What Pitfalls Is Your HR Department Dragging You Into?

What you don’t know about HR’s weaknesses is probably costing you the edge you need to compete with companies that manage their humans better. Let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls your HR department may be trapped in.

What Pitfalls Is Your HR Department Dragging You Into?

From recruiting and retention to employee development, many HR departments seem to be doing more disservice than favors for their companies. As a C-level executive, this limits your ROI as you try to leverage “human resources” (uh, that’s your employees to anyone outside HR) to make your marketing department more effective.

SilkRoad, a global talent management consultancy, has published a reality check for HR executives: “The Always On Talent Economy.” (You have to sign up to download the report, but it’s free.) I strongly recommend you read it to help you prepare for the chat you need to have with your HR team. If your team isn’t one of the very best, what you don’t know about its weaknesses is probably costing you the edge you need to compete with companies that manage their humans better.

Let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls SilkRoad says your HR department may be trapped in.

Pitfall 1: Inadequate Engagement

“Employee engagement and retention were … the #1 concern of professionals” in SilkRoad’s recent survey. “Companies with a critical mass of engaged employees have higher earnings per share, lower attrition rates, and a workforce that consistently outperforms the competition.”

But SilkRoad reports that its respondents behave tactically, not strategically, when it comes to promoting employee engagement. SilkRoad cites a Gallup report that says in 2015, less than a third of U.S. workers were “engaged in their jobs.” More than half were “not engaged.” Has your HR department fallen down on this metric?

Pitfall 2: Poor Recruiting Methods

The biggest problem HR faces, says SilkRoad, is that it can’t possibly recruit the best people for your marketing department if you’re not involved. Being able to recruit effectively means your company’s culture and vulnerabilities are being addressed—and HR can’t do it alone. C-level executives need to “feel accountable for creating a culture that attracts and retains employees.”

You might say this is HR’s job—but if HR agrees with you, then your HR is probably failing because recruiting is everyone’s job. Have you fallen into this pit?

Pitfall 3: Overdependence On Job Boards

The report emphasizes what you probably already know: “When it comes to talent acquisition, employees are HR’s secret weapon”—and yours, too. “Our research has shown that employee referrals are the leading source of hires.” But you wouldn’t know it to look at the staggering budgets HR spends on job boards and LinkedIn. How much does your HR department spend on employee referral programs?

And guess what? SilkRoad reports that referred workers are less likely to turn over than those found through other means.

Pitfall 4: Inadequate Employee Development Programs

We’ve discussed it here before: Research from the Wharton School shows that over the past decade, employers have drastically cut professional and leadership development budgets and programs. (See “Are You Whining About Talent?”) “Professional development should be at the top of corporate training departments’ agendas,” cautions SilkRoad, ”especially for rapidly rising Millennial workers” who cite this as the No. 1 reason they’ll join a company.

By 2025, reports SilkRoad, Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce. If your company is one of those with weak or non-existent development programs, who do you expect to be able to recruit?

Pitfall 5: Failure To Leverage Technology And Metrics

While your marketing organization is on the leading edge of analytics, mobile, apps, and use of disruptive technologies to give your company an edge, SilkRoad’s survey signals that your HR department is probably living in the Stone Age.

“We were surprised to learn that the majority of [HR] professionals still use spreadsheets for extracting and combining workforce data for decision-making. Very few businesses had fully integrated HR functions.” Perhaps worse, HR isn’t tracking the outcomes of its outmoded practices: “An even more disturbing finding showed that few organizations had plans for performance management improvements next year.”

As you look forward to implementing state-of-the-art marketing plans, you’re counting on having the kind of marketing team that can make it happen. Unless you’re doing all your own recruiting, training, and employee development—and I doubt you are!—then you rely on your HR department to help you get a people edge. How’s your HR team doing on this critical challenge? What pitfalls is it dragging you into? (See “Telltale Signs That Your HR Function Is Moribund.”)

It’s time to go have a chat with your HR department. Take along this SilkRoad checklist.

More from Ask The Headhunter: