For a second year in a row, 80 percent of human resources (HR) leaders at small and medium sized businesses report their departments have a voice when it comes to overall company strategy. The 2018 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey affirmed HR’s critical role in shaping company strategy and revealed a sharpened focus on employee-centric practices that have a meaningful impact on employee engagement and company culture.
Employee Return on Investment (ROI) Tops 2018 Priorities
Focusing on employee efficiency is the top item on HR professionals’ current to-do lists. Here are the top five categories reported by survey:
- Evaluating workplace productivity and efficiency (90 percent);
- Having staff training and development programs (88 percent);
- Focusing on company culture to drive results (85 percent);
- Training for discrimination and harassment (83 percent); and
- Leveraging data to create optimal profiles to attract the right talent (71 percent).
The report showed a commitment to talent management, as 85 percent of respondents said they are focusing on company culture to drive results, and 77 percent stated that their current HR technology solution is improving overall employee experience.
Analytics Provide a Solid Foundation for Decision Making
Evaluating data to build recommendations is a key element in strategic contributions. More HR professionals are relying on analytics, with 95 percent actively and currently using them.
HR leaders use analytics to:
- Track employee benefits, time off, and training (90 percent);
- Defend their decisions to senior management (86 percent);
- Make more informed decisions (83 percent); and
- Understand how to communicate with employees (77 percent).
The task ahead is for HR professionals to expand and refine their use of technology.
Challenges for HR leaders
Recruitment, retention and compliance continue to headline HR leaders’ concerns. The five most-cited HR challenges include:
- Keeping up with regulations;
- Tracking employees’ time;
- Complying with regulations;
- Offering competitive benefits; and
- Retaining talent.
Companies continue to offer nontraditional benefits to help attract and retain employees in a tightening labor market. Flexible schedule is still considered to be the most desirable and important of these nontraditional benefits. Employee assistance programs rank second, followed by career development programs.
In 2018, 35 percent of leaders reported that one-half (1/2) to three-quarters (3/4) of their employees are “engaged.” Engagement was defined in the survey as “fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and taking positive action to further their company’s reputation and interests.” Top strategies to foster engagement include:
- Offering employees training to develop new skills;
- Empowering employees to suggest new work methods or projects; and
- Regularly asking employees for feedback about their job satisfaction.
Finger on the Pulse
Using company culture to fuel hiring and retention
The majority of leaders (83 percent) say they focus on company culture to drive results. For many companies, this starts on or before day one. Thirty-four percent of leaders foster engagement by creating an onboarding experience that accurately conveys company culture.
In 2018, HR leaders were far less likely to be comfortable supporting the HR needs of Millennials when compared to members of Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations.
HR continues to expand, with more than half of departments planning to add full-time employees this year.
Company Policies under a Microscope
Societal trends and priorities are driving changes to employee protection policies. Eighty-three percent of companies now have a discrimination and harassment policy in place, and 65 percent updated such policies within the past 12 months. Additionally, 67 percent re-evaluated their pay practices this year to ensure gender equality.