'Me too' or 'My HR'?

'Me too' or 'My HR'?

Robert Bolton on why your HR practice should reflect your organisation’s unique characteristics


Partner, Global HR Centre of Excellence

KPMG in the UK


Also on KPMG.com

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It’s almost a cliché: “People are our most important asset,” proclaims the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). But does the HR Director? And if they do, how do their actions make the statement a reality? 

The typical HR response seems to be to do what everyone else does. Nine box talent grids, individual performance incentivisation, competence frameworks, 70-20-10 learning models, high potential schemes, the Ulrich model…the list goes on.

Different HR functions

Perhaps one of the criticisms of HR today – and one which I believe is valid - is that HR functions, regardless of sector, are more similar than different to each other. How can this be the case? I believe that if people are key to competitive advantage then subjecting them to the same policies and practices as other companies makes no sense. A differentiated HR function and people management practices should be the ambition because this is how to create business value through a differentiated workforce – the most important asset.

Now I’m reluctant to say things such as “HR is poised to fulfil its potential” or “HR can be empowered by technological solutions”. Such claims have been made many, many times, and the theories and the technology have largely failed to live up to expectations.

Technology enables change

Despite this reluctance, I will say it. I really believe that today, technology-driven solutions, specifically cloud-based HR platforms, can make change for the better a reality – and a cost effective, timely and achievable reality.

Just as a well-known furniture brand urged Brits to ‘chuck our your chintz’ in the 90s, I would urge you to look afresh at HR. I’d suggest that you resist the temptation to seek refuge in benchmarks and generic best practices – this leads to ‘me too’ HR. I’d like to see more differentiated, ‘my HR’.

Embrace the fact HR is at its best when it reflects your organisation’s unique characteristics– plus when data and analytics are central to decision making.

Data and analytics

Data and analytics are key. Applied properly, HR analytics can show connections, correlations and causality between HR processes and business activities which have a tangible impact on the bottom line.

For example, analytics at a client of ours showed that their individual performance management and bonus arrangements didn’t affect sustainable business performance in their retail branches. This has opened-up a much more interesting and distinct opportunity to re-connect the branch employees with the success of their business.

By clearly linking HR strategy and business profitability, HR analytics can provide the vital link between people management and business performance. It can give you the compass bearing for heading in a different direction from the crowd; making your people demonstrably your most important asset.

Read more: Head in the clouds or time to be different?  From ‘Me too’ to ‘My HR’ (PDF 1.14 MB)

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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