This article is part of our new State of Employee Feedback Series which will interview a diverse mix of HR experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding their perspectives on the current state of and future of HR.
The following is an interview we recently had with Tom Laine, Internationally Acclaimed LinkedIn Expert, Social Recruitment and Employer Branding Trainer.
HR is cluttered with tasks, often split between serving the internal organisation with organisational development, leadership support, culture creation, payroll, lay-offs, training, planning, developing the employee experience, and what-not, whereas the other part of the job is to serve external audiences, manage recruitment marketing and job advertising, building up employer brand, joining recruitment events, running hiring days at educational institutes, and more, while trying to keep up with legislative changes, new technical tools and software, and who knows what else. This is all too much for any individual, even HR teams as a whole are struggling to find time and resources to manage this all and more. It's time for HR to change. HR needs to find their real purpose again, and to prove their worth to the top management to have access to the resources they need to build up the most valuable asset an organisation has: it's employees. The industry as a whole has a lot to prove!
I personally don't deal with employee feedback and reporting as such, but I see it being a key to developing the organisation, the employee experience, and through that the employer brand. eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) and likes are one of those metrics that are becoming a tool of the trade to manage the employee expectation, the day to day employee experience, and helping to understand what needs to be done to improve several aspects of it - such as working environment, tools, culture, values, leadership etc.
Tools are one thing, but internal communication is the key. It would be easy to just pick one of those fancy tech tools to create feedback loops and automated feedback collecting, reporting and analysis, but tech should never be in focus, it's just means to access the quiet data that employees all feel and even base their actions on.
My advice would be to first of all create a culture of openness (communication channels and trust), that people feel safe and secure to talk about anything that might burden their minds. Second thing would then be to collect that data into actionable points and priorities, how to improve any of the upcoming aspects, or to leverage the power of it, the positive aspects of the feedback. Leadership and values are often at the very core of it. How do we communicate that employees have been heard, and that we're working to improve all and any aspects that come up. And eventually, how do we make it visible to external audiences, that we are the kind of an organisation that treats employees with this level of love and respect, and acts upon issues fast and firmly.
The future of HR might well be to separate typical HR responsibilities into different sub-roles and joint roles with other operations, such as externally focused employer branding activities into joint operation with marketing, internal communications joint with HR's culture-building activities, payroll and legislative issues with the finance operations, and more.
HR - just like any other function within an organisation - can not operate alone, in a silo of its own. We need cross-functional teams and information sharing, joint operations with many typically separate functions. We can't afford to see sales, marketing, comms, HR, etc. as separate functions, even if separated in organisational structures. HR also needs to prove its worth to the top management to have access to the kind of resources it needs, and that means metrifying HR operations, to create ways to measure the impact of hiring, firing, building the employer brand or improving the culture. What does it cost and what is the ROI of it all? If we can't measure our impact, how can we expect to get the required resources to do our job now and in the future? Only numbers can prove our worth, and HR's worth is huge. It is sitting on top of the only thing we can build our organisation's success upon: our ability to attract and keep the best and most innovative workforce in our industry.
I personally don't see much change in my job, as HR tends to move slowly. I wish it didn't, but it does. Always has. So, I'll just keep my head down and keep working my butt off, trying to change the industry from within, one organisation, one case, one training at a time.