As we discovered in this year’s The State of Employment for Nonprofit Organizations survey, budget cuts are still of major concern across the industry. Some of the earliest positions to be cut are in the area of Human Resources. Our passionate and experienced HR Manager shares why this crucial area is incredibly valuable and can make or break your organization. Denise has been serving in the HR field for over 25 years and brings a deep knowledge of how HR functions within an organization to her work. Here are her thoughts on the state of HR today.
I suppose the existence of HR sometimes gets a bad rap. In television, HR personnel are typically depicted as uptight killjoys throwing the book at employees for trying to lighten the mood of a work day. Remember Toby Flenderson from The Office? The typically melancholy character is despised by all for his unwavering commitment to following the rules. In one episode, branch manager Michael Scott actually says to Toby, “Why are you the way that you are? Every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not that way. I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.” Poor Toby. He’s really making the rest of us look bad.
While it’s true that HR sometimes needs to reference “the book” and be somewhat of an enforcer, there is so much more to this department that sets the tone of an office in an incredibly positive way. We have all heard how employees are considered the bedrock of any organizational success and as such employees are an organization’s greatest resource. Having worked in organizations that had little or no tangible assets, I have throughout my career been advocating the value of the human element. This includes my view that people are, principally speaking, qualities and not bottom-line costs.
Here at PS, there are no products, and nothing to praise as in, “we made this!” We are not a manufacturing firm and PS does not warehouse material goods. However, PS has something different in its reserves. In my opinion, PS is a tuned amalgamation of employee resources that lend exceptional, qualitative contributions to each and every PS effort. From all that I have seen in just the past year of my employment, PS seems to rely almost entirely on its staff reservoir of good faith and steadfast commitment to bring a client’s vision into focus. PS depends on employee ingredients, or qualities, that together bring about meaningful services and mutually beneficial, working relationships with clients, vendors, fellow staff and other elements in our industry.
In another context, it could easily be said that the work PS performs actually fuels change. HR functionality aside, in my opinion PS deliverables spring from the kinetic energies of and qualities found in our workforce. This is just one of the marvels that I find so attractive in PS. With that said, one of my goals is for HR to take a strategic and comprehensive approach to managing people and the workplace culture and environment.
In just the short time that I have been with this organization our employees have seen for themselves how an effective HR program can have positive, reproducible gains for the individual and the team. I believe effective HR enables employees to actively contribute to the overall company direction and the accomplishment of the organization’s goals and objectives. In my experience, HR was, and, in many instances throughout the industry, still performs largely personnel, administration and a transactional role. In many businesses, unique components of payroll and benefit programs still need administration – even if they are now electronically handled.
Here at PS, HR goes further and truly adds value to the strategic utilization of employees and works to ensure employee programs impact the business in both positive and measurable ways. The new role of HR involves strategic direction and metrics to demonstrate value. In this role, HR is: 1) a strategic partner to managers and executives; 2) an employee advocate; and 3) a change champion.
As strategic partner, HR contributes to the development and accomplishment of the organization-wide business plan and objectives. Working with the senior leadership team; and, because HR is deeply knowledgeable about the design of work systems in which people succeed and contribute, HR’s services impact the design of work positions, hiring, reward, recognition and strategic pay; performance development and appraisal systems; career and succession planning; and employee development. Basically, I get to bring together the leaders of the company to help build the team that makes PS a leader in the industry.
As employee advocate, HR plays an integral role in organizational success via knowledge about and advocacy of people. This advocacy includes expertise in how to create a work environment in which people will choose to be motivated, contributing and happy. By fostering effective methods of goal setting, communication and empowerment through responsibility, HR builds employee ownership of the organization.
As change champion, HR constantly evaluates the effectiveness of the organization and links change to the strategic needs of the organization. An appreciation for the various methodologies needed to bring about such change affords HR with the opportunity to partner with senior leadership in minimizing employee dissatisfaction and resistance to that change. Finally, organization development, the overarching discipline for change management strategies, presents additional challenges for HR to overcome. Consciously helping to create the right organizational culture, HR monitors employee satisfaction and measures the results of organization initiatives – an adjunct role to employee advocacy.
While HR cannot guarantee that an organization will operate in a meritocracy or system that advances personnel based entirely on demonstrated achievement, HR does bring to an organization the reliable independence and savvy needed to navigate both professional and personal obstacles that can sometimes separate or obstruct the very best that the employer/employee can offer to each other. Toby’s looking pretty good now, huh?