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Put People First When Setting HR Goals

Consider two aspects of contemporary business. On the one hand, in order to thrive, your organization must be diligent, competitive, and keenly focused on bottom-line results. But at the same time, most of the companies that earn respect and profits know that nothing is more critical to attaining their goals than a workforce that feels not only engaged, but also valued.

The cornerstone of a great place to work is trust built on open, engaged relationships between management and employees. Only from that foundation can employees feel the profound sense of engagement that marks a great company. Here are some things to consider when setting HR goals:

  • Employee well-being as a core value. Without exception, companies known for their “people-friendly” HR policies have adopted the notion that employees are a cherished asset — and need to be treated accordingly.

  • A reasonable commitment to job security. Though even the most employee-friendly businesses in today’s marketplace can’t guarantee lifetime employment, companies that place a high value on the personal well-being of their people tend to view massive layoffs as a last resort, not a reflex response to a business downturn.

    This has a flip-side as well: do not hire people you know you only need for six months as employees. Being clear when people do not have job security is hugely important.

  • People-friendly facilities. Virtually all businesses today are obligated by state and federal law to provide a safe working environment. Employee-friendly companies, though, go above and beyond, creating facilities and introducing policies that far exceed legal requirements.

  • Sensitivity to work-life balance issues. A company’s ability to attract and retain employees with the expertise it requires relates increasingly to the “human” side of the everyday working experience — the general atmosphere that prevails in the workplace. This includes, in particular, the extent to which company practices help people balance the pressures they face at work with the pressures they have to deal with at home.

  • A high degree of employee autonomy. Employee empowerment in employee-friendly companies is more than simply a catch phrase; it’s one of the key values that drive day-to-day company operations. The rationale behind true employee empowerment is that most people work harder and do a better job when they’re accountable for their own decisions and actions, as opposed to simply “following orders.”

  • Open communication. Managers have a vital role in explaining to employees how their individual goals support organizational objectives, and a two-way dialogue helps staff understand how overall business priorities should affect their work.

  • A sense of belonging. To be truly productive, people need to feel “good” about being a part of an organization. The more people feel comfortable with being who they are at work, the higher their morale, the greater their contributions, and the more their creativity is unleashed.

Human resources management is all about people: finding and recruiting them; hiring them; training and developing them; paying them; retaining them; creating an environment that’s safe, healthy, and productive for them; communicating with them; and doing whatever is reasonably possible to find that delicate balance between what best serves the basic needs of employees and what best serves the market-driven needs of the company.

It is important to perform these functions as effectively and efficiently as possible.

When choosing the right HR goals for your organization, it’s important to think strategically. No doubt you’ve heard the term strategic thinkers. But what does it really mean?

At their core, strategic business thinkers try to look ahead, attempting to anticipate which issues and information will be most relevant. They don’t look at their work merely as a series of tasks or simply react to events; they also examine trends, issues, opportunities, and long-term needs—and shape what they discover into policies and recommendations.

To borrow from the restaurant industry, strategic thinkers do more than cook; they help shape the menu.

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