The “Human” in “Human Resources”

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “HR”? Policies? Recruitment? Training? Benefits? The list goes on doesn’t it?

“HR” is one of the most interesting functions in any organisation. How many times have we heard the phrase “Go and ask HR” or “Talk to HR”. Surprisingly “HR” seems to have all the answers, or is that the case?

As an employee of any organisation, we often look at the company we work for and refer to groups of individuals collectively, such as “management” or “the company”. Often, we hear things like “management says this” or “the company is trying to cut cost” etc. We would also notice that “HR” is often being “implicated” as they are usually seen as the representative of “management” or “the company”.

So, what is “HR” actually? Are they an organisation function, the personification of “the company”, or the default representative of management?

In some of my recent articles, I talked about issues and challenges in keeping employees engaged, happy and motivated.
(Article: What is HR going to do about the World Cup?)
(Article: “Benefits” – attracting and retaining your best talents)

The articles touched on topics such as “flexibility at work” and “creativity with employee benefits”. The common theme in both articles is the creative (maybe provocative) approach to traditional HR practices.

Organisation workforce evolves over time, and employees’ needs and wants change. It was reported on a survey finding by Gallup in Oct 2013 that “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work” and this low workplace engagement offers opportunities to improve business outcomes.

This could mean a few things, namely:

  • Traditional practices and benefits are becoming the norm and companies need to get creative in creating a differentiator
  • Employees are getting more sophisticated in what they are looking for in a career/ job
  • No one size fits all solutions; different employees have different needs and wants
  • Historical baseline is no longer valid where the business environment had changed.
    For example:
  • Businesses are highly connected
  • Information is readily available
  • Higher level of transparency in the supply and demand of talent
  • Employees are becoming more mobile and global

So, if HR is going to be the personification of “the company”, or the default representative of management, than the “HR” today needs to take a serious look at how they can better engage their employees and keep them engaged to bring out the best in them.

Eric Wong is Head of Talent Acquisition & Development (APAC) at Polycom, and blogs about how video collaboration can benefit the HR function on Polycom’s “The View from APAC“. Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.