The publication of ‘Human Resource Champions’ (Ulrich,1997) was a huge catalyst for this change as it recognised the different roles that HR professionals could deliver within a business – from specialists in a functional area to Business Partners giving strategic input to their organisation. According Ulrich, successful human resource management aligns HR and business strategy and in today’s business world, the HR function’s objectives are less focused on the transactional operations of personnel administration and more towards learning and development and employee engagement.
We have also seen a rise in the outsourcing of operational HR including payroll, advisory and employee relations issues, which has allowed HR professionals within businesses to focus on objectives such as leadership, communication of shared values, developing organisational culture, talent management etc.
Developed ‘by the profession for the profession’ the CIPD Human Resources Profession Map (HRPM) https://www.cipd.co.uk/learn/career/profession-map sets out standards for HR professionals worldwide. It consists of 8 behaviours and 10 professional areas across 4 bands of professional competence. It shares what successful HR professionals know and do at every stage of their career and is designed to be applicable and relevant to all professionals across the HR spectrum.
According to the CIPD, Learning and Development is ‘specifically focused on helping people learn new skills so they’re motivated and productive at work’ and the HRPM outlines a multitude of activities which can be undertaken in an attempt to achieve this. As a starting point, we must develop learning and strategy plans. These must be specific to the people and organisation within which we are working and are unlikely to work on a one size fits all basis. Research will need to be undertaken in order to identify the learning capabilities and needs of the organisation as well on what successful learning options are available within a defined set of parameters e.g. budget, training resources available.
It is the job of the HR manager to conduct sufficient research to evaluate which models and techniques are deployed by their organisation in order to meet their specific needs and ultimately create a culture of learning within the organisation. For example, research has suggested that the 70/20/10 model may be one of the best for learners – suggesting we develop best when 70% of knowledge comes on the job, 20 % comes from observing others and 10% comes from formal training classes. The HR manager must gain knowledge of multiple learning and training delivery channels and be aware of the pros and cons of each in order to utilise the best one for the company. This will rely heavily on IT skills as one of the most powerful ways to research theory and practice is using the internet – both reading articles and analysing data produced.
Employee Engagement has been described as a ‘repackaging of previous concepts’ including, but not limited to, satisfaction, motivation, people management. Grounded in thorough research on the drivers of employee engagement, it is the role of the HR manager to devise and implement regular employee engagement initiatives, working with line managers to help implement practices and tools which facilitate ongoing engagement. The HR manager will need the knowledge of key influences on how people behave at work, which can include – leadership, work culture, job responsibilities, effective communication, family and personal life - in order to develop practical and appropriate interventions which aim to create a work environment which is conducive to genuine engagement of staff.
HR should be managed in a professional, ethical and just manner and a number of guidelines, directives and protocols have been implemented in order to facilitate this. The HRPM includes ‘Personally Credible’ as one of the behaviours an HR professional needs to carry out their activities, describing it as ‘building and delivering professionalism through combining commercial and HR expertise to bring value to the organisation, stakeholders and peers’. This is further underpinned by the Code of Professional Conduct (https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/what-we-do/professional-standards/code )which states that its members must: ‘maintain professional knowledge and competence through continuing professional development, to ensure they provide a professional, up to date and insightful service’.
The code of conduct also includes obligations under the heading of ‘Ethical Standards and Integrity’ whereby HR professionals must conduct themselves in an ethical and just manner. Most organisations have devised internal equal opportunities policies which outlines their commitment to The Equality Act 2010 and ensures they do not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. This will commonly be backed-up by a number of policies relating to accountability including whistleblowing, bribery and discipline. Accountability and transparency are vital to Business Success. The public outrage, for example, when hundreds of MPs were revealed to be dishonest with their expenses, illustrated how important it is to stakeholders and customers that a moral code is adhered to and HR professionals conduct their activities in an ethical, just and transparent way. The success of any business relies heavily on how it is viewed to the rest of the industry and world as a whole – a positive employer brand is vital and ensuring all departments – not just HR – act in a professional, ethical and just manner will aid this greatly.
Emma Conlon - Senior Recruitment Consultant
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