Making Everyone In The Company A HR
What an exciting and challenging time we are in as the role of HR is looked upon to respond to the dynamically changing business environment around us. New employment laws and guidelines, talent demands due to shifting demographic patterns, technological advances - these are some external trends and forces as HR we need to react swiftly to keep up to such changes. And they have significant impact on organisational decisions and people matters. As such the discussion often centres on how the HR function can cater to external environmental forces, internal business expectations, and keeping our employees engaged and productive.
The focus has been on the HR department rolling out initiatives in a reactive manner to tackle these external challenges. However do we also consider how our employees perceive the role of HR? What do they know about what we do? Do they feel comfortable approaching HR hoping that we can assist in their problems? And do they share the same voice that HR tries to advocate in the organisation - being the custodian of the company's culture and values? These are questions that are worth asking as we assess the effectiveness of HR in supporting the organisation's objectives, and here are a couple of points that we can consider:
1. Understanding of what HR does
It may come across as common sense, but in fact it may be surprising to find out that many people may not have a good (and sometimes even correct) understanding of what HR does. They may not know that they could suggest to HR new ways of attracting new talents from an alternative source for example. Or volunteer to conduct an internal knowledge sharing session. This can lead to us missing out on meaningful and important interaction with the line if we do not take an active stance in gathering feedback from them - may it be from business partnering roles or employee climate surveys.
As HR professionals we should engage employees on a regular basis, to unveil the secrecy behind what we do. It is with this knowledge that employees can know how they can also be part of what we do.
2. Buy-in from middle managers
Middle managers can be a powerful leverage that HR can rely on! They are the ones who have the most interaction with the different levels of employees, and sometimes they can hold a great deal of knowledge about the health pulse of their teams. They can also have a significant influence over how various HR initiatives will be communicated and supported to their team members and their immediate managers (often at the senior management level). It is important to constantly engage the middle management in understanding their challenges, how HR can support them, and they can in turn be a great ally and partner with HR.
One example on how HR can potentially support middle managers is Manager Self-Service (MSS), a rising trend in empowering managers with workforce data that they can easily access and retreive. While no doubt there may be initial resistance (having to take on the role long handled traditionally by HR), the benefits will shine through as more strategic conversation can take place between managers and HR.
I believe everyone in the organisation has a part to play as HR - as ambassadors of the company's culture and values, as supporters of people development, and as an active voice for transparency and openness to share opinions and suggestions to make the company a great place to work at!