HR reinvented. How to go from being a ‘good’ company to being ‘great’.

Vishnavy Srinathan

The move from 'HR' to 'People Management'

First, before getting started, I would like to bring to light that there has been much debate around the use of the phrase ‘Human Resource (HR)’ and the move towards using the term ‘People’ instead. The motive behind this is to move away from seeing ‘Humans’ as ‘Resources’ but to see them as People or Talent. On the other hand, there is also much controversy around the use of the term ‘People’ alone, as it takes away the importance of the team’s relationship with the business. To solve this issue, I personally would suggest ‘People Partners’. However, there is a long way to go for this transition and the unfortunate truth is until a change in practice and our relationship with the workforce (hindered by a negative perception associated with ‘HR’) improves, there is no incentive for this change and like most things it will take time to ‘embed’ itself.

Shift from administrative to strategic HR

I personally think about the concept of people on a day to day basis. I am also privileged to be surrounded by other forward-thinking people who are passionate about the future in this space. Traditionally HR is often seen as walking into a brick wall or the department that says ‘no’ or ‘can’t’ when they should be at the heart of driving things forward – the enablers. For the longest time, HR has been known for being restricted to being transactional and being reactive rather than proactive but it has been proven that to drive business results, it is important to maximise the value of employees and there is a real need for HR’s focus to shift from an administrative to a strategic approach. This means challenging the HR operating models to ensure they align with the business strategy and with business needs, that we have the right capabilities in the right places, that we deliver innovative ways of developing organisational and people capability and utilising Technology to it’s advantage, using deep data-driven insights.

Revolutionising the way recruitment is done

This requires a fundamental change in mindset. People need not simply be viewed as another resource or asset within an organisation but instead be regarded as a source of competitive advantage. It starts with not only nurturing and developing employees but with engaging with people differently even before they join the organisation. It is important to look beyond the traditional hiring model as it is today. There is an increasing need in today’s world to elevate the recruitment process and to adopt an open-minded search approach for capable people who may not necessarily match the requirements of the job but who can bring transferable skills and are adaptable. More importantly, someone that possesses similar values but bring a different perspective (who may not necessarily have worked in the same industry) but who can keep companies questioning themselves constantly.

Nurturing and developing our people

So, now we have the ‘right’ talent for tomorrow’s world. It should not just stop there. The nurturing and developing phases are equally if not more important. I still see far too many organisations seeing this simply as training and development and performance management for the employee’s role within the organisation. To accelerate a capable and engaged workforce of the future, there is a need to empower them to go beyond their defined role and bring perspective to other areas within the business. People need to feel like they have a stake within the company, feel like they have a voice and are heard, be given the autonomy to make certain decisions, and be given the power to shape their role and make it more meaningful and enjoyable.

Branding and reputation

It does not and should not just stop there. The true nature of these strategies needs to be reflected not just within the organisation through its values and employees and internal communications but also external to the organisation. The transparency of a company’s culture is becoming more and more clear as the power has shifted from companies to people. People are less dependent on companies. The average employee will switch jobs every 4.4 years[i] which is quite different to 30 years ago when people stayed at one company until retirement where possible. Sites like Linkedin and Glassdoor allow people to see right through an organisation into their core and therefore the focus on retention and employer branding has never been more significant to gain a competitive advantage and attract and retain top talent.

Accelerating organisational performance

There is a significant amount of research around the link between company culture, employee engagement and organisational performance in the form of productivity, profitability etc. The distant reality is that many organisations are still behind in understanding this however if you want to outperform your competitors, leaders must recognise and embrace this now. 

So what needs to happen?

People Partners need to be consultative in their approach and need to (not limited to):

  • Ensure leaders and line managers are equipped with the tools and resources they need to deliver a ‘strong strategic narrative’ throughout the organisation and empower and motivate their employees.
  • Be part of strategic conversations and decision making that happen at all levels within an organisation and get employees involved.
  • Use data to their advantage to create meaningful insights and proactive initiatives that help achieve the organisation’s goals.
  • Create a ‘Total Rewards’ philosophy that combines intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and allow employees to define and implement a well-being strategy.
  • Have a communication strategy that engages with employees internally and externally.
  • Drive employee development.
  • Ensure values are reflected in the organisation’s culture ‘what we say is what we do’.

These are proven enablers of employee engagement’[ii] to name a few. Even one of these approaches will get you on your way to transforming your organisation for the better.

More to come on the future of HR.

Vish Sri

About the Author

Vish is a hybrid Human Capital Strategist with proven success in business partnering, consulting, advisory and project management. She combines her experience across multiple sectors including BIG4 consultancy, public sector, financial services and Tech SMEs.

She has extensive experience strategising, implementing and driving people initiatives, and leading global programs partnering with HR and Digital leaders through a significant transformational period, to position organisations at the forefront of digital development.