GLOBAL TRENDS IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
In this competitive scenario where there is immense demand for people and the talent pool is shrinking, Human Resource Management plays a vital role in an organization.Recruitment and Retention of employees is becoming a challenge as well as a concern area for all HR Managers. As Indian economy is booming, HR managers will be experiencing tough times ahead in hiring and retaining talent. Channeling Communication Skills When it comes to defining it as a competency, communication can be tricky. It‟s a characteristic that‟s apparently universally appreciated and desired, but it‟s not easy to pin down what makes for effective communication. Is it nuanced or straightforward? Specific of general? Deductive or poignant? Humorous or stern? According to Ron Crossland, co-author of The Leadership Experience, author of The Leader‟s Voice and chairman of Bluepoint Leadership Development, organizational leaders face the challenge of grasping this generally valued yet seldom understood quality. “Everyone „gets‟ communication,” he said. “Every executive gets this, but they find it difficult to find the time to immerse themselves in a study of their own communication patterns. What happens is they hear the ideas, but they get cosmetic fixes. Most of them don‟t do deep dives. Leaders think they‟ve got the general context, which is where their bread and butter is - how they move constituents.” Crossland developed a formal framework that focuses on three primary channels of communication: facts, emotions and symbols. Facts pertain to data, direct observations and literal interpretations of things and events; emotions relate to stirring the range of sentiments people feel; and symbols refer to metaphors, analogies and other representative illustrations. “These three channels apply to any leadership model in the world,” he said. “They might not put it the way I do, with symbols, facts and emotions. A lot of people don‟t walk around with that model in their head. But once they hear it, they‟ll say, „That‟s what I‟ve been experiencing. I just didn‟t have a schematic.‟” In particular, the rise of “executive presence, as a sought-after attribute among leaders has brought about a fresh examination of communication styles. “If you look at the root of executive presence, a huge component of that is the ability to communicate in the moment,” Crossland explained. “Whether that‟s e-mail, a videoconferencing or a town-hall meeting, that presence is felt through how messages are communicated. That‟s especially true these days, when so much content is delivered virtually and long distance.” To illustrate his point, he cited a recent appearance Bill Gates made at a technology conference via streaming video that was projected onto a large screen. Even though the prerecorded speech delivered via a 22-foot tall image of Gates might seem like a case of the medium overwhelming the message, Crossland insisted this communication is fundamentally the same as any other. “People will experience that visually and aurally, but most of the substance of it will be through those three channels,” he said. “The better Gates is with [facts, emotions and symbols], the better he‟s going to come across.”
Crossland argued that the weakest channel of communication among today‟s leaders is symbolic, although the emotional channel isn‟t used as often as it could be, either. “Both the symbolic and emotional channels have atrophied compared to the factual channel,” he said. “Most for-profits businesses exist in a tsunami of data. We speak in the factual channel; it‟s part and parcel of our lingo. In fact, if you can‟t do that well, you probably won‟t rise to a very high level of managerial responsibility. Unfortunately, we over-rely on that.” Therefore, learning executives should devise a more complete definition of communication as a competency when developing organizational leaders in this critical area. Also, Crossland said CLOs can contribute by modeling these behaviors themselves.
Embracing the Latest HR Technology Trends
advancements in communication and software technology are creating significant productivity improvements, particularly for the human resource professionals who use contemporary human resource and talent management systems. Watson Wyatt's 2007 HR Technology Trends Survey finds that companies are turning to technology to give employer and employee access to pertinent information and tools. From portals to software solutions, human resources technologies are providing a bridge to the information that employers and employees need to understand their changing workplace. One of the key findings in the survey is that one in five companies expects to change its human resources delivery structure in the coming year. Many talent management system software providers, including those who develop applicant tracking/recruiting systems, integrated payroll/human resource systems and learning management systems are actively working to embed several features into their products. Some of the most notable advancements include:
Alert Technology Conditional Workflow E-mail-based Actions Even though these features have been in existence for many years, it takes time for software developers to incorporate these features into their products. In many cases, it requires significant redevelopment of the provider’s software application. For example, the concept of employee self service has existed for decades. However, it required the affordable access to an enabling communication medium (Internet/World Wide Web) and developers to assimilate this technology into their products. Today, employee self service is a common feature that most human resource applications utilize. Here are some brief definitions and examples of the newest state-of-the-art features that are available for you to implement, and what you should now expect from using these solutions. Alert Technology Alert technology automatically monitors your human resource system(s) and proactively distributes information to your human resources and payroll personnel, managers and employees via your e-mail system. Specified actions and dates trigger automated messages, informing relevant parties about key activities and pending issues. For example, alerts can be established to:
Monitor key dates and send notices to employees and managers about annual performance reviews. Send automatic replies via e-mail for items such as thank you notes to applicants who send in resumes. Generate standard e-mail scripts to welcome new employees, while informing relevant departments of the new hire. Before alert technology arrived, reports would have to be manually initiated by users to identify the needed information. Alerts can significantly reduce time-consuming administrative tasks associated with paper flow.
More and more human resource teams are demanding that their applications utilize alert technology. In many cases, it has become apparent that simple, yet time consuming activities have to be automated to save time and increase effectiveness. Software providers have created predefined, easy-to-use templates for common activities like new hire and termination actions, performance review tracking, overtime and paycheck related listings, attendance records, applicant tracking, and training management tracking. In other cases, the software provider can work with a third party company, such as Cognos, that specializes in providing alert technology for software applications. In this case, a number of sophisticated alerts can be established with different output formats (e-mails, document files, spreadsheets or printed paper). Conditional Workflow Workflow automation is not new to the human resource system software industry. However, significant advancements in the sophistication of workflow and adoption by all facets of business management software are motivating many human resource system software providers to include “conditional” workflow technology in their applications. Workflow is a term used to describe the tasks, procedural steps, organizations or people involved, required input and output information and tools needed for each step in a business process. Workflow automation takes an existing chain of work, such as initiating an employee’s pay increase, and makes it automatic, usually with workflow software that guides information from point to point without human intervention. Early versions of workflow within human resource applications usually limited users to pre-defined workflows with limited functionality. Typically, automated workflows included routing requests for approval and/or notification. However, the same workflow actions were taken regardless of who and/or what it was for. Simple workflow templates worked with a limited ability to differentiate the data’s “conditions.” The workflow is worked on an “unconditional” basis. To illustrate an example of a non-conditional workflow in human resource management process, we will use a pay increase. For example, let us assume a company has a policy that requires division president approval for all exempt personnel pay increases over 10 percent. In an environment that uses simple, non-conditional workflows, all pay rate requests would be forwarded to a designated number of approvers. In most cases, the chain of approvers may be different depending on your organizational assignments (company, department, location, etc.). However, with non-conditional workflow, there is no way to define a different course of action (number of approvals, type of notices, messages, etc.) based on whether certain data conditions exist. In this case, all pay increases would require the same number of approvals. In our example, the division president could either approve all or no exempt personnel pay increases. If conditional workflow technology is utilized, we would be able to identify different courses of action, depending on whether certain conditions are met. In our example, we would be able to tell the system to include the division president as an approval step if a pay increase for exempt personnel is greater than 10 percent. E-mail-based Actions We can probably all agree that e-mail has been embraced by business as one of the primary communication tools between people and, more recently, software systems and people. People send people e-mails. Software systems also send people e-mails. Common e-mails from software systems include alert notices from your bank or credit card companies, Internet order confirmations, notices that e-mail was not delivered, etc. Just a few years ago, the e-mails we received from software systems were typically just notices. However, as technology advanced, we began to receive e-mails requiring some form of required “action.” These e-mails typically contained Web site links to the sites/software requiring the action. However, in most cases, e-mail
recipients had to “sign-in” to the originating software system and perform the required action indicated by the email. Using today’s e-mail and software technology, the e-mail recipient is now able to react to the request within the e-mail itself, thus bypassing the sign-in requirement. The benefit of using this technology is that users do not need to learn the underlying software application and can respond instantly using a familiar communication medium: e-mail. Using the pay rate increase example in the previous section, an automated workflow may have been designed to send an e-mail indicating that an approval action needed to be taken. Using older technology, the e-mail may have contained a Web site link to the human resource system. However, it still required a user to sign into the system and process an approval for the workflow request. Using current technology, the e-mail may include an “Approve” or “Deny” button that the user can select, thereby performing the action without signing into the originating system. What to Consider Today’s human resource management systems are embracing the latest trends in software technology. Some of the recent state-of-the-art features include alert technology, conditional workflow and e-mail-based actions. As your company is upgrading or adding to its human resource management system, consider selecting a partner whose systems use any or all of these time and money saving technologies. Not only will this allow you to improve how you execute today’s business processes, but it will also prepare the foundation you will need for continuing to add capabilities, efficiencies and speed in a business environment that only promises to be more demanding.