October 8, 2013

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Industry Outlook: Human Resources

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Industry Outlook: Human Resources

October 8, 2013

FENWICK: We’ve had to remind a lot of our hourly folks that if they’re working, they need to submit hours for that. It hasn’t been a big deal, but a few times we’ve had to remind people because we caught them working and—isn’t that weird? Isn’t that just backwards?

HERRING: I caught you working.

FENWICK: And so we said, “Look, we’re going to pay you your hours,” but we’re really loose on that. We just say, “Tell us what you worked, and we’ll pay you.”

THOMAS: The best we can do is educate the employees and say, “As a company, we really want to pay you for your work.” The problem I run into is a lot of these people, they don’t see it as work.  

CRAGUN: The lines are just becoming so blurred. When we can just carry our devices around and have our personal line, our work e-mail account right there—I’m just answering stuff all over.

THOMAS: I keep telling my people to carry two phones.

POWLEY: I see that a lot with our professionals and our employees. It’s a 24/7 kind of culture, and what that impacts is their work/life balance. They get an e-mail at 11 at night from their boss, and they’re feeling pressure to respond at midnight, and then they’re working at 1 a.m. via their phones.

This whole social media piece is something that I totally embrace because it’s the future, you know. Websites are kind of going out, and apps are in. I’m looking at how do I deliver development on the app. How do I deliver a training course? It used to be in the classroom. Do it on the app and maybe have more ongoing learning. So there’s just things that we have to shift.

It changes the competencies of our HR professionals. Do I have some of my team that can quickly develop an app or can put together a communication strategy that embraces social media for the organization? That’s where, as HR, we’re going to be tested.

FENWICK: The more that our work life bleeds into our personal life, the more our personal life should bleed into our work life. If we send somebody on a business trip, we say, “Bring your family.” We invite everybody’s family to come in and be with them during the workday. We find that productivity happens when it happens, and people are a lot more happy and a lot more productive when they don’t have to try to find a boundary line. But if they want to go to a soccer game in the middle of the day, they go to a soccer game; then they’re going to work at midnight. But they don’t see it as problem; they embrace it, generally.   

What’s happening to the status of HR? Is human resource management being viewed as more or less vital to the strategic direction of organizations?

COTTERELL: Everything that is brought to the table, everything that needs to be implemented within a company, starts with HR. So the role is becoming more and more critical, and some of the most successful companies do recognize the value that HR brings. They’re not just a cost center; they’re actually bringing value.  

CRAGUN: You can structure out all your processes, make them very efficient, refine them, make it work the leanest way you can, the fastest way with less errors—but at the end of the day, it’s people that do the work. So if you have really great people doing those tasks in that workflow, you’re going to have efficiency. But if you have problems with the workforce—you’re not hiring the right people, they’re not trained, you’ve got a bad manager, you’ve got a poor work environment—you won’t meet your target. And leaders will increasingly recognize that they should have had the HR people at the table designing this so that they didn’t have the workforce issues. But if there’s no vision, no target, no goals and no accountability, it’s less likely you’re going to be at the table.

DASH: What I’ve seen a lot is the decision-makers of various organizations are not bringing HR into the conversations to align their needs and assure that HR has skin in the game as well. I partner with HR; I partner with hiring managers. I can’t tell you how many times I have the exact opposite conversations in the same day with both parties, and it’s a communication gap. A lot of times these senior-level hiring managers look at HR more as a roadblock than a partner.

HERRING: It’s a value proposition. If you’re adding value to the organization, whatever that value is—whether it’s the initiatives of the executive, whether it’s the financial understanding, integration of the department—where you end up becoming strategic is when you’re adding value in the organization.

If you’re going to stay back and focus on your paying and hiring and firing, you’ll probably be a personnel shop. If you’re helping wade through the critical issues of affordable care, of increasing healthcare insurance, of the immigration issues, of dealing with the things that really do matter to the C-level suites, then I don’t think it’s a question of whether you are strategic with them.

BULLOCK: You have to step up to the table and not be that person that’s the roadblock and telling them everything they’re doing wrong, but providing them solutions and how to better the company and taking that responsibility on yourself.  

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