- What has been the evolution of human resource management over the years, and what is the current value it provides to an organization?
Human resource management began in its first “wave” as a primarily compliance-type function, with the HR staff charged with enforcing compliance of employees and running the ongoing administrative processes. In the second wave, HR became focused on the design of HR practice areas, which could be built upon best-practice models. Wave 3 of HR brought with it the concept that HR should be a true partner to the business and should support the business strategy through its programs and services. Finally, in the fourth wave, HR is still a partner to the business, but it looks outside of the business to customers, investors, and communities to see how it can be competitive in terms of customer share, investor confidence, and community reputation.
Some key areas that HR supports within the employee life cycle process include: human resources compliance, employee selection and hiring, performance management, compensation rewards, and talent development and succession planning.
- How does the human resources compliance role of HR provide value to a company?
Human resources helps protect the company and its employees to ensure that they are adhering to the numerous regulations and laws that govern the employment relationship. The impact of noncompliance can be very costly and can be in the form of financial, legal, or reputational cost. Some of the key legislation that HR manages compliance around includes the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), among others.
Some of the best practices for informing and holding employees accountable are to provide education and training to explain the regulations, to provide reference documentation for guidance with the regulations, and to schedule regular compliance audits to ensure that processes are being followed. Scheduling regular internal HR audits help the organization plan and feel comfortable with its level of preparedness and illustrates the value that a strong HR group can bring to the organization.
- How do performance management practices impact company performance?
Performance management is a critical business process that the human resources group manages for the business. Performance management aligns the work of individual groups with the overall business objectives and enables the business to work toward its goals. Performance management should also help the company differentiate between different levels of employee performance through the management of feedback and a rewards structure.
Performance management also allows a company to identify its poor performers and provides a consistent process for tracking and managing poor performance in a manner that is fair and consistent with the law. There has been much discussion of best practices for a performance management process beyond a formal, annual process that often feels cumbersome to the business. However formal or informal, human resource management needs to ensure that the process helps to differentiate different levels of performance, manages the flow of feedback, and is consistent and fair for all employees.
- How do companies use rewards strategies to influence employee performance and motivation?
Companies use rewards strategies to influence employee performance and motivation by differentiating between the various levels of performance. This strategy is called pay for performance, and it ties the employee’s performance level to a consistent framework of rewards at each level. Research indicates that the primary reason that companies implement pay for performance is to be able to recognize and reward their high performers.
To implement a pay-for-performance structure, HR and the organization first need to define a compensation philosophy, then perform a review of the financial implications of such a system. Gaps in the current system must be identified, and compensation practices should be updated in accordance with the determined pay-for-performance design. Finally, communication and training are key to help employees understand the context and philosophy, as well as the specific methodology.
- What is talent acquisition, and how can it create a competitive advantage for a company?
Human resource management plays the important role of managing the talent processes for an organization, and it is critical in the process of acquiring talent from the outside. Talent acquisition is the process of determining what roles are still needed in the organization, where to find people, and whom to hire. Hiring top talent is a key source of competitive advantage for a company, and not all organizations are good at doing it.
The impact of hiring is especially magnified when you talk about top leadership talent. The right leadership candidate can make all the difference in an organization’s growth, performance, and trajectory over the years. HR should work with the business to assess need and specifics of the job, develop a pool of candidates, and then assess candidates for the right person to bring into the organization.
- What are the benefits of talent development and succession planning?
Talent development and succession planning processes provide organizations with the systems needed to assess and develop employees and to make the appropriate decisions on their internal movement and development. One important talent development process involves a talent review, in which leadership discusses the employees in its groups in terms of their performance and potential. Performance is based on current performance management evaluations on the current role. Potential is based on behavioral indications that would predict future high performance and promotability in an organization. There is then a discussion on the follow-up actions and development plans for the employees, based on where they fall in the performance/potential matrix. The benefit of this process is that the organization gains a better understanding of where the top talent is within the organization and can make plans to manage the development of that talent.
Another key process for managing talent is succession planning. In this process, leadership and HR meet to identify leadership roles and other critical roles in the organization, and then they discuss a potential pipeline of internal and external successor candidates at different levels of readiness for the role. The output of succession planning is that an organization gets to understand the depth of its talent bench and knows the gap areas where it may need to focus on developing or acquiring additional candidates.