I’ve been thinking about human resources and, specifically, each individual that works in the department. For years, you’ve been bombarded with people telling you to rebrand yourself and the service you provide your organization. I’d like to take that a step further and give some suggestions of things that you as a HR leader or practitioner can do to make a meaningful difference.
HR is often a faceless part of the organization. We often operate behind the scenes with few employees understanding our value. When you think about what percentage of your employee population knows you are the person supporting them, would that number be high or low? If you think that number is low, what is the reason?
I believe that every HR pro should be a visible, integral part of the business. Employees of all levels should know who you are and that you are a trustworthy source they can seek out for advice and assistance. YOUR face should be the one that employees think of when they think of HR in your company. If I were asked to describe my “ideal” HR department, it would be one in which every HR pro would:
- Know the business: Speak the language of the particular industry they support.
- Understand the financials: Financial knowledge is key to being able to strategically advise leadership on people issues.
- Be honest: HR should not sugarcoat what is going on. The only way to really make things better is to examine the issue at hand.
- Encourage innovation: Include HR at all levels in brainstorming to truly challenge the traditional ways of doing things. Some processes will remain the same. Others will be taken to new and better levels.
- Be recognized publically (internally AND externally): Other work teams publicize their “wins.” So should HR.
How do we get to the ideal? We RISE to a new level of awareness:
- Reduce or outsource administrative functions where possible
- Innovate to come up with fresh approaches to HR
- Spread the word about what HR is and what it isn’t, and really publicize HR “wins” and successes
- Engage all levels of the organization. You do this by creating, attending and participating in grassroots efforts to help HR evolve.
Most importantly, don’t tear down your own field. Don’t be the part of HR that tries to slow or stop the momentum of the people who really are trying to expand the reach and understanding of HR. Live what you’re preaching. Get involved. Make it happen. Good things don’t happen overnight, so do your part every day to encourage change.
The benefit of thinking about how HR is currently viewed and ways to consciously brand the department and HR pros is that you will actually put yourself in the position of being a barrier to exit for employees at risk of leaving. Think about that. One of the best ways HR can create business value is by reducing voluntary turnover of solid performers. By being someone that employees trust, you’ll hear about any issues as they arise, not as the employee is walking out the door.
Tell me what you’re doing, or have done, to build a brand of trust with your employees.
–Trish McFarlane, VP of Human Resources Practice
and Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group