Human resources departments play a complex and dynamic role in businesses, but their primary responsibility is what's known as "human capital management" (HCM).
According to Gartner, HCM is a "set of practices related to people resource management," specifically in the categories of workforce acquisition, management and optimization. HCM is applicable to any organization, but it's especially important for companies with "knowledge workers," where the business's most critical asset is its people.
"People-related costs, including compensation and benefits ... are now the single largest budget items for most companies, which means HR has shifted to a more strategic, integrated role in fulfilling the overall organization's strategy and goals," said Krista Skidmore, cofounder of FlashPoint.
But how can you achieve successful HCM in the modern world? HR experts shared their insights for companies looking to provide the best human capital management for their workforce. [Supply and Demand, Marketing, Design: HR's New Role]
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Look beyond recruiting and onboarding
When it comes to talent management, some companies are so focused on hiring new people that they end up ignoring the ones they already have. But smart HR professionals know that employee engagement must extend beyond the recruiting and onboarding processes.
"Keeping employees happy and engaged in your company now depends very heavily on how you approach the entire employee life cycle," said Sanjay Sathe, president and CEO of RiseSmart. He recommends asking yourself if your recognition, review and learning processes engage your employees, and if your offboarding process matches your onboarding process.
Deb Cupp, senior vice president and general manager for HR line of business at SAP, said that you should focus on each individual's ability to progress, considering their long-term options.
"Instead of just focusing on the top performers, think of everyone as talent," Cupp said.
Learn how to manage each employee
It's important to take a personalized approach to the day-to-day management of employees. Melissa Moore, senior vice president and chief people officer at enterprise behavioral analytics company Mattersight, noted the importance of taking your staff's personalities and preferences into account when managing and communicating with them.
Moore said to learn how everyone is wired to cater to their needs as a worker. For instance, an emotion-based person needs more frequent check-ins and a more personal relationship than a thought-based worker.
Skidmore noted that things like leadership development and employee engagement are "ongoing processes designed to be strategic, sustainable and measurable," and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managers. Initiatives and programs should be evaluated to provide personalized and effective results for workers, Skidmore added.
Additionally, it's important to consider the generations you're working with. Moore said managers need to don't need to change what they give to employees of different generations, but how they give it to them.
Invest in the right technology
If you want to make your HCM processes as efficient and helpful as possible, it's critical to implement the right tech tools for your company, said Claire Bissot, a certified senior professional of human resources (SPHR) and HR consulting manager at business services provider CBIZ.
"HR professionals [should] begin investing their time to build automated processes, utilizing technology, so that they can begin to get out from behind the desk piled with paper and get out to get to know the people," said Bissot.
When HR professionals get to know the company's employees, they can then try to understand the insights they've gained to improve the organization.
Take a positive and transparent approach to communication
All companies must deal with changes and transitions that affect their employees. Moore said HR professionals should keep open communication with the entire organization at the forefront – not only during transitional periods, but all the time.
"Change is scary for everyone, and the unknown causes fear," Moore said. "Communicate not only what is happening [in this situation], but also the day-to-day. Have open communication as much as possible so people know what's going on, whether it's relevant or not."
Sathe agreed, adding that situations like layoffs or budget cuts, which are viewed as negative and threatening, should be reframed in a positive and constructive way when they're communicated to employees.
For example, offering outplacement services to your employees can provide tangible support to employees whose roles have been affected, he said. This not only helps those employees quickly move into new roles, but also reminds the remaining staff members that your organization has their best interests in mind.
"During times of transition, it's our job to provide ... hope for the future, instead of creating situations that allow employees – both impacted and remaining – to dwell on the past," Sathe said.
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.