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HR – please stop thinking in ‘years’


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HR is notorious for thinking in ‘years’. Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a look at many of the standard HR practices. 

  • Performance management is a dreaded practice that focuses on an annual review of performance that really ends up being more of a last-month review of whatever the manager (or 360-group) can remember. And do managers like it? No. Do employees? Heck no! Yet it’s that ‘check-box’ of completion that identifies what percentage raise you may get next year. 
  • Employee engagement surveys are meant to get a sense of how the employees are engaged with the workforce. You can’t get an accurate pulse of the employees if it happens once or twice a year, takes a month to tabulate and get results and then do focus groups based on the data to then learn more and act on it. When your top performers aren’t engaged, you can’t simply wait 11-months to know this and do something different about it.
  • Long-service awards are a practice that companies have been doing for 100 years now that focus on recognising and rewarding employees for years of service, traditionally starting at five years. Traditionally, it’s a pin or watch that ends up serving as paper-weights but is a form of reward that happens at an annual level, and happens whether you’re a rockstar employee or not. Companies often have this as their only reward and recognition strategy, which becomes focused on presence, not performance.

Well guess what HR, your employees don’t work in years and quarters, they work in days and hours. HR needs to be thinking more real-time in the type of programmes and initiatives they sponsor for their employees.  

Employees shouldn’t be having annual performance conversations, there needs to be structure of having them real-time or weekly. Annual engagement surveys need to disappear to focus on getting a pulse of how employees are feeling on a more weekly basis so your organisation can deal with smoke before fire when it comes to changing engagement levels. Your long service award programme at five years isn’t going to work as the average millennial tenure in organisations is less than that. We’re spinning our wheels with these types of programmes that aren’t helping the company and the employee.

And I wonder where it all came from? Is it a function of the HR group coming out of finance that looks at the world from a rearview mirror in annual and quarterly financial statements?

I’m not too sure, but one thing is certain: your employees work hourly and daily and your HR practices have to mimic that.  You need to not look in the rearview mirror, but forward to where employees are going.  But at the same time, you need to understand the annual and quarterly metrics of the business so that you can impact it with your people practices.

So next time you’re on your annual leave, think about coming back and looking at the world and your workforce a little differently.

One Response

  1. Start with recruitment. I
    Start with recruitment. I recall jobspecs stating more commercial experience in years than the Java Development Kit had been available. WTF!

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