How your organization handles human resource activities plays an integral role in running a smooth and successful organization.

Whether you have a dedicated HR professional on staff or an HR department of one or none, here are some real life, actionable tips you can start using right away to help you run your organization at peak performance and avoid costly mistakes.

What follows are some ways you can maintain best practices for three HR essentials.

Laws and Regulations

There are several key laws and regulations you need to understand and administer correctly to maintain a work environment free from disgruntled employees and lawsuits.

Make time for the following:

  • Understand which laws best apply to your business, depending on the number of employees.
  • Know whether the state or federal law favors the employee, and which should be followed.
  • Keep abreast of the changes in the laws. Not implementing the correct procedures to specific laws can result in costly fines.
  • Establish a regulatory compliant organization.
  • Understand these very important laws: FMLA, ADA, Civil Rights Act, equal pay laws, COBRA, FLSA, paid sick leave, OSHA, and military leave.

Having an HR strategy in place can dramatically help your organization run at peak performance.

Employee Handbook

Although there are no regulations requiring that organizations have an employee handbook, having one is highly recommended because employee handbooks:

  • Communicate the organization's important policies.
  • Meet requirements of employers to communicate certain regulations to employees.
  • Serve as a roadmap for employees to understand the employer's expectations of them, and also the expectations employees have of the employer.

Recruitment and Hiring Necessities

Recruiting the best person for the job is a critical HR role.

The law protects workers against any hiring decisions based on several different factors, including race, color, religion, age, marital status, civil union, national origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, and pregnancy.

Basing a hiring decision on any of those protected categories is illegal.

Listen for competencies related to the job. Past behavior is a good predictor of future performance.

Here are some additional items to consider:

  • Know the questions you can and cannot ask a prospective employee during a job interview.
  • Ask skill-based questions to draw out a candidate's particular knowledge of the essential job function.
  • Ask behavioral-based questions, such as: "Describe a time when you …" or "Explain how you would handle this situation…" Listen for competencies related to the job. Past behavior is a good predictor of future performance.
  • Have the most updated job description available to provide the candidate with the essential job functions and ADA compliance needs for the job.
  • Use pre-employment testing to measure a candidate's knowledge of a particular aspect of a job. Make sure that your tests are valid and reliable, and test exactly what is relevant to the job.
  • Use an objective, outside organization to administer background checks and drug testing.
  • Provide each candidate with an offer letter that is accurate and states the annual salary paid in specific increments according to your payroll schedule. State the job title, work hours, reporting relationship, benefits information, and whether the offer is contingent on passing a background and pre-employment drug test. After the candidate signs the offer letter, keep it on file.

Human resources is vital to your organization's health.

Having an HR strategy in place can dramatically help your organization run at peak performance, mitigate employee misunderstandings, and reduce wasted time and potential financial loss due to unintended legal costs and damages.


About the authors: Carol Kardas, SPHR, CCP, SHRM-SCP is a founding partner of KardasLarson Human Resources Consulting in Glastonbury. Nick Daukas, SPHR, SCP is managing partner.