Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Marie Curie, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart…
Clearly when we chose our career in HR, we weren’t planning on getting onto the “Most Powerful Women in the World” list!
I can’t really see the Director of Human Resources getting an OBE (Order of the British Empire), a Nobel Prize or similar.
We haven’t cured cancer or pioneered research in radioactivity. We aren’t about to run a country for over 10 years. I sometimes think of the HR Manager being like a mother. They just get “sh..” done.
I was asked about a Historical moment in HR that I could write to you about and unfortunately, whilst I can assure you there are thousands of them, we won’t locate any that have been documented.
Our worth in organisations is only just coming to its fore, but it will never be newsworthy. Human Resources Managers are responsible for the largest asset an organisation has – Human Capital, its people.
For a very long time, companies didn’t understand that. Their expectation of their Human Resources Manager was to hire and fire staff and hopefully in that process find a few good people and get rid of a few bad people.
Their tasks were very transactional. Then finally a clever business owner looked at his balance sheet and profit and loss and realised that his largest expenditure, even higher than his physical assets was the staff salaries.
Who was responsible for these numbers? Who made sure they didn’t blow out? What was their return on investment (ROI)? A few clever business owners said to their HR managers – Is the largest asset my company profitable? Are they making me money or are they costing me money?
In the beginning, HR Managers were asked about the turnover of the staff numbers in the company. This was the only metric they were really responsible for and you could probably guarantee that many of them didn’t know the answer to that question. They could tell you how many people had left and joined, but what about voluntary and involuntary? Did the ones we wanted leave and the ones we didn’t want stay?
HR had to get involved in the numbers. The real numbers, not the warm and fuzzy ones. They needed to have an effect on the Revenue, the Expenses, the Assets, the Client and Stakeholder Expectations.
What does that mean? HR needs to be aware of the human element and how it affected the revenue, the costs, the assets and the “big bosses”. The big bosses are the ones who decided if the doors are going to be open tomorrow – and they are the clients and the stakeholders. The clients, because they are not purchasing the products anymore and the stakeholders, are selling their shares.
HR had to get answers to questions they had never even contemplated before, because if they didn’t have those answers for the owners of the business then there was really very little need for them to be there.
Let’s look at each of these so you get an idea of what I am talking about. A company knows how many widgets or services they need to achieve the revenue that they need and they also know at what price they need to sell those items. If they don’t know these things, then they shouldn’t be in business. So, there numbers are falling and their clients are looking to their competitors to buy their products. So the boss knows what numbers he needs to keep his doors open, but he is not reaching those numbers and his clients are going elsewhere.
Super HR to the rescue!!
HR understands that communication is generally the biggest key to any company. Do the staff know what numbers we need to achieve to keep our doors open? Do they know what price we need to sell those products or services for? Have they spoken to their clients about the values of the company? Do they even know what those values are? How can the staff keep the clients engaged if they have no engagement themselves? Engagement is about your level of commitment to the company. Do they get out of bed every morning and want to come to work or are they just earning a living. Do the clients see that? The stakeholders are seeing that the company isn’t selling the products. The staff have no engagement with the clients, the clients are leaving. The company has no integrity. When the company started out, it had integrity but somehow as it gets bigger it losses that integrity. Super HR has to make sure that everyone in the business walks the talk, the same talk that the owner has, the same integrity and the same motivation.
Super HR spends time with business owners and ensures that they know how to communicate their values and what made them start this company in the first place. They organise meetings so that everyone can be part of the solution.
Whilst they are doing this, they are employing staff in a tight labour market, they are creating retention strategies to retain the good staff, they are ensuring the staff are being paid in line with their competitors. They are arranging social events, rolling out employer branding strategies, communication strategies, ensuring risk and compliance is being met, dealing with unions, labour hire, Workcover on Workcover claims for injured staff. Workplace Health & Safety Programs, workshops, leadership and staff training. You get my point and that is just the tip of the ice berg. Super HR is pulled in so many directions, most of the time, they can’t tell you what day it is!! If I had to list every task HR has to do, I would well and truly go over my word count.
Generally they just get sh.. done with very little fuss and absolutely no fanfare.
They don’t get a Nobel Prize or an OBE, just like the parents don’t, but I honestly think they all should!