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Insightful HR Tips from the Pros

A quick overview of key HR tips offered by experts affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

It's always good to check in with the experts to get valuable HR tips for the workplace. We've canvassed the broad array of topics discussed by HR experts and would like to share some insightful tips and advice from professionals who focus on human resources for a living. Here's a look at some recent "hot topics."

The Benefits of Employee Professional Development

In his post, "Why You Need to Encourage Professional Development for Your Employees," Sean Little, VP of Marketing for FirstJob.com, highlights several reasons why businesses should help employees acquire career-advancing skills:

  • "Happy employees are more loyal, and loyal employees are more productive," Little writes. Most employees appreciate it when their employer demonstrates a sincere interest in assisting their career advancement.
  • Since technologies and methodologies are constantly in flux, a company is better equipped to adjust to these changes if its workforce has the right training and skills to meet the challenge.
  • Employees want to feel they "own" their careers. By providing access to professional development, employers help these individuals feel more positive about their growth and development. Removing stress and negativism in this area often paves the way towards greater productivity and reduced absenteeism.

As Little points out, professional development can take many forms. Explore opportunities to cross-train employees or have them rotate through different job duties. Sponsor groups where they can talk about their work experiences and possibly mentor others. Assemble a task force to find new ways to assist workers in acquiring skills for future growth.

Signs Your Employee Referral Program is Broken

Jason Buss, founder of TalentHQ, alerts employers to shortcomings in their referral programs, in his article, "10 Signs Your Employee Referral Program Is Broken." Here are some reasons your employee referral program might not be yielding hoped-for results:

  • Referrals are treated the same as every other applicant. Instead, create a "fast track through your hiring process" by tagging them in your applicant tracking system.
  • Referrals vanish into your HR department's "black hole." Slow responses to employee referrals send the signal you're not serious about hiring the best available talent.
  • Too many rules impede the referral process. To encourage more referrals, (1) make the process as transparent as possible; (2) identify clear expectations at the start of the process; and (3) give referring employees a way to track the progress of the people they've referred.
  • Employees wait too long for the referral bonus. Buss calls it "bad practice" to delay bonus payments three to six months after a referral is made.
  • Referrals are accepted only during a hiring phase. Being prepared to accept qualified referrals (whether or not there's a vacancy) "keeps your employees on constant alert for talent."

Pay Attention to the Wording of Your Harassment Policies

In "Employee Handbooks: Every Word Counts—3 Harassment Policy Tips," employment law attorney Allan H. Weitzman cautions employers that, "When it comes to your handbooks, say what you mean and mean what you say." He singles out key wording that can get businesses in trouble:

"Report harassment to any supervisor"

Don't restrict an employee's options for reporting a harassment complaint. Instead of "report to any supervisor," always offer additional options such as the employee's department head or director of HR.


Harassment isn't always illegal. If you ask your employees, they may tell you they feel "harassed" every day, when they fail to meet deadlines, miss production targets, show up late, etc. Be sure your handbook refers specifically to "illegal types of harassment."

"Required to report"

Too many policies state that an employee who feels he or she has witnessed harassment "is required to report this to ..." But this implies that if the employee doesn't report something, they're subject to disciplinary measures—precisely the wrong message to send. Weitzman suggests using "strongly encouraged" as alternative wording: "It makes the same point with much less downside."

What's the Best Way to Handle Candidate Rejections?

In "How You Handle Candidate Rejection Matters," Brin McCagg, CEO of RecruitFi, warns employers that how they reject job applicants can dramatically affect their company's brand and standing in the marketplace. If an applicant is turned down in "a dismissive manner" (or they never get a response at all), the news travels fast, either by social media or by word of mouth. Having a rejection process that's negatively perceived can damage your efforts to recruit the best talent.

As McGagg notes, studies demonstrate that poorly rejected candidates "not only have a worse opinion of the brand, but openly state that they're less likely to buy a product from them." When you do a poor job of turning down a job applicant, you may also be turning away prospective customers.

Design a responsive candidate rejection process that promotes "enthusiasm, honesty and constructive conversation." Rejection is never easy, but doing it the right way generates lingering goodwill and a stronger reputation as a business that always welcomes applications from top-quality candidates.


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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.

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