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Here are 5 ways for your business to get the most out of HR – and to do HR well – in 2018

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Human capital is the most valuable resource in any business – before finance – and in today’s digital world of work, the time is ripe for HR to be the organisational ‘heartbeat’, with people being the ‘DNA’.

As more businesses transition to digital this year and shift the focus to people and performance rather than profit and performance, HR is going to be your business ally.

To get the most out of HR – and to do HR well – here are five tips to strengthen your HR credentials:

1. Prioritise people

The trend towards people, teams and culture management is an important shift away from the hierarchical approach to managing staff. Businesses now realise that the employment relationship is a two-way street and today’s employees want to be engaged, consulted, and to add value to the business.

Research tells us that organisations with high employee engagement are more productive, have higher retention rates, and are more profitable. A US survey on Employee Recognition by The Society for Human Resource Management demonstrates that recognition programs tied to organisational values delivered a 70 per cent return on investment (ROI), compared to a 38 per cent ROI on programs that were not tied to these values.

A great way to foster engagement is to constantly seek employee feedback. This can be done via periodical engagement surveys – that allow you to go deeper into specific areas such as onboarding and recruitment, culture, training, recognition, remuneration and organisational change – plus pulse surveys, which provide a regular and measurable way to ‘check-in’ with staff and make any adjustments to enhance the employee experience.

Solutions such as ELMO’s HR Survey can facilitate this dialogue. Whether the investment be in time, money, training, or other resources, being committed to your staff and finding ways to make their experience more fulfilling will produce win-win dividends.

2. Put the spotlight on wellbeing

A big trend – and challenge – businesses will be dealing with in 2018 concerns wellbeing. While 43 per cent of Australian workers say their workplace offers a wellbeing program, making these programs effective long-term is paramount, especially when considering the physical, mental and emotional aspects associated with ‘wellbeing’, as these figures show:

As workforces operate digitally, screen fatigue, and fatigue generally, have become real and costly issues. Findings from the US-developed Fatigue Cost Calculator reveals a US employer with 1,000 workers could lose $1.4 million each year in absenteeism, diminished productivity and health care costs because of exhausted employees.

An analysis of more than 300,000 hours of counselling sessions in Australian workplaces by Reventure shows the leading reason employees seek counselling is a breakdown in relationships at work and in the home.

According to Safe Work Australia, the cost of work-related injury and disease to the Australian economy is $61.8 billion (or four per cent of GDP), with the cost to employers being $3.1 billion.

While businesses may offer a list of initiatives that support wellbeing – such as flexible hours, mobile working, health incentives and team building days – employers will need to shift toward creating a ‘healthy people culture’ from the inside out. Just like digital HR requires a holistic focus, so too does wellbeing. Don’t be surprised to see businesses hiring designated Wellbeing Officers tasked with revolutionising individual and company approaches to wellbeing in the workplace.

3. Invest in HR technology

There has been a push among businesses to leave behind on-premise legacy systems and transition to the cloud in recent times – according to Sierra-Cedar research, 45 per cent of large companies and 51 per cent of mid-sized companies are increasing their spend on HR technology.

The pull toward integrated solutions that manage multiple areas of an organisation’s workforce and communications are becoming an intrinsic need in today’s digital world of work. Delaying the move will only make matters more complex and costly down the track – usually due to fragmented data from multiple sources that are not clean, or inefficiencies from having multiple providers.

Holistic and optimised cloud-based solutions are now available, and with the architecture that allows not only for automated and seamless recruitment, onboarding, learning, performance and succession, but also for integrated payroll, which provides end-to-end visibility across an employee’s journey for the HR professional, and the employee alike.

Advanced digital HR solutions offer a one-stop shop for all HR and payroll processes, which improves efficiencies, increases productivity and allows for forward planning using the data and analytics available to users through an integrated cloud-based solution, such as ELMO.

4. Cultivate leadership

Being a leader does not apply only to those in senior positions. Every individual in the workplace community has a unique contribution. Employers can play a huge role in creating inspired leadership by seeking to empower their employees, by getting to ‘know’ them, and by modelling great leadership qualities – such as integrity, agility, accountability, focus, and the ability to prioritise and achieve business outcomes.

One way to inspire individual and workplace leadership is by shifting the onus away from task-oriented productivity, checklists and performance-based KPIs – these are important but such a narrow focus can stifle creativity – towards innovation and opportunities that simplify a business’s approach to work.

For instance, innovative leadership could look like an employee identifying a new technology that transforms the way a business operates or engages its clients. The goal is to ultimately promote a culture of possibilities, where each individual collaborates and contributes to the broader business vision.

5. Champion the value of HR

As the function of HR evolves, it has become the ‘engine room’ in digitally-oriented businesses. As any head of HR would know, perfecting your approach to and management of people is critical to business strategy. This is key because HR is no longer a back-office department that sifts through resumes, fills roles and creates salary packages. HR is a partner in business and an intelligence centre.

While functions such as sourcing, winning and retaining talent remain a primary core of HR, the advent of artificial intelligence, big data and people analytics means HR teams are increasingly required to deeply understand an organisation’s workforce and apply data intelligence company-wide to achieve outcomes and boost bottom-lines. HR thus plays a huge role in helping senior leaders make strategic decisions regarding investment in people, skills, and the future of the business – and highly disruptive and specialised HR technologies are an ‘enabling glue’ to making this happen.

For businesses seeking to successfully navigate 2018 and embrace digital, strengthening your HR credentials could transform both your workplace and business performance. It’s time to take your HR into the twenty-first century.

Danny Lessem is the CEO of Australian HR tech innovator ELMO Software Limited.

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