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The evolution of HR

Written by Martin Reed on Tuesday, 03 December 2013. Posted in HR, People

In his final column for Elite Business, Martin Reed explores how the employer-employee relationship has changed over the last three decades

The evolution of HR

As one of the UK’s leading psychometric companies, we’ve seen many changes since launching in 1982. Changes to the education system mean that qualifications are no longer a reliable indicator of an applicant’s abilities and managers now realise that staff satisfaction is not all about salary. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of employers are embracing different tools to help them manage their recruitment and HR needs.

Taking those changes into account, the process of recruitment and retention has evolved in kind. A better understanding of people, their needs and requirements means that recruiters are now better equipped to handle the process of hiring, retaining, developing and managing staff. The role of the HR department is no longer limited to dealing with recruitment and disciplinary issues, but also how it can work with staff throughout the ‘lifespan’ of their employment.

One of the biggest changes we’ve noticed over the past few years is employers’ realisation that finding a person with the right behaviours and abilities for the role can be more important than their skills, which can be taught and developed. Employers are aware of the need to benchmark what each role requires, which can go a long way to helping identify the right person for the role and make the recruitment process faster and more efficient. When you take into account that making the wrong decision can cost up to two and a half times that person’s salary, hiring the right person first time round becomes even more crucial.

Staff retention has also become more important to companies as they realise that maintaining an engaged and motivated workforce has a number of benefits including reducing the number of sick days people take, maintaining team morale and providing clients with consistent levels of service. With reports stating that one in four employees is looking to leave their employer within the next 12 months, ensuring employee satisfaction is vital.

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by looking at staff as individuals. By understanding each individual’s strengths and limitations, you can find out how they work best, what their preferred style of communication is and how they like to be managed. This will all help you to translate this into how you work with them, helping to maintain staff satisfaction levels, loyalty and motivation.

Anyone who deals with staff directly will also find significant benefits in achieving an understanding of their own management style; this will then help them to modify it when communicating with staff with different styles.

Meanwhile, employers are realising the importance of developing staff and although budgets are still tight, it’s essential that employers continue to invest in training.

In the short-term, staff training will help your team feel supported and see that you are committed to investing in them while, in the long-term, appropriate talent development programmes will benefit your company’s future plans. Implementing effective training takes into account your long-term objectives and companies which are successful are those that incorporate training into their forecasts and business planning.

Finally, there has certainly been a trend over the past few years for companies to be more willing to look at how they can help their staff to deal with the issues which may be hampering their performance rather than to see the problem as cut and dried.

By understanding your team, you can pinpoint what’s holding them back, giving you the ability to identify how you can help motivate and engage with them.

Given that on average, 80% of management time is spent dealing with poor performers, good performers are often neglected, so spending time finding out what challenges your staff are facing can ultimately save time and money and benefit the whole team.

There was little emphasis on staff satisfaction or motivation 30 years ago, but since then employers have learned that through understanding how to achieve staff satisfaction, efficient teams and low staff turnover, they can increase their chance of success and with an increased focus on companies’ responsibilities to their staff, this trend will only continue. 

About the Author

Martin Reed

Reed has been at the helm of psychometric testing company Thomas International since 2007, after being appointed as chairman two years earlier. As well as penning this regular column for Elite Business he is also a founding member of the Bucks Business First and a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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