People are at the heart of every business, but many HR teams only recently started to shift away from focusing on processes to focusing on employees.
“There’s a whole series of underlying drivers, which are forcing organizations and HR teams in particular to focus less on HR processes and what we might call transactional HR,” says Paul Burrin, vice president of Sage People. “Instead, we’re focusing more towards really figuring out how HR leads and champions the conversation around their employees and their workforce experiences, and really doing what’s necessary to build better employer brands, so that you’re in a better position compete in the global skills crisis.”
Creating a people-based HR system can help your business grow. It will give you the time to focus on designing and delivering better experiences that not only attract and retain the skilled workers your organization needs, but drives a high-performance culture to remain competitive at a time when U.S. productivity remains at its lowest for years.
Driving Meaningful Performance Conversations
“Employees have expectations — they want to get feedback, they want to know how they’re doing, they want to feel valued,” Burrin says. In order to accomplish this, companies need to have continuous conversations about performance. “Don’t wait for half a year or a year for that biannual or annual performance review.”
Waiting to give employee reviews is inefficient. Managers end up spending hours going through information, digging up specific examples of things employees did well and things they didn’t. “It becomes quite hard to do, and let’s be honest, many managers don’t like doing performance reviews and aren’t very good at it — either because they’re not very good at coaching and helping people, because that’s not necessarily a core skill that they have, or more frequently they don’t have the supporting data to actually do a good performance review,” Burrin says.
Instead of a bi-annual or annual performance review, continuous performance conversations allow companies to constantly adjust and change things as needed, allowing them to be more effective at listening to and getting the best out of their people. Burrin says using peer recognition, social shout-outs and other means gives a more helpful and useful understanding as to how people in an organization are performing.
Leveraging the Science of People
Data is crucial for driving better decisions, but we often fail in the execution of what we learn from that data. Burrin says Sage People’s surveys have found that about 83 percent of HR leaders agree that they should be making people decisions based on data, but that only 37 percent actually do that. “There’s a desire to do the right thing with people, and to use information and data in the right way, but the fact is, it’s still an ongoing challenge.”
Within the next five or 10 years, Burrin says the introduction of augmented intelligence and artificial intelligence will help HR teams make better use of data by focusing on people. As augmented systems become more widespread, they’ll gain more data, and as the machines get smarter they’ll help make HR processes more effective.
“Augmented intelligence is really machines working with people to help them get better outcomes. A good example could be in recruitment, where you can you use AI or augmented intelligence to actually help deal with bias in interviewing techniques, and trying to make sure you’re not asking questions or you’re not in a position where you’re introducing more bias into the conversation,” Burrin notes.
Supporting HR Teams with Diverse Skills
Traditional HR skills are being supplemented by a whole range of very different skills, Burrin says. “We’re now seeing the emergence of people scientists, who actually focus on employee information, employee data, and start looking for trends and patterns, and help businesses make better decisions around their people based on people science,” he says.
To successfully create a people-based system, Burrin says HR departments will need people who:
- Are from different disciplines or with different backgrounds.
- Have strong data and analytical skills.
- Understand the importance of marketing and communications.
Most HR leaders in the U.S. don’t even have a traditional HR background now, Burrin notes. “They’ve been bringing people in from different disciplines or from different backgrounds, which are not your traditional HR background, in order to deal with the very real shift from HR to People and their ultimate quest to become People Companies,” Burrin said.