The busy manager’s guide to modern HR

Want to be better at people management? Wondering how on earth you actually ‘do’ HR?’ If so, you’re in luck – here’s the busy person’s guide to modern HR

Modern hr: modern workforce

HR and the way we manage people is changing. With digital disruptions, cultural shifts, and employees now expecting more from their working lives, managers are asking themselves:

  • Are people really being productive with their time, or are they slacking off?
  • Are employees engaged, or do they think our team building exercises are stupid?
  • How do we actually ‘do’ HR? Should we look at getting new tech?
  • Aren’t robots going to steal everyone’s jobs anyway?

If you’re feeling lost and confused, take some reassuring words from The Office’s Michael Scott:

‘People will never be replaced by machines. And in the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.’

To help you get to grips with roles and responsibilities, new technology and avoid classic pitfalls, here is the busy manager’s guide to modern HR.

1. It’s not about a department; it’s about fostering a culture

It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford a proper in-house department, because HR isn’t about that anymore – it’s about fostering a collegial company culture and encouraging social collaboration.

Lead with the company vision, get employees invested in your goals and sustain business-wide communication. The best way to do this is to adopt a truly open-door policy, use social media apps and avoid too much hierarchy and bureaucracy.

2. It’s about bloody timePurge that paperwork and reduce your manual loads

Modern HR: time shown on computer

Did you know that managers spend 15 hours a week on manual admin processes? Holiday spreadsheets, expenses forms, and dreaded timesheets are killing front-line employee engagement, too.

Modern HR is savvier with its time. It automates processes, gets self-service software and has a company intranet for policies and documents. Good HR software is cheap, easy to set up, and means everyone can upload and share digital documents to one single platform quickly.

3. It’s asking the right questions around productivity

After you’ve burned the timesheets, what do you replace them with? Productivity management isn’t easy, sure, but there are better ways to do it. And it starts with asking your team what they want.

  • How does your team like to track their hours?
  • Would they like to use apps?
  • Do your employees have everything they need?
  • What would really make them more productive?

Acting on feedback from your team around how they can produce their best work is key in modern HR. But even the fact that management cares enough to ask in the first place will increase productivity in itself – this is called the Hawthorne effect.

4. It’s taking happiness seriously

Modern HR: Michael Scott, I am dead inside

If ‘happiness’ sounds too soft for your skills, you need to re-assess. Productivity doesn’t come without employee engagement. And this doesn’t come without genuine happiness.

Automating mindless manual tasks will help, but you’ll need to do more to boost morale. Managers should think about:

  • Being aware of employee frustrations and doing your best to resolve them
  • Recognising achievements – even the small ones
  • Trusting your employees to do their job – don’t micromanage!

Taking happiness and employee wellbeing seriously will reduce things like absences and errors in work, so your ROI sees a boost too. Cheerful is cheap in the long-run, and negativity is really expensive.

5. It’s rethinking environment and encouraging better balance

Modern HR: balancing rocks

We spend most of our lives at work, so we need to do more thinking around our lives at work. To boost happiness and to combat the overwhelmed employees, consider:

  • Environment. Letting people work how and where they feel most comfortable is important. This can be anywhere between letting people decorate their desk, to wearing earphones to minimise distractions, to working from home a few days a week or full-time.
  • Working hours. Flexible working hours and not being stuck in the rigid 9-5 pattern is proven to make people more productive.
  • Time off. Letting people book their own holidays and manage their own time is crucial for functional HR in the modern world.

Whether you’re taking the plunge and going fully remote, or simply giving employees more choice in the office, freedom and flexibility are the cornerstones of modern HR.

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6. It’s smarter hiring and minimal firing

Today, we talk about the ‘consumerisation of HR‘, so you need to think about recruitment like marketing. As such, many marketers visualise their ideal customers and work off that to attract and retain them – you need to do the same for job descriptions and interview processes.

Done right, and not forgetting diversity, this means you’re likely to attract the right people, and won’t find yourself making bad hiring decisions. Remember, recruitment and retention should mean the same thing.

7. It’s all about ‘talent management’

Modern HR: lightbulbs on a string

Employees today, especially millennials, have no problem with quitting if they aren’t making progress or if they’re not treated as equals. This is where managers are often shortsighted – they sweat to hire top talent, then subject them to boring repetitive tasks and chain-of-command hierarchy. To retain the bright sparks, you need to:

  • Motivate through autonomy and let people take control of their own learning. We like the 70-20-10 rule
  • Train them effectively, which means understanding different personalities and tailoring career paths to the individual
  • Think beyond the pay rise and about deeper incentives your employees will really go after

‘Talent management’ is a buzzword. But it’s not about playing Hollywood – your employees (probably) aren’t demanding divas, and your job isn’t that cool. But you do have to be a bit cool. How? By actually caring about personal and professional development. And that means getting on their level.

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8. It’s understanding and listening to your employees

The only way people are ever going to be invested in the business and their work is if you know how to communicate with them. Ditch the appraisals. Give good two way feedback, and have a human conversation. It’s all about communicating with people continuously.

At Turbine, we have monthly 1-1s and use apps like Slack and Know Your Company to open up different lines of communication. People are a piece of cake to manage if you can build a culture of trust. Be on your employees’ side and they’ll be on yours.

9. It’s data-driven and big on analytics

Just under three-quarters of companies see analytics as a main priority for HR this year, according to Deloitte’s human capital report. Software that automatically logs and categorises information in one central place means you can populate and analyse data easily.

Depending on what you’re measuring, this could include anything from periods of time off, people’s contributions to projects or happiness levels at work.

10. Modern HR is just humans using their resources

Modern HR is about embracing new ways of working, new management styles and new technology to help us work more collaboratively. Companies should be really thinking about how people can be happier, more productive and better colleagues all round.

We all have limited amounts of time, brainpower, willpower and patience. To be a successful team of humans at work, we need to put our heads together and come up with better ways to manage and utilise our own resources.

Need help modernising employee expenses and time off management? Why not try a free trial of Turbine?

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