Workplace Culture

HR Is Getting ‘Intimate’ With Employees

By Val Matta

Apr. 19, 2018

Human resources is going back to the roots of an employee-centric workplace culture — and it’s about time.

According to Tom Haak’s HR Trend Institute, one of the major HR trends for 2018 is a switch from please the boss to employee intimacy. This trend is arguably the most important one HR has made since switching from personnel administration to HR management.

Many HR pros read “Human Resource Champions” by management guru Dave Ulrich. Unfortunately, many readers are left with one key message: Become a strategic partner. That meant chief human resources officers had to get close with management. This left out Ulrich’s biggest and most influential point: You need to focus on developing employee champions.

Now that CHROs are getting the message, it’s time to start developing a workplace culture revolving around employees’ needs.

The workplace should never feel stagnant to an employee. However, when HR is more focused on pleasing the boss, employees often resort to simply checking off one rote task after another.

In an “employee intimacy” setting, HR can shift the focus to each employee’s journey and experiences. This makes room for a better understanding of soft skills, offering more independence and allowing motivation to naturally skyrocket.

When employees are motivated by their own actions and passions, a ripple effect is created. This fills the entire company with employees who are improving companywide goals without extreme pressure from the top.

Create a workplace culture where leaders empower employees to feel in control of their own paths within the organization. Set aside your own and leaders’ agendas when establishing goal meetings. Start making employee-led one-on-ones the new normal in short-term and long-term goal setting.

Inform employees they’ll have 30 minutes to lead a meeting on any topic of their choice. Your role is to assist them in any way needed. If they’re struggling with a task, offer advice or resources. If they’re completely honest and say they’re getting bored in their responsibilities, find effective ways to reinvent their role together.

Empower Productivity

In recent years, HR pros have focused heavily on recruiting new talent to take on capacity problems. However, hiring quickly to fill roles leads to a decrease in the quality of talent. It also takes the focus off of your “A” players, leaving room for underdeveloped potential.

Creating a more employee-intimate workplace culture empowers your already-hired, talented employees to increase productivity, decreasing the need for constant recruiting. And when you’re able to stop filling holes with quick-fix hires, A-players are enabled to form indestructible A-teams.

Power up productivity using people analytics. Measure performance to understand what traits your top employees have. Once you have these traits pinpointed, use them to develop an efficient training solution for your entire team.

Explain to managers what traits you discovered that are propelling top employees forward and how the training will help all employees. By gaining a deeper understanding, managers have the ability to continue helping employees develop in the field. This increases their chances of creating a well-oiled machine.

Give the Power of Communication

Technology is constantly focused on improving our ability to communicate. Unfortunately, effectively communicating company news to employees remains a serious challenge that 73 percent of communication professionals reported facing in communications technology company Dynamic Signal’s “The State of Workplace Communications” report.

Many HR pros continue using easily accessible email to get information to employees. In fact, the majority of the study respondents cited email as the most effective way their organizations communicate with their teams. But cutting through the noise of hundreds of other daily emails is extremely challenging.

Surprisingly, company intranets came ahead of social media, break room posters and even mobile apps.

Stop letting your companywide messages become hidden among hundreds of other “high-priority” emails. Set up a company intranet system that puts your messages front and center. Send out messages celebrating employees’ accomplishments, short checklists for a healthy work-life balance and reminders for important forms that need filled out and signed.

Challenge managers to keep the discussion going on messages throughout the week. The more that managers focus on the message, the more enticed employees will be to open them up every day.

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift. Comment below or email

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift. Comment below or email

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