HR professionals work closely with employees, managers, and other organizational stakeholders – often, their interactions place them in a position to build strong relationships. They can better understand employees’ needs and concerns across levels, leading to processes that aim at effective communication and collaboration. With strong inter-personal skills, HR professionals hold the leverage to positively impact employees they work with. By listening actively, they can intuitively identify the undercurrents & propose solutions to address the root cause. While the HR professionals have the potential to impact multiple stakeholders within the organisation – right from an individual employee up until the executive team, this article focuses solely on how HR department can help employees succeed.
Here are 7 ways HR department can help their employees succeed:-
1. Planning for the career
Career development & planning is a focus word for many employees. But few understand how to go about it. At times, employees equate hopping jobs to career development & planning – which, of course, is plain wrong. Thus, HR department does have a pivotal part to play in helping employees develop & plan their careers.
HR professionals can shape an organization’s culture by helping employees chalk out their development plans. With a bird’s eye visibility into an employee’s activities, HR folks have the capacity to develop growth plans focused on – upcoming needs of the organisation vs current skillsets of the employee, support for function/project change to meet the employee aspirations, career progression & competency graduation in the next 2-3 years etc.
Human Resources departments are in the thick of it all in matters involving employee growth, and they can create individualized career trajectories for employees in collaboration with their managers. Sensitizing employees about their own potential & company’s future needs, they can create a win-win situation for employees as well as the organisation. HR teams can also keep in check when employees are steering away from the career development path that was created for them.
2. Constant education
Due to the needs of their roles, HR professionals always have an eye on what skills are currently hot in the market & which are the ones likely to become important in near future. They can use this informed intuition to identify gaps in an employee’s current expertise & help them clear their blind spots through learning & development programs.
This knowledge accumulation & expertise building need not rely solely on formal means such as certifications & classroom trainings. HR departments can push employees to impart knowledge on each other through programs that promote learning osmosis.
With a deeply held expertise in labor laws & matters of compliance, HR folks also have the capacity to guide employees around dos & don’ts in their professional journeys. There is no dearth of learning programs – ranging right from the ones focused on technical skill enhancements to soft skills improvements to cultural/gender sensitization ones.
3. Managing the managers
Growth of an employee is as much dependent on their manager as it is on the employee’s own performance. Because, eventually it will be the manager who will orchestrate the employee’s performance management cycle.
HR departments need to direct equal, if not more, amount of efforts in making the managers competent enough to build a growth oriented & forward looking team. With programs for first time managers & leadership aspirants, HR team can execute a multi-dimensional people focused strategy.
4. Reinforce creativity and innovation
A supportive and engaging work environment enhances employee satisfaction and retention while enabling creative problem-solving. HR departments can foster such behaviors with buy-in from the executives. Supported by awards & recognitions, certain behaviors that lead to creative & innovative approach at work can be incentivized. Whether these incentives are at individual or at the team level can also have different impact on the company culture.
At the same time, disincentivizing the routine & lethargic behavior will guarantee that creativity & innovation are reinforced at all levels. Institutionalizing these traits is a challenge that can only be overcome by a resourceful HR team that embodies these traits in itself.
5. Offer a flexible work schedule
HR departments can gain a lot of goodwill by advocating a flexible work schedule for the employees. They can even go a step further & measure the positive impact of such an initiative and showcase it to the executive team. Some organisations will be inherently good at accepting these kind of changes whereas the others would require a little bit of carrot & stick approach. HR professionals should identify what will make the change stick & then lead the change management in that context.
Real challenge is not to offer a flexible work schedule, but to create an environment that is supportive of the underlying change. This will mean encouraging frequent feedback conversations, clear goal setting & ongoing check-ins.
6. Supporting internal promotions
Conducting thorough analysis before developing the job description allows HR teams to help managers clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications required for the position. Providing opportunities for professional development can also see healthy competition for promotions and additional duties.
HR professionals can quickly close positions (for the benefit of the organisation) by supporting promotions internally (for the benefit of the employees). This requires internal infrastructure that helps the HR department easily identify talent that can be a good fit for the upcoming promotion. The growth path that employees see within the organization can attract ambitious candidates even for future jobs.
7. Use Data to manage the employees
If the HR department is capable of being data driven in addition to having high EQ, in all likelihood, it will have the best impact on an employee’s all round growth. HR teams are in possession of data for the entire employee lifecycle. Right since the employee applied for an open position in the organisation up until her last day with the team. Putting that data to use – at macro & micro level can mean a world of difference to the employee experience. Data can also allow HR professionals to identify patterns and trends contributing to high turnover levels and implement strategies to improve retention rates.
Performance management, a significant part of the human resource management, can be elevated using data analytics. The processes can be used to track and identify areas of excellence and those where improvement can be achieved. With the managers, HR teams can provide targeted support and coaching and determine ideal compensation factors relevant to the workforce. The diversity and inclusion metrics can help HRs to identify areas to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
HR departments have a lot at stake to ensure employees succeed, not only in their current role, but in their careers, holistically. This will subsequently guarantee that the organisation succeeds in its endeavor.
With some of the focus areas we discussed here, it is quite apparent that HR professionals have a bigger role to play even at an individual employee level than the credit they usually get for.