Building the best HR: top 10 questions to ask

| By:
Mark Sokol

Happy employees are key to high productivity, low turnover, and consistent customer service—in other words, they’re at the foundation of a successful business. And behind a satisfied staff is an HR team that knows how to keep employees engaged, effective, and committed to giving their best.

Whether you’re just now building a human resources team or seeking improvement to an existing one, here are 10 questions to consider:

1. Does your company have detailed job descriptions?

Even if your business is small and flexibility is essential, every role should have a clear job description, including the knowledge, skills, and experience required for success in each position. Level of responsibility, reporting structure, and key performance indicators should also be defined as positions are aligned with budget and business strategy. It’s good practice to build a business case for each new hire.

2. What is your onboarding process?

Just like new clients, employees only start once. Don’t waste a day. Make sure the introduction to their employment sets the right tone and level of expectation for what lies ahead. Provide orientation and training that prepares them to perform at their best.

3. How does your business communicate reporting structure?

Employees should have a snapshot of where they fit in the bigger picture. An organizational chart is an imperative visual tool for communicating how company functions flow. A chart not only provides an at-a-glance view of who does what and reports to whom, it also illustrates potential promotional paths.

4. Does your company provide each employee training and a career plan?

No matter how satisfied employees are today, presenting opportunities for tomorrow is an important motivator for top performance and loyalty. Do your best to offer education, certification, and skill development where you can. Investing in your employees will return long-term benefits and increase retention rate.

 5. Are your vendor certifications kept current?

Some vendors require specific qualifications to be met in order to sell their products. If those qualifications aren’t met through proper training and certifications, your business may lose purchasing power for an entire line.

It’s worthwhile to develop a central HR system that automatically tracks certifications, allows employees to enroll for training, and notifies you of upcoming expirations.

6. Is there a performance review system in place?

All employees deserve to know how well they’re meeting company expectations. Regular reviews provide a defined forum for that feedback, as well as a chance to share direction and opportunities for growth. Create a review calendar to ensure no employee is overlooked or delayed in this process.

7. How is employee satisfaction measured within your company?

Growing discontent will whittle away at even the best employee performance. Staff satisfaction should be just as important as keeping your customers happy because it’s all related. Having an online survey tool can help you bubble issues to the surface while they’re still manageable. Exit interviews should also be viewed as a valuable way to gather information for future improvements.

8. Do you know what motivates your employees?

There’s one sure-fire way to find out. Ask them. The experience of taking part in an employee survey can often in itself be therapeutic and enlightening. But remember that your response and ultimate action will determine how useful the process really is.

9. Do you effectively manage and capture employee time?

Not only do some labor laws require accurate records of employee hours, but your business needs to define and justify those that are ‘client-billable.’ Having visibility to how and where employee time is being spent provides data for necessary adjustments, as well as future planning and growth. But time tracking can be complicated, especially when you have team members in the field. The best practice is incorporating an automated platform to accurately collect and record information.

10. How do you store employee information?

Be highly sensitive about the security of personal information being stored and shared electronically. Only non-confidential employee information should be integrated with all your other operational software.

If any of these questions tripped you up just a bit, it may be a great time to explore ways that HR could become a more strategic partner in your business success.