This is an interesting question. As leaders do you call your department Human Resources or People & Culture? In some industry sectors, human resources is widely used and referred to. In large companies like banks, telcos and even in small start-ups, people and culture has become more common. Has the time come when we should refer to the business of managing the people in our organizations as human resources or is people & culture here to stay?

All HR leaders know what HR entails and how to work within the limits set by an organization. Human Resources reflects a more holistic view of the function and how to ensure people are provided the on-going support that allows them to embrace, maintain and help the organization culture evolve as circumstances change. Does HR change culture? In my opinion, culture is usually set by company leaders. Organizations don’t tend to define their cultures explicitly; cultures emerge from what people believe, how they think, what they say and what they do. Culture shapes what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable. People and culture is a much broader term and reflects the intent of business and organizational leaders to safeguard corporate culture and to ensure practices that reinforce what they desire corporate culture to be.

Over the last three years because of the pandemic, work cultures have changed dramatically. Working remotely, and hybrid work has led to many new behaviours in how we conduct business. According to a new Conference Board survey just 4% of employers have required all employees to return to the workplace. This means that 96% of employees are remaining remote or hybrid. By the way, this number is up from 73% of organizations who said they were not returning to the workplace full time in a previous survey (2022). How would the 96% describe their company culture today when they are not meeting colleagues face to face on a regular basis? Culture has changed and so has how leaders manage remote or hybrid employees. As a result, performance management, succession planning, and training requirements have all changed. Which brings us to the point of this blog – in today’s environment, managing human resources in a more holistic sense has brought us to today’s emphasis on people and culture.

As leaders we can guide employees to accept culture by encouraging these 7 powerful practices:

  1. Build strong employee relationships.
  2. Connect people to a purpose.
  3. Encourage frequent employee recognition.
  4. Create positive employee experiences.
  5. Open up transparency and communication.
  6. Give teams the autonomy they seek.
  7. Schedule regular and meaningful one-to-ones.

There is still in the leader’s mindset, “if I can’t see whether staff are working, are they really being productive? “. I have spoken with several colleagues from different backgrounds and industries who say they are more productive at home than they would be in an office with interruptions, in person meetings, lunches and water cooler chats. Not seeing an employee at a desk does not mean they are doing any less work than from a home office. Employees continue to meet deadlines, join Zoom or Teams calls, submit work on a timely basis – all with high productivity.  

Has human resources changed as well in the last three years? Has the way HR leaders lead, implement, write policies, procedures and processes changed? I would dare to say absolutely. The provincial government has implemented legislations compelling companies to write and implement new or revised policies. – Ontario’s The Working for Workers Act, 2021 is just one example.

Something else to think about that impacts culture is that employees are asking to be managed differently. Successful employee management is based on specific practices and skills.

Three practices to start:

  • Provide feedback. Make feedback a regular and consistent part of your management strategy.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Use a performance management system.

I have said this before – Change is inevitable, growth is optional. Whether Human Resources or People & Culture, over the next five years, I believe we will continue to see major changes in how people, culture and human resources are managed. HR/P&C is constantly changing and finding new and better ways to manage businesses, people, performance, total rewards, and engagement. We are on a roller coaster and I can’t wait to see where this ride takes us.

Companies are struggling with talent shortages. Research shows that more companies will be hiring interim or contractors in 2023 to assist with completion of outstanding work, projects and assignments. As a member of the HR Practice Group at The Osborne Group Anne Bloom can provide the guidance, knowledge and skills to help you achieve your HR and/or P&C goals, whether through HR projects or interim work for short or long-term assignments.

Anne can be reached at [email protected] or visit her profile page for further information.