Discussions online: audits, HR and the bottom line, and training

HR customer-service audit

Q I intend to implement a customer-service audit to gain an understanding of how well the HR department is doing and how we are perceived within the business. I hope that the insight this provides can enable the department to probe further into certain areas, improve the service we provide, and raise the profile of HR within the organisation. I’d be very keen to hear from anyone who has carried out a similar exercise within their organisation. What did you do, and how successful did you find the exercise?

A The best way is to use a questionnaire. This can be based on general questions, such as: ‘What do you think the HR department does?’. Alternatively, I have created questions based on tasks within job descriptions and set objectives.

Depending on how you want to analyse the results, you could leave blank spaces for people to answer questions, or ask them to rate statements on a points system. It’s also a good idea to distribute the questionnaire by e-mail as well as by hard copy – PC users often prefer to fill the forms electronically and e-mail them back.

HR and the bottom line

Q My company has recently shared with us its new corporate strategy which, in a nutshell, is about all business units increasing their bottom line. I have tried to show directors/senior managers that HR can contribute to this as business partners, and not just by reducing absence or recruiting staff more cheaply. Has anyone got examples of HR working with other parts of the business to improve business performance and add to the bottom line?

A I’ve done this on several occasions. I have: brought training in-house rather than using external consultants improved recruitment and retention rates by importing staff from the EU set up commission-based reward structures to improve productivity and planned manpower to cut labour costs and staff transfers. I’ve also introduced absence management systems to reduce sick pay costs (where employees don’t get paid for the first three days).

Making an impact in training

Q I am just starting to write a course on advanced communications to be delivered to senior managers. I want to make it a bit different, but find myself falling into the usual trap of starting the PowerPoint slide, popping in my ice breaker, and then following a standard format. I would like to break the mould and do something really memorable this time. I want to challenge people’s comfort zones – whether that’s how I arrange the environment or deliver the information. Any ideas?

A I’d think about using neuro-linguistic programming in your course. It’s excellent for developing advanced communication skills by improving people’s emotional intelligence and giving them powerful listening, influencing and negotiation tools that are applicable in the workplace. You could use some interesting, fun body language and speech exercises to help embed the learning.

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