Without a doubt, people are an organization’s most important asset. A company’s performance and results depend largely on the passion and commitment of its people.
Therefore, one of the most important functions of a human resources department is to create a positive work climate and a corporate culture that allows employees to connect their personal goals to the company ones, and to live the lives they are longing for. Performance improves when people find purpose in their role at work and see the connection between their work and the company goals.
However, statistics paint an unflattering picture. According to Gallup reports, less than 1 out of 3 professionals in Europe are committed to their functions. The inverse figures point to a sad reality: at least 65% of all workers show up for work in body, but not in heart and mind. Their commitment to the company and to their functions is practically nonexistent. At least 65% of all workers show up for work in body, but not in mind.
The human resources field therefore faces a major challenge: it must reinvent itself by tapping into available data and using them challenge individuals towards purposeful work and enable individuals to connect into positive teams rather than enforcing silo behavior that withholds individuals and teams from shining. Marketing, sales, and logistics have done an about-face, turning the spotlight on the customer and improving their performance through the use of data and technology, but human resources has yet to make a significant effort in this regard. Human resources must close this gap and assume its rightful position alongside the upper management in order to become a true driver of business success.
One of the most important functions of a human resources department is to create a positive work climate.
Winning people back: a few milestones
Workers begin to disengage from the company the minute they define their career path according to the traditional image: a ladder they must climb, step by step, until the end of their active life. In fact, it is not uncommon for companies to fire workers who refuse to follow this development model. In recent years, the concept of a professional career has expanded to encompass more flexible paths. The new normal is for people to perform one function today and tackle another challenge tomorrow in a different department.
Standard people-management techniques have traditionally been based on compliance and job descriptions. These approaches often encourage employees to perform their functions individually and in silos, isolated from the work of their colleagues. The goals of one department are often at odds with those of other departments that it must interact with. Even worse are the usual remuneration systems based on standard average performance and the official job descriptions, which are as vague as they are replicable in 90% of companies. How can this sort of standardization add value to the business if it does not take professionals’ true potential or individual expectations into account?
Some companies have cracked the code. A company that works in entertainment and video games provides a good example: the workers themselves are responsible for writing the employee handbook and updating it as they go along. Employees have collective objectives and no hierarchical superiors; everyone is responsible for their own functions and focused on achieving the big-picture goal. All workers have desks equipped with wheels, for two reasons: 1) it allows people to move around and work with different teams on specific projects, and 2) it reminds employees that they can change their point of view.
Another basic function of the human resources department is to hire the best people—those who really fit in with the organization. Commitment levels tend to peak the minute a candidate is selected for a job. In many cases, however, a certain amount of time passes before the new employee actually occupies the post. Few companies communicate effectively with new hires during this period. Commitment therefore starts to dwindle as soon as the person is selected. If, as is usually the case, the organization does not have a good onboarding protocol—including orientation and initial training—the new employee’s enthusiasm will suffer even further.
Any organization can design new techniques that truly add value to the business and position human resources as a high-level decision-making department.
Technology and behavioral fitness
Over the course of a typical workday, professionals have countless interactions, meetings, exchanges of information with colleagues, etc., that have an impact on their behavior.
Increasing employees’ commitment and helping them engage in more productive and effective behaviors requires more than just a two-day training process. You have to drill down and find out, on an individual basis, what behaviors or attitudes are affecting the team. Access to information and regular feedback is very helpful in making these sorts of improvements.
New technologies have made it possible to develop sociometric devices that provide detailed information about individual and team performance. We know the characteristics of a good team: a balance between listening and participation; cohesion (in which body language plays a fundamental role); and people who talk to each other rather than going straight to the boss. With these new sociometric devices, we can record aspects such as body orientation while speaking, voice inflection, active participation, listening, etc., and use this data to evaluate the success of meetings and the progress of the group as well as each individual member.
By adopting a different approach and taking advantage of new technologies, human resources can win people back and help to create a suitable work climate where employees are responsible for generating positive behaviors that boost team performance. With a dose of creativity, any organization can design new techniques of this sort that truly add value to the business and position human resources as a high-level decision-making department. Tech is an enabler to reach the goal of connecting employees to the company goal. True attention and investment into employees’ happiness and purposeful jobs are the game changer.
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