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Lexi Croswell, author

Lexi Croswell

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Culture Amp

There was a time when HR practices were seen as a bit cold. Human Resources was the place where papers were filed and complaints were voiced. From the outside, it seemed the main goal was simply to make sure employees were productive and the business gained value. 

Fortunately, today’s HR practices are more focused on putting people first. HR professionals strive to create the best employee experience possible so that people are engaged in their work

However, these goals and challenges require different skills and HR tools to succeed. In order to keep up with modern HR practices, you need to know about the latest trends. And more importantly, how those can improve the organization.

Three modern HR practices for success today are a focus on empathy, using data and turning analysis into strategy. We'll unpack all three and provide tips for putting these into action. 


1. Focus on empathy

There is no magical divider at the door to every office that prevents people from bringing in other aspects of their lives. Having empathy as an HR professional helps you understand that people will bring their full self to work. As Dawn Sharifan, Head of People at Slack, recently told us, it’s hard to be a person.

“Life is complex, and things happen,” she said in Culture Amp’s Modern HR Playbook. “Who we are in our personal lives is who we are at work. If you're getting a divorce, if your kid is sick, if you got in a car accident on the way to work, that all affects your ability to go and do things like create the board presentation or marketing materials.”

The workplace should be a place where people feel safe and supported. This means going beyond a sympathetic pat on the back. People in an organization need to be there for each other.

Tip: Take a look at participation rates for different benefits you offer. Seeing what’s popular and what’s not shows you ways to make changes that will better support people.

As an HR professional, that means providing employees with resources in their time of need and letting them know what options their benefits package offers. For example, if your company offers mental health services, make sure everyone knows how to take advantage of them if need be.

2. Dig into data

From performance to employee engagement, there are now ways to record and track data about everything. Numbers are an HR professional’s new best friend. In fact, a 2017 Deloitte report found that 71 percent of organizations now see people analytics as a priority in their organization.

Why? Because people analytics bridges a gap that exists in many organizations between the HR department and executive leadership. Before, if an HR professional proposed a new initiative, it was difficult to win over the c-suite because they wanted proof it’d be worth the investment.

Data is able to quantify many aspects of the employee experience in a way that makes sense to leaders. They can now see why engagement is important and how it affects the bottom line.

Tip: Using our five-beat strategy ensures that you are understanding and utilizing all of your people data - getting a complete picture about what’s going on. 

Pictured below, the process starts by establishing a baseline, then connecting the survey to the employee experience. Next, you monitor progress and develop employee effectiveness. Finally, you identify primary issues and conduct a deep-dive survey to gather more information on what’s going on.

Five beat survey

3. Turn analysis into strategy

While people analytics provide valuable insights to an organization, the next step is finding a way to apply HR practices in a strategic way to create change.

If the data says the organization has poor retention and low employee engagement, you need to find a way to fix things. By working with other company leaders, you can connect all the dots and create a course of action.

Considering all that HR professionals juggle, that’s not always easy. But being involved in everything from the employee experience to payroll budget to learning and development, gives you a unique perspective. And once there’s a plan in place, it’s up to HR professionals to execute and adjust as necessary.

Tip: Never stop formally collecting feedback from people. In fact, we recommend the following feedback for continuous improvement.

Employee feedback loop

The loop starts when you’re designing your survey. This involves choosing the right questions and gathering the responses for the situation you’re dealing with. Next, you look at the results and compare them to other industry benchmarks. This will help you decide what actions to take, which is the final part of the loop. You share the results and the plan to make improvements with the organization. Then the cycle starts over again with a new survey.

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