When considering the present-day status of most Human Resource departments, it can be lamented that “the more things change, the more they remain the same”. There are some brand new ideas, and there are some old ideas which have simply evolved. Here, we take a look at some of the most significant changes, thus far:
People Are Individuals
Decades ago, when someone was hired, they were easy to categorize: If someone returned from the war, they were thought to be reliable and good at following orders. A recent graduate, while possessing promise, was generally inexperienced. A new hire who quit a previous job after a short time would often be watched closely until further trust was garnered.
While this is not to say that an individual’s stage in life does not in any way affect their job habits, nowadays, it is foolish to arbitrarily typecast candidates by age, gender, and even certain aspects of their past experience; as those parameters have become increasingly less relevant. What’s more, the more recent trend toward hiring remote workers often means that very little, if any, of this information is even available to employers.
However, while we may be less apt to rank potential employees by the traditional classifications mentioned, we happen to live in an age that is highly preoccupied with the generational tendencies of, what are arguably, rather synthetic demographics. This “generation fixation”, if you will, has promoted countless publications identifying and examining the differences among “Baby Boomers”, “Generation X”, “Millennials” (or Gen Y), and even the up-and-coming “Generation Z”. However, unilaterally avoiding, or even exclusively retaining, one age group over another could cost employers some valuable skills. While it may be true that many Baby Boomers do have superior expertise and job skills, a great portion of Generation X holds impeccable leadership qualities, and the majority of Millennials are unequivocally tech-savvy, limiting yourself to one group will only create unbalance and a lack of talent diversity in your work staff; causing you to fill positions based on stereotype, rather than specific skill sets and character traits. Conversely, if you hire based upon the individual merits of the candidate, rather than generational pigeonholes, you are more likely to place the employee within a role where they will flourish.
On the upside, hiring analytics have evolved so that we understand capabilities and motivations more than ever before. We now understand our hires much better and don’t have to wait until the first day of work to find out if we made a good decision. Using your tools to their full advantage will increase overall employee retention and value.
Toxic Work Cultures Are Out
If recent history has shown us anything, it’s that unethical business practices won’t be ignored by the public. Toxic cultures tend to reward achieving goals at any cost, even if it means breaking trust with their consumers. Modern HR has already begun housecleaning to make sure they’re not victims as some of the following who — while they may have since worked hard to regain the trust of their clientele — still experienced major fallout from substandard business practices.
- Volkswagen lost a great deal of credibility for manipulating their pollution controls to give false readings of cleanliness for their vehicles.
- Wells Fargo encouraged employees to create credit card accounts for customers without their permission as well as unauthorized bank accounts, too. The employees did this millions and millions of times, actively encouraged by their managers.
- Mitsubishi was revealed to have misrepresented their fuel efficiency ratings to the public for the last quarter century by secretly retaining an outdated measuring method instead of using the new official approved standards.
The Annual Review Debate
It has been a bit of a surprise to some companies that vowed over the last two years to eliminate the annual review for employees. The thinking was that you can eliminate the “sense of entitlement” and replace it with incentives; people would be rewarded for accomplishments and positive behaviors.
Superficially, it makes sense. You tell your son or daughter to complete a significant chore for which you’ll pay them $15.00, but if it’s done before you get home, you’ll make it $30.00; and instantly, you have incentivized them. The same logic should work with your employees.
However, many of the companies leading the change (such as SAP, GE, Adobe, and Deloitte) discovered that their employee engagement and performance levels actually declined. This was hardly the result they were looking for.
The problem seemed to be that the implementation was badly managed. If you’re going to replace an old system, the new system has to be up and ready to go. Those who are caught in-between; just about ready to receive a review when the program is terminated, will feel cheated. The intelligent move is to run both programs in parallel until everyone qualifies for the new program.
Not a real word, you say? Check out the increasingly popular Twitter hashtag #comprehensivism to see this “new” word’s ubiquity.
At the beginning of this century the makeup of the workforce was still very traditional with about 75 percent of the people being fulltime workers and the remainder fitting into contractor and part-time categories. Nowadays we’re looking at a work force that is barely 40 percent full time employees, more than 25 percent contingent workers (such as contractors, freelancers, and interns). The other 35 percent is made up of part-timers and remote workers.
This has forced HR and Management to create new ways to describe these loosely associated teams; to figure out new ways to compensate them for their achievements.
More importantly, however, it has provided the opportunity for employers to glean more productivity and creativity from the same people. Instead of looking at individuals as “Skillset ‘X'”, HR is beginning to ask “What else can you do?”
Your chief accountant may also be a talented graphic illustrator. That remote software developer may also be a talented nature photographer. If a contractor wants to tackle a new market for your product as a commission salesman, it could get you into brand new areas you’ve never explored before.
The Benefits of MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are essentially free education for your employees. Keeping employee skills up to date, or acquiring new ones, will be a fundamental requirement to keep your business competitive.
HR’s job will be to audit the available courses and then “sell” employees on participating in them. The courses they choose can strongly influence their career path and be a significant advantage to them; not the least of which is increased status, responsibility, and salary.
Keeping Employees Happy
It’s been said before how in average companies, people tend to change employers every three years, and careers every five years. Employees have gotten used to progressing on their career track, and have embraced mobility in their lives.
Similar to the effort companies expend satisfying their customers, most who wish to retain their most talented employees have discovered that they benefit from the same mindset and policy when it comes to their own workers. Employees demand respect, equitable compensation, job security, and more recently, the ability to choose their personal benefits.
HR now needs to monitor employee engagement and provide career tracking to help employees make good decisions that will benefit not only the workers themselves, but the company at large. Options are now on the table about on-site daycare, bringing well behaved pets to work, paid parental leave, and much more. If HR isn’t being creative, there are plenty of companies where such alternatives are at the forefront of conversation. At the very least, it is a clever way to attract workers and build loyalty.
While many people function very well in a 9–5 environment, there’s a growing trend towards setting tasks and accomplishing them on their own schedule. If you finish all your work by 2:00 PM on Thursday, you’re free to start on the next week’s work, or get an early start on the weekend. Pointlessly sitting at your desk until 5:00 PM is rapidly fading into history.
More than ever, it seems that HR is the chosen department within any organization that must first identify, and later realize the impending transformations that await all companies at one point or another.
As stated by the renowned Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist, George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.