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HR New Year’s Resolutions

By Cathleen Snyder, CIR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

It’s that time again. Along with the New Year, January brings an opportunity to look back at the previous year, what worked, what didn’t and what just didn’t happen. It’s also a time look ahead at the coming year. Many people will make their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, become more fit, rebuild the relationship with your sister…

HR should be no different. January is an ideal time to take a hard look at your organization. What were the good things that happened last year that you want to make sure are carried forward? What were the not so good that you can learn from? What did you intend to do but never got to? What changes occurred in your organization and what was the impact on HR that needs to be addressed?

Some key areas to consider:

Job descriptions — When were they last updated? For many organizations, job requirements changed out of need. One employee was laid off or left and not replaced, so those duties were absorbed by another. Are these changes going to remain permanent? Also, some of those changes resulted in the realization that certain duties were a better fit for the alternate position. Now is the time to make it official and update job descriptions.

Social Media — It’s everywhere, and as much as some may want to ignore it, you can’t ignore the potential impact on your business, both positive and negative. Facebook is now considered to be the new search engine response driver. The more content you have on your Facebook page the more likely you are to appear on top of search results. Is your company getting the maximum benefit from social media? It’s also important to consider what your employees are saying about your company via social media. Do you have a policy in place regarding the use of social media? Does HR monitor social media outlets to see what is being posted about your company? What liability exposure needs to be considered? This is an area that is evolving daily, literally. The company that chooses to ignore it does so at its own peril.

Workplace Harassment — This past year seemed to bring a rise in Workplace Harassment issues. Companies are seeing an increase in harassment and discrimination complaints. Whether your company experienced this trend of not, it is important to evaluate whether you are positioned to weather the potential storm. Do you have a Workplace Harassment policy? When was the policy last updated? Has it been communicated to employees recently? When was training last conducted? So many companies think that these issues don’t happen to them – until they do. Make sure you have taken the necessary measures to handle any complaint that may arise. The upside is by raising awareness the result is often a more positive work environment.

Compensation Survey and Review — The past couple of years may have seen salary reductions in order to survive the economic downturn. With the economy finally starting to recover, a review of your salary structure may be warranted. Have you reinstated those pay cuts? What about 401k matches? Are you still paying competitively? This is especially important as companies begin hiring again. The coming year promises to be a tight hiring market. You will want to position yourself to attract the best candidates and retain your superstars.

Training and Development — What does your training budget look like for 2011? For many organizations, this is an area that has been slashed in recent years. We have all heard that as the economy stabilizes, employees may be more open to changing jobs. What are you doing to retain your top talent? There has never been a more important time to show your commitment to your employees, by offering opportunities for learning and growth, before they head for the door. 

Recognition — While the past three years has been tough on business, it has also been tough on employees. More has been asked of them during these rough times, as business tightened its belt. How have you shown that you recognize and appreciate those that got you through? Budgets may still be tight. This is an opportunity to get creative in showing your “human” resources how much they are valued.
These are just a few areas worth looking at when considering what you will choose as your New Year’s resolutions. Some may be easier to keep than others. If you don’t already do so, identifying a strategic plan for the coming year is instrumental in ensuring these resolutions are met. Some resolutions may involve changing direction, some may involve formalizing a direction that is already underway. Either way, it’s a brand New Year and a clean slate.

Cathleen Snyder, CIR, SPHR, is a Senior Human Resources Consultant with Strategic Human Resources, Inc. ( and can be reached at if you have any questions, comments, or success stories.