HR consultant drive business success

Human resource (HR) management is at the heart of every organisation. It’s the department that keeps processes running smoothly, ensures employees are adhering to goals and maintains compliance. Important though these areas are, a small and growing business may not have the necessary time to invest in HR activities. They need to focus their attention on generating revenue, without which the whole business would crumble. As such, it is generally uncommon for a company of fewer than 100 employees to have a dedicated HR team.


Ignoring HR responsibilities entirely is a recipe for disaster. Employee relation issues and performance management concerns should not fall to a single manager who is unlikely to possess all the necessary skills and knowledge of an HR professional. With this in mind, many growing businesses decide that HR consulting is right for their company. Investing in this expertise can help take businesses from strength to strength, while freeing up management time to focus on increasing profit margins.

HR consultants can help with the recruitment process

Recruitment is no game, and the cost of making the wrong hire can seriously damage a business. On top of the financial commitment, each new hire requires onboarding, with the average new hire taking eight months to reach full productivity. For this reason, there are a number of critical considerations to bear in mind during the recruitment process: essential skills, employment history, communication skills, cultural fit, and attitude, to name a few.

HR consultants are well acquainted with the importance of selecting the right candidate, and they have recruitment down to a fine art. They can assist with the slow, tedious hiring process and conduct interviews that will highlight employees with potential. Importantly, due to their training, they are familiar with what can and cannot be asked during the interview stage.

HR consultants can also advise on what it takes to attract top talent in the future. This all boils down to a combination of company reputation, personalised training, excellent employee experience, productive performance management processes and the incorporation of employee recognition schemes, which will be discussed below.

HR consultants can help to reduce staff turnover

High turnover can impact morale, employee engagement levels and overall productivity. Companies that gain a reputation for high turnover can have difficulties recovering from this image, thereby damaging future recruitment efforts. To make matters worse, it comes at a high financial cost.

Any HR management professional is aware that retention begins with improved recruitment. A business also needs to ensure that employees feel listened to, appreciated and supported. HR consultants can advise on these areas to make sure a company is running smoothly and the employees are engaged and motivated.

HR consultants can assist with organisational change

At times, it is necessary to introduce certain business changes, but when they aren’t handled delicately and with precision, companies can experience widespread negative effects. By nature, people are resistant to change. Organisational change needs to be communicated clearly, slowly and tactfully, while the situation is kept under control. HR consultants are specialists in change management, and they can help with mergers, acquisitions and restructures. They can also assist with the introduction of new processes in relation to performance management.

HR consultants help organise reward and recognition schemes

Over the past few years, businesses have been waking up to the importance of employee recognition. It has been closely linked to employee satisfaction and higher retention levels, yet this critical performance management consideration is often overlooked.

If your business wants to introduce reward and recognition schemes, you want to make sure your bonus and incentive schemes are well-thought-out. HR consultants can help you create a balanced benefits package and roll it out through the company.

HR consultants detect and resolve employee engagement concerns

All modern organisations are well aware of the benefits afforded by increased levels of employee engagement. It has been linked to increased productivity, morale and discretionary effort. But what steps are your company putting in place to make sure employee engagement and employee experience are being prioritised? It might be that you need a consultation with an experienced professional who is aware of the latest research and knows what will positively impact engagement levels.

To determine the status of employee engagement in your company, consultants can help your business design and launch engagement surveys and hold focus groups. This will help you pinpoint areas for improvement, which will significantly improve long-term employee engagement and retention rates.

HR consultants help with performance management

Performance management is a constantly evolving field. As our understanding of psychology and motivation advances, so does our application of it. New HR trends are constantly developing, and companies who fail to keep up ultimately lose out to their competition.

One notable change over recent years is the abandonment of annual performance appraisals for a more agile performance management style. This process incorporates regular performance discussions. When a company decides to hire an HR consultant, this professional can help you design a new appraisal process, develop competency frameworks and ensure you have a suitable goal-setting process. Paying attention to performance management means you will benefit from more motivated employees, who are more empowered to carry out the function of their roles.

Increased adherence to compliance

How can any SME get ahead and thrive when they are forced to spend hours researching and adhering to rapidly evolving employment laws? This is a near-impossible feat, particularly for an unqualified professional. HR consultants can offer peace of mind in this area, as it is their business to know about the current laws regarding hiring, firing, and health and safety processes. Ignorance of these areas could end up costing you dearly in legal fines.


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Figure out the right time to make a career move

1 Function of Learning 
Career move is a function of how much you are learning. The day learning stops, you should move on, says Debashis Patnaik, senior director of HR at Dell EMC. Smart managers know how to motivate their teams by offering new learning opportunities through training or job-role change. If they fail to do so, despite your expressing the need, it might be time to look out, says Dinesh R, chief HR officer, OYO Rooms.


2 Company Growth 
Try to assess the company you are associated with. If there are signals of trouble, one should start looking out. Inspect if your company is growing or not. If the company is stable, it means your growth opportunities are also limited and that is a right time to move, says Raman Narula, founder, Formula Group.

3 Stalled Career Graph 
In case of no visibility on professional growth in the short term, and in some cases even in the long-term, take the plunge. It is important that you have a clear view on your professional growth two, five or even 10 years down the line, says Dinesh. If this is not moving as committed, you need to re-evaluate your choice against other benefits that come with the role, he says.

4 Loss of Interest 
People don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses. When the equation with the immediate manager turns sour, it’s time to quit. When it becomes difficult to work due to immediate manager and immediate co-workers, it is time to quit, says Patnaik. He said one should avoid working in an unfriendly environment as it is detrimental to being productive.

5 Co & Personal Goals 
Sometimes, there can be divergence between the organisation’s goals or culture and your own values and ethos. If these are very incompatible or you don’t find yourself very enthused about the big picture, it is time to check out, says Dinesh. But the timing for exit has to be perfect. If you do decide to leave a job, quitting at the wrong time can hit you in the pocket


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An employment agency’s relationship with his candidate

As a recruitment agency and employment business we are responsible for attracting candidates to our client and their job role; we are also responsible for matching the candidates we attract to the right company and the right positions.


Through building strong and open relationships with our clients and candidates we gain a better understanding of the recruitment needs and employment preferences for both parties.

We work closely with our candidates to fully understand the skills and experiences they have as well as the job they are looking for, but we also take the time to understand the sort of person they are, their characteristics and personality traits so we can match the person to the business and not just the skills to the job.

Here at aspire cambridge we class ourselves as one of the most pro-active recruitment agencies and recruitment businesses in Cambridgeshire because we ensure that we treat our clients and candidates extremely well – we always aim for that ‘match made in heaven’ for our placements based on skills and experience as well as personality. A person and a company need to fit for the placement to be successful and enjoyable for both the client and the candidate.

We have seen research that states a candidates biggest frustration when working with a recruitment agency is the lack of feedback; our recruitment consultants here at aspire cambridge ensure that we give feedback wherever possible from the application form right through to the interview; whether the candidate is successful or not. Our recruitment consultants have all been through the recruitment process themselves so they know how important feedback is to a candidate.

We work hard to always provide our candidates with the best possible candidate journey; ensuring that we treat our candidates as we would like to be treated ourselves. We don’t treat our candidates as our next pay check, instead we treat them as our friends and our clients, making sure they get the right job for them as we know this is what makes a successful placement and gains us trust and respect from both the candidate and the client. If the candidate is not happy in the role the client won’t be happy either, so we will never try and force the two together.


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Ways to Make Your Ecommerce Startup

The growth of the ecommerce industry remains strong. In the U.S., the industry grew by 15.6 percent to $394.86 billion last year, with ecommerce comprising 42 percent of all retail growth. Consumers have also now shifted to mobile. Mobile ecommerce poses another set of challenges to success which leaves online merchants little choice but to continue adapting. Merchants must be able to leverage the new developments in ecommerce technologies in order to secure an advantage.

Ecommerce startups may find themselves in quite an interesting position. On one hand, they can readily implement cutting edge or mobile-first strategies since they don’t have any legacy issues to deal with. On the other, they also need to enhance their infrastructure with these new technologies. Barebones shopping cart sites and apps just don’t quite cut it anymore.

Here are six ways startups can make their stores stand out.

1. Marketing automation
Even with a good catalog of products, ecommerce startups can’t just expect customers to just turn up and buy. Successful ecommerce efforts are always aided by strong marketing efforts. Ecommerce marketing helps to attract and convert customers, upsell and cross-sell, and generate repeat sales.

Due to the volume of customers companies have to reach, doing marketing tasks such as sending newsletters and following up on abandoned carts can be a tedious process. Marketing automation can be used to streamline these tasks. Automation services can be configured to send out customized offers or newsletters via email or as push notifications on mobile. These can even be sent out at an optimal time based on a user's past behavior so that messages land at the top of their inboxes. Moreover, effective timing can lead to increased email response times. Reminders can also be triggered if customers leave items in the online shopping carts.


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2. Advanced analytics
Gone are the days when analytics meant simply tracking a website’s daily visits and how long each visit lasted. For ecommerce, advanced analytics offers means to accurately track each customer’s journey. Trackers can now determine traffic sources and gather data on each click made in the store. These data can be compiled and analyzed in order to generate insights on customer behavior and product and site performance.

Analytics tools can be configured to sync data from multiple sources and trigger actions such as notifications. These can even be integrated with automated marketing services as part of rule-based campaigns. Analytics could also be used to track internal team’s performance to see how quickly orders get fulfilled. Timely decisions and changes can then be made while being guided by solid evidence. Customers, especially loyal ones, could tell if improvements are being done to enhance their experience.

3. Personalization
Customers love being flattered and one way to do this is by offering a personalized experience. Among the simple ways of implementing personalization are automatically changing language and currency settings based on geolocation data and launching push notifications reminding customers of the items they browsed.

Customer data can be utilized to further improve their experience. Developments in machine learning are ushering in hyper-personalization in ecommerce. We are already seeing glimpses of this when store apps would display a targeted selection of products based on recently viewed items. Thirty-five percent of Amazon’s sales come from such recommendations. The combination of analytics and machine learning enables targeted messages and actions based on a customer’s historical information. Soon, machine learning may even be able to anticipate and predict purchases based on buying histories, trends and seasons.

4. Chatbots
Chatbots are an exciting development in ecommerce. Dubbed conversational commerce, messaging apps are now being used to enable ecommerce. One example is Uber’s integration with Facebook Messenger which allowed users to book rides within the chat window. Voice activated home devices like the Amazon Echo can be used to check user’s Capital One account balances and even order pizza from Domino’s.

Future developments would enable users to browse and compare products and even directly place orders within the chat app. Facebook is heavily investing in its Messenger developer platform to enable more partnerships and integrations. Subway has recently unveiled its Messenger bot to enable sandwich orders, and Wells Fargo looks to follow Capital One in allowing customers to access account information through Messenger. Startups could do well investigating how they can make an early splash in using chatbots for ecommerce.

5. Customer support 2.0
Among the pitfalls of doing business online is poor customer service. Digital channels do take away much of the human element of doing business so it is important to put up systems that would allow merchants to connect with customers. Customer support often came in the form of chat widgets and email and messaging systems which allow customers to interact with live agents.

The problem with this is that it can sometimes take a while, especially if the support team is encountering a large volume of transactions. However, being too pushy by bombarding users with messages can turn them off. One way to supercharge customer support is by carefully engineering the points at which these messages come up. Platforms like Giosg can be set to enable live chat to pop up just as a customer abandons the cart. This allows a live agent to address any concerns buyers may have in order to close the sale.

6. Fraud protection
A growing concern among merchants is fraud. Fraudsters often target ecommerce services to launder money by using stolen credit card details to purchase both physical and digital goods. Due to the chargeback system, real owners of the credit card gain a level of protection. Unfortunately, it’s the merchant that has to deal with the loss.

Implementing fraud protection has been gaining traction. But, for some, verifying orders has been a manual process. There are times where legitimate transactions get flagged or denied. While this could be simply a prudent move on the part of the merchant, these can ultimately result in lost customers. Availing of fraud protection services can help automate this process, and using their advanced algorithms, filter out fraudulent purchases while ensuring real purchases get fulfilled.

Providing superior customer experience
Everything considered, what this all boils down to is providing superior customer experience. Ecommerce startups should understand that the industry has become more competitive. These new technologies could be a difference maker but only if used strategically. There’s little point in packing all these features if they aren’t configured to work towards making the whole experience unique, smooth and hassle-free for customers.


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Ways to Eliminate Hiring Roadblocks

All employers, no matter what their size, go through it: They screen qualified candidates, advance the best of the best to the interview stage, then offer the job only to see the employee leave or be let go.


Hiring issues continue to plague all industries and are especially detrimental to smaller organizations. In fact, Wasp Barcode Technologies' State of Small Business Report from 2017 found that 50 percent of small business owners surveyed named hiring new employees as their top challenge.

But, like most issues in the workplace, improving hiring requires more than just focusing on the recruitment process. To improve hiring, employers need to look at the whole picture, including workforce planning.

Following are several tips on improving workforce planning and hiring practices:

Improve data analysis.
Data has been a buzzword for a while now and for good reason. Simply put, employers use data for everything from performance management to hiring and more.

For example, Google, which has always led in nontraditional corporate thinking, uses objectives and key results (OKRs) to help employees set their own goals. The company uses People Analytics to assess how effective each person's performance is and to learn how to better his or her performance.

The good news is that performance data isn't reserved for Google-sized organizations. The bad news is that a lot of employers face hurdles in using data in the workplace, which is vital for better hiring.

My own organization, ClearCompany, teamed up with HR.com in 2016 to create a report entitled Workforce Planning: A Forward-Looking Approach to Getting the Right People in the Right Jobs. In our research, we found that 63 percent of HR professionals surveyed cited technology issues as a major challenge to the goal of being a high-performing organization.

What was even more troubling was that 44 percent cited a lack of data (and 33 percent cited unreliable data) as major challenges. In other words, either employers lack the technology they need or don't know how to find data that is accurate and actionable.

Without good data, employers can't improve workforce planning or understand what hiring practices need to be improved

The solution, however, is simple: Invest in proper technology that is easy to use and provides real-time tracking. This helps management track performance and engage in thoughtful 360 reviews and ongoing feedback sessions.

Aside from workforce planning, data also plays a big role in hiring. Unfortunately, only 33 percent of HR pros surveyed said that quality of hire was a common concern at their companies.

This is a missed opportunity because data allows a company to properly assess how well hiring professionals are finding new talent and to identify solutions to improve recruitment. Improving quality of hire as part of the workforce planning strategy, in turn, eliminates higher-level concerns.

That's why it's important to ensure you have good tech in place. That way, you can start a data club of tech-savvy employees who can properly train leadership on how to read data and communicate performance metrics to the staff.

These people should also regularly conduct data seminars to educate everyone on how data can and should be a major factor in day-to-day workforce planning and hiring -- among many other processes.

Close the skills gap
Bringing on new hires who lack certain skills can really slow productivity. Skills gaps are often a complicated matter. They're also a two-sided issue: Current employees need to be competent for their roles, and the company needs to know how to hire skilled talent.

To get current staff up to speed, create a culture centered on education and professional development. Start an education center within the company. There, employees and leadership alike can select skills tracks and teach themselves new competencies through a variety of educational resources.

Next, assign coaching sessions every quarter, where each person gives a short presentation on what skills he or she has learned and how those skills are applied in that person's job.

Another reason for skills gaps, of course, is bad hires, which is why HR needs to review quality of hire reports and find specific aspects of the company's recruiting process that have allowed unqualified talent to earn an offer and advance in the first place.

Use video interviewing to better screen candidates and request that candidates perform a shadow day. They can spend a full work day observing employees in related roles and even participate in tasks and projects to demonstrate their skill set in action.

Streamline talent management.
Inefficiencies in talent management affect employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity. This is especially costly for smaller organizations that can't afford a major disruption in performance.

Smaller companies need to invest in growing their staff as the companies themselves grow. Because employees working at small organizations often wear many hats, management needs to streamline professional development with a clear, straightforward program.

So, use performance-management data to show employees what their strengths are and help them find a path that aligns with the company's growth. Also, give them a voice in how they want to grow so they're passionate about learning.

Pair employees with each other as learning buddies, where they meet weekly and share what they're learning. Such one-on-one sessions are incredibly successful for companies like Buffer.

Every time these employees meet, they review recent achievements and discuss current challenges. Then, their teams' leads offer guidance, and the employees express their opinions about how to improve their performance.

Overall, talent-management strategies need to be smooth for a workforce-planning strategy to be effective. When employers prioritize employee performance and development as a major focus, they better retain talent and maximize productivity.

In sum, hiring touches multiple aspects in workforce planning, which is why both should be looked at simultaneously. All improvements in the workplace,however, should start with data.

Data enables employers to track and improve each employee's performance, identify and close skills gaps and simplify talent management and employee development.


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Staffing agency producing job

A staffing agency will host a job fair on behalf of 75 light industrial employers next week.

Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids, or Express Pros, will host the job fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 24 at the agency’s office in Wyoming, at 1760 44th St. SW.

Express Pros said it will recruit workers for more than 150 jobs in the Grand Rapids area, such as machine operator, assembly, inspection and warehouse roles.


Positions for various shifts and schedules will be available. The agency said candidates of all experience levels are welcome.

We are excited to host this job fair and connect people with new career opportunities, said Jocelyn Hodack, director of talent acquisition, Express Pros.

Registration is not required, and walk-ins are welcome.

Job seekers may learn more by calling Express Pros at (616) 281-0611.

Express Pros

Established in 1996, the local Express Pros office is a franchise of Express Employment Professionals, which helps people find jobs and employers find talent.

In 2016, the Express Pros network helped more than 500,000 people find jobs. It aims to put one-million people to work annually.

The organization has several divisions: professional; administrative; advanced manufacturing; skilled trades; light industrial; and training. 


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Essential steps for a successful recruiting process

Whether you are an experienced hiring manager or a new business owner hiring your first employee, there are several factors to consider that will help make your recruiting process a success.

1. Look within
Before embarking on a search for new talent outside the company, consider the talented people you already hired and developed. In some cases, it may be more effective to redeploy an employee who already knows your organization than recruiting externally, especially if an outside candidate with the right skill set is hard to find.


Studies show that employees who are promoted into jobs perform significantly better than workers hired externally into similar roles. In addition to the practical cost and time-saving benefits, hiring from within can help create a culture of loyalty. Employees are more likely to stay with a company if they are given opportunities to improve through training and can see a clear path for career growth.

2. Understand the costs
Employee turnover is expensive. There are external costs to consider such as advertising, recruiter fees, background checks, pre-hire screening, and in some cases travel reimbursements for candidates or cash awards for employee referrals.

Internally, the costs to the business can also add up: downtime and lost productivity, and the increased workload of other employees which may include overtime compensation. After a candidate is hired, there are on-boarding and training costs to consider as well.

Make sure you have recruiting strategies and detailed processes in place for your business to help forecast and manage these costs efficiently.

3. Have a process
Long before you begin interviewing people, there are several necessary steps to take to ensure the hiring process is thorough and transparent. An organization should determine or revisit the primary purpose of an open position, including the operational necessity of the job, its financial impact to the company and the reasons for creating a new role or filling a vacancy.

After the primary purpose is determined, create a job description through an in-depth job analysis:

Create a recruitment plan that clearly articulates the duties to be performed and qualifications required by the organization

Develop a consistent salary structure for the role, based on the relative level of duties, responsibilities and qualifications of each position in the organization
Develop specific hiring criteria and interview questions to be used during the search.

4. Follow the law
Companies are typically aware of their regulatory obligations after an employee is hired, but compliance is just as critical when recruiting and interviewing job candidates. The recruitment process involves ensuring equal employment opportunity.

Nondiscriminatory criteria must be established and included in the written job description and nondiscriminatory strategies should be developed when mapping out the plan to attract qualified candidates.

5. Get technical
These days, technology and recruiting go hand in hand. Using social media sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed can maximize any recruitment strategy by helping to reach a large audience quickly, reduce advertising spend and target the right people.

Some companies also use talent acquisition systems to help build a talent pipeline and engage prospective job seekers during the application process. For example, some talent acquisition solutions allow you to run tests to evaluate skill levels and even measure how well the candidate will fit into the organization’s culture.

6. Check the facts
Companies should leverage technology whenever possible when sorting applications, but resumes should always be carefully reviewed by actual hiring managers. When deciding who meets the requisite qualifications for a job, remember to consider responses to practical questions on the application such as the candidate’s availability to start work, and if included, the compensation the job seeker is willing to accept. These factors may outweigh some deficits in experience or specific skill sets that can be developed quickly on the job or with some training.

Also, don’t forget to ask about non-compete agreements. Any candidate with such a contract should be required to submit a copy to the interviewer for legal review.

Ultimately, recruiting and cultivating talent is hard — and it should be. People truly are a company’s most valuable asset and essential to maintaining an organization’s competitive edge.

That is why recruitment is not a function for the human resources team to manage alone. In some cases, a company needs the help of experienced specialists to get the job done right, and most importantly, the entire organization must be committed to the success of the process.


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