By Karyn Rhodes

Mounting labor and employment laws have changed the nature of HR today. The typical Human Resources department is now largely focused on ways to comply with rules and regulations to avoid penalties. But in an effort to reduce an organization’s risk, there’s a significant downside to this approach: a lack of creativity and humanity that can negatively impact employees – and ultimately a company’s future.

To develop a culture that advances your business while keeping workers happy, try these five ideas.

  1. Get Talking. So many HR functions today are about measurement, from counting employees and hours to tracking degrees and recommendations. But to keep skilled workers, you need to start talking to boost their motivation and dedication. Ask questions to find out what matters to employees and to managers so they feel like valued members of your team who have important input to share.
  2. Pay Attention. Talking doesn’t mean much if you don’t actively listen. When speaking to staff, be sure to pay attention to what you hear. Not only may you learn something new that may help in your role, but you’ll help create trusting, transparent relationships that yield high performance.
  3. Observe. Non-verbal behavior among employees can be very telling. When you’re in a meeting, watch the way the individuals interact, such as how closely together they sit or stand, their expressions, and any gestures they make. The group dynamic can be revealing and help you identify productive relationships, as well as those that may need to be addressed.
  4. Watch for Words. One way to pick out engaged employees is to notice how they speak. Do they use a lot of first-person language? Are they the first to pipe up? Do they contribute a lot of ideas? These patterns can pinpoint those who are highly invested and motivated – and have leadership potential.
  5. Be a Leader First, Not a Friend. It’s easy to want to socialize with employees both in and outside of work. But that type of camaraderie can make it challenging to enforce discipline, hold people accountable, and make diffi­cult decisions when necessary. That’s why it’s important to be a leader first so you can help employees – and the organization as a whole – become their best.

Karyn Rhodes is VP/Director of Complete HR Solutions, a division of Complete Payroll Solutions. She can be reached at krhodes@completepayrollsolutions.com or (401) 332-9325.