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A Human Touch

I remember the good old days but I also remember what was bad about them, such as the horrible ways in which line managers treated employees. You werenít just a number; you were not even in the top ten list of managersí concerns. Personal needs, concerns, and problems were referred to the appropriately named personnel office, whose real focus was on payroll, recordkeeping, hiring and firing, not dealing with any of the human dimensions of the workplace.

Happily for workers today, a new force has emerged that not only tries to assist employees in dealing with the personal side of the workplace equation, but actually forces managers to be proactive in how they deal with their staff. The growth of certified human resource professionals has altered the workplace landscape by ensuring that everyone in the organization is encouraged to grow and prosper.

Management, often dragged grudgingly into the new millennium by their HR department, has seen that good human resource practices can have a positive impact on the bottom line. A few examples come to mind.

Improving staffing and retention

HR professionals have introduced a science to these basic elements that allows managers to ensure they make the right hiring decision the first time and are able to retain their best employees in a highly competitive environment.

Improving Performance

Employee appraisal systems that encourage success and retraining have allowed managers to monitor performance against expectations; 360 degree performance reviews have made employees and employers more accountable to the mission and goals, and ultimately to the profitability and success of the organization

Creating a Healthy Workplace

HR professionals have been able to assist managers in reducing absenteeism and disability costs through workplace wellness programs and targeted initiatives to improve the overall health and happiness of the workforce. This has certainly reduced costs but in the longer term may pay even greater dividends to both employees and employers.

But even more important than the processes that HR professionals have brought to organizations, is the human touch that they have added to managing employees. The new management cadre is expected to bring ďsoft skillsĒ with them along with their business degree, and if they donít have them the human resource department is expected to help them get up to speed very quickly.

Itís not okay today to think of employees as part of the widget making machine, but to see their strengths, challenges and opportunities for improvement. Modern managers, with the assistance of their human resource advisers, are asked to consider the whole person that comes to work for them every day and to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

As someone from the old school, this is like a breath of fresh air. In most organizations, people now feel that itís okay to make a mistake as long as they learn from it, and itís also acceptable to say no to demands that go beyond what might reasonably requested, and still keep your job.

Itís also okay to ask for help, which was certainly not the case in the old days. Back then, you sank, swam, or got thrown overboard depending on the whims of your boss. Itís even okay for organizations and businesses to go outside to seek assistance from HR professionals who offer coaching, mentoring, and a range of other services that may be difficult to maintain on a regular basis. This has opened up many new avenues for both employees and employers to solve problems, resolve intractable disputes, and to maintain a healthy respect for each other in exciting but sometimes trying times.

That doesnít mean that you donít have to work hard to be successful, but it does give both managers and workers another way out before going to termination or resignation. If it comes to that then HR professionals will also be there to advise both sides of their rights and obligations, and even when managing this conflict to find ways to reduce costs and the impact on the organization.

I, for one, welcome the human touch that human resource professionals have brought to the working world and have no great hankering for the good old days to return any time soon.


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