Employee lifecycles need to be managed appropriately—from recruiting to offboarding. Unfortunately, like many things, people management becomes more challenging when employees are distributed across more than one location.
Whether your workforce includes several factories or satellite offices, you need consistent but flexible policies to achieve the right balance.
What is the employee lifecycle?
The employee lifecycle reflects how employees go through different phases in their time with your company. For example, new hires have different needs (such as onboarding paperwork and orientation training) that wouldn’t be relevant for more experienced employees.
Read our previous blog to find out how to manage the different stages of employee life cycles.
Many HR tasks get more complicated when you go beyond managing a single building or location. How do you apply those lifecycle lessons to a business with several locations?
Consider the following insider tips to manage employee lifecycles:
Same System, Same Processes
You know how fast food restaurants use the same branding and uniforms from one franchise location to the next. Customers know what to expect, and the small town franchise owner doesn’t have to worry about developing their own training routine or local menu. You can apply the same principle across locations.
Introduce a single HR management system and set of HR policies, copying them with only minor changes as needed. Hire, onboard, and traink each location with the same process, and clients will be able to expect the same level of quality service across your territory.
Create a consistent employee experience
Keep your disparate workforce on the same page by standardizing their training and other aspects of their experience. Use an online Learning Management System and they can complete training from anywhere, even their own home.
If local HR staff or managers handle ongoing communication with employees, then use templates and guidelines to keep that messaging voice friendly and consistent. Develop a detailed employee handbook for use at all locations.
Create a cohesive recruiting experience
When you “wing it” with recruiting, a local manager might ask spontaneous interview questions and give very different first impressions about the company culture. It’s better if you stick to a standardized script, starting with the way you advertise job openings. Whether you’re posting on local job sites or national listings, emphasize the branding of the overall company rather than location-specific perks and details.
Recruiting makes a lasting difference in the overall company culture by attracting the attention of certain applicants and shaping their expectations. If you use radically different recruiting techniques at two locations, then it will be harder to standardize training programs and management strategies.
Some locations will have unique characteristics, particularly when it comes to the local population demographics. Workers may have slightly different priorities and interpersonal dynamics compared to other locations
Your business may also provide different services for different types of clients from separate locations. When you standardize training sessions across the company, make some allowances for the inevitable differences.
Give some of that flexibility to managers and supervisors at each location. Team building and networking events will need to be adapted for local interests and available venues.
You might invest in a Learning Management System with a content library of generic training sessions, but your employees will need to know which skills apply to working at your company. You don’t have to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel, but let employees know how your location differs.
Maintain an HR presence
Some of your employees might be reluctant to contact HR about potentially minor issues and questions. Especially if you have locations without HR staff on-site, it can be easy for employees to feel like their manager is their only point of contact with higher-ups.
Regular HR emails are a good place to start, but they’re not as impactful for employees who don’t work at a computer. If there’s no HR personnel on-site, try to have an HR representative visit those locations frequently. HR should be accessible and helpful, not only associated with corporate damage control and boring training sessions.
Maintain tax compliance
Taxes get more complicated across multiple locations, where you have to adjust for state and local regulations. Minimum wage and certain labor laws may differ between locations. In practice, you may need to adjust wages and other policies according to the cost of living, taxes, and other issues at different locations.
A standardized process does wonders for quality control. Use HR software to digitize paperwork and integrate timekeeping with payroll. If each location develops and implements their own paperwork system, then you’re bound to struggle with inconsistencies and compatibility issues between locations. Online software improves accuracy by connecting several locations and HR processes in the same system.
Maintain high quality professional development
A lot of companies invest heavily in recruiting instead of retention. Don’t neglect the experienced employees who have moved beyond the initial training phases of their employee lifecycle.
Where possible, provide career paths with opportunities for advancement. There won’t be enough promotions available for everyone, but you can still encourage professional development. Use an LMS for cross-training employees in different skills.
Utilize a staff scheduling system
Scheduling has a major impact on each employee’s quality of life, like getting time off for non-emergency family events and vacations. Informal schedules produced by local managers can seem unfair and arbitrary to employees whose time off requests were refused. Standardize the process with a digital scheduling system, and employees can even arrange to swap shifts with co-workers.
Online calendars can also schedule virtual meetings between offices in different time zones. Check automatically for whether your colleagues are available. Dial in with your computer, and skip the hassle of punching 20-digit codes into a separate teleconference system.
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