How can HR best practices impact our competitiveness?

We are obsessed with HR best practices. We love challenging benchmarks, those great success stories and examples to be followed and the complex people management procedures of large corporations. However, we have to take in mind what our business needs. Is it something complicated that almost no one understands? Is it the best practice we can blindly follow? Alternatively, do our employees wish to use the system that suits their preferences and needs? Do not we kill or impact strongly our competitiveness by implementing the best in class solution that works great in another business?

We love to watch presentations where the results of the research are summarized and commented by the experienced HR consultant. They always look amazing and surprising. They promise a high productivity and employee engagement increase. The key message is usually straightforward and easy to understand. They just do not show all obstacles to be solved during the implementation. It just presents the ideal solution without any tailored features to meet the requirements of the business. Does the proposal address the challenges the business faces every day?

We usually forget to ask critical questions about our approved HR strategy when we watch the fancy presentation. You should never allow any consultant change your strategic plan. This plan represents a wider agreement of the leadership team. It represents the vision of the company. You should always ask critical questions during the presentation. Does the proposal suit our needs? How will it improve our competitiveness on the tight job market? How will we fit the project to our HR environment? We forget that it is easy to transfer processes and procedures, but it is the corporate culture that makes solutions successful. As always, it is easy to destroy, and it is hard to build something new.

The organization can hurt the competitiveness if it follows various HR best practices. You can quickly implement a too big solution for a relatively small business. It will hurt your competitiveness on the market. Think twice before applying a new externally designed idea.

First, it has to make a decision what are the strategic areas of a focus. No company can excel in everything. The HR team has to make a proposal what areas it will excel in, and the leadership team has to approve them. Second, everyone in the leadership team has to understand why and how the proposal was approved. No excuses.

Just then, the HR team should monitor all HR benchmarks to find the optimum way. However, it should not implement proposals without a critical evaluation. The strategic thinking is a must when it comes to core competitive advantages. Otherwise, the HR team can fail.

The HR consultant never talks about obstacles. As a consultant, he presents great opportunities (to earn additional income). He benchmarks the proposal against the average non-existent company. He compares the potential client with the best in class HR solution.

Finally, the consultant draws the primary requirements. The commitment is usually among them because the HR advisor understands the proposal can be rejected a few months after the implementation. This refusal reason is regularly called a lack of commitment. Often, it is just the denial of the leadership team because it wants something else. However, the beautiful presentation can suppress our ideas and thinking. We do not think how the solution will improve our HR competitive advantage.

On the other hand, managers and Finance department usually love HR benchmarks. It is an excellent tool to demonstrate the issue of the over-employment in Human Resources. However, they do not realize what HR benchmarks indicate. They do not show the best practice in the industry. They usually combine the least critical HR processes for the particular organization. If the organization X makes a strategic competitive decision to be strong in the talent acquisition, it will not be displayed as the best in the class company. It will focus its resources on the recruitment and staffing procedures. Naturally, it will employ more employees in that HR functional area because it sees the area as a source of the competitive advantage.

All HR Best Practices are a great business opportunity for HR consultants. They do not want to sell the unique solution; they sell what they know. They usually observe a great practice in one organization, and they transfer it to other clients. However, the corporate culture does not like the copy-paste approach. It likes to be designed and cultivated inside the business. It needs to become a core driver of all decisions.

The HR leader has to build a strong relationship with the Finance departments. The finance analysts usually ask for various benchmarks to identify weak and costly spots in the organization. They have to understand the HR strategy, and they have to be aware of the investments required. The company cannot improve its employer brand if it does not invest into it. It can seem like a waste of money in an Excel spreadsheet, but it enhances the productivity of the workforce and employee engagement. Without a healthy relationship HR costs and headcount will always be under attack.

Various HR best practices can inspire your strategic thinking. That is how you should use all HR best practices and benchmarks. You should not hurt your competitiveness; you should just enrich a few strategic ideas. Human Resources should run the internal discussion what topics and ideas seem promising. They should be critically evaluated against the HR strategy. They should not be seen as examples to be followed; they should be regarded as an inspiration.

The best HR organization never implements HR best practices. It creates them, and it has many followers and copycats. However, they do not have the same tremendous results because they do not transfer the corporate culture and leadership values. They copy and paste processes and procedures; they cannot copy employees, leaders and the spirit of the business. The HR team has to cultivate Human Resources function to be different from competitors. It is the best way how to become the one to be followed and copied.

A highly competitive business always builds the unique corporate culture (it is a sustainable basis for the competitiveness). Employees love the company because it is not the same as other organizations around. They can be proud that they work for the team that brings great products and services. They love to talk about Human Resources because it is something others do not enjoy. It is the best way how to build the employer brand. Be unique and evaluate carefully all HR best practices.

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