cityIn the first part of this article, we noted that HR departments can spend their budgets for 2016 in any number of ways. While the variety of options is largely a blessing, it’s also a curse: the overwhelming number of choices can be downright crippling, leading to analysis-paralysis, inaction, and bad decision-making.

Yesterday, I brought you four winning HR strategies to bet your HR budget on in 2016 in an effort to help you make better decisions despite all the noise. Today, I offer three more ways to get a great bang for your HR buck:

5. Increase Diversity in Your Organization

With all the advancements that society has made in the realms of civil rights and diversity over the past 50 years, you would think diversity problems in business would be solved by now. Alas, there is still some way to go. Silicon Valley has had some high-profile struggles with diversity recently, as have the financial services and oil and gas sectors. The STEM workforce is said to be no more diverse today than it was 14 year ago.

Research suggests that investing your HR budget in greater diversity initiatives could lead to some seriously great business results. Take this SHRM study, which found that, over the course of a decade, the organizations on DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list outperformed the NASDAQ by 28 percent, the S&P 500 by 25 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 22 percent.

6. Boost Employee Engagement

Gallup has shown that employee happiness is more than an airy concept: it has tangible impacts on the bottom line. Gallup found that engaged companies outperform the competition. In particular, the organization found that companies with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for each actively disengaged employee experienced 147 percent higher earnings per share than their less engaged competitors. Companies in the top quartile of engagement outperform bottom-quartile units by 10 percent in customer ratings, 21 percent in productivity, and 22 percent in profitability. Engaged companies also have much lower absenteeism and turnover rates.

If you only invest your HR budget in one thing next, I’d recommend that you invest it in developing an employee engagement strategy. Set a goal to increase your engagement levels by a certain percentage. There may be no better way to use your HR dollars to get organization-wide results.

7. Set a Serious Telecommuting Policy

telecommuteLet’s face it: while many organizations do plan their telecommuting policies quite carefully, many other firms let telecommuting happen by accident. Perhaps the CEO started doing it, and then the senior managers and middle managers followed suit. Maybe it started off as an ad hoc thing in certain areas of the business before becoming contagious and spreading throughout the entire organization. Who knows.

What we do know is that many organizations have kind of stumbled into telecommuting policies by accident. If your company fit this description, then you should note that the organizations that telecommute successfully haven’t fallen into it by accident. Rather, successful telecommuting policies have to come about as part of a deliberate strategy that includes a formal policy, senior management support, a clear rationale, a link to business goals, the training of remote workers and managers, and the effective deployment of enabling technologies.

If your organization has an accidental telecommuting policy — or worse, no policy at all — then you may want to spend your HR budget on formalizing your telecommuting policy. Doing so should lead to massive improvements in efficiency and productivity.

And there you have it: seven great ways to spend your HR dollars in the coming year. Depending on the size of your budget, you may be able to funnel some money into all of these initiatives, or you may have to pick one or two that will have the best affects for your business.

Whatever the case, you need to be smart about how you invest your HR budget in 2016. Start the year off right by making intelligent bets.

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