HR table stakes for a positive employee experience
Engagement 5 minute read

HR table stakes for a positive employee experience

Megan Orr | May 25, 2021

Table stakes is a term often used to describe the bare minimum expectations that a customer has about a product or service. However, HR table stakes encompass the basic functions of human resource management.

Table stakes is a poker term, but it’s been repurposed in business and marketing to mean “the minimum offer to be considered a viable player, whether you are at the poker table or the boardroom table”. Within a company, table stakes can include basics such as meeting expectations for salary and benefits. For HR, however, table stakes are much higher. Pontefract Group notes that “HR is both table stakes and a stakeholder for an organization” and that HR doesn’t need a seat at the table; they are the table. 

HR plays a big role in the overall employee experience. Beyond being policy makers and enforcers, HR professionals also lay the groundwork for company culture. HR’s functionality in any organization is to enable people to be successful through a combination of policies, perks, and initiatives. 

In fact, research consistently shows that “across all income levels, culture and values (not pay) were the top predictors of workplace satisfaction”. HR plays an essential part in facilitating workplace satisfaction and teamwork, both elements that are crucial to creating an enduring organization.

HR should always have an open door policy, which means being available to employees to discuss anything and being receptive to feedback. 

Having an open door policy essentially means allowing employees to come to you to discuss any issue, whether they are looking for a resolution or are just hoping to be heard. Many concerns that employees have may not need direct intervention, but rather gentle guidance or advice. 

Being open to feedback and agile in handling any criticism is crucial for any HR professional. In responding to feedback, HR needs to be flexible and be able to come up with creative solutions for ever-changing and diverse workplace situations.

Provide clear growth opportunities. 

It’s important for management to know each employee’s short and long-term career goals and work with HR to provide learning and development opportunities to employees. Providing opportunities for growth is crucial to overall employee wellbeing because “by helping the members of your team make progress toward their broadest visions of personal success, you build trust with and inspire them. You create deep loyalty that makes them want to do their best for you in this job—or you learn quickly that the job is not a good match, which is better for both the individual and the company”.

It’s important to foster an environment of growth, but to also hire people and managers who care about their employees’ “North Star” and want to guide them towards success. 

Having a strong recruitment strategy is important for attracting top talent. 

There are many different aspects of a strong recruitment strategy. To name a few:

  • A detailed job description: Take some time to write down all of the skills and competencies that are necessary for someone to succeed in the role. You don’t have to include every single detail in the job description, but it’s good to have in mind as you move forward in your candidate search. You can also identify some “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”. 
  • Identifying skill-gaps: Whether you do a formal skill-gap assessment or just identify skill-gaps yourself, knowing weak points or blind spots within your organization can help you understand how to tailor your recruitment strategy. 
  • Post over a range of platforms: You should share your job posting on a variety of different platforms to reach as many people as possible. Consider using an applicant tracking system (ATS) that helps you manage applications, interviews, and onboarding all within one platform. 
  • Network: It’s not enough to just post your job description and wait for applicants to come to you. The reality is, you have to be proactively searching for top talent. You can attend—or host—a virtual networking event, go to seminars, and reach out to people directly via LinkedIn or email. 
  • Create an engaging and human-centric application and interview process: Ensure that instructions for the application are easy to follow and ask interview questions that are open-ended and thoughtful. 
  • Write thoughtful feedback: Writing feedback after the interview process can sort out your thoughts, and it’s also valuable to share with collaborators. 

Offering quality and continuous feedback will help to create a culture of positivity. 

Performance management is a big part of human resources’ job, whether it’s facilitating performance reviews or arranging them. Feedback should be ongoing, through 1:1s, and in formal performance reviews. 

Approximately 70% of companies are planning to switch away from the annual performance review in favour of more regular reviews. Where annual reviews put the focus on past performance with the aim of improving performance, regular reviews “change the focus to building the workforce your organization needs to be competitive both today and years from now”.

Meeting these minimum HR table stakes doesn’t guarantee employee retention, but having them in place will help to create a better employee experience and allow you to build and grow.

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