Guest Blog By Glenn G Jones
What a great opening heading; however, ask yourself this very pertinent question, why is HR having to state this in the first place and almost defend the position of “why”? Something which I have addressed in my new book. You could argue that anything after this in this article is secondary and if you are interested in my thoughts on the question please do see my book.
Consider this also, there is only one main reason why HR should be considered, but, let me go one stage further and state that it should be built into the DNA of the CEO and Board and the word considered should not even exist! Remember we hear the same business mantra day-in and day-out which states that people are the biggest asset (sorry I am not a fan of the word but it’s the one most coined) so why HR should absolutely be front and centre and at the heart of the strategic and operational direction of any company/business or organisation.
No matter what a company makes, no matter what services it provides, no matter what innovation it employs or no matter what structure it adopts, people are the heart-beat of any business.
HR knows this, but it’s a constant surprise to me that so many companies don’t.
With this is mind, here are my six reasons why HR should not be ignored.
They stop companies from making the same mistakes.
While writing my book on how HR can change the world, I was amazed to discover from my research how many former HR directors have taken the step into the CEO’s role. It doesn’t make for great reading.
This is great news for people who believe that decisions should be made on financial grounds, however, bad news for those who realise that companies are powerless to do anything if they don’t get their employees onside or hire the right people to get them where they want to go.
This role, I believe, belongs to HR people, who have the skills and ability to stop their companies from making errors, if only they were given the chance. There are plenty examples which invariably always make the headlines when they go spectacularly wrong.
They can inform CEOs how their strategy will impact on their employees by being included in the decision making
This is so obvious that it seems barely worth mentioning it, until you consider the well-publicised example of the company Uber, whose growth was so rapid, thanks to the technology it was able to harness, that it lacked the human resources function vital to such a large organisation.
The result says it all.
Like I say, it sounds fundamental, yet companies still fail to learn the lesson.
They help you get the best from your workforce – present and future
The website glassdoor.co.uk is probably the best reason why it is time for companies to set aside a chair in the boardroom for an HR director that I can think of.
Nobody expects to have a job for life and as a result people know more know that they ever did about their next potential employer and the ‘Millennials’ and the rise of social media allows them to be fussy about where they go next.
This is where a HR director would be highly valuable and extremely influential, not only because they will be able to keep the CEO in touch with staff morale, but also because they can impress upon them what the company needs to do to be attractive to the next generation of talent.
Remember the biggest battleground in industry over the next few years will be talent and this cannot be underestimated.
They can recommend ways to engage employees/people (yes real people) in changes
It is one thing suggesting a change in direction or structure and another to predict how employees will react to it, but a third consideration is how to implement it. This, I suggest, is vital, because understanding how you roll out a new programme or strategy to your employees should be considered at the planning stage. By calculating the method, you start to understand what is possible and there are no nasty surprises waiting down the line.
A good HR professional, with their ear to the ground, a heightened emotional intelligence and the ability to canvas opinion, will be able to advise on implementation even before the idea has moved beyond the planning stage.
Gone are the days (due to technology (social media)) when employees ability to speak out about their grievances was limited and, more importantly, following the rise of the #metoo movement, the definition of what constitutes harmless behaviour and banter etc. Responsible companies need to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them, so HR departments need to have in place robust definitions of acceptable behaviour and language.
Companies need to have transparency right through the company and if HR professionals are to be the standard bearer for ensuring employees do their work without experiencing harassment or offence, then businesses should make sure they are being seen to be doing that job at every level of the company – including inside the boardroom.
You can learn from them and be coached by them
Nobody in HR expects a free lunch and, in my book, I come down very hard on the HR profession. I believe that HR are the architects of our own downfall because we are not taking the steps we need to force our way back into the boardrooms and into the CEO’s seat.
We are stuck in an HR bubble, undertaking the “same-old same-old” below deck rather than taking the wheel on the bridge of the ship, simply because we are not evolving as professionals and showing why our skills are relevant to the task of steering the whole business with a few tweaks.
In summary, HR should be considered in top-level management and right now generally it’s not. We have listed six items here but there are plenty more e.g. learning and development, the impact on AI and Robots on the workforce, wellbeing etc etc. Imagine what your company could gain (people engagement, financial growth, reputation) by including HR and ask yourself the question as to why HR is not there for you?
Glenn is a freelance HR consultant and has worked with Bank of America, HSBC, Ecolab and Imperial Brands in multi-discipline strategic and operational roles across the world. Prior to this he was employed Eversheds LLP, Accenture, Koorb (NZ) and EON as well as numerous other companies. He is working his way to his PHD, becoming a future CEO and evolving his HR consultancy business to ensure that he continually adds value to his clients, now and in the future. Glenn is passionate about coaching, emotional intelligence and company evolution. His new book ‘Human Resources Changes the World’ aims to disrupt the field of HR and change the traditional approach to who becomes a CEO.