The pivotal role HR plays in shaping the success of any business

By: Columbus C. Brooks

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, organizations face numerous challenges when it comes to managing their human capital effectively. Whether a small startup or a large corporation, businesses must recognize the importance of investing in human resource services. 

HR services play a pivotal role in shaping the success and sustainability of any organization, providing invaluable expertise across various domains. Let us explore why HR services have become increasingly essential for businesses of any size.

Strategic Workforce Planning

Businesses now operate in a highly competitive environment, where agility and adaptability are vital for survival, especially after the COVID pandemic. HR services enable organizations to develop strategic workforce plans that align with their overall objectives. By assessing present and future workforce needs, HR professionals can identify skill gaps and ensure the right talent is in place to drive success. This initiative-taking approach empowers businesses to anticipate growth, adapt to market changes, and stay ahead of emerging industry trends.

Talent Acquisition and Retention

Attracting and retaining top talent is a persistent challenge faced by businesses of all sizes. HR services play a crucial role in talent acquisition by designing effective recruitment strategies and streamlining the hiring process. Additionally, HR professionals ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations, minimizing legal risks associated with recruitment. Once talented individuals are onboard, HR services focus on employee engagement and satisfaction initiatives, creating a positive work environment that fosters loyalty and reduces turnover rates. People management must start immediately from the start of the recruitment process throughout the employee’s employment. Business leaders should look at building a people-centric culture. This will add a human element and create a sense of belonging.

Compliance and Risk Management

In an era of increased scrutiny and complex employment regulations, compliance and risk management have become paramount for businesses. HR services provide invaluable expertise, ensuring organizations adhere to labor laws, regulations, and industry standards. By implementing robust policies and procedures, HR professionals mitigate legal risks, handle employee grievances and disciplinary actions, and ensure a safe and inclusive work environment. Compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a means to protect the organization’s reputation and maintain employee trust. 

Training and Development

Businesses must prioritize employee development to thrive in a rapidly changing world. HR services identify skill gaps, design training initiatives and facilitate learning opportunities for employees. By investing in training and development, organizations enhance productivity, improve job satisfaction, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Companies must examine their stance on diversity/equity/inclusion initiatives, mentor and mentee programs and career-pathing. With emerging technologies and evolving market demands, HR services play a pivotal role in upskilling the workforce to meet future challenges head-on.

Performance Management 

Performance management is crucial for aligning individual and team objectives with organizational goals. HR services assist businesses in establishing fair and effective performance management systems. HR professionals guide goal setting, conduct performance evaluations and provide constructive feedback. By implementing robust performance management processes, businesses can recognize high performers, address performance issues promptly and foster a culture of accountability and excellence.

Employee Benefits and Well-being

Businesses recognize the importance of employee well-being and the positive impact it has on productivity and organizational success. HR services help design and administer competitive employee benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement plans and other rewards. Additionally, HR professionals promote employee well-being through wellness programs, employee assistance programs and initiatives that support work-life balance. By prioritizing employee well-being, businesses create a supportive work environment that enhances satisfaction, engagement and productivity.

Organizational Culture and Change Management

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, organizations must cultivate a positive and inclusive organizational culture. HR services play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining this culture, promoting values, ethics and a healthy work environment aligned with the company’s mission and vision. Furthermore, HR professionals assist in managing change and facilitating organizational transitions. By supporting employees during periods of growth or restructuring, businesses can ensure higher employee engagement, retention and successful change implementation. Investing in HR services is beneficial for any business, regardless of size. HR professionals bring expertise in strategic workforce planning, talent acquisition and retention, compliance and risk management, training and development, performance management, employee benefits and well-being and organizational culture and change management. By leveraging these services, businesses can optimize their human capital, reduce risks and create a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Harnessing AI for Your Small Business: 5 Do's and 5 Don'ts You Need to Know

There was a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was just a buzzword, a fancy term you'd find in a sci-fi novel. But look around today — AI isn't in the future. It's here, and it's already revolutionizing how small businesses operate. How do you make the most of AI without getting lost in the process? Here are five do's and five don'ts to help you navigate.

DO'S

1. Do Understand Your Business Needs.

AI is fantastic. It's shiny and exciting. But that doesn't mean you should dive headfirst without a clear plan. Take time to truly understand your business needs. Do you want to improve customer service? Automate routine tasks? Knowing your goals will help you choose the right AI solution, and trust us, there’s more solutions out there than you’ll know what to do with.

2. Do Invest in Data

AI thrives on data. The more data, the better AI output. So, invest time in collecting and cleaning your data. It's like providing quality fuel for your AI-powered engine — the cleaner and more comprehensive your data is, the better the AI will perform.

3. Do Test and Experiment

Just like anything new, you need to get your hands dirty. Test your AI systems. Run small experiments. Monitor the results and refine your approach, but start small and build up. With AI, learning is doing. 

4. Do Train Your Staff

AI may be smart, but it's not replacing your team anytime soon. Teach your employees about AI. Show them how it works, and more importantly, how it can make their jobs easier. A well-trained team will make your AI adoption much smoother.

5. Do Review and Update Regularly

AI isn't a set-it-and-forget-it deal. It needs tuning, just like any other tool. Regularly review results, identify gaps, and update your AI models. Keep refining your process to get the best out of your AI systems.

DON'TS

1. Don't Rush Integration

AI is transformative, but it's not instant magic. Don't expect immediate results. AI integration takes time — to set up, to learn, and to evolve. Be patient.

2. Don't Ignore Security and Privacy

When dealing with AI, you're often dealing with sensitive data — both yours and your customers'. Don't take security and privacy lightly. Implement strong data protection measures and stay updated on the latest security best practices.

3. Don't Neglect Human Touch

AI can help you automate tasks, but it can't replace the human touch. Don't use AI to create a barrier between your business and your customers. Use it as a tool to enhance human interaction, not replace it.

4. Don't Overcomplicate

There's no need to implement complex AI models right off the bat. Don't complicate things. Start simple, understand how it works, and then expand. A simple AI system that works is better than a complex one that doesn’t.

5. Don't Forget to Monitor and Measure

How do you know if your AI is working? Measure it. Don't just launch your AI system and forget about it. Monitor the results, measure the performance and adjust as necessary.

Adopting AI for your small business can be a game-changer, but only if done right. The journey could be a bit daunting at first, but don't worry — you've got this. Just remember these do's and don'ts, and you'll be on the right path.

So, are you ready to take your small business to the next level with AI?

By: Kevin Berrier

Empowering Independence with Community Living

Community Living, Inc. (CLI) is a nonprofit that helps people with Down syndrome, autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities live independent, fulfilling lives. The nonprofit aims to help each individual reach important personal goals, whether that means securing meaningful employment opportunities or assisting them in reaching personal milestones.

“When you see somebody achieve something that is very meaningful and significant to them, those are the best parts of what we do,” said Michael Planz, CEO.

For more than 40 years, the Frederick-based nonprofit has provided support and a wide range of services to about 160 adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. CLI’s staff believes strongly in the benefits of inclusion and the ability of every individual to participate in the community as fully as they are able.

CLI’s largest program is residential services. Each of its 25 houses is home to up to three clients. Dedicated staff provide all the services each person needs to live independently, including personal care, cooking and housekeeping. 

The vocational program aims to place individuals with higher independence in jobs based in areas they enjoy and that are suitable to their abilities. The nonprofit provides job coaching and staff members aid both the employer and employee to increase the success of placement.

Community Living also provides day programs for retired seniors who have intellectual and developmental disabilities including fun activities, volunteer opportunities and recreational visits to sites in the area.

“Without nonprofits like Community Living, there are a lot of people who have disabilities that would not have opportunities to do many of the things that they are able to do,” Planz said.

5 Tips From Your Neighborhood Lender

Maximize your credit score:

When purchasing anything nowadays, your credit matters. The higher your credit score, the lower your rate and the more money you keep in your pocket. Make sure to make all payments on time, of course as a first rule. Then do not max out your credit cards. The higher you are in your limit, the higher credit risk you are seen as, and your scores go down. Keep your balances as low as possible. Ideally under 10% of your limit, but if that is too much, try and get under 50%, and then continue to pay down monthly. Check your credit a couple times a year for medical collections. This often gets reported in a billing error with your insurance and if you dispute them, they most likely will be removed.

Don’t be afraid to max out your 401k:

Most people think all of their money needs to be in their checking and savings and you should not touch your 401k. That is an older school way of thinking and not correct. Your 401k is an investment tool. You can put pretax money in and allow it to grow, but also BORROW against it for down payment on real estate. Then you can pay yourself back, not be penalized and not lose any ground. The top 1% in the world do this with investment accounts/ life insurance accounts and don’t use their cash. Everyone else has been learning and adjusting their strategies and this applies to your 401k account as well!

Cash Deposits– while preparing to qualify for a mortgage:

Don’t make any large cash deposits into your account. You wont be able to use these funds, even if they are in your bank account. There are specific cases where this is allowed and you need to review with a licensed loan officer before making any larger deposits.

Review & Set Goals:

Review your budget and understand your goals before getting into purchasing a home. Most clients don’t understand what monthly payment they want, they just want to see how much house they can qualify for. But running a successful budget monthly is very important for your household’s long-term wealth and success. Do some homework on your budget and goals and then review that with your loan officer!

Don’t make any major purchases:

Sometimes that new car will stop you from buying your new house. Get your largest and most important asset figured out first, then buy that nice new car or take that nice long vacation. I cannot tell you how many clients that go out and purchase a brand new car and the payment stops them from purchasing their dream home. Slow down, think about the big picture first and speak to your loan officer before making any larger purchases.

Tips provided by Deibler Home Team

Elevating Your Brand, One Client at a Time

Chris Martin provides his clients with the same high level of expertise he used to launch his own business. Early in 2022, the 36-year-old Frederick native established Convoy Creatives to formalize the social media, digital marketing, and design work he had been doing for a decade. “My freelance jobs multiplied to the point that they blossomed into a business,” Martin said. “I started with one or two clients a month. Right now, I have 15.”

Why choose the name Convoy? In the military context, the word suggests a group traveling together for mutual support and protection. “That’s the relationship I like to have with my clients,” Martin explained. “We work together to meet goals.” 

Martin believes that listening is essential to building a relationship with his clients, and working toward his objective: “to help clients take their businesses’ growth, branding and overall digital needs to the next level.”

Chris Martin - Convoy Creatives

Hearing clients articulate what they think they need or want is key to Martin’s ability to understand each specific business. Not only is every business different, but also, individual goals are equally diverse. “Some want top-to-bottom marketing, including maintenance and development of their social media presence, and maximizing their digital marketing – which involves engaging with their followers, and tracking analytics,” he said. “Others may just want me to design an eye-catching label for a new or existing product or brand, an album cover, or a T-shirt.”

Martin prefers to take meetings with potential clients face-to-face, so both parties can evaluate whether the relationship will work. “If we both think it’s a good fit, I proceed to create a plan based on what I’ve heard. I find that most clients know intuitively what they need,” he said. 

“I especially like being involved with a business that is about to open, or one that has been around forever,” Martin said. “It’s never too early or too late to reach a broader audience, expand your brand, rebrand, or modernize to enter the digital age.” 

Martin built his expertise through hands-on experience. As a freshman at Frederick Community College, he studied graphic design. He left school to work in the music industry, spending a dozen years touring –  primarily as bassist, but also handling his bands’ public relations and design needs. Other bands got on his bandwagon, inviting him to create artwork for their own albums and T-shirts. 

A Chamber of Commerce member, Martin prefers to work with Frederick County businesses who share his love of the community. Five percent of Convoy Creatives’ monthly sales go to Martin’s alma mater, Ballenger Creek Elementary School. “The funds go to families and students who can’t afford to pay for lunch. I’ve got them covered,” he said. “Everyone can do something to contribute.”

And Martin does more than one something to contribute. He belongs to Frederick’s Impact Club, which is “home for those who want to make a difference!” At quarterly Impact Club meetings, he said, each member donates $100 and votes for one of three nonprofit organization presenters that will receive the total monies. In addition, Martin is a newly-appointed member of the board of directors for Housing Frederick, “a nonprofit resource for the housing continuum in Frederick County that will develop partnerships to solve community challenges better served through a united effort.”

By: Ellyn Wexler

Frederick's African-American Heritage Preservation Society

For years, the late William O. Lee Jr., envisioned a group dedicated to preserving Frederick’s African-American history and culture. Before his passing in 2004, the lifelong Frederick resident, an educator for 30 years, a two-term city alderman and an active participant in multiple civic organizations, witnessed the creation of a self-guided African-American Heritage Walking Tour of Frederick. But he, and those inspired by him and other African American leaders in Frederick, knew more needed to be done.

In 2009, the African American Resources Cultural and Heritage Society (AARCH) was established. Focused on being the leading resource for Frederick County African-American history, heritage and culture, the organization has worked for more than two decades to preserve, present and celebrate the rich Black history of the area, providing a variety of programs and services for free to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds within and outside the county. Until his passing in June 2021, David V. Key served as president of AARCH. He embraced and carried the group’s vision of volunteerism and collaboration through his years of service.

Some offerings include rehabilitating and preserving local African-American cemeteries, hosting the annual banquet “Living Treasures” to celebrate African-Americans in the community aged 90 and older, participating in speaking events at area schools and at public forums and presenting an annual Family History Fair for residents to share stories.

The group’s next big goal is the planned 2023 opening of a Heritage Center at 125 E. All Saints St., in Downtown Frederick. AARCH board of directors member Protean Gibril notes that the center’s opening is the realization of a long-held vision.

“It offers an opportunity for the society to expand its reach and engagement with the communities, the residents of Frederick County and beyond and continue extending its decades-long history of providing programs and services that are enriching, educational and transformative,” Gibril says.