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Don’t Just ‘Do’ In HR, Ask Yourself Why

As HR practitioners we typically gets lots of stuff to do, some of it enjoyable some of it not so much. However the key question to ask is simply this:

“Is my work adding value”

As organizations strive for increased productivity and dare I say it innovation, we need to value far more our own time and contribution to the organization. Now many people will value their time in terms of the paycheque they get each week/fortnight/month etc, I’m guessing however that not many of those people are reading this blog. For those of us here on this blog however, getting better at what we do is important to us. Now there is a bit of a juggle here, I’ve been asked on numerous times by managers or more likely executives to contribute to, or direct work that really has limited value (and I’m probably being kind by suggesting it has limited value). If the explanation of why this work doesn’t hold value doesn’t wash with your manager or executive, occasionally an idea will get lodged that we should do X because it’s a nice thing to do, my argument is that there are lots of nice things we can do that will actually benefit the employer and the employee – why don’t we do those?

So all that has failed, you have one of two choices, get it done and out of the way so you’re free to spend your time adding value, or find how to add value to the project. Typically I find try to find how to add the value, usually this will be a rephrasing of the project or adding something extra in that adds the value. Two of the best examples of this actually happened outside HR, but I think they will resonate with you. So the first iPhone did many of the things that previous smart phones did such as the Blackberry, why was it so successful? Steve Jobs and his team rephrased that product from a business focus, to a consumer focus in part by marketing and in part by usability. No longer was a smart phone about checking emails for work, it was about listening to music, checking reviews before you purchased or rented that movie etc, it was for the general public. Yes it was at its core still a smartphone, but the rephrasing of its application was fundamental to its success. The second example is Dell, and their rise to at one point the third largest PC manufacturer on the planet. Lots of PC companies were building PC’s, Michael Dells vision was for you to build your own PC and his company would deliver it to you. This rephrasing of a PC to one that you built yourself was extraordinarily successful, and the value add – Dell stood out in a pretty crowded market.

So that’s the question you need to ask yourself, am I adding value or am I simply taking a paycheque? If you’re taking a paycheque, the reality is that lots of people are doing that and more power to you, for myself and many others I want more than just a few more dollars in my account at the end of the fortnight. And that something, is knowing that I’ve added value, and maybe, just maybe, someone is having a better time due to my efforts.

By Brendan Lys

Operating at the intersection of Human Resources and Data Science, I leverage extensive specialist experience within Human Resources, with the methodologies and approaches of Data Science. This focus on the discovery of actionable insights from data, has been applied to areas such as: remuneration & benefits, workforce planning, recruitment, health & safety, diversity, and training. But what does the application of data science to HR challenges and opportunities actually look like. Within an HR framework the data we work with typically comes directly from our HRMIS, an advantage of using data science methodologies is that we can bring in additional data either held within the organization or from external sources - data which is out of reach from a pure HR analytics approach. Consider for example position descriptions, these contain a wealth of data that we typically ignore as its not in a analysis ready format. A side project I'm working on currently (April 2019) is using text mining on job descriptions to provide insights into which job family the position may fit into. The insights of my work have been enjoyed by organizations across a diversity of sectors including: Government (Australia and New Zealand), ASX and NZX listed companies, utilities, not for profit and higher education.

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