Blog·HR Management

July 12, 2019

What's the Deal With Human Resourses?

If you found this blog, chances are you’re one of 500 people each month who search human “resourses” with a third “s.” Welcome to the club!

"Human Resourses"

Wait, that's not right...

If you found this blog, chances are you’re one of 500 people each month who search human resourses with a third “s.” Welcome to the club! Don’t worry - we don’t have a spelling lesson planned for you. But we do think it’s a good time to discuss what Human Resources really is (regardless of how you spell it) and also how this often overlooked department can be the key to achieving the business performance you are targeting.

The idea of treating workers as more than just a labor source was a novel idea before the early 20th century. But changes to the workforce as well as the type of work required led to labor management in the 1920’s. While it didn’t look exactly like a modern HR department, the purpose did revolve around similar tasks, like hiring, firing and settling disputes.

Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management approach and the ensuing research it inspired during this time began to look at improving efficiency of workers. This approach necessitates quantification and helped formed the idea of performance appraisals as we use today, but arguably relegated employees to being variables that could be tweaked as required.

Even more workforce changes following the second World War and government regulations regarding workers and union saw the rise of personnel management. While conditions for workers were improving, the focus continued to be on industry relations and the perception of the associated rules being “red tape” began to from among employees.

Advances in the social sciences during the 60’s and 70’s helped to bring a more humanistic approach to understanding what factors influencing performance, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the term “Human Resources” began to take off. The idea was simple - employees aren’t just an input to achieving results; they are resources that add value but also require and deserve nurturing.

This is a (very) abridged version of the history of Human Resources and you the Charted Institute for Personnel Development gives much more detail, but the question is what is HR in 2019? Or rather what should it be?

For many people, a Human Resources department seems like a back office only operation: maintaining the paperwork, reacting to complaints and monitoring performance. But as companies begin to face increased pressure, from management, employees and customers, the Human Resources department and the impact it has on a culture has never been more important.

The department is likely charged with finding and hiring the best talent, overseeing onboarding and training, managing benefits administration from payroll and insurance to absence and holidays, administering and validating performance appraisals, offering or approving personal development initiatives, handling workplace disputes and grievances, ensuring legal compliance to employee centred legislation, identifying and developing managers, monitoring turnover and succession planning, and holding exit interview. Even with the plethora of HR tools designed to solve each of these issues, managing all this while being accountable to both executive leadership and individual employees can be a tall order. How can we accomplish everything while still keeping the employee’s interest t heart?

The key to treating humans as resources seems to be treating them as well, or better than your customers. Enter the employee experience platform: far beyond a series of siloed systems requiring too many passwords and clicks, Such a platform delivers an integrated experience that not only eliminates the annoyances of HR requests but also streamlines solutions that enhance the overall experience of the employee.

Industry experts like Josh Bersin are confident that this new category of software will be the next big thing in Human Resources. Centralization of both employee and management tools will create better insights into the experience of employees and opportunities to improve the experience quickly.

Just as the field has adapted to changes workplace factors in the past, modern HR departments must adjust to support employees that increasing want flexibility, challenging and fulfilling roles and access to technology to help them perform. And in many sectors where talent is in high demand, it’s most important to not only attract the best fit, but also retain that talent and help them perform to their full potential throughout their employee lifecycle.

While we might often look to compensation and perks to solve retention issues, but engagement is arguably more important. An engaged employee is someone who “is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests.” Measuring and cultivate a culture of employees with this level of commitment and buy-in to company results requires careful consideration of all the factor that influence an employees’ experience.

Ready to learn more about employee experience platforms? Get in touch to see how PeopleGoal's highly configurable platform can help you take your first steps in improving your employee experience today.

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