By Miriam Mukasa – Founder and MD, AfricaTalentbank.com
As a non revenue generating department, HR is often one of the last departments to benefit from workforce expansion. In other words, an organisation may increase its workforce by over 20% and yet, the same small number of HR personnel (who are often already over stretched), are expected to take on these extra 20% new employees and just get on with things.
The question then is, why is HR often sidelined or, the Cinderella of organisations? Often this boils down to some simple reasons including the fact that few CEOs have ever been employed in an HR function, HR is not often represented at Board level, HR is generally a non revenue generating department – companies don’t merge to acquire a new HR department – and despite the many potential employment tribunal cases that the department may be responsible for averting (thus saving the company thousands if not millions of dollars in litigation fees and compensation), few seem to recognise or indeed reward this fact. In fact, more and more companies are now considering outsourcing the HR function rather than having an in-house HR department. HP (amongst others), is in on the act offering companies the opportunity to outsource HR and Payroll functions to them. So, how can the HR department secure its (in house) future?
Well, for a start, HR needs to be less passive i.e. proactive rather than reactive. HR needs to lead rather than follow. HR is often the first point of contact (and often last) for many people who are exposed to the organisation for the first time so customer service needs to begin with HR, with the recipients of this being candidates. HR needs to treat candidates as they would normal customers rather than treating them as mere interview, or faceless (quota) numbers until they are on the payroll. HR needs to treat candidates as people whose opinions matter, people who purchase the company’s products, people who can make or break the company’s brand or reputation as employer of choice, which a negative HR experience posted on Facebook and shared with over 500+ friends can do. There are websites which have been set up by people who have had bad experiences and HR does not come out smelling of roses. Social media has put power into the hands of the people (including potential candidates), and companies are not often in control of their brand direction or reputation. Think what damage a 140 character message can do to your brand – yup, that’s the power of Twitter.
In addition, a proactive HR department can start to work closely with, for example, colleagues in the marketing department to bring alive the brand by “Living the Brand”. By doing so, HR departments can save a company significant recruitment, marketing or research fees. How? Because as first point of contact and as people who review CVs, conduct interviews, speak with potential candidates at presentations, careers fairs and so forth, HR personnel are in a much better position to sell the brand face to face to a “friendly” target audience, as well as find out (for free!), what is going on in the market place, often even before the marketing department has been alerted to new and latest trends be it, social media tools, popular FMCGs products, popular music, popular celebrities, sports, icons and so forth. Basically, HR can gauge and look out for tools or trends that people keep bringing up time and time again at interview. Have candidates discussed your brand and how for example, they like to use or consume your products? Those crisps you sell, have people told you they taste better when they add x or y flavour to them? In which case, why not share this information with colleagues in R&D. Save customers time and money by selling these products all ready for the consumer’s taste preferences.
This information can be gathered by HR, without breaching confidentiality or Data Protection rules [Please check the Data Protection laws of your country and also ask yourself a simply question: “Can a living individual be identified from the data I am about to share?” If not, then the answer is no breach. An individual is ‘identified’ if you have distinguished that individual from other members of a group. However, what I am suggesting is nothing of the sort. For example, mentioning to your colleagues in marketing that the social tool Pinterest (which is growing at a faster pace than Facebook did at this stage of its lifecycle), seems to be more and more popular amongst women, is not a breach of Data Protection and this information is useful to your marketing department who can then look to use this tool if, for example, they were targeting a specific demography. In addition, this information is also useful for you to know where to find potential candidates especially if you are looking to encourage a more diverse workforce. Do you need to employ social media gurus or marketing gurus to advise you on trends, including social tools, when in fact, potential candidates are already giving you this information for free? Granted, interviews are all about the job, but at some point, you will need to find out from the candidate what they know about your company. If they know about your individual brands but are not aware that your company is behind these brands, then clearly somewhere along the line, the message is getting lost and perhaps your PR colleagues need to be alerted.
This is HR leading the trend rather than following. You are adding value. How can a third party i.e. an outsourced HR organisation be better at this than you?
Do you agree/disagree with this article? If so, feel free to let me have your feedback below or simply email me at: [email protected] See also link to Miriam Mukasa biography. COMING SOON IN THIS SERIES!
- HOW TO BECOME AN EMPLOYER OF CHOICE – ACTION AND VISIBILITY SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS.
- SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS – ARE THEY ALL USEFUL TO YOUR RECRUITMENT NEEDS?
- HOW DIVERSE IS THE DEPTARTMENT MANDATED WITH INTRODUCING MORE DIVERSITY TO COMPANIES?
- THE WAR FOR TALENT – WHILE YOU DITHER, OTHERS HIRE!
- THE WAR FOR TALENT – YOU HAVE FAR MORE COMPETITION THAN YOU IMAGINE.
- RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION – MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING.
- WHY YOUR CSR POLICY NEEDS TO BE MARKETED TO NEW RECRUITS
- WHY BIG BRANDS NEED TO MAKE THEMSELVES FAR MORE ACESSIBLE TO YOUNG GRADUATES – ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND THOSE FROM POORER BACKGROUNDS.
- WHY IT IS BETTER FOR CANDIDATES TO BE REJECTED THAN FACE HR SILENCE, FOLLOWING AN INTERVIEW.
- CEOs – ARE YOU THE ONLY ONE VERSED IN YOUR MISSION STATEMENT?
If you would like to be alerted when the articles above are published then do let me know. See also link to Miriam Mukasa biography.