There's a great deal of HR goodness to take away from 2014 – James Marsh gives us the lowdown
The festive period can look different to all of us and for many people it represents one of the busiest and pressurised times of the year at work. However, for a huge number, this week marks a return to the workplace following some time away.
The passing of another year and the move into a new one always places me in a reflective frame of mind and I, like many, have a list of commitments and resolutions towards which I intend to renew my efforts this January and beyond. These include some things I would like to give up, improving my diet, several initiatives to try and get myself fitter and healthier, and others of a commonplace and perhaps clichéd nature, some of which are sadly repeats of previous years! Many have criticised the act of making new year’s resolutions, rationally stating that reflection and goal-setting should be an all-year activity and citing the frequency of resolutions made firmly in December that are a distant memory come February. Whilst these may be fair enough charges, I have no problem with any tradition that encourages an annual period of reflection and re-evaluation, something many of us from all walks of life claim to find difficult to do on a regular basis through the year and which can undoubtedly have a beneficial effect.
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HR practitioners in particular are constantly told of the need for continuous reflective practice yet, like others, find the daily demands of their roles a barrier to this. Life at Symposium is no different, and providing the best possible support to our people in our mission to deliver the knowledge HR professionals need to make a difference in their organisations brings with it a diverse range of ever-evolving challenges across all aspects of the company. From our consultants and trainers in the field to our events’ production and logistics teams, from our interns and support staff through to our managing director, everyone needs HR strategy and support bespoke to their roles, their targets and their circumstances.
Our conference programme last year saw some of the best and the brightest in HR strategy and people management share with our delegates their experience, knowledge and philosophies from their organisations on a wide range of aspects of HR practice. From graduate recruitment to employee engagement and wellbeing, 2014 saw record numbers of delegates presented with reports, analysis and theories from industry leading organisations.
Thus, for me, in addition to amending my ways on a personal level (again), the start of 2015 and the time off prior to it has offered me the opportunity to assimilate the vast amount of knowledge gleaned from our illustrious speakers in the last twelve months and to consider some resolutions HR should consider adopting over the next twelve…
Mindfulness was one of the wellbeing buzzwords of 2014, and its potential to improve productivity and reduce stress has been widely supported.
Our Workplace Wellbeing and Stress event in November included an interactive presentation from the Commercial & Support Functions EHS Business Lead and Medical Director at global health giant GlaxoSmithKlein, Monika Misra.
Monika shared the thinking behind and the early results of their decision to deploy a 16-week online mindfulness programme throughout their offices to support employee wellbeing, develop resilience and help GSK staff to manage their stress efficiently. We had the opportunity to experience a ‘mindful minute’, focusing on our breath to illustrate employees’ need to have short but regular recovery times during the day to restore energy levels and improve focus. Monika emphasised the importance of building resilience and taking action before people experience strain and stop being productive and believed that their mindfulness initiative was already producing significant results across the business.
Mindfulness practice can take different forms, but is based on a combination of principals derived from meditation, breathing techniques and paying attention to the present moment. Regular practice can influence the way we think, feel and act in pressurised or potentially stressful situations and improve our mental health. Resolve to be more mindful this year as part of your own personal development, but also consider what impact a mindfulness program could have on your business.
The next Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Summit will take place in November 2015. Wellbeing specialist Ann McCracken will also run the “Achieving Wellbeing and Building Resilience through Managing Stress” training day on April 14.
Take care of your employer brand
Most who attended our Innovation in Recruitment Summit in September agreed that the biggest underlying recruitment issue of all is a growing candidate shortage across the board. As conference chair Tom Hadley from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) noted in his opening speech, candidate availability is decreasing at its fastest rate for sixteen years. This was something all the day’s speakers echoed, even those involved in volume recruitment. With candidates now driving the agenda, all agreed that a quality candidate experience and an employer brand, which is based on listening to employees and candidates thoughts and needs, were vital. Also, with so much at stake in terms of business growth and expansion as we continue to come out of the recession, hiring the wrong people is luxury most companies simply cannot afford.
When you recruit, you tell them how great working for you will be. Are they disappointed when they arrive? Surprised? Or even shocked? That difference can lead to poor engagement, low levels of customer service, higher absence, and rapid staff turnover.
Taking action to improve your employer brand (the perception existing and potential staff have of you as an employer) and make sure it accurately reflects your employee experience could be the best thing you do for your business in 2015. Understanding and managing your employer brand is a key tool you can use to rapidly and sustainably improve HR, recruitment and many other operations within your organisation.
Branding consultant Paul Hitchens will run the training day “Brand Strategy and Human Resources – Building the Employer Brand” on January 29.
Keep your team together
Our second conference in November focussed on HR business partnering and began with Graham Salisbury from Action Aid sharing his experiences of embedding the business partnering model in both the defence and charity sectors. He argued that HR stands or falls by the complete service the function offers and that often, when you segregate HR roles, it can break up the ‘one team’ ethos, creating a “them and us” culture between business partners and expert services. Graham’s advice for businesses that want to improve HRBP capability was…. don’t just focus on HRBPs! The recipe for success is to ensure the whole HR team knows what the role of the HRBP is and how each team contributes to the success of the function as a whole.
As part of the welcome journey HR has made towards a more strategic role within organisations over recent years, there has been an increase in segmentation and specialism within the function. Whilst it is understandable that professionals should look to specialise, one of the key principles for HR practitioners is the need for a rounded understanding and skillset that allows them to support and enhance all aspects of the business. Resolve to make sure that your HR teams are continuing to improve their generalist skills in line with their specific roles and retain their all-round abilities.
Jon Ingham, a strategic people management and organisational development consultant, will run the “Getting to Grips with HR Business Partnering” two-day training course on February 9 and 10. The next Successful HR Business Partnering Conference will take place in November 2015 (date TBC).
There’s more to come in Part 2, so stay tuned!