What do you do when your HR leader leaves and your company has major initiatives underway? How do you keep the day-to-day work under control and make sure employees’ needs are met? How do you put out the fires that inevitably come up in the day for every HR department? Yikes – these can all be individual emergencies, and coupled together, a real risk to your business.
A mid-size client of ours in the service sector was looking to continue to grow and completely revamp its culture. They had hired a well-respected culture builder and talent development consultant to create robust programs for onboarding, leadership development, and employee engagement. While change was happening, the HR Manager moved to another organization, leaving the day-to-day work, as well as the support work for the new culture initiatives. The company asked their consultant for ideas, and she referred them to Purple Ink. Within three days, we were in the office and even able to meet with the outgoing HR Manager for part of a day. Within a week, we understood that there was much to be done to get things in shape.
By being onsite with our client, we were able to slowly build relationships and begin an HR assessment. Several things surfaced that were clearly top priorities.
There were stacks of paper, incomplete files, and unopened mail (garnishments, court orders, requests for wage verification for employees purchasing homes) – much of it creating real risk for the company. There were more compliance and risk issues from I-9s, messy files, equity and policy problems. The HRIS wasn’t up to date, had incomplete information, improper settings, and no reporting was being done. As if that wasn’t all enough, benefits enrollment was around the corner, they were making some changes to the plan and it was the first employee self-serve enrollment. It was enough to make any one person huddle up in a ball in the corner.
Luckily, Purple Ink had a team who could tackle the issues simultaneously. We brought in people who methodically went through paper by paper, file by file, pitching what didn’t need to be retained legally, and creating a process for organizing the rest. We worked with the benefits advisors to stay on track for enrollment, devising a comprehensive communications plan, hosting employee meetings, and working with the HRIS team to make sure that the inaugural employee self-enrollment would go smoothly.
Week two revealed the most startling problem. We found an email that had not been responded to regarding an upcoming deadline. The OFCCP (Office for Federal Contract Compliance Program) had a conciliation agreement with our client, and a multi-faceted report was due in two weeks. Nothing had been done on the report. There were no records and no progress on the initiatives that were required in the agreement. The outgoing HR Manager was radio silent when we reached out to her.
We immediately reached out to the OFCCP and secured a later deadline for the report and gained insight into the details of the agreement. The company’s attorneys partnered with us on several of the reporting aspects, analyzing hiring trends and possible disparate impact to less represented groups. We ran a self-identification “campaign” to learn more about any disabled employees and veterans, and to make employees aware that accommodations were available and how to request them. We reached out to community centers and outreach organizations for help attracting a more diverse workforce and engaged a better tracking service to assess candidates.
Although this was a stressful situation, we navigated it with our client and in the end, kept them in compliance and helped them create better practices going forward. As for the other HR matters, the client felt confident with us handling the day-to-day work and wanted us to weigh in and help develop the culture initiatives. An important and key part of the culture initiative was a comprehensive onboarding program that presented a positive image to candidates, incoming employees, and ensured a more seamless process internally. Business did not stop and wait until the new HR Director was on board. When the new HR Director started, we stayed on to help with the transition. This ensured clear communication about where things were, and the HR Director was able to immediately make an impact because she wasn’t bogged down with figuring it all out on her own.
If your company finds itself needing extra hands or perhaps additional HR expertise to help with an initiative, please reach out to Purple Ink. As with every project, Purple Ink will use our knowledge and experience to create a customized approach that supports your culture and values. Let us know if you’d like to learn more.