5 Avoidable mistakes HR professionals make and how to avoid them


Human Resource department is the heart of all organisational functions. It links all departments and employees making it an essential function in the running of a company. The human resource function is considered both an art and science. It is an art because it involves creatively designing strategies and policies to manage organisational behavior and a science because it incorporates using organised knowledge, theories, methods, and principles to find solutions related to human talent. Given the weight the department carries, slight mistakes usually have dire consequences such as lawsuits, reputation damage, high employee turnover,unmotivated employees among many others. So, what are these mistakes and how can Human resources professionals steer clear of them and protect their company and brand?

  1. Lack of Balance between employee and company advocacy

It is common practice for many HR professionals to only represent the management and business owners leaving the employees scared to voice their issues less they are faced with disciplinary action or termination. HR professionals are always walking on a tight rope between employee satisfaction and business owners/managers’ demand for business productivity and profit first.

To avoid this, HR should aim at creating a neutral department where everyone wins. The starting point in creating a neutral and balanced department is educating the business owners and managers on how and what the business stands to gain with a well balanced neutral HR department. HR employees’ training is also key in helping to strike the balance. This in time will see the professionals grow in skills and experiences whereby they are able to ensure the company upholds legislative policies, managers and business owners’ demands as well as ensuring employees’ needs are met.

2. One size fits all solution for different problems and companies

As a HR practitioner, chances are you have faced a particular issue in different organisations you have worked with and at different points and times in your career. How then do you handle the issue? Are you still offering the same solution today working in a marketing agency as you were a few years ago while working in the manufacturing industry? Looking at employee development in a modern workplace as an example, it would not be prudent for HR to conduct general career growth and development training. Such opportunities need customization based on factors such as age, Industry interest, past evaluation, individual motivators, current, and future opportunities among many other factors.

As much as there are policies and structures, they should be pointers to guide in decision making. Instead, research to understand the organisation, industry, and employees’ needs and tailor-make solutions depending on the time of need. This is the biggest indicator of growth in the human resource profession. Also, let innovation and emotional intelligence guide you as you tailor-make the solutions based on the company and employees’ unique needs and goals.

3. A reactive approach to employee issues

Most HR practitioners have a reactive approach to employment issues such as recruitment, disciplinary action, training, retention, rewards among others. They often spring to make hasty decisions once an issue has been brought to their attention and action is demanded. A good example of this scenario is sexual harassment in the workplace. How do such scandals continue in some organisations for years without the HR being privy to it?

For the HR team to be proactive, they need to engage with all employees through communication. Set up periodic meetings with departments, teams, and individuals to understand their various needs and issues. Avoiding organisational blind spots by working with team leaders is also highly recommended. This ensures the HR team not only identify internal problems on time but also identity and nurture leaders. The use of data in HR functions also helps the HR team in being proactive.  It gives the team an upper hand in that they are able to detect a pattern that helps in future decision making. Functions such as employee development and performance can be best managed using HR analytics. Successful HR analytics is an organisational tick and a success in people management.

4. Failure to create a diverse and inclusive workforce

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is the greatest indicator of an effective hiring process. Lack of diversity hurts business in ways such as; limited perspective, few role models, low employee engagement, low productivity, and ultimately decline in profit and brand reputation.

 The HR team should always strive to create an environment where employees feel valued for their strength and treated with respect despite their age, background, religion,  sexual orientation, worldviews, abilities, and much more. Some of the strategies HR can adopt to ensure the right talent is rightfully placed to achieve the organisational goal include; conscious diversity and inclusion approach in the hiring process, adoption of HR Technology to eliminate bias, Creating policies that commit to equality, educating employees and managers on the benefits of diversity and inclusion, Communication to encourage engagement and fostering a competitive and collaborative environment among others.

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5. Disregard for training

Have you noticed a company that constantly advertises for a particular role year in year out? Would the same happen if the company trained an existing employee to suit the existing needs? Employee training should be a continuous task and not only when onboarding new employees as is the norm in most companies. Employee training is an investment for both the companies future and the employee. The company stands to gain as they are assured of quality and maximum performance from employees after training them to suit business needs, low employee turnover, and an ability to track the employee’s skills growth. For employees, training makes them feel valued, more satisfied and morale boosted as well as positioned for growth opportunities a factor that is positively reflected in their performance review.

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