My HR Resolution: Make 2016 When You Pull Out the Stops on Engagement

This past week, we concluded the Middle East HR Employment Engagement Forum 2015 held in Dubai. It ended on a high note.

As conference chair, my closing thoughts were that we had covered engagement from every vantage point imaginable, we had heard successful case studies, and, had met some of the most successful international HR leaders in the region.

As I noted,

In the end, you as an attendee must make it happen. You most of all should be engaged because if you are not, your chances of success are limited.”

We all read about the level of engagement within organizations. We look at leaders and we talk to managers, but it is the employees that get the brunt of the focus. However, I feel that we as a profession must be engaged with what we do in order to carry this forward.

Engagement starts at the top and trickles down from there. It is not owned solely by HR, but, we ARE the custodians of it.

Is HR a calling for you?

The only way that this profession moves forward to being an integral part of the organization is for human resources to be engaged to the point of almost being a calling. I read a recent article about Southwest Airlines, and although they get an enormous number of resumes, what they are really looking for are driven people.

In their 2014 employee survey, when they asked whether people felt like their job was “just a job,” “a stepping stone,” or “a calling,” nearly 75 percent selected, “a calling.”

A career calling is a passion project; it is something you do tirelessly. When you are consumed with it, time and money does not matter. It is something you never tire of, something you live, eat, breathe, and sleep.

People that blog, for the most part, do not get paid, however their time and energy is spent poring over ideas, blog topics, and getting the narrative in tip-top shape. If it were a “job,” time and energy would probably matter.

Our key in HR is to have people who feel that Human Resources is a calling for them, and not just a job with another project or initiative that they are in charge of.

Enthusiasm sells

Have you ever noticed how well things go when you are excited and feel great? Your enthusiasm sells it. If you can’t tell it with enthusiasm, you can’t sell it.

To get people excited about your corporate initiatives you have to enhance the narrative. That enhancement, for the most part, charges up the emotions — and it is contagious. Underlying all this is making the business case, but the enthusiastic narrative is the driving force.

At the Middle East Engagement Forum, we heard a presentation where marketing played a big role and their engagement initiative was branded with all the accompanying marketing materials. The head of wellness at a regional conglomerate walked us methodically though how they engage their workforce with wellness initiatives.

All of their senior leaders regularly work out and set the example for this initiative. Their enthusiasm has caused ever increasing participation rates throughout the ranks.

Article Continues Below

The new HR capability

While this capability may not show up in the new skill set for HR business partners, it is a key component of successful people.

Engaging, enthusiastic people create an aura around them. The people in your organization that have this capability always stand out. If they are in leadership positions, their departments stand out.

We must create that same level of enthusiasm in Human Resources. We should move away from the lifeless, staid, HR department stereotype if we are going to win this “war on disengagement.”

We have to create a level of excitement backed by facts.  That level of excitement that uses a methodical process in problem solving. That level of excitement that will also allow us to become the embedded HR consulting practice that gets things done, all the time bringing our excitement and enthusiasm along as the guiding light.

Let this become the success model that is structured into every facet of your department.

The year to pull out all the stops

So as 2015 winds down, and the faint beam of 2016 can be seen in the distance, make a resolution that this new year is the year that you pull out all the stops.

Show the excitement that comes from getting things done. Show the excitement that this will be your HR department’s year. All the stars have aligned and it is up to each of us to move it to the next level.

When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

Topics