The 'human' aspect of HR management


Recent challenges in the recruitment and retention of talent have prompted many organisations to seek and adopt creative hiring and talent management strategies. With increasing local and global competition for high calibre professionals, the HR industry needs to look beyond the standard cookie cutter method of assessing a candidate’s worth. The ‘human’ aspect of human resource management (HRM) has largely been overlooked, but is in fact, the one most important word in that field which few companies actually maximise in managing their human capital.


There are a few key areas that some of the world’s best employers have identified to be differentiating factors in their HRM practices, which more often than not, place a compelling emphasis on their people.

Market rate or professional value?

Many companies fall into the trap of believing that fair compensation is good enough to attract the people they want. Like many other human resource issues, the notion of fairness is subjective. Organisations which offer salaries that are ‘competitive’, or according to market rates or industry standards – will eventually realise that they are going to get exactly what these salaries define: the standard candidate.

With higher levels of education and exposure to the global markets, the young executives are no longer willing to settle for anything less than their professional worth. A company that seeks to attract high calibre professionals should refrain from simply checking potential candidates off a list of pre-determined criteria (i.e. work experience, last drawn salary etc.)  to ascertain their market worth.

With higher levels of education and exposure to the global markets, the young executives are no longer willing to settle for anything less than their professional worth.

An individual’s professional value extends beyond that list, and that includes his or her attitude, personality fit, values, network and contacts, leadership capabilities, personal skills and talents, achievements, strengths, mindset and many other qualities and traits that add up to provide a highly intrinsic value to the organisation’s growth and success.

Unfortunately, even though many organisations would agree that the economic value of superior talent is considerably greater than that of average talent, they would often still take the easy way out by offering a highly qualified candidate what they feel the person is worth, according to the company’s typical recruitment model and industry rates/standards. Companies which are willing to look beyond the cost savings and be more than ready to offer a package that recognises an individual’s professional and personal value will win the war not just for any talent, but the war for the best talent.

A career or a job?

Fortune 500 companies are in that list not only because they enjoy strong financial success, but also of their commitment in nurturing and grooming their staff. For example, in a leading management consultancy which was recently named one of the world’s top 100 employers to work for, employees are free to set their own career paths. They can even choose from a variety of industries or topical problems to work on, and determine how their careers will move on or take shape over time.

Some companies offer sponsorship programs for their staff to help them upgrade their education or skills, and even provide mentors whose roles are non-evaluative but merely to provide consultation and a listening ear for its employees. At one of the world’s largest network-equipment providers, virtually all its employees are shareholders.  These organisations believe that people are the bloodline of the company and are hence committed to developing them both on a personal and professional level.

It is clear that productivity and efficiency levels are affected by how people view their work. An employee who feels valued would probably be more passionate about building his long-term career within the company and contributing towards the success of the organisation. Conversely, someone who sees his job as something he needs to do to pay the bills, will simply clock in the hours and wait for his check at the end of each month. For such employees, the company’s goals are somebody else’s problems, and they hardly have any sense of ownership in what they do.

Does your company invest time and money on employees’ professional development? Are their careers mapped out to prepare them for future growth? Do they feel that they are part of the organisation and its future? The knowledge that your company takes a vested interest in your advancement and progress is what differentiates a career and a job, and is usually a key determinant of the kind of people that the company attracts.

Manager or leader?

A company’s culture is often driven by its management staff, and HR practitioners are realising its executive leadership is key to creating effective organisations with dynamic human capital.

Even in a developed country like Singapore, many managers are surprisingly still lacking in leadership qualities. Employees are often marginalised and being micro-managed by their supervisors; and recurring issues such as superiors playing favourites, bosses humiliating subordinates in front of other people, managers interfering with their personal time outside the office and setting impossible deadlines are common gripes in exit interviews.

The latest word in management from the experts is the concept of servant leadership.  It explains how many managers today are struggling with the realisation that there are there to serve, and not to be served. These managers have worked very hard to move up the hierarchy, and in the process, the power, money and recognition that come with the promotion moved them away from the people that have contributed to their success. Their ego gets in the way and they begin to think that leadership is all about them.

To be an organisation recognised by the industry as the provider of choice, employer of choice and investment of choice, a company’s HR has the responsibility of ensuring its managers are equipped with strong people management skills and trained in leadership skills, so that they can build a culture of inspiring, motivating and encouraging their people to bring out the best in them.

Compensation or recognition?

The increasing war for talent has spurned a new generation of compensation, benefits, privileges and rewards programs to attract and retain people. Salaries have a very short shelf life and given the long hours people now work, modern perks that are offered as part of non-salary packages are perceived as highly attractive, and sometimes even more crucial than the take-home pay itself.

The organisation that topped the“100 Best Companies to Work For” list offers an on-site pool, 11 gourmet restaurants, pool table and climbing wall, plus unlimited sick leave, five weeks' paid time off after a year on the job, tuition reimbursement and classes in estate planning and foreign languages.

Few companies have yet to harness the power of recognition and learn how it could be creatively applied to create that sustainable competitive advantage in developing top notch human resources for the organisation.  It is important to know that people are no longer motivated with that additional spike in salary, the company car or a free trip to the Bahamas in this extremely tight labour market.

A true people organisation seeks to reward its employees in ways that are meaningful to them, and empower them to be their best by offering a work environment and benefits that recognise the needs, interests and values of their people. Such human-focus initiatives just might be what a company needs to gain an edge over another in the competition for the best talent in the market.


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