Human Resources – or Personnel Management, as it used to be known – has been evolving quickly, but are companies keeping up?
It’s been interesting observing how the profession has evolved over the years compared to how businesses have evolved from the times of industrial relations to the current digital advancement.
Recently I met with some ex work colleagues and friends who work for big companies and from our conversations I observed that it felt as though they were living in what I can only describe as a common HR industry bubble, travelling the world to see the latest technologies that would make their work easier.
In comparison, relatively speaking, the SME world of HR hasn’t even left the ground. The vast majority of small business owners preparing to take on staff do not even see the simple importance of a handbook or contract, let alone the blank look on their faces when you mention appraisals!
As a consultant, engaging with small business owners can often be a struggle. They often have a pre-conceived idea that HR is too expensive and will restrict them from doing the things they want to do in their business.
Let’s get our journey started with a few hard truths about the HR industry, I hope you recognise many of these with personal experience.
Truth 1: HR is not always at the top of the agenda for business leaders. They are busy following their vision, bringing in revenue, minimising costs and maximising profits, leaving very little time or energy for HR red flags.
Truth 2: HR has seen a lot of negativity over the years. Many managers have lost respect for HR, for putting in too many restrictions within the business. Employees have also lost respect for HR for not listening to their needs, leaving them feeling ignored and unimportant.
Truth 3: HR used to be seen as a matronly role; a role that was about staff welfare, later described as “pink and fluffy” and became the agony aunt for employees. This image doesn’t help people understand the power of HR and support the growth of a business.
Truth 4: HR has become lip service, it’s so focused on strategy, that understanding the real needs of employees and managers is talked about often but rarely seen in practice.
Truth 5: There is very little available in terms of training to help HR professionals become confident in their roles. In the UK, even after completing a full CIPD qualification, many remain unsure about how to apply the theory within the workplace. A lot of the learning happens on the job, where we have had to fit in and just do the best we can. But where do we start?
Truth 6: When you finally become competent, you’re not quite sure of the expectations of your managers or employees and what they want from you, depending on which side of the fence you are on. HR often follows the agenda of managers and directors whose priorities focus on making sales and cutting costs as opposed to looking out for the wellbeing of their staff.
Truth 7: We can become isolated in this job, unsure about who to speak to in case we are judged for not knowing something that might seem simple, this is a common one for many in their early days.
Truth 8: HR has become a fundamental part of every business that employs staff. The key to growing a successful business starts with getting the right people to do the right things at the right time for customers. Employing staff will give the business owners more time to work on strategy and strengthening client relationships.
Truth 9: The HR role has evolved to ensure that a partnership is developed between staff and managers. That we find innovative ideas to align business growth with the growth of employees and the leaders in the organisation.
Truth 10: HR needs to become a courageous, respected and essential function in every business. HR is not just for large companies who can afford a full-time department, today it is an essential part of every business that employs staff. The risk of getting it wrong is too high for small businesses to carry.
Truth 11: HR needs to become its own brand – one that business owners can be proud of. A brand that shines a light on the growth of employees and the business collectively. A brand that provides flexibility and adaptability to each organisation. A brand that employees can feel the impact of as they are growing with the business.
So then how do we:
Create a brand, that is well respected and valued?
Create a brand that is aligned with the growth of the business as well as the employees and the leaders?
Create a brand that provides flexibility and adaptability?
Create a brand that employees can trust and feel the impact of as they grow within the business?
It’s simple! You find balance in the five areas that you have an impact on –
Partnership, Processes, Productivity, Performance and Progress.