I was asked to write an article on the strategy and direction of employee engagement and HR for 2019 and how HR can prove its worth. To that end, the best I can offer is some encouragement and invitations to HR practitioners for 2019. Like any good invitation, you are free to decline it and I trust your alternatives to accepting my invitations will take you to places you feel welcomed, connected, and that you can make a difference.
Here are my 8 invitations:
Don't be anonymous and don't let employees be anonymous. Sign your name to your work. Let your face be seen. Rip up anonymous surveys and ask for real feedback with names attached so conversations can begin, judgement can be diminished, and we can talk and work together. Of course, to do this you must contribute to organizational psychological safety by having employees know that you care about them and you care about what they are interested in. And you can’t fake it because if you do you will only be making things worse than they already are.
Never let an executive ever say, "It all comes down to the bottom line." No, it doesn’t. Standing below the bottom line are all the people holding it up. The bottom line is a false bottom while people are the living real vibrancy of this thing we call an organization that is always in a breathing and moving state of vibrancy and fluctuation.
Live in the moment, not for the moment. There is a big picture and what we do in the moment needs to connect to the big picture. Yet we can lose our experience of work when we focus too much on strategy and where we are headed. Be alive where you are and find energy and engagement in the moment. When you stop, and become fully aware, you realize the moment is all we ever have.
You are a role model. Like it or not, how you work and what you do is watched. Whatever you ask of the organization or employees ensure that you are doing that yourself. What you do speaks louder than any policy you could write or anything you might say.
Weave everything into the tapestry of work. Work can make us well and engagement is not something extra. Don’t add programs or develop new initiatives to justify what you do. Look at how you can weave everything together so that performance management is engaging and engagement is a part of everything. We need to work on everything being “a part” not “apart.” Silos are an anachronism in our 2019 organizations.
Stop and determine what you can point to in work. Look around and in 2019 do things you can point to that are meaningful and significant. Mostly I hope that you would point to people in the organization. Of course, remember, it can be rude to point to people in public or in the lunchroom. Ensure people “get the point” of what you are doing and why you are part of the organization.
Be the fallible person that you already are. You are not perfect, no one is. Bring your fallible humanity to work. That should be easy because it is what we are, but too often we think we should be something we are not. You don’t need a book or a course on how to be human at work because you will always be a human at work unless you are a robot and if you are a robot you are probably not reading this.
Enjoy 2019. Next year is 2020 so it may offer you a real opportunity for 20/20 vision. It is just one year away. Meanwhile, remember, if you laugh, you can last. When we put laughter into our days we stretch HR into HumoR, and playfulness will help us balance the demands and stress of work so that we can keep on working and have work make a difference for both the individual and the organization.