For me, the decision to hire an HR manager at first was a monetary one. At the time, we were outsourcing our HR functions to a PEO (professional employer organization). Our former PEO handled payroll, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, lawful compensation compliance, risk/safety management, new-employee screening/hiring and termination assistance, and also the delivery of our written initial off-site orientation process. We were paying close to $1,000 per employee at the time and were closing in on 150 employees. For me, it was comforting knowing that we were compliant with all HR governmental laws, but after looking at the cost going forward, hiring our own was a must.
It turns out that this was one of the best hires I’ve ever made, not just because it saved us money but because it also helped us change the culture of the company and free up managers so they could manage processes.
My HR manager is one of the most important business partners I have. Large body shop organizations should take steps early to handle HR issues efficiently and hire the right HR manager to guide their growth.
Launching an HR Program
HR involves more than just payroll and benefits; it’s more about people management.
Here are some keys to launching your own HR program:
- Define the culture and values so your HR manager has the tools and knowledge to carry out your vision. Make sure they know how you want staff members to be treated. Outline the benefits you offer. Explain what authority they will have. Make sure you have a written chain of command so everyone on the management team knows their authority. Give them the leeway to continually look for and present to you any additional benefits and perks for good employee relations.
- Know the laws. Have your legal counsel develop a detailed list of federal and local regulations so they know all the guidelines your company has to abide by.
- Have a handbook. Make sure you have a handbook that defines all your policies. It helps your employees understand what your company offers. Plus, it lays out what you expect from employees and what employees can expect from you.
- Outsource. Have a list of approved vendors that can assist you. For example, you’ll probably need to outsource payroll service, employee screening, health insurance and other benefits such as 401(k) and life insurance.
- Define your hiring and advancement strategy. Have a plan to recruit and advance employees. The ways to find new employees are constantly changing, so make sure they know them all. Make sure they know the type of people you want working at your company. Have a plan for attracting people who share your values. Have a program for employee progression; in most positions, there is room for advancement. If at all possible, you should offer up a promotion before going outside the company.
- Have a guide for management. Your HR manager should keep all your managers on task when it comes to things such as accepting and filing an application; employee reviews; write-ups; terminations; training; bonuses; reimbursements; and wage delivery. All of your job applications and resumes should be sent to the HR manager so they can review them. Your HR manager should know exactly what shop needs what so they can set up the interviews with the appropriate manager. When a store manager takes an application, they shouldn’t ever discount the applicant because they don’t know the needs of all the locations like your HR manager does.
- Orientation training program. Your HR manager should help you develop the initial employee orientation training if you don’t have one. There should be a process for every employee for the first few days, weeks and months. We’re currently preparing an orientation overview video for every new employee that will give them the history of the company, industry overview and our vision. Our HR manager couldn’t possibly deliver it to every employee at this point simply because of the amount of new hires coming in, which is why we’re taping it. We thought about having our managers deliver it, but we thought it would be better to have a completely consistent delivery.
Today, I see a much different attitude and culture in my company because of the relationship our HR manager has developed with each employee. Today, they all get the same message, whereas before it was left up to our outsourced PEO or an individual at the store. Today, if I want to know something about an employee or a new prospect, I have one person to ask and I get exactly what I’m looking for. We’re saving money, our employees are happier and we’re a better company.