Is HR Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

Originally posted November 2012

A lot of my voluntary sector clients are currently grappling with the concept of “personalisation” (horrid word) – a model where  individuals receiving social care have control over how and when that care is received – in other words, rather than the provider having one “model” of how care is delivered, it is tailored to individual needs and requirements. To be successful of course, it requires the individuals to have full access to information and be able to make informed decisions as a consequence.

In a sense, this is no different to the idea that you make an informed choice about the car you want and tailor it to your own personal needs: from the fundamental – the style and size – to the less significant – colour and extras. Businesses that offer cars in the way Henry Ford did (one standard model in the same colour) will not succeed in the modern age.

So why do HR people spend so much time agonising about “employee engagement” and ways in which it can be increased? The idea that we can do “management things” and thereby create smiling happy workers who are committed to the company and immersed in its success exists only in the Chigley Biscuit factory.

If we really want committed and productive staff perhaps what we need to do is “personalise” our approach – understand that every individual is different and that what motivates one person won’t work with another doing an identical job. If someone is capable of making informed decisions about their life care or a major purchase, they are equally capable of doing so in work.  Maybe it’s time to change the model from an assumption that we know best to recognising that our employees do, and building our businesses around that.

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