Timely for HR professionals to be guiding stars

Timely for HR professionals to be guiding stars

Talking HR with Melissa Norman – biz.thestar.com.my

POET and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said of adversity, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

In the gloom of today’s economy and the uncertainty created by leadership changes or “questionable” leadership in some cases, both employers and employees are seeking guidance through the storm. For those of us in the talent industry, now is the time for us to be the stars these folks seek. Yes, this is the best time for human resource (HR) professionals, whatever our capacity, to shine.

Fast-changing developments these days demand the best of every executive, manager and front line employee. In other words, the best person for every job with the highest skills and productivity, and equipped with the best or latest tools to succeed. We are also talking about suitable seating arrangements, easy access to needed data and relevant co-workers.

To top it all off, it needs to be a space free from anxieties and distractions. Translation: free from internal politics. We have enough to deal with outside, thank you very much!

In a recent report released by Conference Board CEO 2011, talent and elements involving the soft skills abilities of talent are what kept many leading CEOs up late at night.

This is why they are turning more and more to their HR department and why it is vital for us to seize this expectation of leadership. It is also why we really need to stand out for CEOs who don’t turn to us first in challenging times. Yes, this is our chance to make an impression and a positive difference.

There is no guilt in pulling opportunity from misfortune here. Did you know that before announcing his run for the presidency, John F. Kennedy highlighted a relatively unknown fact to the very Western thinking crowd gathered? He shared that when written in Chinese, the word “crisis” has two characters one represents danger, and the other opportunity.

Like highly-pressured coal turning into diamonds, adversity forges thought leaders. Now is the best time for HR practitioners to demonstrate business acumen and reinforce its essential role to handle challenges faced by both business owners and talent.

Let’s get back to the painful matter of layoffs. While continuing to recruit, develop and invest in the best global talent in order to move the business forward, HR professionals need to also set aside time and resources to reassure employees who remain. Many who remain tend to suffer from the Survivor Syndrome, feeling various levels of guilt for still having a job and being able to support their families while their best mates and lunch partners for the last 20 years or so have lost their livelihood and are spiralling into depression.

Organisations who manage this area poorly often see decreased employee motivation, lower productivity, quality issues in output and a great drop in their brand or reputation which in turn hinders recruitment efforts to secure the best talent their money can “buy” to help boost business.

Other areas many prized Talent look at are an Organisation’s offerings on healthcare, retirement savings (if any), long-term service awards and general benefits. Many also expect HR professionals to look into organisational efficiencies and contingency planning while remaining sensitive to the personal and professional pressures on employees. (More on these in the articles to come.)

For now, let us look at one of HR’s core areas compensation and benefits. Even in the best managed companies, healthcare is the only cost line that’s uncontrolled making HR’s role that much more important. By providing data and simple options on keeping its workforce happier & healthier, HR and Line Managers can greatly help in cost controls and upping productivity. At the end of the day, it boils down to knowing how to keep the numbers encouraging. These days, this also means our being able to provide strategic counsel on cultivating innovation and respecting diversity.

In a nutshell, the heart of our work is to bring together the right talent and facilitate their rising to the challenges of a changing world. So, our job really is source for and share sample policies and practices, benchmarking reports or networking opportunities as a means to guide organisations through these seemingly volatile times.

There is an African proverb which comes to mind Smooth seas do not skillful sailors make. Well, I believe we can and will grow stronger from the experiences we are facing today.

Navigating rough seas requires stars or utilisation of GPRS. Thankfully, we have access to both these days. Internally and externally. Happy sailing.

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