Time for HR to step up.
HR – a role worthy of a seat at the table
Human Resources (HR) professionals are ultimately responsible for managing the company’s most valuable asset, its employees. They (arguably with more and more reliance on direct team leaders and managers) are the ones who ensure that the company’s employees are happy, healthy, and productive. HR professionals are also responsible for ensuring that the company is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
There is not denying that HR have been slammed in 2023 with workplace changes – from leave entitlements to wage crisis to enforcing psychosocial risks requirements that reduce stressors at work to actually making sure that people are respecting people at work …and surprisingly come to work without being sexually harassed. And of the back of COVID where HR really stepped up to take some thought leadership in decision-making.
According to Forbes, there are four reasons why HR deserves a seat at the table1: But how many can say that they actually do all of these things? Here is the potential value HR can be bringing to the table:
- HR can create synergy between employees, the company, and customers.
- HR can help companies earn recognition.
- HR can help companies manage risk.
- HR can help companies stay competitive.
The problem is…talk to Marketing, IT, Projects, Legal, Compliance, Governance (in fact any other department ) or an individual and they will tell you…this is what HR can do but it is not what they actually do.
1. HR work directly for the partner/business owner or CEO
2. HR like to reveal private or confidential information
3. HR routinely run surveys and never action them and “alter the results” …leading to number 4
4. HR lie, mislead and miscommunicate
6. HR are the one department that routinely score low on “care for our people”.
7. Are behind in compliance by at least 12months putting all leaders, managers and employees at risk.
“Nope, we are not doing that. We are not going to train our people in psychosocial hazards – that will just create complaints. Believe me our people feel safe to speak up (all the time)”. HR – People + Culture Director of over 1000 people in healthcare
“It’s not our job to be operational. We don’t have time to check everything. We just need to ask the right questions….. What questions should we be asking again? – Board member same organisation in healthcare
Time to step up
I like the idea that HR is there to “make an organisation an awesome environment to work and make sure people don’t do anything stupid.
It is said that HR are responsible for five core people processes that hold organisations and culture. They set expectations and design work (Performance), give feedback and guidance on growth (Development), reward and recognise great performance (Reward), support transitions, transformation and change (Change), and they ensure the right people join and get promoted (Talent). (Interestingly if you look at psychosocial hazards – these are the top stressors at work and done poorly by many organisations globally – organisational design problem or HR problem?)
Arguably, more and more of this responsibility is being done by team leaders and mangers, rather than HR. In fact, one director of HR said, “I have purposely removed people and culture from my title. That is not my job that is the job of everyone in the organisation and I am tired of getting the blame for poor leaders”.
If we want to look at early indicators of burnout, HR colleagues are up there with 75% saying that they experience exhaustion frequently and are always looking for other opportunities.
So what should HR be doing to continue to create thought leadership and be indispensable in decision-making?
Here are our top 9 ways HR are indispensible to a board and organisational decision making.
1. Growth. Understand the business case for growth and where HR fits in driving productivity and performance and mitigating risk – it all comes down to people. This means understanding the operations of the business, cost centres, productivity, return on investment.
2. Forecasting and predicting workforce issues such as future complaints (psychosocial, disengagement). HR tends to report on lagging indicators and therefore are not assisting in decision making or future modelling at all. In fact, with predictive modelling workforce management, rostering and training can be executed well.
3. Governance and risk management – with “people” being the largest risk to any organisation understanding and being a thought leader with governance and risk management is critical – this is a perfect entry onto committees and boards. Compliance, governance and risk managers are becoming the new superheros as they identify the long held “gaps” in what we are supposed to be doing and what we are actually doing.
4. Human behaviour – with the increase in compliance with psychosocial hazards and respect@work laws, the understanding of employee behaviour is critical. If HR doesn’t understand Human Behaviour this is a big problem and a good argument for putting Marketing in charge of People and Culture.
5. Change management and communication – it is interesting that from an organisational design perspective we decided to remove our internal communications teams and replace them with the “social and digital media” teams. What we have seen is a steady decline in internal communications. We seem to have a lot of communications for digital media and leave our internal teams having to read in newspapers or via external colleagues what is going on in their own organisation. HR Teams need to work better with marketing to develop communications and change management plans that identify the individual needs of groups.
6. Competency frameworks / training and development: linking to professional and personal development – so many HR teams want to talk about training but when you ask – what are each persons gaps, what are you trying to upskill, what times are people free and available, how long do you want programs to last – they cannot answer. Whilst they understand that surveys show they need “soft skills” training – how is this being implemented. This should be on every boards agenda in terms of board competency and also Csuite. It fits with succession planning and retention strategies.
7. Compliance and Governance – this links to risk management and governance but the in ability to actually meet workplace requirements in terms of psychosocial hazards, respect @work requirements in favour of continuing to do what is done, poor executions bound to put leaders and boards at risk who are trusting the capability of the HR tea. Here you can be thought leaders managing and mitigating “people risk”. Instead of throwing the ball to WHS or a risk manager – work together.
8. Breaking down silos and creating a team – understanding the business and the overall KPIs will allow you to look at performance metrics differently including removing the age old – balance scorecard in favour of a more organisational and human centric model such as PUMP *an Australian based measurement methodology. We have created teams that compete for resources instead of aligning our goals and allocating resources towards a common goal.
9 Evidence based data – too often the use of “easy to use” survey tools has created an “over the top” survey experience with little actions to support change initiatives or prioritise activities or tailor activities. The data is critical and the erosion of trust in these tools have seen an increase in distrust of HR. Understanding the data and putting accountabilty around actions is critical. Providing relevant data and validated data is critical to informing decision making. In many organisations HR cannot identify productivity scales, psychological safety scales, cannot forecast churn rates and cannot identify the impact on consumers, risk or reptuation.
Doing things differently
CHROs need to be able to directly connect talent initiatives and outcomes to business value so they can gauge ROI and better prioritise HR efforts. This ensures more value-added contribution and credibility throughout the organisation. People are the powerhouse of any organisation and where the majority of risk comes from…this provides a great opportunity to those who can provide more insight, knowledge and data to support decision making.
- Measure things that matter
- Improve ability to forecast and model
- Rebuild trust
- Listen intently
- Model the right behaviours
- Build connections
- Ensure risk management, governance and compliance
- Understand the business case
- Use evidence based tools to support decision making
The explosion of HR tools, technology and trends makes zeroing in on essential analytics more difficult than ever. How should human resource analytics define HR priorities? What are the greatest obstacles to achieving effectiveness? Moving forward into 2024 human resource analytics should not just support, but fundamentally enable, your organisation’s business strategy.
Our client’s most important use of human resource analytics was to forecast psychosocial complaints in the next 6 -12months, identify team productivity, assess readiness for change and learning projects, inform continuous improvement of existing practices, predicting burnout rates in certain high-stress jobs to understanding the impact on teams on customer service and delivery of brand promise.
“Predictive analytics can reduce burn and churn and lead to a more stable workforce.”
HR continues to suffer the positioning as a cost centre within respective organisations across most industries. This is in contrast to the oft stated belief that “people” is an organisation’s most important asset.
Talk to us about how to position HR as a though leader and provide data critical to business decisions.
“Neuroscience and human behaviour, lays the foundation for the approach and tools we bring to every engagement, and it provides a means for consistently making smarter people investments, measuring critical outcomes, and driving continuous, evidence-based improvements.” Carolyn Grant
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