Today’s mission for HR includes Human Resources that are:
- Accountable; and
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Human Resources is no longer another staff department. In order to ensure maximum business impact and to allow HR management principles and expertise to inform business plans, today’s CEO engages HR as part of senior leadership. HR leaders are a part of modern strategic planning both through input regarding external demography, trends and issues affecting human beings at work but also reports of internal talent strengths and weaknesses.
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Human Resources deconstructs every company strategic goal in terms of the ability of employees at every level to support their successful achievement. For example, if the goal is profitability improvement, all of the following must be analyzed:
- Fixed expense reduction
- Variable expenses associated with sales increases
- Variable expenses associated with adding human resources
- Inefficiencies in all company functions
- Comparison of the relative profit margins of each line of business
- Sales procedures and processes
- Product and service pricing strategies
- Downsizing or divestiture options
Human resources management contributes to these potential improvement strategies through proper leadership and supervision focused on the right things, job analysis and design, compensation setting, proper training and development, performance evaluations, and organization culture which either enhances or detracts from goal achievement. Do employees have the right training and motivation or is it tools and materials access that are slowing down production? If you can’t answer this question, strategies are not programmed for success.
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Every business function, including Human Resources, must demonstrate its effectiveness. Are the performance evaluation tools getting at technical results, conducive work approach AND behavior consistent with the company’s stated/desired culture? Do retention strategies reduce “bad” turnover? Are recruitment results positively correlated with future sound performance on the job? Finally, do your programs and strategies reflect the needs and demographics of your workforce today and in likely future scenarios? Proper quantification and HR metrics answer these questions and provide data that allows improvement and refinement over time.
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Employee relations litigation is increasing in nearly every area: discrimination, harassment and all aspects of employee termination disagreements. The statutes, case-law and regulations at the state and federal level present considerable challenges for the average business executive. Human Resource professionals have the information needed to think about the big picture, triage risk management strategies for maximum effectiveness and to prevent the ugliness that can result when miss-steps are publicized instantly through social media.
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Cooperative gain is a phrase I heard once used in a scientific context and adapted to Human Resource management here .
This is what happens when company goals and values are shared by employees, supervisors and owners. Job design and employee activities are aligned for working productively and respectfully toward company success. The “gain” is that company goals are achieved and employees enjoy their work. It feels like a good place to work. Issues are dealt with swiftly and decisively. Employees who work there want to be there. Employees weigh in on company decisions. They feel heard and owners make sound, thoughtful decisions.
This is when the company has low or modest profits and overall financial results even though employee activities are not particularly aligned with company goals. Company needs are met to some degree but employees are disengaged. In this case, the company has either an incredible product/service with steady demand or employees are relatively powerless. It may also be that employees are not the “most important” asset – manufacturing or other heaving equipment and materials with little human intervention. The modest company gains may not be sustainable because employee negativity and lack of alignment will eventually bring about a failure to adapt to market changes. In addition, employee apathy or even sabotage is more likely here with the potential to curtail forward progress.
This is where employees and the company are aligned in activities and values but the company experiences financial or market share losses. It may be that owners are not savvy or strategic and haven’t recruited the right talent. Or it could be a result of unexpected market change; sudden loss of key personnel; competitor breakthroughs; patent expiration or other factors outside employee control. Unforeseen changes in federal policies or applicable regulations may also produce this situation.
This is where the company is suffering losses because employee engagement is lacking. The company’s failure to enlist employees in organizing to support company goals results in disorganized corporate culture, unclear values or values which do not include integrity, professionalism or respect. Perhaps employees are distracted from their work by chaotic employee relationships, fear, intimidation and toxic employee bullying. Maybe the company has never stated its concept of the ideal culture. Recruitment and performance evaluations fail to consider employee commitment to the values and results required to achieve financial goals. Left unattended, this sort of environment results in ongoing difficulties, acquisitions and sometimes, in company failure.