How many of you know that January is designated Human Resources Month? Although the origins are not as clearly defined as some of the more traditional, annual calendar events, the designation’s objective certainly resonates. That being to showcase the contributions HR departments make to their employees—and ultimately to their companies’ bottom lines.
My only question is: “Shouldn’t every month be Human Resources Month?”
Tasked with building and maintaining a talented and productive workforce, HR departments are the unsung heroes who have become masters at doing more with less. They are the beholden trustees who work tirelessly to ensure a measureable return on a company’s biggest investment—its employees. With this in mind, it seems warranted that the spotlight should shine on HR professionals year round.
However, in the spirit of Human Resources Month, I’d particularly like to call attention to a positive movement that is taking place in companies around the world: strategic Human Resources.
Prior to 2008, increasing the strategic value of Human Resources was often a nice-to-have goal for many organizations. Fast forward to today. After two years of economic upheaval, many companies are insisting Human Resources become a strategic player in the corporate boardroom. New economic realities, along with workforce reductions, and, in many instances, drastically different market places are forcing this change.
The move to strategic HR involves more closely aligning employees with the company’s strategic goals. Operating with reduced staffs and budgets, the C-Suite has finally come to recognize that a company’s survival and growth require employee alignment—and achieving this alignment is the roadmap to greater workplace productivity and greater profits.
So, let’s give a special shout-out to the HR professionals who are leading the way. They are the ones using employee benefits programs to make their organizations more attractive to prospective workers as well as to retain and reward the ones they currently have. With health care costs and insurance premiums continuing to rise—and companies starting to recruit again—these HR professionals are getting creative and adding voluntary benefits to bring value to their employee benefits packages without taking on additional costs.
It’s HR professionals, such as Eileen Brown, director, retirement and benefits, at Valley Baptist Health System, who are true benefits game changers. As an example, with the addition of an employee purchase program (as a voluntary benefits offering), she:
- Rolled out a new employee benefit product with limited work effort required by her department
- Increased the competitive value of her company’s employee benefits package at no extra cost
- Improved employee morale and productivity by offering a program that is financially relevant and appropriate for workers’ individual lifestyles
Successes like this occur on a daily basis and deserve our attention 365 days of the year.