Drinking the Kool-Aid at the HR Water Cooler

The HR news to quench our thirst for the week ending January 18th, 2013:

HR news kool-aid

Happy Pharmaceuticals

When it comes to HR, keeping employees happy is half the battle. So who’s doing it best? Fast Company reports this week on a survey of the nation’s happiest companies, noting that disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy $350 billion in lost productivity. Pzifer improved from its no. 11 slot last year to take the top spot. Key to Pzifer’s success is its ongoing commitment to continual improvement, and allowing employees to fail and learn from their mistakes.

The piece also notes that happy employees won’t stay that way if they’re unable to move up or don’t see opportunities for growth. Helping to put work in the context of a larger meaning is also an important element in an engaged workforce, as is ongoing and open recognition.

The Mistakes of the C-Suite

HR managers know to care about employee engagement, but sometimes it’s less of a priority for upper management. According to a post on TLNT this week, that’s a major mistake. Creating a culture in which employees are—and want to be—engaged is a strategic business decision. Though it may be dismissed as a “warm fuzzy HR thing,” engaged employees work harder, giving more of their time, creativity, and talent to their organizations. It pushes them to go the extra mile and put in just that little extra effort, resulting in better productivity—and profits.

Reluctant Promotions

While it’s natural to assume that engaged employees crave moving up to higher positions and more responsibility, that is not a universal sentiment, according to a post this week on HR Bartender. Some employees don’t want to move up because they want to maintain a work/life balance, they don’t enjoy managerial tasks, or they have other obligations (such as children) that promotions challenging. Keeping employees on an upward track is an important strategy to keep them from becoming bored and seeking new employment opportunities.

If you have a number of employees uninterested in their own growth, try to get the heart of it. You may already have the solution to their problem, such as child care programs or benefits packages that make upper management worthwhile. If you consistently hear the same feedback and don’t have a system in place to address the issue, it’s likely time to make some adjustments.

The Forecast for the Year

Career development is going to be a key strategy to retain talent in 2013, according to a report from Forbes on Bersin by Deloitte’s HR, leadership, technology, and talent management predictions for the new year. High-performing companies will encourage specialization among employees, putting an increased focus on skills ladders, professional career programs, and formalized career development programs. Also among the predictions is a huge push towards globalization, both for leadership and HR practices.

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