Meeting the challenges of 2012


Human resources consultant Fred Cooper, a south Tempe resident, offers perspectives on business- and personnel-related issues.

As a business owner, you’ve got challenges—sustainability, survivability, profit and loss, staff, facilities, customer relations and service, suppliers and others who impact your business.

Whether you’re a “glass half full or half empty” person, you’re usually right. We all know there’s enough going on in the world, politically and economically, to justify either position, belief or approach.

However, certain economic indicators—politics aside—point to improvements in employment numbers, business growth and development, and overall more positive attitudes. 

So how do you best position yourself and your business to meet the coming year? Here is a list—and by no means a complete one—of things you can do to meet the challenges of 2012.

Review and update, if needed, your strategic and business plans to reflect changes that have occurred the past year.  They’re both part of your roadmap to success. 

Conduct a strategic review of your Human Resources programs and processes.

Recruiting—are you hiring the right people with the right experience and skills and education to do the work or are you hiring to out-of-date job descriptions because jobs have changed but the baseline recruiting document—the job description—has not?

Job duties may have evolved over time, and if you’re hiring against the old job description, you may not be seeking, attracting or selecting the talent and experience you really need to get the job done. 

Establish a formal “on-boarding” process to orient your new employees to the expectations of the company. 

Are you paying a “market competitive/internally equitable” salary? If not and your competitor is, that’s where your employees may go. Regularly conducting market-based salary surveys and pricing your jobs competitively in the market can reduce staff turnover.

Evaluate turn-over. There are significant costs in lost production, recruiting efforts and training, and loss of “intellectual property” when a new or long-term employee leaves for other employment.

Staffing—are you “right sized”? Under-staffing (having six do the work of 10) can be counter-productive to the effectiveness and quality of internal work and external customer services/customer relations your company delivers.

Establish an “out-processing” program with exit interviews to identify systemic issues leading to departures that have an impact on an employee’s decision to stay or go. And this allows you to reclaim equipment, materials, supplies, keys, badges or other items you don’t want “out there” in former employees’ hands.

Determine compliance with state and federal rules, regulations and requirements. Even with one employee, you are subject to several areas of state and federal law regarding hiring, record keeping, pay provisions, posters to be shown in a prominent location, etc. A complaint or random audit can lead to a potential fine.

Applicable rules and regulations increase in number as your staffing size increases.  And claiming ignorance can lead to one agency calling in others to look at more areas—for example, that you “didn’t know” you had to use E-Verify for all new employees does not excuse the violation and the auditing agency could also call in the Internal Revenue Service since if you didn’t know about employment law requirements, perhaps you didn’t know about various IRS requirements.  

It is always better to not be in the hole than to attempt to dig out of it.

This coming year will see lots of challenges and, ideally, triumphs. Some pre-planning, evaluation and analysis may make the difference between a successful year or one that is defining in the opposite direction. 

A human resources professional will have the skill, knowledge, experience and expertise to work with the business owner to address most all of these areas.


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