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Just because most people fail at their New Year's Resolutions doesn't mean your HR department shouldn't make a few in the form of policy changes and new practices. HR policies and practices can have a huge impact on the success of the business. Sure, HR doesn't design products or develop marketing plans, but what we do impacts the morale of the organization, and that affects everything else. Here are five resolutions every HR department should make.

1) Make Sure Pay Is Equitable and Market Rate

It's time for a pay audit. Are there any differences in pay across gender, racial or age lines that can't be explained by a logical, legal and fair reason? Don't neglect this one. If you find discrepancies, give pay bumps today. Don't wait until the next raise cycle. Get this taken care of immediately.

It's not just equity for protected classes that you should look into; it's market rates as well. Do you want to lose your best people because you're paying below market rate?

2) Eliminate a Policy

I don't know which one, but I guarantee you have a bad one on your books. Maybe it's no raises above 10 percent. Perhaps it's requiring in-depth reference checks on job candidates, but only confirm titles and dates of service for your former staff. There's even a chance it's docking PTO for exempt employees ever time they step out of the office? Whatever it is, figure out your worst policy and eliminate it.

3) Remind All Employees About ADA and FMLA

If you have more than 15 employees, the Americans with Disabilities Act applies and if you have 50, the Family Medical Leave Act is in play. People don't understand what these mean, and it can open up the company to liability. If an employee tells a manager she needs an accommodation and the manager has no clue he or she has to provide that (assuming it's a true disability and the requested accommodation is within reason), the company can suffer, and it's unfair to the employee. Whenever possible, educate your teams on these laws.

4) Get Development Plans In Place

Managers are concerned about the here and now. You need to be concerned about the company's future. Most people aren't interested in staying in the same job for eternity, so you better make plans for developing people, or you'll lose them to your competitors.

This doesn't have to be a labor intensive endeavor in HR. You can ask employees to consider where they want to go and then help them figure out how the company can help them achieve their goals. Just make sure you don't put a huge burden on management and staff in getting this together.

5) Put Some People on Performance Improvement Plans

This sounds harsh—getting people placed on Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). The thing is, it's not mean. It's nice. Why? Because you have low performers and their managers are ignoring them, hoping that they'll just go away. Unfortunately, what is more likely to happen is the good employees will get fed up with their slacker co-workers and leave first.

You want to identify the low performers and help their managers develop plans for improvement. A good person who is struggling will benefit from direct instruction on what he needs to do to improve. An inveterate slacker will continue to slack, but you'll have the documentation needed to terminate, and replace him or her with someone who cares about performance. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

So, before you reject the hype around New Year's Resolutions, look around your department and company and think about what changes you'd like to see. No reason you can't start today.

Photo: Creative Commons