Time for Comprehensive Human Capital Strategies

At a time of mostly unconventional challenges, Business leaders find themselves bound to look for unconventional strategies that are suitable, acceptable, feasible and enduring; in other words ‘Comprehensive’, a mission that is far from being simple for any CEO, let alone managers and supervisors.

Among those unconventional challenges, the most compelling are those associated with People. Within a previously unforeseen changing political, economic, technological and social environment, individual mindsets are undergoing a remodeling process that can least be described as evolutionary. It would be interesting to think that we are currently witnessing a state of human evolution (or devolution!) similar to the one described by Darwin less than 200 years ago. The only difference though, is that unlike the slow evolution process explained by Darwin, the speed at which the current evolution is happening can be seen with the naked eye, simply by observing humans’ behavior and their intellectual capacity.
In his fascinating awareness-building book ‘The Shallows’, Nicolas Carr, ex-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Business Review highlighted the drastic impact that technology – and specifically the Internet – is having on our Brain’s physiological elasticity and consequently, on the way we think, remember, and act. His perspective that was supported by profound examples of research from major medical and human behavior institutes around the world presents a clean proof of the current state of evolution human beings are undergoing!

Based on this, it is an undeniable fact that Businesses need to ready themselves for handling a never before seen challenge: the challenge of new thinking paradigms and perceptions. Clients, and employees with transformed brains, new way of thinking, revised Values, and surely with a different perspective on making Business, selecting a profession, building a career, and handling relationships. Human Resources Management theories and practices, with respect to the above, can no more be the same, for the simple reason that the World and People, for whom those theories and practices were made, are no more the same!

With these changes and challenges, one should spare no effort to adopt the best strategies for dealing with them, strategies that should be anything but fragmented. Dealing with the new mindsets of people in the market and at the work place, requires approaching issues from a Value Chain perspective and surely demands moving away from any patchwork or just-in-time quick fixes. In such an environment, the only advice one can give is that it is time for Comprehensive Human Capital Strategies.

Tackling the people side of Business can no more accommodate the mostly used ‘patchwork’ approach to Human Capital Management; an approach that is mistakenly thought to be a money saver and an effective ingeniousness for keeping the Business focused on bottom-line results. The “recruit only when cornered”, “take action when they resign”, “train them when the market dictates”, or “get a consultant when we are chocking” strategies will no more be able to bear the weight of a workforce that is (or could be), in many aspects of its thinking, as or even more intelligent than the Business itself!

Businesses can no more afford to take any people management action if it is not part of the comprehensive Human Capital Vision of the company and which, in turn, is completely aligned with the overall Business Strategy. In this respect, a Comprehensive Human Capital Strategy implies at least two critical measures by Business leaders:

-First, they need to put People at the heart of their Business Vision and Strategy. They need to understand that in a world where all their competitors can afford to build colossal HQs, purchase cutting edge technologies, design and develop better products than they do, the only cutting throat differentiating factor that will keep them atop of the Market is their “People”, their Human Resources.
-Second, they need to address the issue of Human Resources Management in their Business from a comprehensive Value Chain perspective. In other words, their People Management activities should be interlinked and based on one holistic HR strategy. This Strategy should ensure that all people management enablers and systems are in place as an initial step. Further, it should highlight that the daily practices, as well as the long term strategic people initiatives, are drawn from an approved Leadership Vision that clearly admits to the positive correlation between people and bottom-line performance.

In other words, the Human Capital Strategy set by Business leaders should align all people management operational and strategic practices starting by Job Descriptions, Policies & Procedures, Manpower Planning, Hiring strategy, day to day People Management, Workplace Culture, Compensation Philosophy, Talent Development and Retention, Succession Planning, Performance Management, down till Post Departure Alumni Affairs.
Adopting the above two measures is an almost sure route for accommodating the forthcoming challenges of a changing human mindset. Human Resources professionals need to start lobbying for this holistic approach to people management. Maintaining the patchwork approach where the Recruitment tests were added long after the recruitment process was documented; or where people go to trainings not because of a clear lack of competency but because we have reserved two seats with the training provider; or where everybody in the company should get a bonus; or where the Performance Appraisal does not affect the personal development activities of the employee; all these will no more work for a workforce with a transformed brain! What a sweet challenge!

The question here is: How can Business Leaders and Human Resources Professionals deal with their unconventional challenges and with human evolution? And the answer for us remains: by developing Comprehensive Human Capital Strategies.