In the view of Jon Ingham, HR consultant, author and blogger, the current obsession of HR practitioners to be seen as business people first and HR professionals second could seriously backfire.
Ingham talks to HRZone about how he thinks things need to change, the problems with the concept of employee engagement and why HR really must embrace social media:
Q. You take issue with the idea that HR people should consider themselves business people first. Why?
Q. In what way?
Q. What do you mean by that?
Q. So is it a question of engagement and of finding ways to motivate staff and increase loyalty?
HR literature, including HRZone, says that HR people need to understand the business and talk business language.
Hays’ and others’ surveys say the biggest issue is aligning people with organisational purpose. Often it’s not that people don’t know what they should be doing, but that the organisation interferes with their being able to do their jobs. So they are able to contribute but not to their whole potential – the organisation constrains them.
There’s a growing focus on the need for company culture to be customer-centric. I don’t disagree with that and yet I think there are two different focuses: people need to be part of what you create. The idea of business first, HR second really worries me because HR is starting to wear that as a bit of a badge of honour.
Q. You’re also adamant that HR should take more of an interest in social media, why is that?
IT professionals are doing some wonderful things in the social technology space, but my biggest gripe is the lack of involvement of HR folk. HR is just giving one more stick to the rest of the business to beat them with – one more example of HR being out of date, out of touch, and HR is often the last to get involved.
Q. How can social media help with performance management?
It’s not fun, it’s not compelling and it’s not easy – all of the things that mean it doesn’t work. As I started off saying, technology is never about technology – it’s about culture.