How HR Has Changed Over the Last 10 Years

by Justin Reynolds on Dec 6, 2016 5:00:00 AM

changes

Years ago, the human resources department — often referred to simply as “personnel” — was primarily charged with keeping records; ensuring companies followed regulations and were in compliance with laws; and determining wages, compensation packages, and other benefits.

Over the years, the HR department has evolved tremendously. In fact, the HR department has gone through drastic changes in the last 10 years alone. Thanks to the emergence of a slew of technologies that automate much of the work traditionally done by HR professionals, the HR department that exists today looks almost nothing like the ones that existed before. In addition to programs that can automate payroll and streamline the onboarding process, there are also platforms that simplify the recruiting process and talent management systems that enable companies to quickly determine whether their employees are getting the right training opportunities, among other things.

Instead of focusing on personnel management and administrative tasks, today’s HR departments — at least the ones that are forward-thinking — spend their energies managing employee engagement and strengthening culture. They’re also charged with managing the employees themselves to increase the odds they’re happy at work and will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future.

Despite the progress and evolution that’s occurred in the HR sector over the last decade, 80% of respondents indicated they believe their company’s HR skills are lacking, as reported by Deloitte. A major reason for that, it would seem, stems from the fact that companies are generally wary of change. And HR leaders, for example, may be hesitant to embrace new HR technologies simply because they fear they will ultimately be putting themselves out of work.

By investing in new HR technologies and platforms, however, HR professionals can provide even more valuable services to their companies while improving team morale and, by extension, productivity.

HR skills

 

Engaging Employees

The vast majority of employees today are not engaged at work. In fact, Gallup reported that 31.7% of employees are engaged — which means nearly 7 out of 10 workers don’t love their jobs and aren’t willing to go above and beyond ever.

Engaged employees are happier at work. They’re also more productive than their disengaged peers. When HR departments focus on increasing engagement, not only does the quality of the work improve on a company-wide basis, employees are more likely to get along with one another. They’ll be in positive, helpful moods — compared to disengaged employees who might have a hard time even cracking a smile.

As our Engagement Report revealed, coworkers are the number one thing employees like about their jobs. The happier and more engaged workers are, the more likely their peers will be to enjoy their company. In other words, strong engagement helps build a more connected team that has each other’s backs.

 

Strengthening Culture

A company’s culture describes its mission, beliefs, values, ethics, and more. Cultures define what is expected out of employees.

Culture is one of the top correlated factors to employee happiness, as noted in our Engagement Report. The stronger a culture is, the more likely a staff is to be happy. Because happiness is directly related to productivity, managers would be wise to focus enough resources on improving culture however they can. Not only are employees who fit in with an organization’s culture more motivated to do their best work, they’re also more likely to believe in the work your company is doing and treat customers with a serious level of respect. Further, they’ll evangelize on your company’s behalf — even when they’re not in the office.

HR technologies make it very easy to gauge whether employees are happy with company culture and believe that things are working as they should be. For example, the results from a pulse survey will make it very clear whether a certain new program or initiative is successful or if it’s making employees feel overworked and stressed. Armed with that data, managers can then opt to continue business as usual (when the results are good) or to abandon an idea and steer the company in a different direction (when the results are bad). It sure beats waiting six months to find out that a new program is really hurting culture and employee morale.

 

Managing Talent

Despite the fact that many of today’s employees are extremely interested in having opportunities to develop and grow at their companies, only 25% of workers believe their organizations offer ample opportunities for career development, our Engagement Report revealed.

If you want to keep the best employees around, it is imperative that you offer them the ability to acquire new skills and learn new things. You can’t take them for granted and just assume they’ll stick around forever.

Even if you think your employees are all replaceable, you should still be concerned with how much it costs to replace workers who take jobs elsewhere. According to the Center for American Progress, businesses can expect to pay up to $15,000 to replace departing employees. That’s quite the chunk of change for any company.

employee turnover

Thanks to new HR technologies, it’s easier than ever to manage talent and make sure employees are reaching their goals and getting what they want to out of work. Talent management systems, for example, enable HR workers to easily keep track of everything from recruiting and performance management to learning and development and compensation management. All of the critical data needed to make sure employees are improving and reaching the next level can be accessed from one central interface — streamlining the process significantly.

HR has evolved quite remarkably over the last decade. Instead of being fearful of what the changes mean for the HR department or the professionals working in it, companies would be wise to embrace the modern tools and technologies that enable them to build even stronger companies.

Rather than focusing on records management and compliance-related issues, for example, strong HR departments spend their time focusing on improving employee engagement, building an even stronger and more attractive company culture and managing talent from the recruitment process to the exit interview. Organizations that embrace this modern approach to HR will have happier workforces and happier customers — which all translates into a healthier bottom line.

 

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This post was written by Justin Reynolds

Justin Reynolds is a freelance copywriter, journalist, and editor based in Connecticut.

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