I am an optimist and perhaps a bit gullible. When I meet with a business owner and they tell me that they do not have any problems with their employees I always believe them. In my defense, it could happen!
I know that regardless of all the complaints filed in the numerous local and federal agencies set up to protect employees and with the additional funds states like NY & NJ are putting into hiring auditors to randomly check employers, there are limits to how many of the millions of employers will ever see any of these complaint investigations or random audits. Even though these agencies know there is a steady stream of income from penalties and fines that they can charge employers for minor and major noncompliance offenses that are usually always there, I still believe.
However….I have yet to find an employer without a problem they need a real Human Resources professional to handle. Even if a business that has never seen a formal complaint from the Department of Labor, EEOC, ADA, Workers’ Comp., etc. etc. etc., they will always have issues that are best left to the professionals. There are a plethora of concerns that need to be address such as attendance issues, morale issues, employee turnover, rebel rousing, reduced productivity, poor managers, miscommunications – I can go on but I think you get the point.
These issues are like leaky plumbing or a small internal bleed – minor on the face of it but left unattended result in floods or death (OK death is going a bit too far). Although it is not so far from the result. It could be a slow death crippling the company. Let me explain what I mean.
One example is a common issue most businesses wrestle with, attendance. There is always someone that can’t get in on time or leaves earlier than they are supposed to, or employees that call out so often that the results are the same. Others have to compensate for the missing cog in the machine or others, seeing no action being taken, may mimic this behavior. Even if the others don’t behave the same I would bet you a year’s income that their coworkers are pissed. Pissed and probably distracted. The results, regardless, will be a drop in productivity. Reduced productivity most often results in longer lead times, causing missed deadlines and unfulfilled promises to customers. Hopefully not a reduced quality in your product or service, but that is possible as well. Now your reputation with your employees, because of you allowing this to continue and your reputation in the market place will suffer.
If you don’t see this happening, I guarantee you are not looking or you are lucky enough to have an overburden hero in your organization that is setting things right. Don’t depend on this hero though, they can do this for just so long.
A quality HR professional would already have implemented processes that would monitor the attendance offender – with proper supporting documentation that can be used in a court of law if it ever comes to that, may have been able to thwart this behavior, coach and/or support the manager if there is one and perhaps may have started to search for a reliable replacement – all at a more cost effective manor than losing productivity and business. Not just saving money but your reputation as well.
From my many years of experience working with small businesses, I can confidently say that the biggest cause of why businesses lack a Human Resources professional, is between the lines of the last sentence above. It’s cost. Human Resources departments are not money making areas. They cost employers money in precious real estate required for private conversations and secure confidential record keeping within the confines of the office, the salary of the professional, the incentive programs, training materials and benefit programs, necessary equipment and supplies to implement the essential programs and procedures. So does insurance. You would never think of going into business without the necessary business insurance, property insurance for your place of business, worker’s compensation insurance, etc. These don’t make you money either and will only save you money if you ever need to file a claim.
Conversely, you will see a return on your dollar if you have the right Human Resources professional. There is a bucket of money that can be found by doing things properly in this area. Similar to the example above with the attendance. Issues that reduce productivity can be nipped at the bud before they become costly. Proper documentation can provide what you need to answer a complaint and have it dismissed without the cost of a lawyer. Your time can be more productive if there is someone else that can handle all these time sucking issues, increasing your ability to bring in more revenue.
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