Is HR department user friendly?
No one can argue that the role of HR is extremely complex, providing a wealth of services from aligning the workforce with business strategy to supporting new employees with induction enrolment. How an organisation’s community perceives HR will greatly depend on many things, but for me the top three are:

   What does HR stand for, what are their values?
   How approachable are they?
   How do I access the services?

HR is a dichotomy, a creature with two faces. When the service is providing what employees need in the form of well-considered employment policies, generous pay scales, flexible working hours and leave entitlements. Then it is the happy, smiling face we see.

But when HR is involved in withdrawing benefits, cutting jobs and exploiting employees, then the happy face is morphed into a grimace. For many employees, the more negative side, leads to a generalisation and lack of understanding of the benefit of HR. Negative perceptions can downward spiral into mistrust.

For employees to be engaged with HR practices and for the function to be successful, employees need to first and foremost be very clear regarding the role that HR plays and what they stand for.

The HR team that sets itself up as a business within a business, with a brand and clearly defined values, that echo the motives of HR, will fare better than those HR functions who fail to communicate their purpose. If employees understand the motives and can align these with published values, they are more inclined to be motivated to use the service and value the HR contribution.

HR should be about the well-being of the people, as well as strategic partnering. Employees need clearly defined access routes to the HR services provided. Where possible and depending on the size of the organisation, access will include a range of different options, so employees can choose the route appropriate to them and the urgency of their situation or question.

Options including the allocation of HR business partners or HR officers to each function, HR web chat, access to HR using the company intranet, HR help desks and specifically designed and scheduled HR drop in centres, or surgeries, can all assist with providing easy access.

Is Google the new HR department?
Small businesses, which do not have the resources to establish a range of access routes, may choose to implement a consultative exercise, before deciding, so that employees have a say in what options maybe preferred.

Whatever the access route, a clearly defined customer service policy on how ‘customers’ will be dealt with will also help to provide a consistent level of service. As with any highly focussed customer service environment, the service will benefit from regular evaluation. The service will also benefit from regular feedback from customers, either on-line, or via a drop in centre or surgery.

Providing all HR partners and officers with bespoke, customer service and soft skills development, in addition to having a high degree of understanding of HR policies and procedures, will pay dividends. Developing an appreciation of how to ‘live’ the HR values within this development plan, will ensure that a consistent message is being put out with every interaction.

Lawrence Bossidy, of General Electric fame, once said “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

If we are to develop and run healthy, successful businesses then we have to ensure that our HR facilities are user friendly and we develop strong partnership with our organisation’s communities.

Support my partner when they're stressed with work?
Work stress can affect our personal lives and our relationships, particularly if both partners are under significant stress. But learning to support each other in productive ways can strengthen the relationship, reduce stress and improve mood.

Research suggests that couples who actively manage stress together improve their relationship durability over time.

  • Listen and support: Questioning, challenge and offering solutions are important, but listening and offering support are most valuable. Research from eHarmony suggested that people who are supportive when their partners share bad events maintain relationship satisfaction and contribute towards an environment with fewer arguments.
  • Recognise and respect different coping mechanisms: People cope very differently with stress. Some people like to talk everything out as soon as possible, while others need silent downtime. It’s important to recognise you and your partner might not cope in the same way, and there isn’t necessarily a “right” way. Try to accept differences and find ways to accommodate and facilitate your partner to cope in their own way.
  • Kill comparisons: There are two types of comparisons couples make that enhance stress. The first is to compare yourself or your partner to others, professionally, which is a poor form of attempted motivation. The second is to compare your own stress levels with those of your partner. You should learn to listen and offer help to your partner, even when dealing with your own. The key is to solicit help and empathy from your partner without minimising and invalidating their own feelings.

You may also like: The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

  • Be active together: Getting out and about together is a great stress reliever – even moderate activity can lead to lower levels of stress. Michael Otto, of Boston University, said: “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” Exercising together kills two birds with one stone – you get the health-enhancing benefits of the exercise and also spend time together, strengthening your bond.
  • Find time to cheat: Partners often get into a rut – work piles up and the kids need chaperoning to school events. The easiest thing to do is to cut down on time together. But it’s important to cheat (on your kids and your job!) and find time ‘away from it all’ to connect as a couple. Make sure that when you sacrifice things for a family and a specific lifestyle, you aren’t sacrificing all the benefits of being a couple and the inherent stress relief that comes with it.
  • Laugh together: Relationship expert John Gottman (who is well-known for identifying relationship qualities that may predict the potential for divorce) says that shared humour is a key way to strengthen a relationship and a key ‘repair attempt’ for couples in conflict. Humour is also a good way to deal with stress – studies show that laughter can alter mood and soothe the stress response. Couples who can laugh, tease and play manage both their relationship and their stress levels.
5 Best Practices for a Successful Payroll System
35% percent of the average HR department’s time is spent on payroll alone (for eg Sage). In order to maximize the efficiency of your payroll system and prevent errors, you need to follow these best practices for managing your payroll system.

1. Make Your System Transparent
One of the easiest ways to prevent accidental time theft, mis-classification of employees, underpaid taxes, and other common payroll issues is to produce a pay policy and put it in writing. Post it prominently and provide a copy to every employee.

The policy should lay out:

  • How employees are classified. Wrongly classifying employees as exempt, nonexempt, or contract can put you in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and place you at risk of a lawsuit or audit.
  • How wages, salaries, promotions, and raises are calculated; how the pay process works; when changes to payroll go into effect; and how the company deals with payroll mistakes.

2. Avoid Manual Processes
Are you still calculating payroll by hand or in an Excel spreadsheet? The American Payroll Association estimates that error rates from manual payroll processes can cost you 1% – 8% of your total payroll. The more you automate your payroll system with a payroll services provider or payroll software program, the fewer errors you will have to pay for out of pocket.

  • Simple ledger mistakes are frequent in manual systems due to its reliance on humans to transcribe hours and calculate wages. These systems are also easy for employees to manipulate.

3. Regularly Audit Your Processes
Whether you utilize a manual timecard system or one that is computerized, you should audit your processes at least once a year. Even automated systems can produce errors. If these are not caught in time, they can wind up costing you. You may overpay an employee due to a math error, incorrectly classify a new employee’s tax status, or fail to increase the pay rate of an employee who was promised a raise.

  • Double-check all of your paperwork and processes to ensure everything is functioning properly.
  • If you are using add-ons or plugins to integrate your payroll software with your time and attendance system or accounting program, make sure that all of the connections are transferring data correctly.

4. Prevent Time Theft
Time theft occurs when employees intentionally mis-record their hours, take overly long breaks, spend work hours on non-work-related activities, or use “buddy punching” to check in when they aren’t present.

  • Implement a check-in system that automatically records an employee’s hours when they sign in or swipe their card. You can further decrease fraud by utilizing biometric sign-in hardware such as a fingerprint scanner.

5. Stay Up-to-Date
IRS tax tables and Federal and state labor regulations change from year to year. It is important that your knowledge of these regulations is current. You can download the latest tax tables from the IRS website. If you use payroll software, make sure that it automatically updates each year so as to keep you in compliance.

  • Pay particular attention to changes in regulations governing: income tax withholding, state unemployment taxes, child support withholding, and fringe benefit calculation and taxation.

The best practices for business payroll center around preventing errors and fraud that are commonly found in manual payroll processes. Transferring your payroll to a specialized software system or third-party administrator can keep your payroll in better shape. Whether or not you choose to go this route with your payroll, make sure that your process is transparent, that you audit it regularly, and that you keep it current with state and federal labor laws.

Third Party Payment Process
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Advanced Payroll Systems
No doubt about these best practices for a successful payroll system. As discussed above payroll system must should be up-to-date in all ways in order to provide best result and services to business for running well.

Finally, these are the best practices to examine each payroll system themselves forward to be better than others to perform and deliver services better.