We call it “human resources” because it represents the human side of business: creating a culture that enables employees to not only work more efficiently, but enjoy the atmosphere in which they perform that work.

However, there’s inevitably the “business” side of business. Between recruitment, turnover, remote collaboration, and much more, there’s a crucial financial element to consider when creating a human resources plan.

That’s why we sat down with Chris Caprio, the CFO of Boston’s Focus Technology, to speak about his experience balancing a company budget with HR efforts. He gave us so many insightful tips in such a short time that we couldn’t fit them all in this article – check out the whole interview in the full video right here.

For now, here are 7 of our favorite pieces of advice from Chris:

  1. Onboard new hires quickly

“Back before the pandemic, most people came in person, you had to meet with three or four people, it took a couple of weeks sometimes to get somebody through that cycle. Now, with Zoom and other online tools, it can take a half a day to get somebody around the company. So we’re trying to keep up with that speed.”

Taking a long time to onboard new employees is both time-consuming and expensive. It can be tough to notice while it’s happening, but after taking time to hire a bunch of new team members, a long onboarding process will hurt overall productivity.

From Learning Management Systems to setting a rigid schedule, there are plenty of solutions to speed your system up. As Chris remarked, one perk of picking up remote workers is how much faster onboarding can be online than in person. The sooner your people can be caught up to speed, the more progress they’ll make.

  1. More vacation time can be better

“We’re continuing to do what’s made us Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work three of the last four years… we move to unlimited vacation, and people kind of cringe at that, and I look at it as, you know, we trust our employees, we set goals, we monitor those goals, and we trust our employees to make decisions around achieving those goals and having a correct work life balance.”

As Chris alluded to, unlimited vacation time isn’t the norm for American HR practices… yet. While some fear that too much PTO hurts productivity and engagement, studies have shown that the opposite is usually true. 

Employees returning from vacation are consistently more alert, less stressed, and in an overall better mood than those who’ve worked for months straight. Your team will have an easier time avoiding burnout and a better attitude about their positions as a whole.

If your organization is one that pays employees back at the end of their tenure for each unclaimed vacation day, you have an even better motivation to encourage your team to take vacations — you’ll revitalize your staff and save money simultaneously.

  1. Don’t let great talent pass you by

“We track cost-to-hire – You know, I always try and budget at the higher end of that range. Certainly, if we can get somebody in for at or below that, that’s great, but don’t want to have a situation where we find great talent and someone says, ‘Well, we didn’t budget for that salary.’” 

Being a CFO includes cutting a lot of clever budgetary corners, but one corner Chris recommends you don’t cut is with hiring talent. Being stingy about salary towards a prospect that deserves it isn’t worth it; not only do you lose someone who could help your company take a step forward, but you’ll also continue to spend money on that same hiring process.

If your recruitment team has a sharp eye for talent, trust them to make the best hire at whatever price makes sense for the prospect. Investing in your people pays dividends.

  1. Spend what needs to be spent on culture

“A lot of people like to put things in terms of dollars, but culture is one that needs to be budget agnostic. It doesn’t mean you don’t have an idea of what you have to spend on it, but it’s a feel like ‘Hey, we haven’t had an event in a while, we’re gonna have a good event,’… We look at it as, you know, in the moment, what’s the right thing to do?”

Similarly, Chris also recommends that HR & management not be cheap when it comes to culture. Company events and incentives/prizes can be an excellent way to engage your team and build culture, but pinching pennies with what fun you allow your employees to have will have the exact opposite effect. We’ve all had disappointing company outings — it doesn’t motivate you too much, does it?

The financial difference between a small prize and a big prize, or a field day and a rented-out ballroom, is relatively tiny. Give your team a great evening and let them know they’re worth spending a little extra on.

  1. Smartphones are an asset, not a distraction

“Automation in technology is extremely important. You know, people want to use their phones, I’m the first one to want to do that, if I can’t do it on my phone, it’s probably not as exciting to me, I want to do everything on my phone… a lot of, if not all of our employees feel that way. So we’re just trying to make sure they can use their phone to do really all that we’re asking them to do.”

While part of everyone’s job is specialized, hands-on work, part of everyone’s job is also communicating, sending emails, and searching through files. That can – and should – be phone work. The simpler those tasks are, the more you can use your phone for them, and the quicker they become.

When remote employees can use their phones for part of their jobs, it unties them from their desks and enables you to get in touch with them no matter what they’re up to. Not to mention, it feels good to get tasks done from the palm of your hand, which brings us back to having a good attitude and feeling more engaged.

Don’t fight the trends – let your team keep their productivity up on the go.

  1. Remote engagement is next year’s biggest topic

(In response to Frank Moreno’s question on what’s top-of-mind for 2022) “Certainly remote engagement, I think the tool becomes that much more important when you have most of your employees dispersed… I find it difficult. I’m sure our managers find it difficult. We’re talking to them all the time about what we can do, to manage your employees, to monitor your employees, to engage your employees, I don’t know any other way to do it, other than technology.”

As we’ve learned over the past year, remote and hybrid workforces are here to stay whether or not we’re in the midst of a pandemic. As 70% of companies turn to a hybrid model, remote engagement is what’s going to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

However, most companies weren’t working with remote technology until the past year, and some further haven’t yet made the switch. How should we budget the adoption of remote collaboration technology?

  1. Make remote work tech your priority

“We have to find a way to afford [remote tech], because we’re bringing in enough revenue to do so, whether we have to make some different changes, we have to drop some things, we have to do other things, I think coming in with that mindset that ‘Let’s not worry about money, we’ll figure out how to pay for it, if it’s the right solution.’ And certainly, in today’s world, if you’re not treating your employees as your #1 asset, and you’re struggling as an employer, I’m sure so you have to look at it, start with that.”

It might be strange to hear a CFO recommend stretching the budget so much, but Chris’ results with Focus Technology shows how effective it is. Between messaging apps, engagement & performance management platforms, and payroll systems, remote tech is probably the most important investment organizations will make this decade.

Choosing suboptimal platforms for your remote employees to use will always result in disengagement, confusion, and lost productivity. Nailing your choice on the first try will give you a chance to build your workforce around it and start building a system that lets your team be as efficient as possible.

For the employees at home, their online platform is the office. Invest in the best one.

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