Best practices in human resources management

Human Resources (HR) best practices are premised on universal HR principles that provide companies with optimal business performance, regardless of which organization or industry they are applied to. The ability to attract and retain talent is rapidly becoming one of the key issues for HR Managers and their organisations across the world. The HR Department and HR Management by leaders play a significant role in how profitable and successful a company can become. It's more than just making sure employees get to work in time and follow the proper dress code. HR Management improves the company by recruiting and retaining top employees, developing successful leaders, ensuring newly hired employees succeed and keeping up company morale.

One of HR Management best practice is employment security. Having an employer who enables the employee to provide for themselves and their family is, in essence, the number one reason why people come to work. This concept of security is paramount and underpins almost everything Human Resources do. When this employment security is threatened, for example when there is a restructuring or a layoff, there are immediate negative ripples throughout the organization. When employees are laid off, it is usually the organization that pays the price. They are the ones who have invested in the selection, training, and development of these employees and this comes with a cost. If the organization does not focus on retaining its people, they are more likely to leave and work for competitors.

HR Practitioners need to have their organisations invest in training and development opportunities to improve the current workforce, focus on skill-specific training, and realize the value that young workers place on learning. As industries are advancing at an ever-increasing pace, HR Management can support and encourage employees to grow as well, keeping them more engaged in their work and the organization. Another key practice here is to allow trained employees to utilize their newly acquired skills in order for organisations to benefit from the investment.

Each employee should have well-defined reporting relationships, clear responsibilities and an understanding of their scope of work. Best practice now emphases the need for employees to also understand the strategic goals of the organisation and the role of their department and job in achieving it.

Annual performance reviews are a staple of HR practices, but these usually once-a-year evaluations are not necessarily the best way to provide feedback to employees. Instead, provide them with frequent feedback, so they are always in the know as to what their goals are and how they are improving in their position. Managers should sit down with their employees at least once a quarter, if not once a month, to discuss performance. This not only allows managers to be more connected to their employees, it also lets employees feel more engaged in their work. Self-rating should be a part of the evaluation process as it empowers employees. Evaluation becomes fairer if it is based on achievements of the employee, tracked over the year. Cross-functional feedback, if obtained by the immediate boss from another manager (for whom this employee’s work is also important), will add to the fairness of the system.

Another best practice in HR Management is employee recognition. Rewards are not only for the top performers but also a few others who need to be motivated to exhibit their potential.

HR practitioners can also focus on breaking down the traditional hierarchical structure of layers of managers, team leaders, and employees and replacing it with self-managed teams. This means that no individual has total responsibility for a team’s performance. Instead, everybody works together to achieve a common goal, with team members taking turns to lead particular projects based on their expertise and experience. Self-managed teams encourage everyone to take responsibility for business success by giving them some personal accountability for performance. It is also usually the case that employees working in such team frameworks benefit from higher levels of motivation and morale as they feel more in control of their daily work.

HR practitioners are able to effectively execute the above-mentioned practices and more, only if they understand the strategic direction of the organisation. The call even goes further, where best practice expects them to contribute to that strategy formulation.

When all has been said and done, consistency is the HR Management best practice backbone. Any HR professional should know the company's policies and procedures and enforce them fairly (and be seen to be fair) across the board for all employees. If the managers play favorites, or are appearing to play favorites, then employees are less likely to actually abide by the organization's procedures. This also breeds mistrust between management and employees.

In conclusion the world of HR Management is changing, with an increased sense of purpose and focus on activities that add value to the business as a whole. No longer thought of as merely an administrative or reactive field, HR Management can lead the way in terms of positive business change. Hence, it is vital to understand the latest trends and best practices in this field.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at