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Best HR Ideas for 2010

In their second annual competition aimed at recognizing HR programs and initiatives that make a difference for the profession and the workforce in a very unique way, the editors of HRE announce their choices of the most noteworthy ideas launched in 2009.

Monday, March 1, 2010
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The editors of HRE announce their choices of the most noteworthy ideas launched last year that bettered HR functions and services in new and different ways.

It's nice to know that, even in a tough economic year, the creative juices in corporate America have been flowing. Now in its second year, Human Resource Executive®'s Best HR Ideas competition -- which looked at ideas launched in 2009 for this year's contest -- yielded some promising signs.

Based on the number of entries alone, well over a hundred, it's safe to say the contest is growing. We were especially heartened to see so many contestants taking the time to prepare and submit their nominations -- in a year when most employers were either still battening down the recessionary hatches or scrambling to make sure they'd be back in production mode when the well-anticipated upswing occurred.

Again, our purpose in presenting this list has less to do with weeding out the ideas that didn't make the winner's circle and more to do with recognizing the approaches and initiatives, a few of which we wrote about over the course of the year, that we saw as especially new, different and effective -- particularly in an economy that threatens to eat the non-innovating organizations for lunch.

Consider these ideas just a sampling of what's going on out there in terms of new and novel approaches to HR challenges, recognizing there are probably plenty more where they came from.

Consider, too, that these initiatives aren't necessarily changing the human resource function or recreating the HR business model, but are -- for the most part -- solving problems cleanly, simply, efficiently and in a way that hasn't necessarily been tried before.

In a letter responding to our competition's inauguration last year, Jac Fitz-enz, founder and CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based consulting firm Human Capital Source, made a compellingly sound argument for a contest that would encourage a more radical mind-set change, one that could alter the way HR does its business instead of lauding specific programs, services and processes.

"Another load of services does not change the business model," he wrote. "Aspirin does not cure cancer. Why do you think companies are outsourcing HR functions? They are searching for a model and operating system that is appropriate for 2010, not 1970.

"Let me give you some examples of how the mind-set has to change before the introduction of more programs," his letter continues. "Workforce planning is a truncated, industrial-era, gap-analysis game. Today, the issue is not about how many bodies of what shape to stuff into holes in the organization. It is not even about skills. It is about building strategic human capital capability. ... It is an order of magnitude higher.

"Process management for staffing, training and the rest is not about cutting the cost. It is about finding the most effective combination of inputs and throughputs to achieve what a particular kind of strategic level needs . ... Performance management is not about software tools. It is about aligning strategic, operational and leading indicators in a way that we can see when one is affecting the other. Do you know how much a 1 percent drop in employee engagement affects gross margins? Why not?"

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A compelling argument, indeed. And one worth careful consideration as you contemplate improvements to your own HR function. Suffice it to say, we would welcome ideas that move strategic human capital capability forward or that reconfigure the business model of the human resource function.

Moving in that direction is, of course, paramount. But we also acknowledge that there are still important functions HR must continue to carry out -- and creative approaches to doing them more efficiently, or cost-effectively, or inclusively in this current business environment are, without a doubt, we think, worth recognizing.

See the 2010 Best HR Ideas in:

Benefits

HR Technology

Talent Management

Training & Development

See also:

Contextualizing Cleverness

Worst HR Ideas

The Architecture of Change

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