Irish News

Maybe it’s time to redefine HR - and not just for Christmas?

Neil Hughes
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As we approach Christmas and New Year it’s common practice in some industries to take the two weeks of Christmas off.

I was reminded on my way to work by a national radio show that it’s not always possible for companies to let their staff take the time off due to the nature of their business. The radio show was asking its listeners the age old question of whether people with children should get preferential treatment to those without children for the time off over Christmas?

It’s a tough question, the answer to which can tell you a lot about an organisation and how it values and treats its employees. Fundamentally, it’s about whether or not that organisation recognises their employee’s personal lives and therefore takes that into account in their HR approach.

Lars Schmit’s recent book on ‘Redefining HR’ suggests that for a company to be successful and attractive in this post Covid-19 world, it needs to move with the times and embrace all things diversity and inclusion. That HR departments and management need to be inclusive to the fact that people have varying personal situations, be that religion, sexual orientation, gender, mental health, physical well-being, and so on. Schmit argues that companies need to put their employees first, and to be grounded in empathy and physiological safety.

So, is the right answer to the argument highlighted at the beginning of this article to fall on one side or the other?

Well in short no. Instead what needs to be looked at is the HR policy behind it, and how this annual situation is handled. What needs to shine through here is ‘Fairness’; both sides of the argument have valid points, and both sides of the argument are entitled to spend Christmas as they see fit. What should never happen is that an organisation puts in place an archaic policy whereby people don’t have an option. Instead, in line with the times, the organisation needs to take a fair and pragmatic approach to the argument in question.

Schmit states that companies which don’t put their people first are cracking, the new age of HR is upon us, either move with the times or lose out.

In this post-covid environment we now find ourselves with companies scrambling for the best talent, the ball is very much in the employee’s court. Millennials and Generation Z are not just looking for a good salary and industry leading benefits. They are also exceptionally aware of things like culture, sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and learning/development. Schmit states in his book that smart companies can use culture to attract a diverse range of worthy, collaborative, and caring people whose personal values align with your corporate values. If your company culture is industry leading, it will not only retain the teams you have but also attract new talent as well.

It’s more important than ever that organisations build a humanistic and fair culture, grounded in people development and mentoring. Organisations need to take the time to get to know their employees. This will then help shape their HR policies and company direction. By knowing your teams, you will have a deeper understanding of what’s going on in their lives and ultimately what will make them perform. A happy and content team that feels supported by its employer and engages in its culture will ultimately generate higher productivity and profits where relevant, including a stronger organisation in the long run.