. The good news is, modern time-tracking solutions feature cloud-based software that’s automatically updated to prevent against security threats.

5. Having an Inadequate Onboarding Process

A thorough onboarding process could be the sole factor that helps employees adopt company culture norms and feel like they truly fit in at a rewarding new workplace. A 2015 survey conducted via Bersin by Deloitte found it cost companies an average of $4,000 dollars to hire just one new person in 2014, and costs rose compared to the previous year. When there’s so much money at stake, it makes sense for HR professionals to do all they can to help new hires feel at home.

Give employees paperwork before their start dates so they can fill out forms on their own time, rather than during their first days. Also, let employees know what’s expected and solicit feedback frequently to make sure newly hired workers aren’t getting information overload. If you don’t do these things, new members of the team are more likely to decide the roles they’ve accepted aren’t as ideal as it first seemed, and may even leave the company.

6. Waiting Too Long to Start the Hiring Process

Staying in constant contact with company leaders about personnel requirements could help you avoid the headaches that come from staffing shortages. As of April 2015, job openings remained unfilled for an average of 27.3 days. That statistic illustrates how crucial it is to work efficiently when looking for appropriately skilled workers.

In addition to having trouble finding qualified applicants in certain sectors, HR representatives often put people through numerous tests that examine their personality, IQ, and ability to excel in group panel interviews. These screening processes increase the amount of time that passes before positions get filled.

Evaluate whether such extensive pre-hiring screenings are truly necessary, and look at whether there are ways to streamline things. More importantly, don’t wait to react once you’re notified of the need for more staff. Responding slowly or ignoring requests to find more personnel could cause workplace morale to plummet.

Related Article: Disaster Detour: How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Employee

7. Failing to Treat Employees Equally

Naturally, there will always be people at work you prefer to spend time with compared to others. However, it’s crucial to treat everyone equally, especially when it comes to hiring from within, giving performance reviews or offering raises. As we discussed earlier, discrimination is a big deal, and it could also come into play if employees notice certain people are getting plenty of perks while others seemingly get ignored.

These seven blunders could cause a company to lose employees, deal with a tarnished reputation and see sinking profits. Stay aware of them and ensure you work hard to not make the same mistakes.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Sarah Landrum Member
Sarah Landrum is a marketing specialist and freelance writer. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site on which she shares advice for professionals to find happiness and success in their careers. Subscribe to her blog newsletter and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum to get more great advice to grow your business and career.