In the normal sense of the business world, change in HR is an almost daily occurrence. Large employers are often faced with outdated ways of managing talent and must accept new methods in order to attract and retain employees.
Change is slow to come as old habits die hard and traditionalist HR leaders are confronted with new challenges. Faced with current trends, HR must step up as “change agents” to protect the corporate culture and boost employee engagement levels if they want their organizations to survive.
Trends in Change Management from the HR Perspective
The Society for Human Resource Management publishes the SHRM Workplace Forecast every two years to track change in HR and the challenges faced. In the most recent report, the following top concerns were expressed by nearly 250,000 HR professionals from around the world:
- 79 percent are concerned about the continuing high cost of employee health care coverage in the U.S.
- 75 percent are worried about how they will manage the implementation of health care legislation
- 73 percent anticipate a major shortage of skilled workers and 68 percent attribute this to Baby Boomers leaving the job market
- 68 percent worry that a lack of STEM graduates in the U.S. will continue in the US, making it hard to compete with international companies
Along with these concerns, the SHRM study advised that many responded that they are taking change in HR seriously. Statistically speaking:
- 68 percent of HR leaders are now using social networking sites for recruiting, employer branding and other purposes
- 65 percent are updating technology use policies for employees (use of social networking sites, e-mail for non-business use, etc.)
- 60 percent are changing organizational policy in response to federal and state regulations
- 54 percent are changing employment practices to minimize legal risk
- 52 percent are expanding the use of technology-based employee and manager self-service applications
How can HR Know When it’s the Right Time for Change?
Change in HR can be a positive thing, as long as it’s done before a crisis or change in legislation occurs. But, how can HR leaders know when it’s the right time to embrace a chance and take action? Let’s take a look at a company that did not take action when it needed to.
Hostess Brands, manufacturer of Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, and Wonder Bread – iconic by American standards, was forced to declare bankruptcy after nearly 80 years in business. This occurred because Hostess refused to change in many areas where HR was involved, including their workforce management and market branding. “Human Resource professionals need to have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to not only adapt to change but to also identify when it’s needed and how to successfully leverage such opportunities. ” (Source: Cornell University, HR Review)
Sadly, what the HR leadership at Hostess Brands failed to recognize soon enough was that the consumer market was changing, and so they too needed to adapt and chance policies and procedures in keeping with growth. Identifying the need for change in HR comes down to understanding organizational readiness for change, how the change will take place, and what will happen after the change to ensure success.
A need for change can be spotted by monitoring levels of employee turnover, productivity, engagement, and more. When things are not going well, this is a queue for HR to take the reins and did deeper into the causes. Even small changes in HR can make a big difference. For example, implementing a new bonus program for top performers can increase productivity and sales.
What are Some Ways HR can Embrace Change?
As mentioned earlier, HR leaders must view themselves as change managers for their organizations. The HR department is the hub through which all other leaders will filter ideas and gather evidence for company updates. HR can facilitate this by being a conduit for change, from both the executive side of the table to the management of employees once a change is underway. Get out of the comfort zone by:
- Reviewing all aspects of the change, and the effects this will have on the company overall
- Keeping the doors of communication open among all levels of the organization
- Get support and training when a technology change is in order to increase comprehension
Change is a part of staying in business so it needs to be respected and handled with care. Being a proactive manager of change for your organization can help support a long term successful business.