Contributors

New Economy, New HR Brand

Time to jettison tired thinking.

By Lisa Maxwell
People management is central to the thinking and practice of HR organizations in today’s ever-changing knowledge economy. It is also essential to establishing a new HR brand. Key to this branding is a strategic link of the practice, norms, and expectations of HR to knowledge management in a global environment. Leading HR professionals adapt to the realities of this New Economy by shifting their thinking about employment security, selective hiring, professional development, extensive training, information sharing, self-managed teams, high pay based on company performance, and the reduction of status differentials.

Creating a new HR brand requires an overhaul of tied practices such as: planning and recruitment based on narrowly defined longevity rewards and requirements that ignore the changing world of work; performance assessment based on seniority rather than cutting-edge skills; and career management that suited organizational culture and convenience more than employee needs and expectations. New approaches will enable HR professionals to forge collaborations with employees that endure, because they redraw the organizational nature of HR to include transformational, cooperative, and holistic relationships that put people first.

The world of work has changed dramatically in the New Economy. Today, organizations value and reward people for longevity as well as maintaining a consistent and substantial record of productivity year after year. An HR Brand in the New Economy requires a reciprocal reward system whereby HR professionals are trained to be effective coaches in giving feedback and providing developmental and educational opportunities that aim to select the right talent or the right professional development program for the right job. The focus is on the behaviors and characteristics that distinguish a superior performer from the rest, and the challenge is matching desired competencies to job and advanced training opportunities.

Second, in the New Economy, it is talented people with cutting edge skills who consistently deliver the best and thrive in the business world. In the new economy, HR professionals understand that to build a competitive advantage through people, their focus must be on employee capability and motivation. HR professionals who pay close attention to the development of the cutting edge skills of their employees hold a sound HR management philosophy that respects human dignity and diversity and is committed to the growth of people while valuing people’s contributions and involving them in decision-making.
Third, employee needs and expectations are essential for strategically positioning a new HR brand. The challenge is creating an experiential environment within your HR organization whereby the active involvement of all participants is supported at both a macro and a micro level. To do this, HR professionals must build enduring relationships with employees based on trust, fairness, and ethics. Building a people-centric culture requires HR professionals to chart a common future with employees through employee involvement that provides both the organization and the employee not only stability but the perks that come from unpacking the hidden potential of employees.

Today’s employment relationship is as much decided by the knowledge workers as by the organization’s HR policies. Instead of asking, “Why should we recruit, train, or reward you?” smart HR professionals ask, “How can we offer mutually gratifying employment terms and conditions so that you find it worthwhile to stay and grow with us?”

These professionals realize that employee satisfaction leads to customer and shareholder satisfaction and that they are therefore responsible for employee morale as well as building community whereby diversity in talent is not only recognized but celebrated.

HR professionals have dual and sometimes conflicting purposes, serving as employee advocates while simultaneously formulating talent strategies that push an organization forward. While expectations for employees have increased manifold from longer working hours to increased productivity, target and delivery, so too have expectations of employees increased to demand continual professional development and support from HR professionals. The new HR Brand has thus moved into an active mode. Its policies, tools, and strategies are continually transforming and keeping in step with both the demands of business and the people who make the business happen.

Lisa Maxwell is the founder and managing partner for Gerard Stewart, an executive search firm specializing in HRO. She can be reached at 404-949-0391 or lisa.maxwell@gerardstewart.com.

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