A human resource outfit should ideally be the embodiment of every other unit or department within an organization; they act as an interface between employees and executive management in the daily operations of an organization.
Perceptions about the efficacy of the HR department’s performance are often wide and varied amongst employees and top management alike, and this is often fueled by a lack of telepathy between the HR outfit and other departments.
This presents a situation where HR has to consciously work out the balancing act of demystifying the aura surrounding their work while ensuring cohesion and harmony between various departments in the organization. As the nerve center of every organization, HR practitioners need to focus on the sensitive nature of their role in the organization in tending to the needs of staff members. HR units should naturally take it upon themselves to be the de facto shareholders of the company by owning every problem that arises in the institution and solving it amicably. Therefore, it is crucially important that HR pays close attention to often-overlooked factors in the everyday interaction with employees and senior management alike.
Communication is vital to the sustainability of every organization. HR is supposed to take center stage in communicating with all staff members. Anywhere that there is a deficit in communication, HR should quickly step in to fill that void. Communication from HR normally takes falls within three different levels, the first of which is general communication to all staff within the organization. This comes in the form of message blasting through emails, a notice board, staff meetings, and other noticeable means of communication. This type of communication is of a generic character, and close attention should be paid to the fine details to make it easily understood by all recipients. Any distortion in decoding such messages is often blamed on HR, and this is what often breeds friction between employees and the HR unit. The net effect is how the rank and file in the organization erroneously sees HR as an uncaring entity that is only interested in enforcing organizational policies without soliciting the necessary feedback from staff members.
On the back of this concern comes the second level of communication relating to the individual engagement between HR and employees. Even though the generic dissemination of information may be effective for many messages, a more desirable outcome may be achieved when HR tries to get up close and personal. Oftentimes there are many things that HR does behind the scenes to secure the general well-being of all employees, but staff members may not appreciate it due to a lack of effective communication. HR should occasionally schedule one-on-one engagement with staff members to have a quality conversation on issues of mutual interest. This forum affords employees the opportunity to give useful feedback to HR on general happenings in the organization while HR can seize the chance to explain in detail various programs, policies, and objectives and the expectations of the management from the staff in order to move toward its achievement. This mutual engagement can potentially clear up any doubts that employees, especially those in the junior rank, have about HR.
The final leg of the communication is the intermediary one where HR mediates the dissemination of information between executive management to all employees and vice versa. The lack of cohesion that sometimes exists between the leadership and the employees is usually due to a lack of communication. The responsibility for this falls squarely on the lap of HR to help bridge the gap for the peaceful coexistence of management and employees alike. More often than not, employees labor under the mistaken belief that HR may be in cahoots with senior leadership to squeeze them into whatever the organization wants them to be. It is often the fundamental breakdown in communication that gives rise to these perceptions. HR, therefore, comes in handy to bridge the yawning communication gap that could potentially lead to conflict among executive management and employees. It is also important that HR desists from taking sides during this type of intermediary communication lest they incur the wrath of both sides. Employees expect the best of representation from HR when relaying their concerns on remuneration and staff well-being to management. In contrast, management expects HR to convey the best of intentions from management on productivity and strict adherence to organizational policies to their employees.
TREATING EMPLOYEES AS CUSTOMERS
In today’s fast-paced organizational structure, employers do not leave anything to chance in attracting the crème de la crème of employees to work with. When such employees join an organization, the best possible way to retain them is to treat them much the same way we treat external clients of the organization. This responsibility once again falls within the domain of the HR outfit, as HR is responsible for onboarding these staff members and successfully integrating them into the organization.
External clients are often perceived as the organization’s lifeline; they are seen as the ones who advance employees their paychecks at the end of the month. Employees are therefore admonished to give them the utmost care lest the company lose its lifeblood. HR should treat the company’s employees in a similar manner to its clients, then. Since they do not routinely manage external clients, they are supposed to take all staff members of the organization as their customers who give them their paychecks every month. Employees in an organization mostly perceive HR as a unit that does not appreciate the hassle employees go through every day to keep the organization afloat. The cure for this issue is for the HR unit to identify with their everyday needs regarding performance on the job, incentives, and general well-being for escalation to the appropriate quarters for resolution. Employees who feel pampered and well catered for, like external clients, tend to give their best while on the job, which goes a long way to increase productivity.
Internal marketing, according to Porter’s five forces matrix, is the rapport that exists between employees and management. HR often coordinates this relationship, which also enhances the staff and HR relationship.
In assessing employee performance, HR must be considerate of certain genuine challenges that may hamper employees’ abilities to meet set targets and fashion out possible ways of helping them improve. A typical case would be an assessment conducted in the COVID era, which has obviously impacted business entities immensely. Employees may not take it lightly if HR does not show any compassionate consideration in difficult periods, such as what the world is currently experiencing when assessing employee performance. An example of a remedial measure to support staff in these difficult times might include placing a staff member on a performance improvement plan with the aid of a department head or an experienced team.
In summary, the HR-employee relationship should be seen as a continual process in an organization, one that requires the regular engagement of both employees and human resources to perfect the process, rather than a singular event. But most importantly, the human resource management division should always take center stage in these transactions.
Phidelia Johnson is a global Human Resources Practitioner with eighteen years of leadership success. With a focus on streamlining Human Resources administration, she’s well-equipped to find the right solution to a myriad of concerns. Her experience as a commercial business leader gives her a unique ability to advocate for both the employer and the employee.
In her down time, Phidelia is a master of her kitchen, creating wonderful dishes filled with passion and flavor. If she’s not cooking delicious food, she’s stretched out with a good book. She hopes to use her experience to help others, guide company leaders to best practices, and help build better professionals and stronger organizations.