Believe it or not, human resources is neither about humans nor resources. If you work in or around HR you have probably heard these words. If your organisation’s HR department has become the “policy police” in recent years, you might have thought it yourself.
Although most HR organisations now reach far beyond the personnel departments they sprung from, HR professionals are still often perceived as narrow-minded or too soft to focus on strategic business matters. Even if that is no longer true.
Many social business initiatives are started without even inviting in HR. However, HR know (or are figuring out) why they need to be part of the conversation early and often. Social business is not something you buy. It is something you become and become you must.
What Can HR Do?
Bill Kutik, long time analyst, radio show host and now video series host, once said, “Human resources must provide tools and practices to run the business better, rather than to just run HR more efficiently.”
Is HR the next big thing? Here are four ways to accomplish that ‘goal’:
1) Identify, synthesise and translate forward thinking into impactful action.
Large companies who manage through a distributed model did not have to rely on collaboration, integration or formal connections. Now, to maximise efficiency and in order to keep down costs, it is essential to share information.
Social media inside the firewall can create spiderwebs of networks that leapfrog collaboration processes, and it is a way to close the knowledge gap that we have identified as a risk. The idea of crowdsourcing an internal problem, and making it easy for a lot of people to share, means more people learn from those who know how to get stuff done.
HR is often brought in to discuss about social tools as a result of or in anticipation of a stupid human mistake. Nonetheless, HR should focus on understanding how to use social tools to make the networks stronger, close the gap and manage the generational expectations around what it means to work for a big company. See it, translate it, and make it happen.
2) Discover, nourish, and keep the best people.
“Until recently, finding fabulous employees and the next generation of corporate leaders required corporate recruiters to invest a lot of detective work into finding people with appropriate skills and experience. Now with resumes and profile data freely available on the web, recruiters are spending their time differently,” says Microsoft’s O’Driscoll.
“In just a few years, how organisations recruit has dramatically changed with widely used social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook capitalising on the relationships our employees have already cultivated. Add to that, new businesses have sprung up that finally optimise the process for both employers and candidates. What used to take months or even years can now take weeks or days,” explains O’Driscoll.
Alongside the good come challenges, O’Driscoll cautions, with implications for employee retention and growth. With employee information widely available on the web, it is easy for recruiters to find and contact people from other companies.
“Now more than ever, organisations need to foster an environment that motivates great people to stay and do their best work,” she says. “HR needs to be attentive to what employees say about the way they experience their company culture and drive a dialogue about how the culture should evolve to ensure long-term success in a fast changing world.”
Why hire good people if you are not going to create an environment where your investment in payroll has the most return?
3) Exemplify creativity, flexibility, and speed.
Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of human resources for IBM, reported in “Working Beyond Borders” that data gathered from more than 700 organisations across 61 countries shows three big opportunities for HR:
As organisations turn their attention to growth, HR professionals must find creative ways to overcome restrictive boundaries to optimally deploy their workforces. Success is not measured by engagement, rather a team built fast to do good work, increasing margins along the way. How can those in HR move beyond these borders to align resources with opportunities to improve business performance?
4) Change the talent management and diversity inclusion conversation.
Most of the attention on talent management and diversity focus on having a workforce made up of brilliant people who also represent the gender and cultural mix of the society around you.
With social tools available within the firewall, a HR professional have an opportunity to move the practice upstream, taking this opportunity to bring out the voices, perspectives, and innovations from everyone in the organisation.
It is not enough anymore to have people who look and sound different. It is competitively defining to elevate perspectives that represent every company’s broadening customer base.
“Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about innovation and multiple perspectives,” says O’Driscoll. “It’s about building relationships with a wider range of potential customers.”
Think of the implications your workforce has on influencing the world around them. According to a Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of more than 25,000 people, 10 in ten adults trust recommendations from personal friends and virtual strangers over any other source.
It means that your employees who are not in sales or marketing are also very influential in the world you serve. Treat them well, and they will want to say good things about your company to their friends, potential candidates and customers. This is HR impacting the bottom line, “You may employ 1,000 people, but I’ll judge you by the one I meet.”
HR leaders can demonstrate how HR professionals can be business-minded and relationship-oriented at the same time. People operations—human resources—are every company’s most valuable assets, whether corporate leaders believe it or not. There is no better time to help people understand this than by seeing it in action. Do you still in doubt whether HR is the next big thing or not?
See: Does HR Have a Split Personality?
The original article first appeared on Fast Company.