Smart HR’s Secret to Success – Satisfied and Engaged Consultants
HR professionals have always had a challenging job. Inherent in an HR professional’s job is the ability to manage and nurture people, all with unique personalities, emotions, goals and motivations to the betterment and success of an organization. HR professionals must understand and address employee needs, resolve conflicts, promote employee development, and foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
Changes in the economy and workforce require HR professionals to be innovative and properly execute effective change management techniques. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique and unprecedented set of challenges for HR professionals, the likes of which may never (let’s hope) be seen again. According to a Paychex Pulse of HR Report that surveyed 1,000 HR decision makers in the U.S., 98% of HR leaders say the pandemic transformed their role, and 70% say it was one of the most challenging events of their career. HR professionals found themselves in the difficult position of being a messenger between employees on the ground struggling through a health crisis and corporate leadership making crucial decisions about how, when and where work would be performed. It’s no surprise HR professionals were not immune to the 2021 “great resignation” with droves leaving the profession entirely. Over the past three years, according to a LinkedIn report, HR professionals have generated the highest turnover rate across all industries. Between July 2021 and June 2022 alone, global HR saw a turnover rate of almost 15%, with the overall turnover rate being 11%. The HR professionals who chose to stick it out were not unscathed. A recent study by Workvivo reports the following post-pandemic statistics concerning HR professionals:
- 98% report feeling burned out.
- 88% admit they dread going to work.
- 97% say their role has left them emotionally drained.
- 73% feel they don’t possess the tools to do their job effectively.
- 29% believe their work is valued by their company.
- 78% are pondering leaving their current roles.
Those are grim statistics that don’t bode well for the HR profession. However, there are outliers in the HR world. Smart HR, an HR services firm in the DC-metro area, being one. While other HR professionals left their jobs in droves during the 2021 great resignation, Smart HR had a 12% turnover rate, lower than the national turnover rate of over 25% for other HR consulting firms. Smart HR saw an even lower turnover rate of 8.33% in 2022. Further, the average tenure for a Smart HR consultant is 6.5 years, considerably longer than the national average of 3.5 years for an HR Manager as reported by Namely’s HR Careers Report 2019. Several Smart HR consultants have been with Smart HR for over 10 years. What explains Smart HR’s ability to hire and retain HR professionals at these levels. Generally, job satisfaction and engagement are the answers. At a recent quarterly Smart HR consultant meeting, the following themes emerged when the consultants were asked, “Why do you like working at Smart HR?”
“I feel supported by Mark and my Smart HR team.”
A primary driver of job satisfaction is corporate leadership which in today’s environment has become more challenging as leaders must inspire, communicate with authenticity and act with empathy. Mark Stevenson, Smart HR’s President and CEO, checks all those boxes and more. A keen businessman and “people person,” Mark founded Smart HR in 2001 with a vision of providing superior HR outsourcing solutions to business and not-for-profit organizations. Mark understands, as important as a consultant’s resume may be, a Smart HR consultant must also have those intangible attributes that enable the consultant to connect with a client. Mark goes to great pains to ensure a good “fit” between a Smart HR consultant and client and by the looks of his list of 100 plus clients, his intuition about a Smart HR consultant/client “fit” is working.
Mark places a premium on providing Smart HR consultants the resources needed to provide first class client service. Mark is as involved as the Smart HR consultant and client want him to be. Some clients have regularly scheduled meetings with Mark and their Smart HR consultant, and others know his door is always open when and if needed. Smart HR consultants are provided the latest salary surveys, market reports, SHRM membership, and access to online HR resources. Because Smart HR consultants work in varied industries from telecommunications to trade associations, Smart HR consultants act as resources for each other. Smart HR consultants regularly query other team members for information on a host of HR issues such as the best training module for a first-time manager or NY employment law compliance for remote NY employees. No matter the experience of a Smart HR consultant, issues and questions arise that are best suited for a Smart HR team approach.
“I can make a real impact when working with clients.”
Smart HR consultants have a seat at the C-suite table and for good reason. All Smart HR consultants possess a bachelor’s degree and most have advanced HR or business degrees. Smart HR consultants have at least 15 years of HR and/or business experience supporting small to mid-sized organizations across many industries. Most Smart HR consultants have either PHR (Professional in Human Resources) or SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certifications administered by the Human Resources Certification Institute. All Smart HR consultants have keen business acumen and high emotional intelligence, making them the perfect conduit between corporate leadership and employees.
Smart HR consultants have a ringside view of an organization’s everyday life and make meaningful contributions to the decision-making process. Because of their advanced degrees, HR certifications and years of HR experience, Smart HR consultants have “seen it all,” and can speak to what works, what doesn’t and what might. Smart HR consultants think strategically. Recently, when faced with needing to hire over 50 employees in six months, a Smart HR consultant working for an exponentially growing tech firm not only developed a recruiting plan for the client’s immediate needs but persuaded corporate leadership of the need to view talent acquisition as a proactive business pursuit instead of a knee jerk reaction. The Smart HR consultant helped develop a talent pipeline of qualified candidates at the ready to streamline the recruiting and hiring process saving valuable resources and reducing the chances of a bad, quick hire.
“Working with clients in different industries and their leadership teams affords me the opportunity to further develop and hone my HR skills.”
Professional development opportunities and job satisfaction go hand-in-hand. Employees are given the chance to enhance their professional skills experience personal growth and a boost to their confidence and overall job satisfaction. By engaging in continuous learning opportunities, employees broaden their skills, stay up to date with industry trends and best practices and better position themselves in a competitive job market. With over 100 current clients in a wide range of industries, Smart HR affords its consultants the opportunity to partner with a client in an industry completely new to the consultant. While some HR needs are universal (e.g., competitive compensation systems, comprehensive employee benefits, sound policies and procedures, etc.), others are very industry specific. For example, the job description for a construction project manager is very different from a trade association accountant’s job description. While many government contractors must have an affirmative action plan and file an annual EEO-1 report, a local, private high school does not. The recruiting needs of a niche, tech firm are vastly different from those of a trade association or non-profit organization. Smart HR consultants can choose to work in one or several industries of varying sizes, gaining invaluable experience and skills to further enhance and develop themselves professionally.
“I love the Smart HR client model. I enjoy the flexibility of working at client sites and working remotely. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Smart HR has always operated within the remote/hybrid working world that has become more commonplace recently. With the Smart HR client model, a Smart HR consultant serves as the HR Director for each of his/her clients. Depending on the client’s needs, typically, Smart HR consultants spend one day per week onsite to create visibility, provide critical in-person availability to staff and interact with the client’s management team. When working remotely, Smart HR consultants can focus on HR activities requiring research and sharp attention to detail such as drafting policies or developing a performance review system. Importantly, while working remotely, Smart HR consultants are always available to their clients by email, cell phone or other means preferred by the client. An added benefit to the consultant arrangement is clients view their Smart HR consultant as a neutral, objective third-party, enhancing the consultant’s credibility with staff as a helpful resource. The Smart HR client model promotes a healthy work/life balance, because consultants are in control of their work schedule with the ability to integrate work into their life as they see fit.
Meet Smart HR Consultants
It’s one thing to read about how Smart HR consultants love working for Smart HR, it’s quite another to hear it straight from them. In this short video, several Smart HR consultants, including one who has been with Smart HR for over sixteen years, provide insight into what makes Smart HR a special place to work.
Want to Feel Satisfied and Engaged? Choose Smart HR
Job satisfaction is the fuel that drives employee engagement, the key to a company’s success. Smart HR’s team of dedicated, experienced, thoughtful HR professionals has no doubt contributed to Smart HR’s distinguished reputation in the local HR community for more than 20 years. If you are an experienced HR professional meeting these qualifications and who seeks meaningful work that contributes to your professional and personal well-being, consider becoming a Smart HR consultant and apply here.