As we all know, Halloween is often seen as the scariest time of the year. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, the ghosts and ghouls come out to make mischief and give everyone a fright…

However, when it comes to scary tales, trust us: we could tell you some horror stories from the world of HR that would shock many HR professionals to their very cores! So, to help all you HR heroes out there avoid horrible HR nightmares, the team here at Cezanne HR Towers has put together a selection of essential tips and suggestions for people professionals, so you can look forward to a positive start to 2024…

company Halloween scare challenges

1. Get prepared for those employee reviews, however you choose to do them

The start of a new year often coincides with employee performance reviews and appraisals. Now, whilst some would argue that traditional reviews can be seen as a waste of time, there are alternative methods which organisations favour; such as peer-to-peer reviews or continuous performance evaluations that encourage regular informal ‘check-ins’ and a more fluid approach to goals and objectives. This often means employees don’t have ‘set in stone’ objectives but rather, have targets or goals that are continually adjusted to fit changing circumstances

Regardless of how your company chooses to evaluate the performance of its’ employees, it’s essential that your HR teams and managers are fully prepared for them in order to make them an engaging, meaningful and productive experience. To do this, there are some simple tips you can follow:

  • Take an outcome-led approach

Your employee review process should be more than just a box ticking exercise! Agree the purpose of the evaluations with your reviewing managers and also discuss their likely impact on the business beforehand. Doing this initial groundwork will help not only make the process more engaging, but also support buy-in from the very employees you’re looking to help develop.

  • Keep it as simple as possible

No one likes mountains of admin or form filling; and this is where having powerful HR software can really come into its own. Consider using an HR software solution that includes performance management tools that fit your organisation’s approach to performance reviews.

By doing that, your software can do the hard work of streamlining the entire process for everyone – especially HR! Having to distribute forms, chase up the replies (without knowing where recipients have gotten stuck in the review cycle), collate the data and try to draw conclusions from them is a hugely time-consuming process.

Having one centralised, automated system means you can eliminate paper-based processes, stick to potential deadlines and make the process of alerting managers when appraisals or check-ins are due and supporting SMART objectives much easier to implement and manage.

  • Ensure your managers are fully trained

Don’t just assume your managers or team leaders know how to conduct effective reviews. Give them the training and tools with which to do them properly, encourage open and constructive conversations with their people, and tackle poor performance where needed.

  • Make them transparent and fair

Give real consideration as to what you can do to make your performance management processes as fair, consistent and transparent as possible – after all, no one wants to be kept in the dark or feel as if their work performance is being unfairly or inconsistently judged.

  • Place emphasis on the future

A real nightmare scenario for HR teams can be not following through on the expectations that have been laid out over the previous year. For example, if a line manager has promised someone a training course, or to put them forward for promotion which then doesn’t happen, things can go rapidly pear shaped…

So, try shifting the focus of your staff appraisals onto what your organisation needs to flourish in the future and follow through any promises that are made. By taking this approach, you can help support how your individual employees develop their skills and competencies to meet those future challenges.

2. Get your internal comms game on point

With 2024 frighteningly close, now makes the perfect time to review how your HR teams communicate with its workforce, and check whether your internal comms strategy is still fit for purpose.

Remember, that HR professionals and managers shouldn’t underestimate the role of regular engaging internal communications – especially when it comes to workforce motivation and staff wellbeing. So, taking some time this winter to understand if your comms strategy is up to the job is really a no brainer!

3. Get onboard with your onboarding processes

Did you know that an onboarding survey we conducted discovered that nearly two thirds of employees (63%) were left feeling stressed or overwhelmed by their onboarding experience? Onboarding is a critical time for new employees: in fact, there’s research to show that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment!

Ensuring your new hires get off to the best possible start has never been more pertinent. After all, recruitment can be an HR’s teams biggest expense. So, with budgets forecast to become ever-tighter in 2024, it really does make sense to take a close look at your organisation’s onboarding processes to ensure they’re fighting fit for whatever 2024 throws at us!

4. Dial up your diversity and inclusion initiatives

The subject of workplace diversity and inclusion is a huge topic right now. Although many organisations are taking huge strides to tackle inequalities in the workplace, many feel there are still big problems when it comes to tackling discrimination based on ethnicity or gender orientation – so, it really does make sense to start evaluating whether your organisation could do with an overhaul of its own diversity and inclusion strategy.

There are of course some amazing benefits to having a well-considered diversity and inclusion initiative; including having a bigger talent pool, increased levels of employee engagement, trust, and potentially new levels of business innovations and perspectives. Most importantly though, every workplace should be an inclusive, welcoming and supportive place for anyone – regardless of their ethnicity, background or gender.

5. Get down with your HR data

Finally, are you leveraging your organisation’s HR data to your own advantage? Or are you instead relying on mountains of spreadsheets or disconnected systems to look for patterns or trends? If it’s the latter, maybe now’s the time to start really analysing what your company’s HR data is saying about the past, present and future state of your workforce.

It’s important to mention here, that whilst many larger businesses will have collected years upon years-worth of staff data, the important part is analysing it correctly. In our experience, many businesses mistakenly take a headline figure to come up with an answer that suits; especially when it comes to areas such as headcount, sickness absence or staff demographics.

However, the more granular you are with your HR data, the easier it gets to identify root causes and trends that can sometimes be missed when simply looking at the top-line figures. So, if you’ve been relying on simple headline figures to forecast and analyse your workforce data, make this winter the time you look to dig much, much deeper – you might just be shocked by what you find!

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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