7 Top HR Tips from Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground cave waterfall in the United States that’s open to the public.  

And, while the breathtaking waterfall is undoubtedly the main attraction, the business operations are equally impressive behind the scenes.

As the Director of Operations at Ruby Falls, Carlin McRae, SHRM-CP, has implemented best hiring practices and fostered a healthy workplace culture.

In an exclusive interview with Trend, McRae shared her top seven tips to support best HR practices.

Here are seven HR tips that help make Ruby Falls a great place to work:

Carlin McRae, SHRM-CP, Director of Operations, Ruby Falls. Photographer: Caleb Stambaugh

Support Neurodivergence

There is increasing awareness about neurodivergence in the workplace, including conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. To create a supportive work environment, it’s important to celebrate and provide support for your neurodiverse employees.

Chattanooga has many community resources available through organizations like The Enterprise Center, which hosts a monthly Networking and Neurodiversity Happy Hour to connect local neurodiverse individuals with organizational leaders.

Create Safety Through Mental Health Assistance Options

Mental health is a crucial aspect of an employee’s well-being. When companies prioritize mental health, employees are likely to feel more invested in and safe within their work environment.

To ensure that your company is providing adequate support for mental health, review your employee assistance program. Confirm that there are multiple treatment options available for team members, including in-person and telehealth services.

It’s important to ensure that these options are accessible to every employee, regardless of their position or status within the company.

Conduct Annual Company Policy Reviews

Policies should adapt as companies grow, especially if employee demographics have changed. Policies should be inclusive, concise and clear. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a great resource for guidance on creating company manuals.

Ruby Falls overlook.

HR leaders can take advantage of SHRM’s sample handbook templates or customizable services. Or, contact SHRM directly to find a consultant who will help with manual development or review.

McRae also recommends setting employee reviews at the same time every year for easy reference, such as during a new calendar year or at the start of your fiscal year.

Invest in Employee Development

Employees value a company’s commitment to their personal growth. Start by looking at your organizational structure and identifying gaps for employee success.

Also, consider implementing succession planning strategies to help develop talent pipelines and invest in professional development opportunities.

Local resources including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Professional Education (CPE) are available to support professional development. For example, CPE’s SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course allowed McRae to earn SHRM certification and contribute new HR strategies at Ruby Falls.

Keep Recruiting Practices Bias-Free

Consider removing personal information such as names and addresses from applications. This helps prevent any unconscious biases that may be related to demographics such as age, race or sex.

You can also implement a scoring system based on specific criteria points, such as a candidate’s length of experience in a particular industry, the number of specific skills they possess or their knowledge of certain programs. To create an effective system, collaborate with your company’s leadership team to identify the needs for the open position and tailor the system accordingly.

By using a numeric scoring system, you can objectively evaluate candidates based solely on their skills and experience.

These strategies ensure that your recruitment process is fair and unbiased, eliminating any biases that could otherwise affect the selection of the most qualified candidate for the job.

Ruby Falls gift center.

Transform Your Job-Hopping Perspective

Job hopping is trending on resumes as more professionals are rapidly changing jobs by choice. Instead of negatively thinking about job hopping, McRae encourages HR professionals to consider job hopping as a way for proactive individuals to gain experience and constantly challenge themselves in a fast-paced world.

Aim to learn about a candidate’s motives in interviews by asking, “What keeps you motivated?” Or, “What skills have you learned or enhanced in the last five years?”

Champion Through Change

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significance of agility in responding to change. If your company is undergoing major changes, it’s crucial for you and your HR team to support the leadership team and employees throughout the transition.

Major change can often lead to a toxic environment, especially if employees are left uninformed about important information. It’s important to keep in mind that people naturally tend to fill knowledge gaps with negative assumptions.

Help your leadership team be as transparent as possible, given the circumstances. By doing so, employees are more likely to trust and embrace organizational changes. It’s important to provide all employees with access to relevant information, regardless of their position or status within the company. This will help to reduce confusion, minimize negative assumptions and promote a more positive work environment during periods of change.

Marah Whitaker serves as marketing and communications manager for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Professional Education (UTC CPE).

The center manages all of UTC’s non-credit certifications, credentialing and workforce training. Custom corporate training, professional development courses and medical career academies are all offered through the center. CPE believes in offering excellent lifelong learning programs to meet the diverse educational needs of those they serve.

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