Simplifying Human Resources to Engage Employees

by Sharlyn Lauby on August 26, 2014

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by our friends at Ultimate Software, a leading provider of people management solutions. They recently earned recognition from the site G2Crowd as a Leader in the HR software space based upon their high customer satisfaction scores. Congratulations! Enjoy the post.)

There’s a very interesting debate happening in human resources right now. It involves whether to split the human resources function. Several prominent voices in the HR thought leadership space have weighed in on the topic, including Ram Charan, Dave Ulrich, Josh Bersin, and John Boudreau.

Regardless of your view, I must admit it’s an exciting conversation. In fact, I think it’s a healthy examination of the profession and its future.

As I was reading these articles about splitting HR, it occurred to me that the profession is changing. Granted, maybe not as fast as some would like but the profession is changing. Because the business world and the workforce is changing.

Ultimate Software, hr software, hr tech, #hrtech, human resources, People First, hr

During this year’s Ultimate Software Connections Conference, Chief Technology Officer Adam Rogers shared with us that, since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 firms are gone.Obviously, some of this is directly attributed to the Great Recession but some of it has to do with the way work is changing. Mergers, acquisitions, and disruptive innovation are reshaping the business landscape.

Another shift in business is the new generation of workers. And I’m not necessarily talking about a specific age group. The new workforce is prepared to work anywhere and anytime. They represent almost 30% of the global workforce. They use three or more technology devices on a regular basis.

Onboarding and managing this workforce is different. We need new tools to make employees successful. In the book “Drive”, Dan Pink writes about the three things that employees want in their professional lives:

Autonomy – having control over their work

Mastery – learning opportunities to grow personally and professionally

Purpose – being able to connect with work

But the reality is these “anywhere, anytime workers” are completely overwhelmed. Complexity is killing productivity, creativity, and innovation. Complexity takes the form of being too connected – meetings, technology, etc. The thing that makes us effective and efficient, if overused, can create the opposite effect.

That’s why simplicity is key. Companies must simplify in order to engage the workforce. And if they do, they will see big results. Research shows shareholder returns for companies with engaged employees is 24% (versus 9%).

Focus, hr, Human Resource, split, change, Ultimate Software, simplify

I believe this is where some of the conversation about changing human resources comes from – the need to simplify human resources process to create a higher level of employee engagement. If human resources is successful in reducing the process side, then they would have more time for identifying and developing talent.

To simplify, one of the long standing HR processes has to change. Instead of the traditional employee life cycle focused on the events in an employee’s career, the cycle must focus on the employee discovering, unlocking, and fulfilling their potential. The person-centered life cycle creates employee engagement by focusing on:

  • Development. No more linear process. The cycle is continuous.
  • Performance. It’s not about where an employee is within the process. It’s about what they’re doing.
  • Relationships. The company and employee understand its simplicity can focus on employee success.

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To me, the interesting part about the person-centered life cycle is the impact it will have on human resources departments. It places emphasis in all the right places:

Talent: Employees are a key differentiator in businesses. Finding good talent continues to get challenging. Consumers demand a quality experience. This approach focuses talent acquisition and development efforts to supports the business’ goals.

Time: We simply do not have enough of it. Whether we’re dealing with a customer, candidate or employee, organizations have to be in the business of not wasting people’s time.

Transparency: Companies today realize that making their work open and accessible provides a competitive business advantage. Not only for customers, but in the war for talent.

In today’s labor market, candidates choose companies as much, if not more, than companies choose candidates. Candidates want to work at organizations that appreciate and will help develop their potential. Companies want to hire people who will work to their greatest potential.

If you want to learn how the person-centered life cycle can simplify your HR processes, reach out to Ultimate Software and schedule a demo. And, if you’re going to be at the HR Technology Conference in October, stop by their booth (#1935) and say hello. They will provide an exclusive look at their new UltiPro Onboarding solution  – register now to save your spot. Be sure to tell them HR Bartender sent you!

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Gauri August 26, 2014 at 7:30 am

I completely agree with your thoughts. In-fact we as HR fraternity get into the most complex processes and forget simple ways of inspiring & motivating an employee . Most of the big companies follow archaic HR processes with very few positive outcomes and the same is replicated by smaller companies. I have shared my thoughts on a similar topic on my blog here
https://sumanceshr.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/311/

Desiree August 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Thanks, Gauri. Nice post. UltiPro’s people-first architecture is built for how employees actually want to work.

Daniel Honigman August 26, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Congratulations again to the team at Ultimate for earning “Leader” recognition in our recent Grid report. Well deserved!

Desiree August 26, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Thank you so much, Daniel!

John September 4, 2014 at 5:42 am

I totally agree. Flexibility and autonomy are great but for that we need to streamline the communication and feedback, otherwise the “admin side” of things becomes overwhelming and stifles creativity. The right technology and applications can determine the success of a role and employee’s growth.

Ewa at iRevu September 21, 2014 at 6:14 am

I completely with the continuous development cycle model. Technology is profoundly impacting our lives at work and home and it’s no surprise that it can significantly help HR professionals too. If I were to choose one most important practice within this new paradigm, I’d say ongoing, real-time, many-to-many feedback.

"John Foster President/CEO Nocti Business Solutions" November 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

This is a great, very informative post. Human resources play an integral role in employee engagement and success. You provide some really great tips for HR to really engage employees.

Sharlyn Lauby November 13, 2014 at 8:52 am

Thanks for the comment!

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