For many of the small and mid-sized companies Nimble works with, creating a true HR department has been on the back burner as they focus on growth. But good talent is becoming hard to find and even harder to keep. This is why many leaders recognize that now is the time to invest in building better HR practices and a great culture.

An HR Maturity Assessment or HR Audit is a great way to clarify what you really need from an HR department.

Step 1: Start with Strategy

HR cannot exist in a vacuum. Instead, HR should support the strategic priorities of the organization. Policies and processes should align to create the right culture, meet legal/regulatory requirements, mitigate risk and advance the strategic direction of the organization.

Before diving in to an HR audit, the take the time to clarify the current strategic outlook and consider what that means for your workforce. Consider some of the following questions:

  • In general, is the organization growing or shrinking?

  • Do you anticipate any shifts in the legal/regulatory environment of your industry?

  • What are the demographics of your workforce? Are you at risk for a wave of retirements?

  • Are there technology changes that will impact how you deliver your products or services?

  • Are you planning changes to your product or service offerings?

These big picture items will help you prioritize the areas of HR that can have the biggest impact.

STEP 2: Determine Your HR Current State

There is more to HR than meets the eye. When we do an assessment, we look at all the areas of HR including compliance, handbooks & policies, compensation & benefits, recruiting & on-boarding, learning & development, communications and HR department management. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Get a variety of perspectives to learn how things ACTUALLY happen – talk your HR team, managers and employees.

  • Look at documents and records – HR forms, job descriptions, handbooks/policies, personnel records, I-9s, medical records, etc.

  • Find things that are working well, not just things that are broken.

Depending on the size of your organization, gathering this information could take a few days or a few weeks.

STEP 3: Prioritize Risks and Opportunities

Taking action is the most important part of an HR assessment. It’s likely that you’ll have a laundry list of great ideas and things you want to change. Keep the following in mind as you decide what to take on:

  • Address compliance gaps and high-risk issues first.

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Consider bench-marking with other organizations to new ideas and best-practices.

  • Don’t try to take on too much at once. Select actions that connect back to your strategy.

Most importantly, take the time to create a list of action items with owners and dues dates. Then agree to a schedule for checking status and progress.