If it is bust, then do fix it!

I usually do not respond to lists on Linkedin, but this one was slightly different. The list basically stated that HR experts should build information systems, solve the problems that were relevant to their workplace and ignore industry fads.

To be honest it was a great list and full of the common sense aims that are often agreed on but much harder to put into practice.

The problem was that the list also suggested dropping the annual staff survey and appraisals. This is itself is a bit of a fad within the industry and is based on the tools not being right for the job. It is rather like throwing away a hammer and a screwdriver because they will not make the right hole in the wall.

I used to think that appraisals were a bit of a game that you had to play to get a pay increase, as such you bit your tongue and did not provide any constructive feedback or explanation why you had done something. That was until I spoke to a HR consultant who explained how they should work and their potential usage – even linking it to pay was poor practice.

Annual staff surveys may not be right for all companies – shorter monthly or quarterly questionnaires may be better or ones that ask more qualitative questions. But they are confidential and will give honest feedback that can really improve a company. They will give you more issues than any other form of data collection as long as you can drill down to the actual issue. The fact that an individual is more likely to have a bad experience of a staff survey than any other event – people are 3x more critical of such as service than insolvency practitioners.

My fear is that companies will look to link comments to individuals as part of a large database similar to a customer relationship management system, muzzling any critical thought that can lead to business improvement and enhancement of customer service. Or that some other fad is used to analyse their feelings without them knowing.

Otherwise how do you intend to build these information systems? KPIs such as sickness rate, productivity or times individuals are logged into the system can be measured, and they can indicate issues but you still need to investigate these issues.

Over-priced branded templates and lack of insight from the provider are part of the problem but so is a lack of understanding from those that buy such services. For a business with less than 10 employees it is better to have a third party as them a series of semi-structured questions rather than an online questionnaire with 80+ tick box questions.

The impact and interest in such services can also be measured in the same way business measure the effectiveness of email marketing.

If this is what the individual meant by becoming a more critical thinker then he deserves my sincerest apologies. But improvement is the way forward. For instance if you do an employee survey, track the email you send out and measure the open rates – if there is little interest, particularly amongst managers then you need to improve, not scrap your employee research.

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