8 HR Best Practices You Need to Know: A Complete Guide

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Every organisation’s HR department tailors programmes to best fit their own needs. Even with those adjustments, there remain certain core HR best practices to use as guideposts for effective policies and engaged employees. 

Below, we have put together a guide to the best HR policies and practices to keep at the forefront while making the right decisions for your company…

Key Facts

  • HR best practices are universal building blocks that help companies construct people management policies specific to their workforce.

  • Many HR best practices depend on good internal communication to create a positive work environment.

  • Best practices change with the times. The best HR practices are “evergreen” – meaning they can apply even as various contexts change. 

What Are HR Best Practices?

HR best practices consist of researched and proven principles and processes that can help produce optimal results for any business. While they may be universally applicable, human resources best practices are often tailored to meet specific needs. 

The ultimate goal of any HR best practice is to improve business performance by optimising employee performance. In many cases, they are most often paired with politics that are customised to help support and achieve any goals.

HR Practices vs. HR Activities: What Is the Difference?

While the terms ‘practice’ and ‘activity’ are often used interchangeably, there is an important technical difference between them. Some key aspects that distinguish HR practices from HR activities include:

  • HR practices are broad in scope and focused on planning and implementing HR best practice policies, so they can fall in line with the overall business plan.

  • HR practices help align the mission and stated role of HR departments with those of the organisation as a whole.

  • The effectiveness of HR practices is reflected in how they improve your employees’ career outcomes, performance and overall potential. 

On the other hand, the aspects of HR activities include:

  • HR activities focus on the details that establish best business practices in the workplace. For example, recruitment, training, payroll, and maintaining employee relations all fall under HR activities.

  • While HR practices set the Human Resources department’s overall goals and objectives, activities are the methods that help you achieve them. 

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8 HR Best Practices Every Company Should Incorporate

The most effective HR policies are those that reflect the wants and needs of employees. As employee expectations shift, it’s important to review your policies to make sure they provide employees with what they need to succeed. 

To that end, following these HR best practices ensures you update company policies in a way that accommodates a new generation of workers without losing sight of the fundamentals…

1. Selective Hiring: Find the Right People for Your Team

The first priority of any business should be to find and hire the best people to fill empty positions. Doing so typically requires an up-to-date hiring process that filters out candidates that don’t fit the role or the organisation. That’s the goal of selective hiring: to find the best people for the job through a comprehensive analysis of the job requirements and robust hiring strategies. 

HR recruitment best practices involve improvements in communication with candidates. For example, job adverts should clarify prerequisites and highlight the type of employee you’re looking to hire. In addition, a well-written job description can discourage unqualified candidates from applying while attracting top talent. 

However, focusing too strongly on this HR best practice can have recruiters ignoring good candidates in search of perfect ones. An employee’s skills are important, but many can be taught; it’s generally more important that they fit in with your company’s culture. 

2. Design an Onboarding Programme To Ensure a Smooth Start

A proper onboarding programme signals to new employees that they’re going to be supported in their new role. A robust programme sets up the best chances for employee success and assures them they’ve made the right choice in joining your organisation. 

The first thing to do is build an onboarding programme that works. That means handling all of the key administrative tasks, like: 

  • Appropriate legal paperwork

  • Hiring agreements

  • Select benefits

  • Access to the employee handbook

  • Other essential documents.

There’s a lot of work that goes into an employee’s first day. An automated employee onboarding software simplifies this process both for your HR department and the new employee.

In the long term, effective onboarding also means developing a detailed training plan to teach new hires the skills they’re missing. Some organisations employ mentorship programmes where senior employees pass on first-hand knowledge to newer ones, while others implement courses that teach them the fundamentals of the positions. 

However, a mix of several training methods might be the best to produce well-rounded and productive employees. 

3. Prioritise Ongoing Training for Continued Development

Supporting the growth of your workforce helps them keep up with new industry trends while keeping them engaged with their work. Ideally, this practice leads to a well-rounded and effective workforce that you have little issue retaining well into the future. 

One of the most effective methods for pursuing this HR best practice is focusing on skills-based training. While more generalised programmes are useful for new hires, more precise areas where they can improve will become clearer as they adjust to their roles. Specialised courses for any skills gaps help shore up employee competencies faster and more efficiently. 

Something else to consider is focusing training opportunities on those employees who are more adaptable. Employees with years or decades of experience likely have a process that’s worked for them and may not be as open to adopting new ways of doing things. Those newer in their careers are still settling into their roles and may be more open to new ways to sharpen  their skills. No matter who expresses interest in these programmes, they are an investment in employees — an investment that will pay off over time.

Despite its many benefits, focusing too much on this HR best practice can have drawbacks. For one, the more training resources you make available, the more expensive it is to maintain the programme. And the longer employees spend training, the less they can contribute to the organisation’s overall productivity. 

4. Employee Compensation: Developing the Best Remuneration Package

An appealing remuneration package motivates current employees and attracts top talent. For many, this begins with financial compensation. While a competitive wage is the primary motivator for many employees, there should be clear guidelines about pay rises, bonuses and other infrastructure that puts employees on the path to more money as they grow.

In some organisations, performance-based rises encourage employees to maintain and improve performance, but this HR policy needs to be rolled out carefully. Competition isn’t bad, but something should change about your HR policy if it’s damaging cooperation between colleagues. Additionally, wage increases and material rewards tend to work best on employees with repetitive responsibilities; the more complex an employee’s task, the more you may have to give to keep them motivated. 

Employee compensation goes beyond a good wage — it includes all benefits offered that bring value, monetary or otherwise, to the compensation scheme. This can include maternity and paternity leave, work-from-home provisions, extra paid holiday and private health insurance plans separate from the NHS, among other examples. Providing a robust and competitive package can help draw new quality talent to your company and keep the workforce you have as long as possible.

5. Employee Engagement: Best Practices for a Long-Term Relationship

Supporting and uplifting continued employee engagement is one of your HR department’s most important responsibilities. Employees who feel engaged with their jobs are more likely to perform well and are more likely to stay for the long term. 

HR best practices for increasing engagement revolve around creating a workplace environment of mutual trust. Typically, that means establishing communication channels that allow employees to build stronger connections within their departments, with other departments and with the C-suite. With that in place, management can respond to employee issues more quickly, readily recognise their achievements and keep them in the loop about goings-on within the company.

Following through on this best practice can be difficult because establishing and taking advantage of robust communication channels can be time-consuming. Additionally, the more interconnected internal operations are, the higher the risk of miscommunication, creating conflicts and slowing down productivity.

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6. Evaluate Employee Performance and Share Feedback

Offering constructive feedback to employees is one of the most effective ways to help them improve professionally. Direct involvement in how your employees develop can make them more effective in their current position and set them up for continued growth and promotions within your company. 

Additionally, demonstrating that level of support often fosters a deeper connection between them and the organisation as a whole, encouraging higher work performance. And the positive changes they make in their everyday operations improve overall company performance.

One of the best ways to evaluate employee performance is with 360-degree feedback. This style of constructive criticism gives employees the most thorough, unbiased and comprehensive feedback possible — hence its name. This evaluation is completed by colleagues, managers and other staff aside from the employee’s direct manager, with reviews based on  hard data and not governed by emotion.

This process begins with a feedback survey, typically conducted online, that covers a broad range of competencies. These questions are typically a combination of open-ended responses and closed-ended responses in the form of rating something on a numeric scale (a Likert Scale). This mix gives space for concrete information, while giving participants the opportunity to share their insights. The questionnaire is distributed to a group determined by HR, and its responses form the framework of the review feedback conversation with the employee.

When implementing this practice, be aware that questions on a 360-degree feedback survey are often too focused on employee weaknesses rather than strengths. That focus can have a dampening effect on employee motivation and eventually lead to lower quality work. Additionally, while the 360-degree feedback method does give a comprehensive view of your workforce, the anonymous nature of the responses doesn’t allow you to follow up on critical issues easily. 

7. Flexible and Adaptive Working Models

The working world has evolved in recent years, with work-from-home and flexible working hours models now a highly sought-after perk for many prospective and current employees. As a result, it’s become increasingly important for employers to give their workforce the option to work from home.

A flexible working model is an HR best practice where the company allows employees to choose where and, to some extent, when they want to work. Adapting to each worker’s unique needs and preferences helps ensure they can work at their full potential. Additionally, giving them more control over their work lives can mitigate stress and help them properly manage a work-life balance, which in turn increases productivity.

When creating an adaptive working model, keep in mind that this arrangement isn’t the best for all employees or work environments. If you decide offering continued work from home is right for your company, make sure your programme has clear rules, established expectations and you have measures in place to track performance and remediate any issues that may arise.

8. Transparency

A work environment that encourages open communication and fosters feedback is the bedrock of a thriving workforce. As an HR professional, you play a key role in creating a culture of transparency and openness by implementing and maintaining these communication channels. 

As a result, your workforce feels like a more integral part of the company, which fosters dedication and loyalty that helps increase retention rates.

Transparency takes many forms under HR’s umbrella. First is corporate communications, establishing and maintaining methods of what’s new at your company, both good and bad. Disseminating important information on a regular basis through daily team updates, newsletters, company-wide emails or other digital tools keeps your whole team informed. There’s also transparency in important topics like pay schemes, which helps drive fair pay practices that help close the gender wage gap.

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What’s New in HR Best Practices in 2023?

HR best practices tend to be foundational guidelines, but their details shift with the times. Best practices evolve as the world changes, the most recent example being the COVID-19 pandemic and the era of flexible work-from-home policies it ushered in. This change seems to be a permanent one, with more workers than ever desiring a workplace that allows at least some sort of work-from-home option.

There’s also the matter of how employees air their workplace grievances. The rise of social media means new ways to share both positives and negatives about a company, whereas before, employees might have shared reservations and concerns between friends or co-workers outside the office. Now, it takes little effort for a disgruntled employee to take to TikTok or Reddit with their stance on workplace drama, whether the critique is warranted or not. As a result, HR needs to think about social media use in the workplace as a matter of policy in 2023, while keeping in mind that a positive work environment is one of the best defences you can have.

Finally, there’s a matter of morale as redundancies continue to affect industries like tech. These layoffs have a cooling effect and have many employees wondering about the fate of their own positions. Open communication and employee engagement, two of our recommended best practices for 2023, can help reassure nervous workers that their positions are secure.

Frequently Asked Questions About HR Best Practices

Why Are HR Best Practices Important for Companies and Employees?

Implementing HR best practices creates a framework upon which you can build a workplace that caters to the professional needs of employees. Supporting your workforce, in turn, encourages higher employee performance and productivity. 

What Are the Top HR Best Practices?

The top HR best practices include:

  • Finding the right employees to bring into your company

  • Establish a solid onboarding programme to help new hires start on the right foot

  • Help your employees develop into more well-rounded professionals throughout their employment

  • Compensate them fairly according to the work they do

  • Encourage higher engagement by building a positive work environment

  • Implement 360-degree feedback to accurately understand how each worker can improve

  • Adapt your working model to employee needs

  • Openly share what’s happening within the company with your employees 

What Is Important To Change in 2023 for Your HR Practices?

Giving employees more freedom to decide where and when they work is becoming increasingly crucial to incoming candidates. Willingness to adapt to each employee’s unique needs can help attract more high-quality talent. There’s also a need to address the role social media has in the daily lives of employees and how that may impact the workplace. 

Tackle Your HR Responsibilities With Personio

HR best practices build a solid foundation for establishing a business’s people management policies. While their implementation is no easy feat, a central hub can help you manage all the moving parts with ease. 

Personio offers access to top-quality HR tools such as payroll preparation, analytics and reporting, onboarding and more that help create a work environment where employees thrive. Speak with an expert to learn how Personio can help you manage your HR tasks.


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