April 28, 2009

Impacting human resources positively!

Does your company have what it takes to impact employees positively?

While reading an interview of a CxO of an organization stating 'companies must impact employees positively', I had mixed reactions from my friends who tried to interpret the statement. Such statements mean different things to different people depending on their roles. Many want to primarily examine it by linking it with their monetary health. After all, it's all about money, isn't it? For all such individuals who want to look at it in that light only, there's nothing but disappointment.

Let's try and understand this from the perspective of a business leader: We live in a capitalist world, where the most important objective for any business and the business leaders is to create wealth for their shareholders (in an extended way, create value (may not be wealth) for stakeholders). With such objectives, anything that doesn't make a business sense can't, and will not find place in any corporate business organization. For example, let's get back to the statement 'impacting people positively'. What impact on employees would make business sense to a CxO? To paraphrase it, what impact by an organization on its employees would generate more wealth for the shareholders?

The following are 4 primary areas which I can think can impact employees and directly contribute towards creation of wealth:
  • Talent Development: Up-skilling through Training & Development interventions: Talent management finds its place on the top 3 agendas in any mature organization today. In simple terms it means ensuring that the right person with the exact skill-set requirement is available at the right place and at the right time. With various pressures of attrition, skill availability, pricing of talent etc., training and development of internal resources through various methodologies makes more business sense to any CxO.
  • Conducive Work Environment & Relations for performance: Ensuring required resources are available to employees is the first step to create conducive work environment in any organization. These resources may be hardware - physical resources, as well as software which includes policies, procedures, practices, communication channels among others. Another important aspect which has taken more significance is Employee relations – both horizontal (peers) and vertical (subordinate-supervisor) relations, and practices around the same.
  • Compensation: Fair & Equitable Pay: When it comes to compensation – the definition of fairness and equity has no uniformity between two individuals, more so with employers and employee. This conflict has always been, is, and shall always be. Everybody wants a greater share, not a fair one. Notwithstanding the fact that ‘exceptions are always there’, I support the first classical / rational school of thought with one of its basic assumptions: “Every human being works for monetary benefits.” Money makes the world go round, isn’t it? For organizations it means giving a pay that’s benchmarked against the market. Not necessarily the best.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Guess it won’t be a surprise to know this area is witnessing a loss of interest from employers. In fact, this focus on ‘employee satisfaction’ has evolved with the passing of time and various landmark studies of human behavior and other politico-economic movements. The focus has now shifted to what is called ‘employee engagement’.
So, we’re talking of impacting employees positively and what do business leaders mean when they say that? But, the questions thrown up by any employee to that is WIIFM (What’s in it for me)? Being a HR professional and interacting with employees – frustrated, separating, engaged, disengaged and all other types, this question is quite frequently thrown at me. But yes, if employees use their monetary health alone as a yardstick to measure organizational impact on them, it’s quite a myopic approach.

So, friend, considering all the facts above, is your company impacting its employees positively? At a macro level, you need to consider at least the above all areas. If they’re not being met, you’ve got serious issues.
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