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Is HR waving or drowning?

Across many sectors today money is still a big issue. Organisations are examining every budget; staff feel insecure about their futures and disconnected from their employing organisations. Managers are becoming more risk averse.

We have flatter structures, lower turnover, less promotion prospects and less ability to reward people financially. Virtually every HR department I work with says that demands have increased and they simply cannot do any more. 
 
So, is the HR sector waving or drowning?
 
I believe we can do less with less and still get great results. The biggest issue we face at the moment is leading organisations through change. How this is approached can mean we, in HR, are either seen as added value, or as an unnecessary overhead.
 
I would like to share 10 lessons that I have used to do this successfully in my HR career. 
 
1) Develop a more strategic mindset: Focus on what matters in your organisation. Find out what is of importance to your managers and your customers. Get onto the front line to check out the real experience of your customers. 
2) Shift focus on workforce productivity: In a downturn economy, long term growth plans shift to the back whilst short term tactics that generates an impact move to the forefront.  Make sure all HR proposals are costed correctly.  Never develop a business case without pound signs attached. 
3) Develop metrics in terms of money: Cutting costs are top priorities in today’s economy. Do you know the value of training courses? What would the effect on productivity be if specific training was cut? HR can support increasing revenue and cutting costs by learning to convert traditional metrics into money-metrics. Know the monetary value of all products. 
4) Control labour costs:  Propose strategic initiatives to redeploy workers to areas that need them, investigate recruitment freezes, control overtime. Check out the financial add-on's in salaries. Get rid of any performance related pay schemes that are not demonstrably linked to higher productivity or better performance. Get business savvy! 
5) Retain key talent: To retain the best you need to know what skills you need and what challenges you will face over the next few years.  As well as ‘exit’ interviews, conduct ‘stay’ interviews to see why people remain in your organisation. Understand workforce planning and strategy and implement it. 
6) Learn to live with ambiguity: If you are leading change and don’t relish a little chaos yourself you might be in the wrong job. Change is the new constant and we all have to deal with it, so learn to love it. 
7) Understand your leadership style: By being in HR you are a leader; work out what your distinctive style is and how it can maximise your strengths.  Are you loud and proud, cheerful and optimistic, the strong silent type or is your style data driven? 
8) Change what you can change: Yourself! Your organisation won’t believe what you say about change unless you demonstrate the right attitudes, behaviours and beliefs in what the HR team does.  Don’t be a follower, lead the change yourself. 
9) Create a community of advocates for change: Lead the way in creating ambassadors for change, starting with the HR team. 
10) Encourage communication that resonates:  Technology cannot replace face to face communication by management particularly in tough times. Get out and talk with people face to face. 
 
The workplace is changing and this is our great opportunity to be an influential part of that change. Are you up for the challenge? 
 
 

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