Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Year's Resolution for HR Volume 2

Last year when I wrote the first New Year's Resolution for HR, our country was in a very uncertain, unprecedented place. This year, we seem to be moving slowly out of that place. I still believe the resolutions for HR from 2009 still hold for 2010: (and beyond)

1) Are there processes that can be streamlined or that can leverage technology without negatively impacting the customer? (HR processes and company processes)

2) Are we getting the most bang for our salary buck? Is everyone performing at a "high-performing" level? If not, why and what is the game plan to get those not performing up to speed or out of the organization?

3) If a reduction in people expenses is necessary, HR should present every option to management with pros and cons and COST IMPACT of each option. (i.e. layoffs,. furloughs, shortened schedules, job shares, etc)

4) Is there training that can be delivered that will make the organization more competitive when the economy does pick up?

5) Can HR be restructured in a more cost effective, efficient way? (generalist vs. specialist, shared services vs. field personnel)

6) Are there tasks that can be outsourced both in HR and company wide to save money?

7) Review benefits philosophy and utilization to see where potential costs savings can be gained. Determine impacts of those decisions to the workforce. Make recommendations before management asks you to cut the benefits budget.

8) Make sure customers are put first in all decisions. Make sure customer service does not suffer from any of the above.

I do feel that HR will have other areas of focus as we move out of recession into a slow recovery:

1) Talent Management still matters. The disgruntled and disengaged will begin to have choices.

2) Pay attention to health care and what is going on in Congress.

3) How can HR best poise its company for the recovery? Is compensation and performance management linked to organizational goals?

4) How do you counsel senior management on when to rehire, cancel furloughs, reinstate salary freezes and cuts?

What are other areas that HR should be focused on for 2010? What are you priorities for 2010? Would love to hear from you!

Happy New Year to all of our loyal readers!
Please email me at with any topics you would like me to write about in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HR's Mantra for 2010 - HR as a Business Resource

What a year!  I would have never believed it if someone said that in 2009 the following would occur:
1) Big named companies like Lehman Brothers and Circuit City would be no more
2) Companies would cut benefits, paychecks and staff to the bone
3) The ratio of qualified applicants to the number of jobs available would be 6:1, unemployment would be over 10%

So as an HR professional I think about what have we learned through this and what can we do differently.  Our profession has been the brunt of negative press for years but with a renewed focus on engagement and productivity I believe we are well-positioned to turn the negative press into a more positive discussion.

So first question, what have we as HR professionals learned through these unprecedented times?
1) HR is resilient.  We have had to conduct layoffs, slash paychecks and be the bearer of bad news.  We have had to listen to countless employee personal stories.  This takes a huge toll.  We have done allthose things and have done it professionally.
2) HR is still a very needed service.  Companies have learned that in down times you depend on fewer people to get the job done.  HR has been instrumental in identifying those people and keeping the remaining staff motivated and informed on how things are going.
3) Employee engagement is important.  Engagement is everyone's job and keeping people engaged in good times and bad is critical.
4) HR needs to be in the business not outside the business. Recession impacts all aspects of the business.  HR needs to be present and engaged in all business issues and problems because the people have deliver on the solutions. 

Now for the second question, what has to be done differently?  I don't have a crystal ball, but just like with other departments there will be a NEW NORMAL.

1) I am not sure there will be as many top level HR jobs after recovery.  It seems that many SVP's and VP's have been let go and that work has been trickled down to Managers and Directors.  Will SVP's be replaced or will Managers and Directors now be promoted? 
2) What will HR keep inside and what tasks will be outsourced? Will functions continue to be outsourced and what will remain with HR?
3) I believe this recession has forced some HR professionals to understand that their survival depends on how they impact business results.  I believe the smart, savvy HR professional that really has a business slant will be the ones to be successful in 2010 and beyond.
4) I believe HR needs to focus on productivity and talent acquisition, retention and development.  Those areas add value to the organization. 
5) Compliance is always important and will be over the next few years as new legislation is added in the area of unions and pay practices. 

What are your thoughts for HR in 2010?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just 2 Little Questions Will Tell You What You Need to Know

This week's post is written by Barbara A. Hughes, ICC's Co-Founder.
Here we are at the end of a very turbulent and uncertain 2009. I’ve read a plethora (Cathy’s favorite word!) of articles and papers throughout the year, all containing a lot of information, “helpful” hints and top five/seven/ten tips to create programs that will improve engagement/loyalty/commitment…I think you get the idea.

So, as we click on the page of a new calendar and look forward to 2010, we could simplify all of our searching and inquiring and boil it all down to two questions:
1. How smart do you want your employees to be?
2. What grade do you want your customers to give your products and services?

This suggestion is not snarky. We are absolutely drowning in data and starved for time. None of the information, however good, makes any difference if your human capital – employees AND customers – is disconnected from business results. What is driving most people around the bend (and driving up disengagement and attrition) in many companies is a message that says one thing and behaviors that say quite another.

Don’t start one new program, even if it’s a New Year, until you answer those two questions. If you want A+ business results, you need smart employees and a customer strategy that fits those outcomes. However, if you’re happy with okay employees and a C grade from customers, don’t waste time, effort and resources on programs that don’t fit your needs. The point is: be honest about the results you want and execute on that platform.

If your results are dependent on:
· Profitable growth
· A defined competitive advantage
· Building a sustainable business system
· Retaining valuable employees and customers and
· Resilience in the face of the inevitable ups and downs of business

Then smart employees and high marks from customers are what you need. You won’t get those results long term from “okay” and C grades so don’t try.

Employees get smarter when you:
· Share relevant business results and future plans for the company with employees

· Listen to their ideas about process improvement and customer needs and other areas of

the business in which they are engaged day-to-day
· Facilitate learning by creating a dialogue about why one idea was adopted and another


· Eliminate the old “command-and-control” style and walk your talk

If you want customers’ report cards about you to be A’s and B+’s:
· Understand what they need and deliver it
· Create an experience that exceeds expectations and delights them
· Train front line employees to be knowledgeable about your products and services and able

to resolve problems without continuously escalating up the chain
· Hire employees who have the traits that support excellent customer service

I don’t have an exhaustive list here so how are your companies developing smarter employees and working on “A“grades from your customers? What is working for you? We’d love to hear your stories.