Is your HR function stuck in the eighties? By Malachi McPherson

14 Oct 2022
Written by: The TCM Group

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We’re now in week three of our series exploring the eight enablers of a transformational culture, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun! Last week, we covered the importance of evidence based practice in supporting culture change. In case you missed it, you can read this article here

This week, we’ll be exploring ‘the people and culture function,’ which is the third enabler proposed by The TCM Group’s founder and CEO David Liddle in his book Transformational Culture.


A world without HR?

You may be surprised to learn that the HR profession was not always around! While humans have been working in some capacity since the origins of our species, early labourers working arrangements, which were largely individualised or took place in small groups, (arguably) did not require the HR function.

Fast forward to the 18th Century, and the emergence of the Industrial Revolution had drastically changed the nature and culture of work. Inherent of these changes were dangerous working conditions, lengthy hours, ineffective management practices and a lack of employee rights to name a few!


The seeds of change

Thankfully, people began to take notice with various movements and theorists proposing ideas which would improve working conditions, aiming to improve performance, provide employee feedback and plan tasks more effectively. This led to roles such as labour and employment managers becoming commonplace in workplaces.

But don’t get too carried away! Human resource management didn’t become a ‘thing’ until well into the 1980s!


Does your HR function do ‘what it says on the tin?’

Now, undoubtedly the HR profession is an important and integral aspect of organisation’s day-to-day function and continuity. However, quite unfortunately, given my brief history lesson of the profession’s origins, it’s regrettable that for many the function is seen as being sinister, adversarial, paradoxical, and unfit for purpose.

Contemporarily, the HR function is often seen as an extension of the organisation’s authoritarianism; safeguarding, following due process and acting as a disciplinarian. This is quite the opposite of the profession’s origins in improving employee wellbeing and rights. How have the waters become so muddied along the way?


Be a part of the change

Within the context of improving and transforming workplace culture, HR has a huge part to play. Within the current global climate, the scope and nature of work is rapidly shifting and evolving. Thus, for the HR/people and culture profession it is imperative to be aware, proactive, agile and adaptable to change to ensure workforces are sufficiently accommodated and supported to fulfil their duties.

HR should be a neutral, forward-thinking and people-centred function; aligning the organisation’s vision, values, strategies and goals to the inherent culture, needs and interests of the workforce. This can be achieved by HR professionals by:

  • Adopting transformational principles and approaches to justice, conflict, performance, recruitment and more
  • Encouraging dialogue. Creating an environment which welcomes and champions the sharing of ideas, inclusion, diversity, creativity and innovation.
  • Remaining neutral and impartial. HR should not be seen as an extension of the management or senior leadership voice. This is counterintuitive to its purpose and often inhibits its ability to drive and sustain organisational change from the ground up.
  • Align employee and customer experience. Within an organisation, people are often the lifeblood of all activities and therefore should be treated and valued as such. HR should encourage dialogue and feedback around policies, processes and culture.
  • HR should strive to engage unions and bridge the often dysfunctional relationship that exists between key stakeholders within the workplace.

Are you ready to catapult your HR/people and culture function into 2022? Find out more about our people and culture services here.