"Today HR is all about the 'softer' side - employee engagement, involvement..." - HR Nitty-Gritty

by Duncan

In our ‘HR Nitty-Gritty’ series where we speak to HR practitioners and Experts. In this interview, we speak to Tara Daynes, a HR specialist who focuses on Non-profit organisations.

1. How has HR changed since you first entered the sector?
I started in HR almost 20 years ago, back when it was called 'Personnel' & the focus was very much on employee welfare & admin issues. Since then employment law has changed drastically, as has the labour market, & employees have far more rights. So the focus has shifted to how to have a deeper relationship with employees - how to engage with them & motivate them at a higher level, in order to retain them & make sure they are as effective as possible. Today it is all about the 'softer' side of HR - things like employee engagement, involvement, communications, & employer branding.

2. How are HR departments managing / promoting employee engagement nowadays?
Employers are recognising now that employees want to get more out of their working life than a regular salary! So to keep people empowered, motivated & engaged, I see a lot more involvement of employees in decisions that affect them. This means actively encouraging their views, feedback, concerns, ideas etc., & allowing them to take much more personal ownership & responsibility for their work - although balanced with ensuring people have access to the support, information & development they need to do that. More creative ways to enable people to balance their work & personal lives are also key. If people feel involved, trusted & supported, they are more likely to remain loyal, committed & do a better job!

3. What's the most common HR mistake you see?
All too often I see organisations who have various people management practices in place, but it is very much an afterthought to the business & its aims. They don't plan their HR strategically by aligning it with the overall Business Plan. Businesses should look at what they are trying to achieve as an organisation & then consider how they need to manage, support & develop their people to achieve those aims, not just have HR as an add-on function that doesn't really support the business.

4. What's the future for the HR department, what does HR's role look like in 10-15 years?
HR has had a lot of bad press lately, with claims that it doesn't add any value. The truth is that it can, if you have the right people in HR roles, in organisations that appreciate the potential of HR & allow them to fully contribute to the business & prove their worth. I think that in the future, HR will become a more strategic role in enabling organisations to improve their business performance through appropriate people management activities - but there is still a long way to go!

5. What are some of your favorite websites for HR news?
HRZone is great for news, blogs & interacting with other HR professionals. People Management & CIPD websites are my go-to for best practice & current thinking. XpertHR is also valuable for in-depth information on various HR topics.

6. What does your company specialize in?
Tara Daynes HR specialises in helping organisations align their HR practices with their business goals, to get a return on their investment in their staff. This is through employment law & HR consultancy, working with the Investors in People standard, & training & development in a range of people management & personal effectiveness skills. Although TDHR has a special focus on applying all this in the non-profit sector, any kind of organisation can benefit!

Written by: Duncan Murtagh

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