HR Benefits of a Needs Assessment
When you're a part of the HR team, you need to know what is needed in the organization. While management can define some of these needs for you, it is also necessary for you to perform research to better understand how compensation and benefits may need to be adjusted.
To find out what is necessary, it is vital for you to do some research. In HR terminology, this is called performing a needs assessment. There are several different structures you can use to perform this research, and we will cover a few in order to give you a starting point.
What a Needs Assessment Is
A needs assessment defines itself: It is an assessment of the needs of an organization, a group, or some other defined structure. You can find out the needs of an organization by asking questions, performing research into the company, researching the competition, etc.
In this process, an HR professional needs to ask a number of questions about what is working and what is not working. These answers will help to highlight the gaps between the expectations and the reality of the situation in the company.
There are a number of different kinds of needs assessments:
- Organizational Analysis
- Person Analysis
- Work analysis / Task Analysis
- Performance Analysis
- Content Analysis
- Training Suitability Analysis
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
This list shows how an HR professional can begin to assess the needs of the organization by assessing individuals, as well as performance, training, etc. In addition, there are compensation- and benefits-specific analyses.
To get a sense of how to perform a needs assessment on the compensation and benefits areas, you can utilize a common tool called the SWOT analysis. This is used to help clarify issues and begin to showcase what needs to be examined more closely – and possibly changed -- to benefit the organization.
SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
You might create a chart for this type of assessment and then fill in the information you gather for each of the quadrants.
- What are the strengths of the compensation and benefits plans?
- What is working right now?
- What is the positive feedback from employees?
- What does management like about the packages?
- What are the positive outcomes from using this package?
In an example, you might gather up the information that shows what the benefits and compensation package includes. You might also distribute surveys to the team to see what they have to say that is positive about the benefits. From this information, you will be able to notice what is positive and what is working.
- What are the weaknesses of the compensation and benefits plans?
- What is not working right now?
- What is the negative feedback from employees?
- What does management dislike about the packages?
- What are the negative outcomes from using this package?
Again, a lot of this information can be gained through talking with employees, distributing surveys, etc. You might learn that certain changes have impacted the way compensation and benefits are seen or used. You might find out employees want to have a certain benefit that's not included, but that is included at other companies.
- What benefits and compensation packages could be offered in the future?
- What will the benefits of these packages be?
- What has already been shown to help with benefits and compensation strategies?
This is a place where you want to take the information you've already gathered and begin to see where you might go next with the good things, or where you might begin to repair some of the negative attitudes.
You might also begin to list areas of opportunity that are specific to compensation and benefits, i.e. new plans, new benefits companies, etc.
- What are the limits to benefits and compensation packages?
- What will the benefits cost and add to the budget?
- What is the competition going to do next to compete with our compensation and benefits?
When you can also stop to think about how the benefits changes may cause in the future, you can plan more effectively. While it's true that you can certainly plan for success, it's also helpful to plan for things to not go well.
Being aware of threats allows you to see what you may also need to weigh during changes in strategy or compensation. You can also avoid some problems just by knowing they are possible. (Or you can look at other companies to see what they have faced and use that information as a warning!)
Why Needs Assessments Are Vital
From looking at the example SWOT, you can see how needs assessments allow you to be more thoughtful about what works and what may not work for your organization.
Needs assessments create:
- Clarity – When you have the information in front of you to tell you what has worked, what is working, and what needs to work better, you can better understand what needs to happen.
- Identification of gaps – You will begin to see the gaps in the HR strategy and the reality for employees. Though you may not be able to fill all of the gaps, you can see what is most important to address.
- Future areas of concern – In doing a needs assessment, you will also find ways in which you can plan more effectively for the future. When you can think about what's wrong today, you can avoid those problems and set a better system up in the future.
A needs assessment can also be performed within shorter time frames and in discrete situations. For example, they can be used during a decision about a particular benefits package that you want to offer new hires in 2015.
The more time you can spend evaluating what works and what does not work, the more you will be able to look back at your results to find the best direction for the future.
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