Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Essential HR Handbook

Ray Osborne's Review on The Essential HR Handbook by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell.

Like the title says The Essential HR Handbook is a quick and handy resource for any manager or HR Professional, but it is all that and more. Many others such as small business owners, initial students of HR practices, training and workforce development professionals will find this book an essential reference book too. This handbook contains twelve chapters of insightful information for full range of Human Resource topics including how to develop an attractive and fair compensation package, manage hirings and firings with minimum legal risk, creating a positive relationship between employees and managers, and keeping a workforce free of harassment and other unlawful discrimination. The book has a generous appendix with 69 pages of samples of forms such as pre-employment forms, sample performance appraisal forms, position description questionnaire. The book also includes a glossary that gives a detailed definition of commonly used human resource terms. A comprehensive index with keywords make finding topics a breeze that you need answers to. I found useful the chapter on Legal considerations in Chapter 9. This section explains employment 'at will' and the three federal EEO statutes; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and The Age Discrimination act of 1967. It also educates the reader with legal considerations of negligent hiring, contract issues, background checks and immigration.

The reader will be pleased with the many handy suggestions throughout the book. There are Do’s and Don'ts through-out, such as what pre-offer questions are the best to ask and what things not to say and there’ the do’s and don'ts of performance appraisals. It provides an objective look at the pros and cons of various workforce alternatives such as teleworking for organizations and the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing (pg 171). Other useful tips throughout the book includes a cost effective way of recruiting through setting up a employees referral program and the multiple benefits in not only recruiting quality candidates but at the same time measures the morale of the workforce.(pg 28) Checklists are given for important processes such as meetings,disciplinary actions and their documentation and the process for behavior-based interviews. External resources are listed in the Appendix with HR related sites for sourcing for minority applicants( pg 146), major job websites, a further reading section, a list of useful websites such as places to network with other HR professionals, find vendors, and finding forms.

Many research studies are referenced in the book which lend credibility to the authors' advice. Case in point include a research case of a 2002 report that reported Dupont employees who took advantage of work/ life and flexibility programs were more committed to their jobs and less burned out. She quotes studies in the chapters with reputable research groups such as the Labor Relations Institute which revealed motivations that keep employees engaged and how it has changed in history.

Author Sharon Armstrong has 20 years of experience as a Human Resources consultant, trainer and career counselor. She launched a consulting business in 1998, Sharon Armstrong and Associates. Her consultation with the Human Resource managers of many large corporations and small businesses has prepared her well in writing this handy guide. Her rich experience coupled with the skills and experience with Barbara Mitchell has produced a reference guide that is sure to provide a valuable handy resource for professionals interested in Human Resource matters.


Armstrong, Sharon and Mitchell Barbara, The Essential HR Handbook, Career Press Edition 2008