HR Model to (Re-)Engage Employees

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HR Model to (Re-)Engage Employees
I have undertaken some research and written a paper explaining how disengagement is the principal cause of static productivity in the UK. The paper concludes with a new model of HR to re-engage employees, boost productivity and re-invent the need for more strategic HR.
Here is a short summary:
HR HAS BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL IN FULLY ENGAGING EMPLOYEES TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY. If HR leaders do not change direction their future is bleak. A new direction should include becoming 'performance enhancers' working from the heart of the organisation, and:
  1. Promote excellence and continuous improvement.
  2. Ensure collaborative working and common alignment to corporate goals.
  3. Reduce focus on transactional activities to concentrate on strategic matters which will ensure positive change in organisational performance.
  4. Understand and recognise conflict and continually work with line managers to eliminate it.
  5. Stop babysitting managers and instead ensure they have the knowledge and skills to manage people effectively.
  6. Replace traditional HR metrics with 'commercial KPIs' which influence productivity and profitability.
  7. Ensure all the contributors in the organisation are equitably rewarded for their contribution.
My full research paper is available if required.

Model to Engage Employees
Pearl Cruickshank, Member
Hi Hugh, I am only in my first course of Doctoral studies in business HR specialization. I share the same thoughts that IN GENERAL HR IS NOT INVOLVED ENOUGH AFTER THE INTAKE of new employees in regards to: retention, training, re-education, improvement and equitable rewarding of employees to keep the employee engaged in the organization's goals/visions.
There should be more deliberate ongoing training of both managers and their employees. I believe that it should be a journey of developmental stages that are measurable from recruitment to separation or retirement from the organization.
My vision is to create a model that will capture these developmental stages.

Engagement Needs Leadership
David Wilson, Premium Member
Hi Hugh: I agree with your comments about HR not engaging employees.
I also believe EXECUTIVES need to show more leadership and provide considerable support for any engagement strategies and actions.
In Canada, board members (private sector) and elected officials (e.g., municipal, provincial and federal) need to hold senior executives and managers accountable for the lack of engagement. I suspect many organizations talk about engagement, but do too little to support real engagement. Thanks for your post.
Regards, David.

The Role of the Responsible Line Manager
Marl van der Toorn, Moderator
As a business coach, I also see quite a few LINE MANAGERS who are incapable of adequately engaging their employees. Managers should develop people competencies like leadership and goal setting, guiding and coaching, giving and receiving feedback, creating commitment, open communication, motivating, building great teams, etc.

HR Model to Re-engage Employee
Prof. Arup Barman, Premium Member
A nice attempt to develop this model of HRM to re-engage employees. Once employees are disengaged, it's really difficult to reengage them. For reengagement, Human Resource Management has to do a lot of things. But what precisely are those things, how can we answer to the problem of engagement.

Model to Re-engage Workforce
Dear Professor Barman, I agree that EMPLOYEE RE-ENGAGEMENT IS A DIFFICULT PROCESS as an adversarial atmosphere will be present. These were conditions in the UK (as elsewhere) when trade unions held the upper hand and weak management generally capitulated. Today I think that Management, supported by HR have to confront the situation directly, detailing the issues and seeking input from all on the remedies. Remedies will deliver benefits to both parties. TRANSPARENCY is a vital ingredient of the process.
Dr. Hugh Billot.

Employee Involvement in Strategic Matters
James Antwi, Premium Member
The HR - model to re-engage employees for higher productivity appears interesting.
To find practical approaches to employee engagement, we need to better INVOLVE STAFF IN STRATEGIC ISSUES. Instead of the traditional belief that strategic issues are for senior management only, engaging staff in the strategic development process is a powerful tool in the art and science of implementation and thus enhancing performance. Connecting staff to the organization by engaging them even in the strategy development process therefore becomes an important practical step in the approach to staff motivation for higher performance.

Human Resources Need to Be Facilitators
Ivan Kohlinsky, Member
HR is a necessary function, especially with all the legal and other requirements of a modern day business. But further 'Grandiosement' of HR since the development from its days as 'Personnel' to full blown HR could be unproductive in the end. HR specialist are clearly professionals, but rarely have the essential 'real world' experience of line management. Not do they have a deep knowledge of the work/operations of their own company.
As has happened to the 'political class', trust and the development of workable solutions has gone out of the window, in part due to the lack of connection and in depth knowledge and understanding on the part of MPs whose political career ladders mainly are via PPE, Political Science, Social Science degrees, working in Charities or distant functions in Public Sector organisations. HR DEFINITELY HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS that you mention, to identify and help train line managers, suggest employees and managers motivation methods etc. etc.

More Accountabilities Needed
Richard, Member
@David Wilson: Totally agree with you David, we tend to give too many rights and not enough accountabilities.

HR Re-engagement Model
@Ivan Kohlinsky: Agree with your comments on HR. My detailed paper recommends that HR PRACTITIONERS SPEND SOME TIME IN LINE MANAGEMENT roles as part of their development and enhanced skill base.

HR Only Facilitates and Designs the Engagement of Employees
Ahmad Sultan Abdulla, Member
Whilst I agree a number of local companies do not make much effort in employee engagement, there are many multinational organisation who spent big budgets trying to engage their employees. See Google, AMEX, BP as an example.
Some succeed, some fail because their actions does not align with the spirit. And because there's no real authentic leadership from the top to drive this, track the success and relearn.
Engagement is also driven by the organisational culture. One size does not fit all - Japanese do it differently as do Koreans as does the western world. Societal cultural norms need to be considered too.
With regards to the role of HR in employee engagement, organisational development plays a very important and specialist role in this area. Not every HR person may have the competency to analyse, intervene or facilitate nor understand the cogs & wheels in the organisation. HR IS ONLY A FACILITATOR AND DESIGNER. Actions by the line manager play a great part in the working "life" of the employee. They make engagement real. And felt.

HR - a Key Strategic People-centric Role
Rob Powys-Smith, Member
Hugh, remarkably, this echoes the central premise of an email I sent a Chief Detective Superintendent last night. HR (flippantly dubbed 'Human Remains') SEEM TO DELIVER VERY LIMITED VALUE OTHER THAN INITIATE PROCESS-DRIVEN WORKFLOWS that seem devoid of creativity, innovation or productivity-orientated development.
Deep-cut austerity aside, CID, once the pinnacle of aspiring Police officers, has been subjected to measures which have driven down overall length of service, reduced tenure (time in post), increased workloads, deepened caseload complexity and scaled-back incentives (relative to other roles of similar responsibility).
HR, which ought to be named, People Development, ought to have been keenly aware of the impact such factors would have on bright, young, recent graduates plus the 'older sweats', who also have had to manage significantly heavier workloads. Instead we have demotivation, burnout and high attrition.
Surely, an organisation's most precious asset is its people.

Re-engagement Model for HRM
Hi Rob, people are more than the most important asset as they, unlike most other assets which depreciate, effectively will increase in value if engaged. Also people in my view are the principal source of competitive advantage. CEOs and HRDs need to wake up.

Re-Engagement of Employees
Youssef OUDRA, Member
Thank you for the topic. My question is: which is more difficult:
1 - To engage those who already work in the company?
2 - To engage those who join it after taking the decision of re-engagement?

Peer Recruitment by Engaged Workforce
Youssef, my view is simple, ONCE YOU HAVE AN ENGAGED WORKFORCE YOU BYPASS HR AND UNDERTAKE PEER RECRUITMENT. Existing employees will be better placed than anyone else to recognize the knowledge, skills and behaviours a new recruit would bring and as such would hire the most suitable persons and then induct and develop them into the positively engaged culture in the organization.

HR Model to Reengage Employees
sugiarto, Member
Hugh, I agree with you. Your HR model to reengage employees is very important to enhance staff performance and has a big effect on productivity. Thank you for sharing this.

Formative and Transformational Role of HR
Adrian Sandoval, Member
Dear Hugh. I'm a business ethics professor at a Mexican university. In my course I place special emphasis on the need for HR TO HAVE A FORMATIVE AND TRANSFORMATIONAL ROLE in the organization, but especially among the management cadres. I would be interested to know your paper. How can I get it? And I congratulate you on your research.

Create a Fair Working Environment to Keep Employees Engaged and Go Beyond Their Task
duong, Member
No matter how many tactics you use, people will see through it and will immediately try to figure out the most beneficial strategy for themselves.
Therefore, in my view TREATING PEOPLE FAIRLY AND don't falling into favoritism based on seniority is the most difficult challenge HR needs to address.

HR Can Help by Feeling the Pulse of the Organisation
Ivan Kohlinsky, Member
@Hugh's method of getting real operational in depth company knowledge in HR by:
- HR placements 'deep in the company" and/or
- Recruiting HR people from line/other management functions
is a good idea.
But HR should also be taking the 'pulse of the organisation' and of individuals via ATTITUDINAL SURVEYS… The ones where statements are made and people mark 'strongly agree' etc. Then plan & execute communication/involvement/training/strategy employee/manager etc SESSIONS and workshops. Executive/Senior/Middle management can then take the engagement/motivation/enthusiasm forward.

Belonging and Loyalty are the Main Things
ayman, Member
I agree with Duong about treating people fairly for opportunities and also for accountability issues, involving them in decision making that is affecting their interests (rights), supporting, respecting, clear rules and regulations and some more factors which will create a feeling of BELONGING that will reflect in employees' behavior and LOYALTY and will activate their spirit to produce and innovate.

Attitude Surveys as a Tool for Re-engagement
Ivan, ATTITUDE SURVEYS can be very valuable and I have used them in the past. Managers sometimes have to swallow hard where they are criticized and will need to openly address such issues. Senior management will need to be brave enough to share the results with all employees and managers and employees need to commit to and make changes for the benefit of all. Sounds simple enough but from my experience it can be a git-wrenching process.

HR is the Problem
Tom Wilson, Member
The purpose of HR has developed since the 1960s to advance the agenda of the executive suite and to co-opt, if not suppress, Esprit de Corps. This is a principle of Scientific Management at the core of the Harvard Business Model.

EMPLOYEES KNOW THAT HR WAS CREATED TO COVER MANAGEMENT'S BUTT AND TO BE A CORPORATE CHEER LEADER and I'm not sure there is anything HR can do to remedy this reality. Beyond the persistence of the superstitious belief in managing perceptions pretty much in the manner of Trump's deployment of Tweets as a substitute for constructive operational, much less, strategic policy, HR offers little more that a process of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Until the current generation of managers abandon the fallacy that leadership skills can be acquired intellectuall and/or through TED Talks, disengagment will persist. Dilbert is based on Scott Adams's accurate, and deliberate, reflection of HR theory in action.

Isn't Using the Term HR a Bad Start as Regards Showing That People Matter?
Ivan Kohlinsky, Member
Tom, I used to work (a long time ago) with many colleagues who were still fighting the Vietcong (in mental attitude that is/'inside') when on a management consultancy job in a Company. This could be effective, but did not convey the warm cosy cuddly approach that is sometimes needed to get things done and for the changes to stick.
In a similar vein, giving the impression that people are just a resource, like copper, tin by using THE DEPARTMENTAL/FUNCTION NAME "HR" doesn't seem to be a good start. HR needs renaming and re-marketing… Beware the VC spikes!

Alternate Model to Engage… the Organisation
Cesar, Member
I agree with you all... But we are only talking of employees results. I know we contract them for being productive, for giving results... But what do we do as leaders to be like a family inside the organisation?
See, I am a HR manager in my organisation, and I am applying one simple model: to BE LIKE A FATHER OR A FAMILY!
It is simple... Imagine you have 3 sons and 3 daughters. Everyone have different behaviors. One son can be quiet, the other one demanding, the other negligent. The daughters: one can be impulsive, the other creative, and the last a critical person. As you can see, our sons and daughters can not be led by one type of leadership.
As a father you give different attention to each one, and they all are your family, and they all are treated "equally". The focus is, we treat them in different ways, with different types of leadership. I am applying a model where I create different groups of employees, and I attend them by their traits. My results: better results as team.
Don't forget that we are all the organisation: they, the employees, and we, the directors. Don't choose only one type of leadership, and be a family.
I hope you can understand my example, and that it will be useful for you all. As an organisation, we decreased attrition, and we increased productivity.
They need to be hired, and we need them. That is a win - win relationship. I am using this personal model, maybe no one has put it on a book, but it is working well for me.

Employees ARE Engaged
Gary Wong, Premium Member
I’m offering a different perspective. Employees are engaged.
The problem is that HR looks through the lens of a traditional top-down hierarchical structure. They don't see the relationships and daily interactions between crew members and people in horizontal work processes. Informal networks such as silos, cliques, factions are seen as “evil” instead of people engaging in natural stigmergic behaviour.
HR shouldn’t be asking "Why aren’t people engaged?” but asking “WHAT IS ATTRACTING PEOPLE TO ENGAGE?”

Conflict IS Engagement
Gary Wong, Premium Member
Here’s my contrary opinion to #4 re eliminating conflict. If the company and HR believe in promoting DIVERSITY, then conflict should be encouraged. An attempt to eliminate is to stifle divergent thought, the root of creativity and innovative thinking. Engage employees and hear their different plausible perspectives.
Let’s leave the 20th century paradigm behind that strategic thinking is about top management quickly converging, picking an ideal future, and then aligning the subordinates below to execute. In today’s VUCA world, strategic thinking is keeping all options open since the future is unpredictable. This means not converging prematurely and encouraging healthy conflicts in order to make sense of the present.

Book: Principle-Centered Leadership
Gary Wong, Premium Member
@Cesar: There is a book: Principle-centered Leadership. It was written by Stephen Covey in 1990. It describes the Inside-Out approach which you are following.

HR as Ethnographers
Gary Wong, Premium Member
I agree HR’s new direction should include becoming 'performance enhancers' working from the heart of the organisation. However, I feel the 7 points listed still have too much corporate tainting.
I suggest HR engage themselves in shaping org culture by becoming story collectors and practicing distributed ethnography.
I could expand but I’ll leave my reply short. This could become a separate Forum topic if there is enough interest expressed.

Stories as Pixels
Gary Wong, Premium Member
@HUGH BILLOT: I too have struggled with attitudinal surveys using Likert “strongly agree” scales. A less gut-wrenching method is through stories. Torben Rick’s iceberg model aptly shows where stories reside and where we want to go - way below the water line and deep down. As I noted elsewhere the practice is called distributed ethnography. A major difference is we don't focus on individuals but on the system. This is holistic, not reductionist thinking. The science behind the approach is morphogenesis. Think of digital imaging as a metaphor: Pixels -> Patterns -> Picture. Attitudes are the patterns that are formed by the stories, the events that people experience working everyday.

Gulati's 3P Framework
Jaap de Jonge, Editor
Also take a look at Gulati's 3P Framework for Employee Empowerment and Operational Discipline, as it also provides an interesting new view on (re)engaging employees.

HR is FUNCTIONALLY the Problem: Renaming HR is Window Dressing
Tom Wilson, Member
@Ivan Kohlinsky: As Lincoln observered, renaming the tail of the dog doesn't create a dog with five legs.
As a management principle, Esprit de Corps is universally violated by American corporate culture. Marx and the Harvard Business model agree that capital/management and labor are antagonistic agendas. Marx considered free enterprise and the profit motive evil and private property as theft. Harvard doctrine, which was adopted from Frederick Taylor's Scientific Management, considers organized labor as criminal and is designed to sustain 19th Century Oligarch economics by suppressing Esprit de Corps and crushing organized labor.
The HR function originates from this agenda.
The fact is, management and labor represent a natural division of labor
Labor unions are mechanisms for workers to capitalize Esprit de Corps and to recapture synergies from their labor that are otherwise lost by the mechanics of industrial processes. Re-tooling HR as a force multiplier for management and labor as complimentary agendas is what Deming discovered works best. To do this, Deming had to re-invent the labor union.

HR Model to Re Engage Employee
Ahmad Sultan Abdulla, Member
@Tom Wilson: You must have had some very bad experience with HR. I am an HR professional, and I never see my self as what you have described. Nonetheless, I agree with you that HR roles is very much the role of the line manager. You do not need HR actually to do those things, but you would need advisors and facilitators to help you to do the right stuff. This is where HR professional should focus. A step behind line managers.

Process Theology
Tom Wilson, Member
@Ahmad Sultan Abdulla: Are you familiar with the phrase "Be All You Can Be"? Frank Burns was the guy who coined the phrase and he was the Army's Organization Effectiveness guru as the head of Task Force Delta. I am an Organization Development guru. The difference is that OE is for socialist societies and OD is for capitalist societies. He and I are the best in the word at what we do and he's dead. HR is using 19th century performance technology. If Peter Drucker is at the leading edge of your strategic thinking, your performance model was state of the art when women began to play half-court basket ball and Dilbert is your HR Archetype.
Let me put this a different way: President Trump is a typical Fortune 500 CEO and his behavior at NATO is a classic study in the Harvard "kick ass and take names" leadership model.
Most HR professional create a nightmare in the name of corporate integrity.

Re-engagement of HRM
Response to @process theology. The 'old ways' may work well today. I am a fan of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the founder of scientific management around the early part of the twentieth century.
Taylor believed that the principal objective of management was to secure maximum prosperity for the employer (defined as the development of a state of permanent prosperity including large profits) and to secure maximum prosperity for the employee (which he defined as higher wages and development of knowledge and skills to attain higher levels of contribution).
To me that objective is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago. My real concern with HR is that practitioners today lack understanding of the great contributors to enhancing people performance and spend too much time craving identity. HR can find a real role if it follows my proposed model.

Applicable KPI for Engagement
Fattah Peiravian, Member
I agree with you, Hugh. We are trying to find the best KPI just depending on engagement…
What’s your results or opinion about the best KPI in this study ?

Dissect the Functions That HR Carries Out
Ivan Kohlinsky, Member
@Tom Wilson. If Trump looked at the HR function, he'd probably look at the functions (and usefulness) that it performed and close it down:
- Anything Salary/pay etc related would go to the Finance Function,
- HR law related matters and knowledge would be assigned to the 'Legal function/Secretariat',
- Recruitment would return to the line functions - areas where they actually know what the job entails and what the ideal candidate might 'look like'.
- Motivational, performance measurement and training would be the responsibility of operational management…
And the HR staff... Yes of course... Assigned to the night shift on the tractor assembly line to tighten wheel nuts so that they could learn what the organisation does and give them a chance to add value. P.S.: Some of this may have been 'tongue in cheek' - or maybe not!

Engagement KPIs
@Fattah Peiravian: Without doubt the best KPI is Gross Profit per Employee (i.e. before tax and any special adjustment) but also important would be Total Employment Cost (wages/salaries plus employer pension contributions and employer payroll taxes) of $1 of sales income and one other would be Output per Worker per Hour.

Gaming the Engagement / Performance KPI
Gary Wong, Premium Member
@HUGH BILLOT: Is it really fair to employees to have their performance based on a number they cannot directly control? Customers decide how much Revenue while others determine what Expenses will be associated with the sale. This can lead to gaming the system and manipulation.
In addition, why is money only considered? Employee engagement can also return intangible gains such as company goodwill, contributions to society (e.g., volunteering time in charitable events), reducing turnover, attracting new recruits. I suggest we avoid the Tyranny of Metrics.

Employee Engagement Through Communication
Prof. Arup Barman, Premium Member
Communication is deeply embedded in the culture. In any organisation, its culture has a strong connection with its members' communication. Communication in an organisation plays a vital role in the process of employee engagement. Therefore, creating a culture of open and honest communication is really important. Communication can be called "the foundation of the engagement bridge". While developing the engagement bridge, companies should pay utmost attention to the following points:
  1. Rationale of communication with level of explanation.
  2. Promoting a culture of openness and transparency.
  3. Taking care "Could you communicate openly"?
  4. Care on the feedback routes and feedback languages.
  5. Selection of channel of communication that reaches all.
I suggest, be a rebel and stop lies, half truths, under-communication, and a culture of sabotage.

Gaming the Engagement
@Gary Wong: These measures are too soft in my opinion. If employers and employees want more and to do that they can secure alignment of objectives, more profit and more pay will be the leading requirements. We live and work in a hard edged environment so hard edged measures are appropriate. Regards, Hugh.


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