Empowerment through HR technologyOne of the most self-destructive behaviors that any manager can engage in is “looking over the shoulder” or micromanaging his subordinates. While it may take a significant period of time for an assistant manager or other employee to become a trusted member of the team, managers must refrain from overseeing every action taken by their staff.

This tendency by managers to overdo their responsibilities can actually stymie their subordinates instead of supporting them. Still, managers are ultimately responsible for what goes on inside their “four walls” and must have some way of monitoring the situation.

An excellent solution to this seeming dilemma is the use of a Human Resource Information System (HRIS). An HRIS is doubly beneficial in that it enables a manager to remotely monitor the activities while still allowing a significant measure of autonomy to the subordinates.

Management Empowerment

The implementation of an HRIS into the human capital management process is one of the most empowering things that any company can do. The system can monitor, track and archive a wide range of administrative tasks such as hiring, training and performance allowing a company’s location managers to concentrate on the more important aspects of the business. In addition, an HRIS allows the HR director or other members of senior management to easily monitor compliance with company initiatives and government regulations.

Employee Empowerment

One of the most common complaints from employees is that they feel out of place due to poor intracompany communications and inadequate training. An HRIS can effectively address these two issues by providing a single point of contact for all new company information and by automating some of the training process. For example, an HRIS can be designed to allow employees to access the latest in company news and to self-direct some of their training activities. In both cases, employees are empowered to deal with a situation without the need for management interaction.

Enterprise-Wide Empowerment

Pardon us for stealing a term from the technology guys, but enterprise-wide is truly the word that describes the change in mindset that accompanies the empowerment created by the use of an HRIS. The synergies involved when everyone is on the same page are truly remarkable. Owners and senior managers know that their message is being delivered in a timely and company-wide manner. Location managers are relieved of many administrative tasks that consume much of their time. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, employees are made to feel like part of the group with at least some power over their activities within the company.

The Ramifications for Your Company

The results of empowerment are widespread. Employees with greater satisfaction are absent less, cause fewer HR problems and are generally more productive. Happier employees allow location managers to concentrate on their operational activities and thus improve the bottom line. Relieved of micromanaging the operations of the business, the owner or senior management can concentrate on growing the business. In short, finding and implementing the right HRIS is a triple win situation.

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Without Teamwork you’re in No Man’s Land

by CompareHRIS on March 13, 2015

You need teamwork in HRI must admit that “creating a culture of teamwork” is one of those phrases that make me cringe. It just sounds so “touchy-feely” and dated. Still, the results of solid teamwork are simply irrefutable and no good business person would knowingly ignore them.

Perhaps, sometime in the future, I’ll just have to coin my own term to resolve the issue for myself. In the meantime, however, here are six, immediately actionable ways to build a culture of teamwork in your organization:

Owners and Senior Management Must Demand It – In particular, it is essential that these leaders deliver an unmistakable message that teamwork and collaboration across the entire organization is not just encouraged but demanded. In short, no process or project is wholly owned by any one department or manager and all employees should feel free to offer input.

All Managers Must Embrace It for Themselves – Leading by example, all managers, especially the most senior ones, must exemplify the process of teamwork through their interactions with each other and their subordinates. This is easily accomplished when things are “humming along” but must also be followed when things go wrong. In short, do not allow yourself or your team to revert to a top-down, authoritarian style in the midst of a crisis.

Formally Identify It as Important – Great value is placed on mission statements, company values and the like by employees. Each is an excellent place for them – especially if they are new – to get a sense of the company culture. Ensure that “teamwork” is one of your core values and is expressed in these statements.

Identify Success with Teamwork – Every successful work environment has “war stories.” Many, however, only get retold with a single person going in and getting the job done – the value of the team is left unrecognized. As the title of this article states, “no man is an island” and any successes that an individual sees are directly attributable to his support staff as well as himself. Rejigger these anecdotes, in your own telling, to reflect this sensibility and note that the rewards flowed to everyone involved.

Develop Performance Metrics that Encourage Teamwork – Performance metrics – where would we be without them? While they are not the be-all and end-all of effective management they are a vital tool. Ensure that your metrics encourage interaction between your departments and demand mutually supporting roles that are responsive to actual needs.

As you can see, obviously, “creating a culture of teamwork” is also a collaborative effort. You cannot do it by yourself, but as an owner or senior manager, you can certainly lead by example and set up your team for success.

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business educationThere’s a very old joke about schooling where one businessman asks his other businessman friend, “Nice to see you. How are things going?”

“You know… the usual,” the man responds, “but I still haven’t been asked to do any algebra today.”

It is a story familiar to anyone who has suffered through an educational course that does not seem to have any bearing on their future career. While this story is obviously apocryphal, there are many business owners who lament the quality and the training of entry-level job applicants. Indeed, it makes one wonder if there really is a disconnect between the vaunted American college education and the needs of U.S. businesses.

What are we teaching?
The consensus among business owners and managers is not a lack of jobs but a lack of qualified applicants – the people applying simply do not have the necessary skills to fill the position. This leaves employers in the unenviable position of “fighting” for merely adequate – never mind, the best –   employees in what is arguably the highest unemployment environment since the great depression.

Even more troubling, the entry level skills required by these companies are not things like advanced statistical analysis or advanced C++ programming – although both of these are purportedly being taught at the undergraduate level in American universities – but merely basic reading, writing, math and problem solving skills.

Educational Institutions have become Businesses Themselves
This fact means that institutions of higher learning are no longer interested in providing a trained workforce but are more concerned with optimizing their own bottom line. The disparity here is made painfully obvious in a McKinney study that shows three quarters of educators polled think they are providing “ready for work” graduates while less than half of the business people polled think so.

It should be kept in mind that these are not high school or vocational education programs that are being questioned but those offered by the finest secondary schools in the country. Is it any wonder that corporations spend an ever-increasing amount of their HCM budgets on training – remedial or otherwise?

Vocational Training has received a “Bad Rap”
By training their students in “real-world” practical skills; vocational schools have created a track record where the vast majority of their graduates can find a job within 90 days of leaving school. It is a sobering thought, when many more traditionally schooled scholars – yes, I am referring to philosophy and history majors – can’t find a job in the “food service” industry for a year or more.

As an added incentive, many vocational schools also develop an integrated relationship with businesses in their industry and these companies often offer paid apprenticeships to the students. Contrast this process with the unpaid “internships” available through traditional college placement offices. Businesses simply cannot rely on this type of free labor if they expect to attract the best applicants.

Students Just Don’t Understand
Some would say the educational industry bears the brunt of the blame for this situation but businesses have been complicit in its execution. The result is that students have been sold a bill of goods where they expect that their services will be needed – nay, demanded – when they graduate. It simply isn’t so.

It is time for a severe reconsideration of what education is intended to accomplish and what the needs of students’ are. Colleges be damned. With many degrees costing in excess of $100,000, shouldn’t the graduates be rewarded with some return on their investment and not just a “sheepskin” on the wall?

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Employee Satisfaction – 7 Ways to Keep Your Team Happy

by CompareHRIS on February 20, 2015

happy employeesFar too many people in the business world fail to grasp the point that their job as manager is not just about leading but about leading effectively. Here are a few simple suggestions to keep your team energized, satisfied and, most importantly, happy:

1.    Listen & Learn – While the more veteran members of your team are more likely to have something valuable to contribute, you cannot overlook the more junior members. You did hire them for a reason, right? Cultivating an open and non-judgmental atmosphere is key to getting the most out of your people whether they have been there for ten years or just ten days.

2.    Communicate Effectively – There is nothing more frustrating than trying to read the mind of your boss especially when it comes to the details of an important project. For this reason, it is incumbent upon the manager to make his communications – written and oral – as crystal clear as possible. Not only will your subordinates appreciate the effort, you will be able to hold them far more accountable later on.

3.    Define Your Goals – In a similar vein, your team must know – without a shadow of a doubt – where they are headed and what the desired result is. Otherwise, useless conjecture and often competing itineraries will typically develop. For you, as a manager, keeping the team focused and on track is job number one.

4.    Be Proactive, Not Reactive – The essence of being an effective manager is foreseeing problems before they even develop. Without this talent, you are surely lost. In short, the identification and resolution process is far easier than any “damage control” after the fact. No one gets defensive, no one feels threatened and everyone is happier- especially management.

5.    Understand That They Have a Life – With the competing demands of both the bosses above and the staff below, it is easy for a manager to lose track of his own life, not to mention that of his subordinates. Still, no matter your philosophy, “work to live” or “live to work,” your employees may have other ideas. In short, it is important to remember that employees have other lives outside of work.

6.    Work Hard but Play a Little Too – As they say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Keep this aphorism in mind when tending to your team. Driving them hard is a good technique when you are under the gun but you must also realize that there are times to lighten the load. In fact, your success as well as theirs relies on this judicious use of power.

7.    Be Socially Aware – No doubt, not everyone has an agenda – still, be careful – the newest generation of employees is far more aware of “what’s happening” than their predecessors because of the Internet and social media. The best companies take an active stance on relevant issues or contribute to a worthwhile charity to easily increase the engagement of their employees.

A Final Thought – As you can see, keeping your team happy is not rocket science. Instead, it takes time, effort and, most importantly, some meaningful thought. In a nutshell, take some time every morning to decide on the best approach. Whether it is listening or communicating, defining goals or being proactive, or just understanding their priorities, being on the same page with your employees is the best way to keep them happy.

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GamificationWhile a cursory understanding of the process itself often brings a rolling of eyes and possibly a smirk of condescension from managers, departmental to board level, the concept of gamification is actually quite a valuable tool when it comes to engaging employees in meeting company expectations and goals. Here are five, fun ways that gamification can improve the overall quality of your company workforce:

1. Widens the Talent Pool
Every HCM team faces a formidable challenge in finding and landing the best possible candidates for their company – especially when the business climate is booming. While it is the HR team’s mission to find new talent, using gamification to incentivize the rest of your staff to take a more active role in that acquisition can pay enormous dividends. By simply providing a “Referrer of the Year” award with a somewhat substantial prize, you will embolden and empower your entire team to find top talent. In addition, not only do the top “recruiters” gain – both personally and professionally – but the HR team feels a little less pressure which lets them concentrate on some of their other duties.

2. Improves the Onboarding Process
Turning the hiring, onboarding and training process into a gamified experience – by rewarding the hirees with both acknowledgement and tangible bonuses – has proven to be one of the most effective ways to encourage employees to complete each step of the journey in a timely and complete manner. Similarly, providing rewards for self-motivation not only brings out that characteristic in your hirees but also relieves your location managers of some of the oversight duties necessary for proper orientation and training. Simply put, it is a win-win situation where both the trainees and the trainers benefit. It also gives you, the executive, an opportunity to meet-and-greet the new employees on a totally positive level if you choose to award the prizes.

3. Enhances the Training Process
It is a sad fact in most companies that compliance training – whether it involves something technical like a unified communications initiative or more HR-oriented items like diversity and harassment – is seldom met with much enthusiasm by the participants. Still, it is necessary to engage the employees, communicate the information and get their “buy-in.” Nothing accomplishes this task faster and more efficiently than a solidly-planned, online-learning gamification program. In short, gamification encourages action on the part of the participants whether it is for personal gain or simply for the satisfaction of outdoing their coworkers. In either case, the training is made a priority.

4. Provides the Roadmap to Promotion
In general, the most ambitious people in your organization are also the most motivated and truly the best employees. In addition, they serve as a beacon of success for the rest of your team. While the most talented of your employees may innately understand what it takes to succeed and progress up the corporate ladder, the others may not be so well-served. For this reason, the use of gamification to create mission-based career paths will allow anyone with enough motivation to “level up” in the organization. Once again, the data for these processes is eminently trackable and provides an excellent resource for managers looking to promote someone from within. In the end, your company ends up with a more productive, collaborative and upwardly motivated workforce.

5. Retains Top Talent
Once you have developed a superior team, it only seems rational to strive to keep them happy and from moving to the competition. Significant engagement of these people is integral to maintaining your company’s base of institutional knowledge, a sense of consistency throughout the organization and, most importantly, avoiding the costs and aggravation of a high turnover rate. Your best talent is also the most lucratively rewarded in a tangible sense, so gamification in this case provides them an outlet for their advice. Look to these folks for recommendations on process improvement, product enhancement and departmental collaborative efforts. Then recognize and duly reward the best of the best for their efforts.

A Final Thought
One of the best aspects of gamification is that it can be implemented and run on an HRIS system with a minimum of interaction needed from the HCM team. The key is to track the opportunities and activities and then reward employee participation. The rewards provide an intrinsic motivation and the tracking mechanism provides valuable insight into who is really a team player – invaluable information when it comes to considering assignments, promotions and more tangible rewards like raises and bonuses.

For more information on the benefits of HRIS as it pertains to gamification and employee engagement in your organization as well as other HRIS solutions for your company, please visit us online at compareHRIS.com.

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Workforce management softwarePaperwork used to be the bane of office personnel all over the world. With the advent of the computer and the Internet, many business people think that the paperless office has arrived. While the actual paper may have disappeared, the need to input vast amounts of data to comply with company and government regulations still exists. In other words, the drudgery of “paperwork’ still exists.

The New Paperwork
The arrival of computers has spurred an increasing desire on the part of the government and many corporate “home offices” to collect as much data as possible without regard for the workload inflicted. In many instances, the duplication of effort needed to input the data into multiple databases is staggering. Exacerbating the situation is the use of multiple software programs within a single company that cannot communicate with each other.

A Truly Paperless Solution – WMS
The use of a modern Workforce Management Software (WMS) system can help with these problems. WMS allows a company to input data from various departments and to accumulate, modify and store the data in a single place. The data can then be retrieved and electronically sent to any and all authorized recipients. In short, data received at one level of the company can be disseminated to all other levels and departments without the need to re-input the information.

The Benefits
Although it is somewhat ironic, a WMS solution will definitely yield a superior employee “paper” trail from hiring through training and promotion until retirement or termination. Each step of the process can be monitored by those managers most knowledgeable without the need for further input from other departments or administrators. Administrative savings are just the beginning as better and more accurate records will help with everything from lawsuits to audits. A WMS system is the first step in developing a truly paperless office.

For more information, download our white paper, Top 5 Technology Game Changers for Workforce Management

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Team Building Secrets for an HR department

by CompareHRIS on January 19, 2015

Team buildingTeam building in an HR department or a small business does not come easily. The reason is that it takes planning, and because planning takes time, team building often goes down the drain. However, team building can and should be done – whether an HR department, a small business or any other department within a Fortune 500 business.

Try these small starts:

1. Tailgate Meetings
No company or HR department is too small to come together. Meet first thing every Monday for 15 minutes at the coffee machine or ‘water cooler’ to delegate priority tasks for the week and first thing every Friday to measure the outcomes of these priorities. The meetings must occur at set times, and there must be follow through and follow up. Notes are mandatory to confirm agreement on conversation.

2. Team Activities
Integrate team activities or competitions into regular staff meetings. There are thousands of short activities out there. You do not want anything that lasts more than 10 minutes or that will offend or tax members. Select a team building activity that furthers business goals, the activity should not become an end in itself. In other words, do not overdo it; keep activities to one or two scheduled meetings a month. If it is on the agenda, it must be played.

3. Workable Solutions
At the end of an activity, you need to draw a connection between the activity and its importance to the business. You must give the activity context, or it will seem a silly waste of time. They must see how the activity will help them get better at their jobs and how it will improve the business. This reinforces feelings of belonging and the connection with customer values.

4. Something Big
Depending on your business headcount, schedule a team-activity for some annual or semi-annual event. Ironically, athletic events tend to favor aggression and individual competitiveness. Look into something low impact like rope games or trivia contests. Everyone needs a role in something and because of that everyone wins. The emphasis is on the sharing and the collaboration, not the victory. OK, sometimes it is about the victory – but keep it calm.

Admittedly, it takes preparation. Even the tailgate meetings fall flat if there is not at least an unspoken agenda. Other activities may require some supplies or a time clock, or you may want to award silly gifts. But, the planning connects the activity to your business purpose. You also have to consider timing and the need to adhere to a calendar. These things do not happen without plan or purpose, and all this can be planned a year ahead of time. If you start this in HR, you can begin the process of ingraining it into your corporate culture and that is a company win!

 

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How to Find a Best Practices HR Tech Package

by CompareHRIS on January 12, 2015

HR TechnologyJust what are you looking for in a Human Resources technology package? Perhaps, it “exactly meets your needs, with a positive return on investment that fits your culture and improves your process, while being accepted by all concerned, offered by a stable publisher with flawless implementation, including customized training and ongoing support.” Is that too much to ask for?

Joe Rotella, SPHR does not think so. In a SHRM Conference presentation, Joe (CMO for Delphia Consulting) laid out a blueprint for selecting HR information technology that will “help free you from administrivia so you can focus on strategic goals.” It provides a simple framework for how to find a best practices HR tech package.

1.  Don’t run from problems: Word-of-mouth and peer influences press any attentive HR professional to find ways to escape the administrative burdens that dominate the job. You just don’t want to be the only kid on the block without the new tech toy.

However, shopping without strategic purpose escalates the possibility of an already sizable risk. You need to study deep and wide about functionality, document management, integration, implementation, and scalability. You want to know something about process automation and architecture. And, if any of this terminology is new to you, you need a consultant to direct your self-assessment and internal needs analysis. There is too much at stake to shop for solutions when you have not identified how to find a best practices HR tech package.

2.  Organizational goals rule: You must collaborate with all those functions that support business goals. Those goals will likely integrate increased income with decreased expenses, improved cash flow and customer satisfaction, and cultural and process improvements. Any return on investment lies in achieving these goals, not in simplifying your office.

The priorities presented by these goals then dictate the measures and reports needed from your HR technology. With those in hand, you have a basic engineering requirement worth discussing with an HR tech provider.

3.  Shop smart: You can prepare a checklist of needs with the help of HR decision-makers from the outside, peer managers inside, and end-users inside and outside the organization. This is not a browser search or online review; it takes thorough research into providers, experiences, and testimonials.

Selection is a long process in which you assess your needs independently, collaborate with management, and conduct early interviews with your short list of providers. Once you reduce the possible vendors to three, you must schedule demonstrations – for your office and, then, for all the stakeholders.

4.  Return to scratch: The demonstration results have to meet the needs you already prioritized. Your decision has to favor the vendors who make the best match. Their ability to map their skills to your needs makes the buy decision – not their feel-good presentation.

5.  Get it in writing: The written proposal will be the document discussed at the executive level. The proposal must comply with your requirements. It must identify and address the same concerns and priorities, solve the same problems, and demonstrate a cost-benefit analysis. When it defends the return on investment, it had better parallel the way your C-suite calculates ROI.

Long before you launch your search for solutions in HR technology, you need to get your head and hands around how to find a best practices HR tech package. That requires personal focus and executive commitment. You will need to anticipate risk, training, and change issues. The HRIS Selector Tool at compareHRIS.com is a best practice way to start that search.

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How to Win Friends and Influence Employees

by CompareHRIS on January 5, 2015

business ethicsWhile many managers would argue the point that over-friendliness with their subordinates can actually damage a business team’s effectiveness, I maintain that a certain level of civility and concern beyond mere formality is required. Here are a few ways that managers can win over their employees and thereby significantly increase their influence with them:

Bring Your Ethics to Work
Don’t kid yourself, no matter what they say, your subordinates watch everything you do and look for any signs of moral weakness. For this reason, nothing garners trust better than impeccable personal integrity. Any manager who has slipped in this department will surely be challenged by a subordinate during the counseling or termination process if the failing is any way similar to the employees own situation. In short, you must also live by the expectations that you set for the rest of the team. So, show up on time, avoid those long lunches and have your meeting materials ready and waiting.

Concentrate on Excellence
If you consider the people that you most admire, they are undoubtedly individuals with characteristics that separate them from their peers. Simply put, they are excellent not only as employees but also as people. As a manager, you must engender this attitude in yourself and amongst your subordinates. Settling for mediocre results is a sure-fire way to guarantee them in the future. Instead, a superior manager let’s his team know what is expected, when they fall short, and when to praise good results. In addition, this expectation cannot be arbitrarily applied. Allowing one employee to yield to mediocrity will eventually drag down the entire team.

Place the Shoe on the Other Foot
The longer you are a manager, the easier it gets to take your subordinates and their loyalty for granted. Loyalty does not ever come for free… it must be earned. For these reasons, it is extremely important to occasionally take the time to consider the employment situation from the perspective of your subordinates. Are you a manager who demands that all personal business be done after hours or, even worse, do you schedule meetings on weekends or holidays at the last minute? Subjugating the needs of your subordinates to those of the company are certainly necessary at times but doing it on a continual basis is simply abuse – and your employees know it.

Bring a Positive Attitude
What did the man say in that famous song? Let a smile be your umbrella! This is actually excellent advice for any manager. You set the tone for the office so positivity is key as your negative vibrations will only allow the rest of your team to vent theirs. In particular, small gestures like greeting everyone you pass in the morning starts the process rolling. It’s just hard to dislike someone who comes in smiling. This tactic also works well at meetings. Even at those necessary meetings where everyone would rather be somewhere else, it is important to keep an upbeat attitude. Bad news is best delivered with a stiff upper lip and small smile.

A Final Thought
Each of the aforementioned ideas is decidedly more mental than physical. Still, the body language of a manager and their choice of spoken words are also extremely influential. Before any meeting or one-on-one engagement, consider what you will say and how you will say it. Your choices can make a demonstrable difference on the outcome. In addition, it gives you a chance to formulate your arguments in a far more cogent and influential manner. There you have it, influencing your employees is as simple as treating them with the same dignity and respect that you expect. Just don’t forget this fact simply because you are the boss.

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8 Opportunities to Create your HR Future

by CompareHRIS on December 20, 2014

business opportunityThe Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) published an informative report on The Future of the HR Profession in 2002. It began a discussion that continues today, HR professionals remain obsessed with protecting their future.

Management philosopher Peter F. Drucker is famous for saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” a paraphrase of something Lincoln wrote. Drucker also wrote, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” And, that is the gist of the SHRM report. HR professionals remain unclear about their future. They forestall their future by spending too much time studying it instead of creating it.

8 Opportunities

SHRM reports the responses of eight major firms to the question: “What are the opportunities for forward-thinking professionals over the next few years?” Notice the quality of the question. It does not direct; rather, it poses opportunities that invite HR professionals to follow. The choice is yours to pursue or not.

1: HR professionals are invited to create a clearly articulated HR function and to realize the infrastructure necessary. You need to recruit, staff, and train to the anticipated operational needs. Executive management will not demand or design this opportunity on its own initiative.

2: Human Resources supplies labor and maintains compliance. It now has the chance to link human capital with corporate brand – making people the “critical differentiator” between competitors. When HR connects employee values with corporate values, employee satisfaction will drive customer satisfaction.

3: HR will outsource the administrative rungs executives would have climbed to the top. The challenge is to fill the time relieved with integrative thought and work. HR leadership will be recognized as inter-disciplinary, requiring advanced education and expertise in new areas, such as metrics, operations, and financial reporting. Studying and understanding people as talent assets and human capital will fund corporate strategy and success.

4: A best opportunity may reside in an outsourced environment. The fact that businesses will be outsourcing HR functions assumes the need for leadership within those organizations. Conversely, once functions have been outsourced, the originating business still needs leadership to integrate remaining needs and to design new applications.

5: Creating a future now requires you to develop or strengthen skill sets. You must automate administration, design metrics to align human capital with business needs, create a strategy for conflict resolution, and facilitate change. Success in meeting these challenges raises your profile and improves your broader business orientation.

6: Your Human Resources office must be in order. If it is not working well, you will not change anyone’s mind about your future. As long as human capital represents such a large slice of the corporation’s financial pie, HR must make its presence felt on compensation boards, management teams, and others who direct corporate revenue and expenditures. And, to do this, you need a deeper financial-decision making background.

7: The future needs new metrics. Executive management hungers for data that helps it strategize its “larger” issues. HR will explain why it is important to worry about why employees leave the business, what impact their engagement has on business success, and what employees value more than efficiency. HR professionals now need to get ahead of the curve by seeking the intelligence and tools to discover and present real content to executives.

8: The most succinct and summary suggestion is to become a business partner offering branded and strong advice like an assured outside consultant.

Twelve years after the SHRM report, Human Resources professionals defend their role and still fear for the future. In fact, numerous opportunities exist to create their own destiny, and – not incidentally – improve the future of the human interests they seek to advocate.

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