HR! Where are you (Going?)

Disclaimer: All below reflections, reactions & comments below are entirely my own, based on publicly available sources.

The Challenge of Productivity and Power of HR

Plenty of people speak of human resources (HR) as a critical element in every company, which will ultimately make or break their chances. But do people really,honestly, mean that? Do you, your peers and management truly understand the matter? And if the answer is Yes, how does it translate into the action, in reality, in our everyday professional lives?

In order to be more specific, where can you notice management action on those precise parts of daily work that make employees shine and become more productive? Productivity is such a word which does not materialize with pure push tactic anymore in our knowledge intensive industries. Even in more simple manual works, all that can be automatized and optimized is quite much done already, has it not?

How can You then accomplish improvement or competitive advantage through HR if all the competitors are, in theory, on the same line? How do You get management buy in, obtain employee adoption and achieve a work culture,which beats your competition 6–0 everyday and night?

If the overall dilemma was highlighted above, maybe outside macro observations could help to see how companies are subject to change,how that impacts HR and how economic volatility makes productivity leap possible.

Impact of Western economy volatility towards stagnation

Firstly, It is not fair to say that national economies or company’s financial performances would have ever been solid. One can discuss ages how realistic it is that certain firms stay in certain market size positions, that interest rates remain the same or that you still do the same job after 5 years? However, at least in Western economies, it remains very human to assure ourselves that your employer will not vanish, your mortgage payments stay predictable and that there will not be any significant crisis in the near horizon. Without such self-talk, it would be practically impossible to do any long range plans.

Yet, massive changes happen every day, month, quarter and fiscal year and sometimes very disruptively. HR has the key here to address the company culture, capabilities, talent management and possibilities to not only adapt into the circumstances, but in order to facilitate business growth. In practical terms, this can be achieved through optimized allocation and training resources. Which briefly can be translated into training right skills sets to employees which match current and future expectations.

From this HR perspective, how does your company look towards economic challenges and opportunities? Proactive vs. reactive way? Have you looked at the last annual report? How do the visions materialize into clear cut actions and focus to address the direction of the company? Or is the reality dim, without any new ways of see the world? Do most of You “just work there from 8 to 5 with their micro tasks , in own silos with “tunnel vision” and KPI’s only?

That sounds terrible, does it not? One could argue that there is no better way to kill creativity and adaptability to change. Nobody should break laws, but does it always help the business to follow strict principles, to blindly obey rules and regulations ,where no local or context related actions are allowed?

Stability in other words can feel like safety and comfortable predictable life first, but at the same time it does not correspond to rapid changes in the industries out there. If the company stays still, competitors pass them far above, beyond, and under. Before anyone even noticed. What happened to Kodak?

Millennial culture, “talent trouble” and perception of work

On-going debate about digital disruption and increase of customer expectations with social “online all the time” culture, has been up for a decade now, if not more. One could argue that acceleration of the internet has created less patient people. Individuals always aspire for the very easiest, fastest buying experience, whether they’re making purchases in-store or internet. Now, that is the same behavior can be observed elsewhere too, which was in the offline/online shop context. It impacts our psychology and we start to expect same from other relationships we have. Since most of the time is spend at work, it naturally reflects to work company cultures as well.

This “behavioral change” leads us to so called “Millennials”. Is this really a young generational segment of digitally savvy people, who prefer pleasure instead of traditional career? Certain people argue yes, others remain skeptical. Therefore, this text considers “Millennials” as a mindset, where both young and old people can act as the “Millennials” would. The new work culture is what Millennial people strive for. Physical location, exact work schedules or old methods do not appeal for them anymore. Instead they look for tasks and duties, which match their aspirations, personality or wishes. Simply, for stronger than before they want to work with, what they prefer to work with. And yes, they want to bring their own devices (smartphone, laptop,iPad,chip under skin) and social media collaboration (slack, evernote, trello, whatsapp, snapchat) spaces instead of that corporate phone, to the very headache of IT and legal departments.

Can You provide such a modern employment experience?

It is not so much a question anymore “Should You?”, since the employees who can will vote with their legs. The most talented individuals will always leave first, since they will be in high demand elsewhere too. This illustrates the importance of HR and talent management from several angles. Who do you want to keep in your company? Who do you need to attract into the company to match the business vision of the direction, in other words: where the company has the aim to go? What kind of skills and capabilities you want your employees to have? Can they be relocated and retrained easily when needed? And other way around, do you facilitate and empower culture of change? Does your company provide possibilities to employees to move according to their own interests, what suits them best? How is Your employee experience today?

Solution? Who are the winners & how do you become one?

To summarize, this all in a nutshell, HR is a strategic function to address both economic turmoil and needs of employees. Cultural change and current volatile market changes impact businesses and therefore it is paramount to think how to match employees into it. Key focus should be in the internal needs of change in the workforce.

There are many opinions out there, but in order to get some return on investment for your activities, try a transparent Data driven approach. Dig up key numbers. Do You track cost of recruitment? Or how long you retain talent? If not, go for it. Do a sample test calculation. What is the cost if you retain, and develop a workforce that can meet the needs of the marketplace changes? What is the cost if you do not?

Look into the details prior jumping into any massive agility change program. If You think about the change from the marketplace and You role. For HR to really become a strategic function, it must be backed by data. The figures talk straight language to the management. Investigate costs associated with current practices. What are those metrics to analyze then? Your company strategy and culture dictate what management considers as business critical.

How do you get started? How to accomplish that data driven approach? Here is a LINK to an article that describes more in detail some precise measurement KPIs that should help you. Some examples: “Time to fill open positions, measured in days” and “Percentage of Diversity”. Or consider “Amount of Offers declined”. The latter is really an acid test. Your company should be the most desirable place to work for in order to attract the best of the best. Is it really attracting those that business really needs? More, free for you to use, measurement KPIs here.

Beauty of this need to change, is that it does not have to cost you any money. Since you can accomplish that analysis all by yourself. Most people never have time to do that. Luckily there are available some helpful tools, such as human capital management (HCM) or check this 2min. talent management Youtube VIDEO . Or You can always employ an outsider consultancy to calculate all above for you!

Yes, adaptable culture will save You!

You just need to adapt the culture to embrace the change and keep the employees productive, yet happy. Easy? Hard? Take your time to study the options out there, google around what does Richard Branson and Virgin group do, for instance?

Old mentality and culture blocks the development in most of the companies. It is most natural that people simply avoid the change. Nevertheless, no market, nor talented people, will wait. HR as a strategic function is NOT just for the survival of the company, but in need to take those competitive leaps into the desired version of the future.

It is time to get rid of rigid workplaces! Agile employee experience enables companies to differentiate to their advantage. There is a correlation between employee well-being and the health of the balance sheet. HR can help to turn the company around. Insecure about all this? Join the debate publicly (or in private with direct message) and take action.

High performance culture creation regards


P.s Talent war, there is no such thing as a talent, wait…have you tried unmotivated unskilled employees around you yet, at the same time when you try to navigate in stormy waters?

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