People, not paper – blurring the lines between human resources, internal communications and the workplace.

It's time to blurred the lines between HR, internal communications and the workplace


“We’re at the early dawn of the human organisation – focussed around building amazing teams through individuals who thrive. Generic paperwork and process does not account for differences, individuality, it maintains a status quo.”

What’s the most important part of any organisation? It’s people.

We all get lost in the importance of our own minutia, the boxes to tick, processes to follow and order to maintain in our own departments – our own corners of the organisation. It’s very easy not to see the bigger picture, but take away the people and everything stops. So, why do we isolate the departments who collect, select and empower our people, failing to really engage in open collaboration across the whole organisation?

The rise of social media and connected technology has kick started a revolution in the way we work and the way we create order. This will only become more pronounced, so while sales and finance deal with the numbers, the sides of the organisation focussed on the people should band together.

HR makes sure the people are there in the first place, internal communications ensures they can communicate with one another and facilities creates the physical workplace, all of these important in making sure the people thrive. If an organisation has the right people, in the right place, engaged and connected, then the battle is won. Boxes can be ticked later.

Yet still, we fail to communicate. HR systems are implemented with no input from internal comms and business social media platforms are purchased with little dialogue in the opposite direction.

We’re at the early dawn of the human organisation – focussed around building amazing teams through individuals who thrive. Generic paperwork and process does not account for differences, individuality, it maintains a status quo. As ideas continue to become a business commodity, so the support functions of the organisation must rely on more responsive, communicative and even emotional approaches.

It almost goes without saying that the those corners of the organisation focused on people and creating the conditions for them to succeed will naturally be drawn to the centre, although these are traditionally quiet, supportive, even modest functions. To fully make the transition, not only does each function need to start shouting from the rooftops and make itself noticed, they need to pull in a certain direction, together.

The established position is for departments to isolate, as they jostle for budget, recognition and a place at the boardroom table. But, just as individuals are now becoming essential to teams, the same is to be said for HR, IC and FM. These areas of the business have a common goal and that goal is more important than paperwork or policy – it’s the fundamentals of future success. By collaborating, building bridges and blurring lines, they can create a new organisational driver that’s all about people.

Why should they be so separately defined after all?

By effectively becoming a single function, made up of the individual identities of the departments involved, collaborating, sharing, thinking together, HR, IC and FM can provide the bedrock not only for the workplace, but for the entire organisation. This will happen through conversation, responsiveness and empathy – very human traits. Anything layered on top is paperwork, process… which will become all the more simplified in the human organisation.

Get this right and the organisation will thrive into the future. Get it wrong and, well, who knows…

Andy Swan, the author of this blog will be at Symposium Events’ HRBP Conference on the 18th November 2014 in London. Make sure to join him!

About Andy Swan

I believe that simpler, more human organisations are the future. I’m passionate about work, culture and engagement and I’m prepared to live my theories!
To fully question what ‘work’ is conceptually, structurally and personally, understand the mechanisms it perpetuates in our lives, how its evolving and how we can make it better, I’m currently living as a one-man project. You can find out more about "The Work Project", the #100Connections side project and get links to my blogs at my website.
I also use LinkedIn to blog some of my theories that build bridges between HR, internal communications and the workplace.

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