Two Examples of How an HR Leader Can Impact an Organization
You may be managing your company’s human resources department, but does your HR style impact the way your company is run? This month Workplace HR examines the need for a company to encourage leadership abilities among its HR professionals. However, little actions often speaks louder than words, so we have two examples that demonstrate how HR’s leadership (or lack thereof) can impact an organization.
Example 1: When HR Isn’t at the Leadership Table
Terri Howard, senior director of FEI Behavioral Health in Milwaukee, provides a valuable example of what happens when an organization does not allow an HR representative a voice at the leadership table.
“During the hurricane season of 2005 I worked for a very large retailer,” she recalls. “At the time we had our business partners around the table, everyone from facility management to the legal department chiming in on preparing the organization for what we knew was going to be a devastating event. As we thought about our employee base that was at that time missing and unaccounted for … we sat around the table talking about these folks coming back to work and having enough managers. It was a feel-good moment, for a moment, until an HR generalist said ‘yes, but how are we going to pay the people?’ We had thought about the fact that we were going to open up stores and the cash registers were going to be running again but that human element, that element of who are we going to get to run the cash registers, how were we going to pay them, and those types of challenges still remained. I think had we had someone from HR who had been sitting around the table, that wouldn’t have been an afterthought,” Howard says.
Example 2: How HR Leadership Can Transform Employee Engagement
Joe Schaffer, managing director of the Rutgers Center for Management Development in New Brunswick, N.J, on the other hand, provides a glimpse of the impact an HR leader can have on employee engagement. Before joining Rutgers he served as vice president of HR for a large global transport and logistics organization.
“We were a very results-oriented organization,” he explains. “However, we also recognized that as a transport and logistic organization we could help the world that we lived in to a greater extent than we were.”
According to Schaffer, “Before all these other organizations came out to talk about how they were helping to make the world more sustainable and corporate responsibility, our organization put in place a joint effort with the World Food Program to deliver food around the world to starving people. The issue isn’t not enough food: it’s how to get it [where it needs to be]. As a logistics company we said we wanted to do this.
“I have never seen a transformation in terms of employee engagement in their work and satisfaction with the organization until we developed this culture around results, yes, but being a good partner with the world,” Schaffer says. He explains, “This helped transform who we were as a company, and it helped recruit and retain people.” Part of the success of this program was that all of the protocols HR put in place around training, recruitment, selection, benefits, etc., reflected the company’s focus on not only getting results but being good world citizens.
For the full story, read “Why It’s Critical for a Corporate Culture to Embrace HR Leadership.”
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