There are many HR methodologies that get bandied about which promise to drive employee productivity and engagement.
Every HR expert is trying to find the one management approach that will maximise workforce investments. Every organisation is different, however, and there is no single approach HR professionals can adopt that will drive productivity.
What best practice HR strategy comes down to is having a methodology that is flexible enough to adapt to the demands of any business and to incorporate emerging technology, while taking in the full breadth of functions that fit under the HR banner. What leading HR teams are finding is that returning to the logic of employee lifecycle management is the most effective way to deliver results.
HR leaders need a framework
The HR department can learn a great deal by looking at the approach that customer-service businesses have taken to improve their processes. Following the devastating outcomes of the GFC, customer-oriented businesses, particularly in retail, have put their processes under the magnifying glass. For the past 20 years we’ve seen more and more evidence that supports the need to invest in employee engagement. What this tells us is that it’s time to return to a customer-centric focus – this time with the emphasis on culture not transactions.
To many, culture is that intangible quality that’s just out of reach. HR teams might wistfully dream of spearheading a cultural revolution in the workplace but for the most part they focus on the day-to-day initiatives that deliver measurable short-term boosts.
But a clear appraisal of the employee lifecycle can provide HR with short-term results and the long-term behavioural shifts that set the foundation for a high-performance culture.
HR professionals hardly need to be told that the quality of an organisation’s talent is its strongest differentiator. The talent pool is the spawning ground for profit, business competitiveness and innovation.
But many organisations lean on one function of the HR department to provide this talent. While some HR departments use training, rewards or performance management as a crux, for the most part the weight is disproportionately placed on recruitment. You might recognise this squeeze: over-investment in the recruitment process at the expense of other areas; a revolving door of employees who have been oversold positions; or flight risk from long-term employees who have been overlooked for career development. Sound familiar?
These problems happen when HR functions are isolated. This is because HR professionals have set the goalposts at close range. The end goal of recruitment, for instance, is not to hire the best candidate but to successfully on-board the recruit, engage them with challenging tasks and align them with the company culture.
Employee lifecycle management gives HR a framework that provides a workflow between goals, for an unbroken chain of service. That way employees – our internal customers – never fall through the cracks. Instead, they are always positioned at some point in the employee lifecycle.
For some HR professionals, this might seem like going back to basics. In reality, many HR teams are working without a formalised employee lifecycle strategy. Many organisations have found significant improvements across HR functions simply by articulating their employee lifecycle.
Defining your organisation’s lifecycle is important for your HR team and your employees. Those employees who are cynical about HR programs will usually change their tune when they are shown how the initiative fits into the overall lifecycle. At the same time, your HR team can better orient its goals when initiatives are understood within the context of the employee lifecycle.
Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that happens by degrees, flowing from leadership down to staff. Probably the biggest impact HR can have on culture is by communicating and demonstrating an emphasis on progress. For the organisation this means growth and for individual employees this means personal progression.
Employee lifecycle management is at the heart of this. By managing individual employees as if they are customers, the business can nurture careers from recruitment to training, performance and advancement.