HR can be simple – 5 questions answered
Talking about simple HR, I felt a bit like I was swearing in church the other day when answering Peter Wald’s questions over at the HRM blog.
Peter Wald, a German Professor of HR Management at the Leipzig University, interviews HR leaders and asks the tough questions.
We talked about our mixed emotions regarding the industry; chatted about why HR is criticized today, how HR managers can show ROI to upper management and the current status of HR managers.
Here’s the interview where we talk Simple HR:
Today I talk to Rebecca Lundin, cofounder at Celpax, a company dedicated to sending tech to help leaders create workplaces that people love.
I would like to start by thanking her and would ask her to shortly introduce herself, before I start the interview.
Rebecca: I’m one of the people behind the Celpax, a free device that helps leaders have open conversations about what people think needs to be fixed in their workplace.
Employees give feedback at the exit door and the result helps leaders to continuously improve and measure if they’re heading the right direction.
Peter: What is your position in HR Management or rather where are your links to HR Management?
Rebecca: My perspective comes from being in contact with HR professionals in 60 countries on a daily basis, which is great fun!
One day I got emails from two HR people that were extremely similar in describing the type of work environment they were trying to achieve. In the evening I couldn’t even remember who was based in Mumbai, and who was based in Chicago.
I hear the same enthusiasm, worries and aspirations independently of where they’re based.
Peter: What is your opinion of the current status or standing of HR Managers?
Rebecca: At Celpax we see a trend where more and more HR managers feel a need to get data driven insights. This wasn’t as obvious when we were interviewing HR experts back in 2012, as we were searching for a product.
It was actually a former HR Director, now CEO, who first pointed us in our current direction with the simplicity of the green and red button.
Of course I’m a bit biased as what we provide is a new approach to improve at work. We probably attract the type of HR leaders that are more forward thinking.
On the other hand business managers also tell us that HR blocks them from getting started with our continuous improvement method.
In general we see a shift where HR want to get closer to the business and shift from the traditional once-a-year approach, to be able to put a Return-on-Investment on their activities.
Peter: In your opinion, why is HR Management so often and to some extent fiercely criticized today?
Rebecca: Wow, tough question!
Perhaps they don’t get enough into the current – or what people perceive as the real – problems in the organization?
One reason we started Celpax was because the industry is complex. We opted for simplicity. Are your people happy or not?
If not, you need to do something, and to see if the situation changes.
It’s a practical approach, less about techniques, more that things flow. And to be a honest… HR was a bit of a deception for us.
We thought we had a HR tool, and the only time we did advertisement with a pure HR focus, it didn’t work. Instead we got lots of middle managers. So getting HR to get involved has been a bit of a deception.
Operation managers have been our strongest user, or HR with a strong operational insight, or an analytical approach. In our data set we see that among the champions that have the best success in improving their workplace, HR professionals are clearly under-represented.
So I guess our surprise was that wellbeing was handled by middle management to such a great extent. I think many HR truly want to make sure they create a workplace that people love.
But in the daily grind, many find themselves stuck and overwhelmed with processes, job descriptions, legal stuff, payrolls… And many times they don’t have the line authority over the people they need to be onboard to bring positive change.
If you don’t have the middle managers with you, it’s tough to introduce change and improvement.
Tons of organizations also choose not to have HR on the board. That sends a pretty clear message too.
I’ve noticed that some managers see HR as a blocker. They’ll say stuff like “We’ll involve HR once we’re up and running”, and that they’re “unwilling to take risks”.
I love seeing how managers at all levels ask for our Celpax devices – after all a great workplace is everyone’s job and it’s fantastic when line managers take “responsibility” for what has previously been seen as pure HR (employee engagement).
Peter: Where do you anticipate specific need for change in performance/service and provision of HR Management?
Rebecca: Well, change starts from within. I think there’s a great trend happening where HR spend more time in the business, on the floor, to get a better business understanding.
Add to this the trend of making decisions with the help of analytics, statistics, simple HR, etc., I think it’s getting easier to crack the nut of finding work/life balance, making sure good employees stay, and that good people enter.
Peter: What will be the main focus/topics of HR Management in 10 years?
Rebecca: Well, how does HR want to evolve? To be an admin role? Outsourced to vendors? Actively involved in the business?
I think HR has an important role to play when it comes to start thinking in a different way about life quality, productivity… about work.
Peter: Now my final question, it’s regarding advice for my alumni and students:
What would you advise young HR Managers or students, who seek a career in Human Resources? What should they pay attention to?
What is and what will be important?
Rebecca: Some of the best HR people I’ve met have previously worked in other positions. I think that really helps with understanding both what it’s like “on the floor” and how HR is perceived.
Also to think about adopting agile strategies to be close to the business and act on stuff that is happening now.
Peter: Thanks for your insightful contribution. I wish you continued success, many friendly partners and new ideas at all times.
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