It may seem hard to believe, but back when the Disco Era came in, the Age of the “Personnel” Department went out — and Human Resources took its place.
It was back in the mid-1970s when what had been primarily a compliance and clerical department known as Personnel started to change and focus more on training, talent management, and eventually employee engagement.
Where there was once a “Personnel Director,” there was now a Vice President for Human Resources, and eventually, a Chief HR Officer. The music of the time may have been Disco, but the modern Human Resources Era had begun.
Becoming a Strategic Business Partner
This shift from Personnel to Human Resources was accompanied by a call for HR to become a strategic partner with the leaders of the business, — to represent how talent factored into significant business decisions, to advise top leadership on the necessary talent needed to make critical transitions, and, to train, grow, and develop employees into a critical resource that would help drive the business towards its larger business goals.
To do this, an organization’s top Human Resources leader — whether it be a CHRO, VP of Human Resources, or perhaps even a Chief People Officer — would need to be part of the company’s senior leadership team.
Yes, HR would need to have “a seat at the table” with the rest of the organization’s top executives.
As one Vice President of Human Resources wrote in Forbes:
“Organizations stand to gain a lot of value from having HR at the table. Our job is to care, nurture and discipline. We build trust while setting the tone of the organization. How we welcome and train each new hire determines the course and the direction of the company. Having a seat at the table allows us insight into the minds of the leadership team and expectations of the department.”
4 Ways to Nurture Employees and Build Better Relationships
Nurturing employees is a critical role for every HR leader, and doing so DOES determine the direction of the company. It’s a crucial role that is just now getting more attention.
With that, here are four (4) ways to do so and build a better relationship with your employees and help to nurture their development for mutual success:
- Communicate more to build better trust. Communication is the key to building better employee relationships, and that means taking the time and effort to share what you can with them — good news, bad news, any news. You simply can’t communicate too much, and it’s always better to be as open and transparent as possible. The more knowledgeable employees are about your business, the better work they’ll do — and the happier they’ll be.
- Do everything possible to build better employee engagement. You know this to be true: An engaged employee doesn’t just show up to collect a paycheck but genuinely feels like they are a big part of the organization’s overall success. When an employee genuinely loves their job and the people they work with, they feel valued and emotionally involved with both the company AND their own position in it. Human Resources needs to use every opportunity to talk to employees, hear what’s on their mind, and measure how they feel about the job. The better connected HR is to them, the better connected they will be to the larger organization. This is crucial for developing better employee engagement.
- Closely focus on the needs of your employees. All too often, managers and Human Resources get into the mode of talking AT A better option is to sit back and listen to them instead — about their lives, their goals, their thoughts and feelings. How do they feel about the company and their role in it? Where do they see their career going? What can you do to help them to get there? Asking open-ended questions and then closely listening to the answers can give you better insight into not only what they want in their career, but how it can help the larger organization reach the company’s business goals.
- Say “thank you” regularly and show that you really care. Even though your employees are colleagues that you see on the job daily, they don’t solely exist between working hours. That makes it even more important that you respect them as parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, volunteers and everything else they are outside of the work environment. Let them know that you are there as a resource to help them achieve their individual career ambitions. And, make sure you say, “thank you!” and praise them for a job well done. Make it a point to genuinely thank employees for their work at the end of every conversation you have with them, because a little appreciation can go a long way.
Evolving Beyond Compliance
Nurturing your workers, building better employee engagement, and helping people to develop and grow in their jobs isn’t easy, but it is critical to long-term business success. Businesses that have built great cultures by developing and nurturing employees over a long period of time — think of one like Southwest Airlines — show just how successful a human resources-focused strategy can be.
As the Harvard Business Review recently noted, “It’s never been more important for companies to treat employees well and fairly — but it has also never been more complicated to do so.”
That’s where the modern Human Resources Department comes in.
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, always made the point that HR should be “the most vital part of the company,” as important as finance. He went on to draw this analogy: If you were managing a baseball team, who would you rather talk to –- the team accountant or the director of player personnel?
In Jack Welch’s world, Human Resources was not only a key part of the business, but he believed that HR people in the organization needed to have special qualities to help the managers throughout the organization grow talent and drive more employee engagement.
It’s not hard to see that Jack Welch is right. Human Resources DOES need to have special qualities, and we’re seeing more and more of them in smart organizations every single day.
Today’s Human Resources Department has evolved way beyond its “personnel” roots and now is all about finding great talent, developing great talent, and keeping great talent.
Nurturing workers, building better engagement, and helping people grow into bigger and better roles in the larger organization, is all part of that equation as we build better businesses for the 21st Century.
HappyOrNot is proud to play a role in the ongoing development of smart employee engagement practices. Not only do we embrace the historical underpinnings of Human Resources, but we have the tools and experience to help you grow a high-performing and engaged workforce.
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