Proactive HR in the Real World

Most of us believe that HR should only focus on the standard issues of the organization such as hiring and firing, and though those are core functions, there is more that HR can offer in our quest to build competitive organizations. The simplest and “easiest-on-the-pockets” way to do this is to change our mindset and policies from being reactive, to problems that we encounter along the way, to developing our Strategic Human Resources Management capabilities. 

So how exactly does SHRM help with any of this? IBM (yes THAT IBM) reportedly found that by using proactive approaches, like developing better retention strategies, the company saved up to $300 million that would have otherwise gone towards hiring and training. 

Here are three proactive strategies that anyone, from the “one-man” HR department to the HR specialist that’s looking for “low-budget=high reward” ways to transform the organization, can implement in their daily business activities to get those gains. 

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Create a Strong Communication Environment

Startups can really benefit from this approach and it would be easier to initiate because of their size. Constant communication allows members of an organization understand their importance in meeting goals as well as having strategic alignment throughout the company. 

Of course, this strategy works for organizations of any size and is especially effective for companies that do not have regular contact with the organization’s leaders. 

An important aspect of this strategy is for there to be a two-way channel that exists between the team on the ground and those making decisions above. Having constant feedback by those on the frontline brings valuable insight into how to improve processes and this is so important in creating what the business world calls strategic advantage. 

Building a strong communication strategy promotes motivation, transparency, and innovation! Things that any business needs to thrive competitively.

Design Effective Development/Training Programs 

Having great development and training programs in place is such an amazing strategy to have in any company! The necessity in having these programs is multi-fold in that it definitely increases psychological aspects such as motivation, organizational citizenship behaviour, loyalty and satisfaction; while also ensuring that employees are equipped with updated skills required in their current or future roles.

These programs can come in forms of simple cross-training initiatives that allow employees to learn about roles they are interested in and gain training in these roles. There can also be mentorship programs that allow seasoned veterans and knowledgeable personnel to give personal guidance to new employees. 

There are those that assume that having an effective development program means a huge hole in the budget, and this does not necessarily need to be the case. All that the basic “stripped to the bare bones” program needs is to:

  1.  Have clear observable learning objectives that can be measured.
  2. Understand what the best learning style would be ie. Auditory learners, Visual learners, kinesthetic learners. 
  3. Decide the delivery mode based on the objectives. Such as Mentoring, job shadowing, and job swapping to name a few.
  4. Measure the outcomes and analyze effectiveness and implement changes if needed. 

A better detailed breakdown of how to design a training program can be found here.

Improving Employee Satisfaction 

Just like I mentioned in the beginning, employees are probably the most critical component that an organization could have! 

Ensuring that they are satisfied within their roles in the company is such a multiplier to the overall productivity, morale, loyalty, and motivation. It doesn’t take much on the part of the leader to actually do this.

Communication plays a big role here as well. When employees feel that they are in an environment that promotes open communication they tend to have positive work experiences. Though this seems obvious, reports show that large companies still have trouble in this area.

Being proactive on a budget in this aspect would be paying attention to small details in the workplace that provides a positive environment as a whole. Things like ensuring that the office has adequate lighting and a comfortable temperature, cutting down on unnecessarily long meetings, and having a clean clean break room/kitchen does wonders to worker satisfaction! 

Get After It! 

Transforming your HR strategies from reactive to more proactive approaches has been shown to have positive results in productivity for the organization. 

It may seem like an overwhelming task that costs thousands of dollars and requires teams of HR professionals to lead the overhaul. In many cases, this isn’t the case! 

These three strategies are great first steps to take and it doesn’t have to stop there. Every organization has unique circumstances that would dictate what other strategies to implement. Continuous improvements are the way top organizations remain ahead of the competition. 

What do you think about these strategies? Are there other strategies that you think could help? Which do you refer: Reactive HR or Proactive HR? 

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