For decades, there has been a negative stigma against Human Resources. Human resources have been based on being the department that is seen by many as “a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change.” However, if companies are trying to change, whether to become more successful or better corporate citizens, a flexible and smart HR department is vital. The company goals won’t be achieved if the company does not have the right people and the right support in place. In addition, it’s essential for HR to evolve with the market. Something that worked twenty years ago may not necessarily work today. Millennials are the next large generation to enter the workforce and are considered to be bright young individuals who want to help a business change. So how does the role of HR drive positive change after the Millennials show up?
Firstly, let them do what they have to do and get out of the way. Seemingly pointless processes and paperwork – this is the HR that drives people crazy. Tom DiDonato, the head of human resources at Lear, an auto-part manufacturer, claims that sometimes the best thing HR can do to enable change is to do less. For example, basing compensation on performance reviews created stress and stifled the candor that people need to improve and innovate. Instead, the company decided to base its pay on market conditions, and awards and promotions were given for good performances. Don’t get hung up on a process that everybody hates.
Secondly, help the company do good by channeling the company’s talent and resources to help improve both bottom line and society as a whole. For example, Eileen Fisher recently launched its plan to improve the environmental and social sustainability of its entire supply chain. Implementing this vision requires intensive cross- disciplinary cooperation. It’s company leaders from manufacturing, design, production, and other functions have weekly calls and monthly in-person meetings. Eileen Fisher promotes a culture based on collaboration. Instead of having one CEO, it has a “facilitating leader team” of seven executives. This culture is carefully nurtured by the HR team.
Thirdly, the “unconscious bias” that many HR executives face. In today’s society, racism hand gender disparities are still major problems. Companies should consider implementing systems and regulations that produce equality within the workforce. Companies like Google developed a program that assists employees to notice their deeply held perceptions and identify ways to counter them. After going through the program, findings show that ninety percent of Google workers not only know what bias looks like but feel like they have an obligation to step in and intervene. Fighting bias, conscious or unconscious, may be the best thing that HR can do for any employee and company.
In conclusion, a Human Resources department is more than just a group processing the payroll or handling the hiring season. Human Resources plays a vital role in developing a company’s strategy, as well as nurturing and growing the employees. Many companies are taking the time and effort to build a stronger and effective human resource team, which will pay off in the long term.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.