We seek out wisdom for simple reasons: because we can gain from reflecting on human resource management quotes from successful HR professionals and business owners/executives that can help improve your own office culture, well-being and productivity.
The HR profession is a complex foundation upon which thriving businesses are built. Indeed, managing human beings is often the most complicated and demanding task in growing a company.
Unlike managing other resources – physical and financial resources, for example – that don’t have their own will and emotions, great HR management has to apply a delicate work culture balance that respects the well-being of workers without jeopardising the performance objectives of the business.
Not surprisingly, many companies tend to apply HR best practices to varying degrees of success – often without reflecting enough on how the industry is changing in a quickly globalising and diversifying context.
The job of an HR professional can thus be made simpler if you consider the wisdom of leaders that are setting new global benchmarks in how to manage people.
In this article, we will consider 20 such inspiring human resource management quotes that can help you create a work environment where employees can be happy and productive to the benefit of the company, themselves and those around them.
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The first requirement for successful human resource management is a change in mindset.
According to Steve Wynn, an American real estate developer and casino owner, this begins when we start seeing human resources as a foundational operation that runs our business.
Every aspect of business – finance, marketing, sales, engineering, etc. – requires the input of human beings. In a world of robots and automation, we tend to forget that humans are the lifeblood of business.
Robots don’t create themselves; automated programs don’t write themselves into existence. Today, there are still millions of decisions that can only be made by humans.
Therefore, instead of seeing humans as one resource among many others, HR personnel and business owners need to start seeing them as the fundamental resource that gives life to everything else.
Financial and physical resources are crucial but without the right people managing them, they cannot yield those top results.
“People and their behaviours are what deliver results to your organisation,” said Mark Hortsman, co-founder of Manager Tools, a management consulting firm. “Not systems, not processes, not computers, not machines.”
You’ve probably heard this quote at least paraphrased before.
If human resources are so important, then, according to Lawrence Bossidy, retired CEO of Honeywell International Inc., an American technology company, nothing is more important than hiring and developing them.
Notice the balance here. Hiring people without developing them undermines the importance of human resources as much as failing to hire the right people.
Said differently, if human resources are so important, then hiring and developing them must be the priority of every HR personnel.
Because humans have free will and emotions, getting them to be motivated to do their best work is (understandably) very different from the way we get maximum returns from money or maximum efficiency from physical assets.
A study by Gallup has shown that when employees are motivated and engaged, absenteeism reduces by 41% and productivity increases by 17%. Companies with such employees have also experienced a 24% reduction in staff turnover.
According to Simon Sinek, an author and instructor in strategic communications at Columbia University, such motivation and engagement require that your employees are emotionally invested in your business.
To do this, they must feel a strong connection with the goals of the business and the impacts of those goals on the broader society. As long as work is just about the tasks you accomplish and there is no broader vision beyond the daily grind, employees will only do the minimum.
However, once they are emotionally invested, because they see the larger picture, they want to give it their all because they have found a part of their own meaning in the company’s goals. “The body may be bought with a paycheck but the heart is earned with a purpose,” said Angela Lynne Craig, a leadership author.
This is why one of the best ways to create a happy workplace for your employees is to “make work meaningful and purposeful.”
We see an example of such emotional investment in Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, an India-based insurance company. According to the CEO, Tapan Singhel, his 6,670 employees “live and experience the brand” and are, therefore, “the company’s most valued brand ambassadors.”
This is the kind of statement every HR professional and business owner/executive would want to make about their employees. Employees must not just be people who work to keep the organisation alive, they must be its ambassadors, its loudest praise-singers. This is what Simon Sinek called emotional investment.
Getting emotionally invested employees must begin at the recruitment stage.
Nikhil Sharda, a filmmaker and IT professional, has advised that passion should even precede experience and credentials. Then after recruitment, you should nurture that passion and shape it to be better aligned with the company’s goals and culture.
Given this advice, it means it’s not enough to know about an applicant’s experience and skills. Rather, you should also focus on identifying if there is a passion for the goals that are crucial to your company’s identity.
“While it may be tempting to de-risk recruitment by prioritising academic achievement and work experience, hiring for passion can help populate your company with the kind of people who will live and breathe the business,” according to Be The Business, a business improvement consulting company.
Character is as important as passion in recruitment. Toxic people can mess up a company’s work culture and lead it down the drain.
For Peter Schultz, CEO of The Scripps Research Institute, a medical research facility, character must be prioritised above skills. While skills can be trained, it is very difficult to change someone’s character.
Consequently, HR personnel must always look for people who can fit into the existing work culture without introducing toxicity into it. It’s more difficult to read character compared to passion; nevertheless, there are resources that can help HR professionals get a fair assessment.
There is an intrinsic connection between workers’ happiness and a company’s performance. A study by Glassdoor found that companies that are part of the Top 100 places to work generated 8.3% higher returns than the S&P 500 Index.
“The robust investment in workforce health and wellbeing appears to be one of the practices pursued by high-performing, well-managed companies,” according to Forbes. “The positive financial results for a company support the need for continuing to cultivate a wellbeing culture, and strategy that is embedded into the ethos of the organisation.”
For this reason, Doug Conant, a best-selling author and business leader, believes that a company must win the workplace first if it hopes to ever win the market. Again, human resources are the most fundamental when it comes to real-world market success.
Once you have hired passionate people who are emotionally invested in the business, you need to support them. Passionate people are creative people; they are always striving for better results and improved experiences for everyone.
What Tinay Fey, an American playwright, actress, writer, and producer, has said about talented people also applies equally to passionate people. In fact, a company should be looking to hire passionate and talented people, with the former as a priority.
In any case, the key point here is that micromanagement of employees is inimical to creativity and productivity.
“Low productivity, heightened stress, and reduced creativity are just three of the many negative effects of micromanagement,” according to Track Time 24, a work time management platform.
A study by PA Times, the blog of the American Society for Public Administrators, showed that 69% of respondents considered changing jobs because of micromanagement while 36% actually did.
So, if you don’t want to lose your passionate, talented, and, therefore, creative, workers, you must eventually learn to get out of their way and allow them to do their job.
Instead of getting in the way of your creative employees, you need to create a platform where they can share ideas amongst themselves, according to Seth Godin, a marketing guru and best-selling author.
If one man’s creativity can do much, imagine what many creative people, sharing, critiquing, and refining a truckload of ideas can do.
However, there is a note of caution that helps clarify Tina Fey’s advice to get out of the way of creative employees. You first have to provide them with the resources they need to make their creativity count, according to Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple.
We have already seen the importance of providing a platform for the sharing of ideas. In addition to that, you must also provide all the tools employees need to do their best. Giving out tasks and issuing deadlines without equipping workers with the knowledge they need to accomplish them is a sure-fire way to demotivate employees.
“Ensuring your employees have the right tools to do their job well can benefit their productivity, but perhaps even more importantly, it may affect their job satisfaction,” according to Forbes.
The eleventh piece of wisdom in our human resource management quotes list emphasises the need for work-life balance.
Work-life balance has been a huge discussion in many quarters. A study by CareerBuild found that 61% of employees are burnt out on the job, causing poor physical and mental health and another study by Glassdoor showed that 87% of employees expect their employer to contribute to this work-life balance.
One way to do this is to allow employees to take screen and lunch breaks during work. Another tip is to allow employees to take annual leave and other leave they are entitled to without disturbing them with extra work during those periods.
Also, HR personnel and employees should create a positive and friendly environment and encourage friendly relationships between employees.
According to John Cleese, an English producer and actor, creative workers need enough time to play. Trying to squeeze out every second of work hours is inimical to creativity. As David Ogilvy, the famous advertising guru put it, “Where people aren’t having fun, they seldom produce good work.”
Moreover, employers should learn to prioritise productivity – in terms of results – rather than the number of hours spent at work.
Remember that your employees are humans.
As much as possible, you should seek to listen to them and understand what matters most to them, according to Julie Bevacqua, president of Rise People, a people management platform.
In addition to getting them motivated about the company’s goals, HR personnel should show interest in wanting to know employees’ professional goals, whether they are feeling accomplished, and what they think will make them more happy, satisfied, and fulfilled.
These kinds of conversations show that companies value employees as humans and not just as workers. According to Meghan Biro, CEO of Talent Culture, a company leading conversations about the future of work, “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans.”
Since human resource departments can make or break any business, hiring and developing people must be a top priority.
According to Sir Richard Branson, such development must have a specific goal: employees must be trained enough that they can leave. That is, they must have enough skills to be at the top in their field.
However, they must also be treated well enough that they won’t want to leave. According to Peeps HR, 25% of workers leave for another company due to better benefits. It bears emphasising that for most workers, it is not primarily about salary but the additional perks and rewards.
“A base salary will only encourage an employee to work at the level that is required of them for them to keep their job,” according to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. “If employers want to encourage their employees to perform at a high level and stay with the organisation for longer, they may consider offering their employees the opportunity to earn additional pay, perks and recognition.”
With Built In, a recruitment platform for techies, reporting that losing an employee costs the company 1.5 to 2 times their salaries, employee retention has never been more important. And treating employees well is the best way to secure it.
When HR personnel have decided to treat employees as humans by listening to them, they must also be prepared to hear some uncomfortable things.
It’s always better to have sincere people who will give true reports about what is happening in the company than sycophants who will praise everything or the indifferent who won’t speak about anything.
However, when those sincere people criticise, good HR professionals must be willing to take that criticism. Reacting positively to criticism – by acknowledging, appreciating, and entertaining it – will nurture trust, and vice versa, according to Kim Malone Scott, a CEO coach at top companies like Twitter, DropBox, and Qualtrics.
The 15th item in our human resource management quotes list deals with emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence will always be key to successful human resource management. Maya Angelou, the popular US civil rights activist and storyteller, believed that the manner in which you make someone feel by speaking to them leaves a more permanent impression than the content.
If HR professionals want a motivated and engaged workforce, then they must cultivate a positive work environment where there is mutual respect for the dignity of everyone.
Even when they have to criticise, they should do so in a friendly and respectful way.
According to Laszlo Bock, the CEO of Humu, an information management system software, what makes human resources complicated and difficult is also what makes businesses thrive.
These same quantities are essential to the magic that humans perform.
Managing money and physical assets is not difficult in the same way that humans are since they don’t have will power and emotions. However, it is the same will power and emotions that humans have that make us creative.
And that creativity is the heartbeat of every successful business.
Therefore, instead of HR personnel undermining the humanity of workers, they should be developing the emotional intelligence necessary to manage people for maximum productivity.
While people are the most important resource, it doesn’t mean that every problem or failure is traceable to the employees.
If strategic human resources has taught us anything, it is that there is a connection between HR and the overarching goals and strategies of the company. Consequently, problems can arise because the executives are not setting the right goals or identifying the right strategic plans to meet those goals.
While this particular point would have been included in a list of strategic human resource management quotes, it is also important here. Why? When executives refuse to see the connection between business failures and strategic goals and plans, the employees will bear all the brunt for poor performance.
Stephen Covey, the author of the popular book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, also believes that the problem with a firm can be systemic. That is, even the best human resources can fail if the system has been poorly set up or the work culture is backward and inimical to growth.
Therefore, HR personnel must be willing to do more systematic evaluations rather than always dump business failures on employees.
COVID-19 forced many companies to adopt remote work for many of their workers. However, the flexibility that it offers has made it appealing for many employees even though the worst of COVID-19 seems to be behind us.
“Considering only remote work that can be done without a loss of productivity, we find that about 20 to 25 percent of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week,” according to McKinsey and Co. “This represents four to five times more remote work than before the pandemic and could prompt a large change in the geography of work, as individuals and companies shift out of large cities into suburbs and small cities.”
In essence, even after COVID-19, more people (4-5 times more than those who did pre-COVID-19) will want to embrace remote work. For these people, remote work means more flexibility.
This type of flexibility will be essential if HR professionals want to hire the best talent, according to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. It’s now part of the whole work-life balance complex, which has become fundamental to work in the 21st century.
Happy, motivated, engaged, and productive employees don’t come out of the air; they are often the product of a work culture that promotes respect, friendliness, tolerance, praise and recognition, feedback, trust, transparency, open dialogue, among others.
Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing company, believes that it is culture that creates happy employees and only happy employees can deliver good service to the customers.
Creating a positive work culture or work environment requires training, instruction, as well as a leadership that exemplifies the virtues they want to see in the workers.
New employees come from different work environments, so the first call-to-action for HR professionals is to help new employees understand and appreciate the new culture they are now participating in.
In fact, cultural integration must take priority over skills training. Wherever humans congregate, character and attitude will always be the most important.
The last of our human resource management quotes deals with rewarding employees.
This is another important point we emphasise in our employee happiness article.
Surprisingly, something as little as a free lunch can be key to employee happiness. In fact, a study by USA Today found that 67% of those who have free lunches at their workplace said they were happy.
Free lunches, 13th-month salaries, salary advances, stock options, health and wellness programs, are investments in their professional journey are just some of the perks and rewards that HR personnel and business owners can provide.
Mary Kay Ash, the founder of the popular Mary Kay Cosmetics, makes this point in a profound way. It’s wrong to expect workers you didn’t reward during the good times to rally around the company during the bad times. While passion is important, rewards are also essential since passionate people need to feel valued and appreciated.
Moreover, while perks and rewards are crucial, HR personnel must also pay workers what they deserve and do so at the right time. Delay in payment (especially when such are not communicated beforehand), the payment of the wrong amount, or failure to pay can demotivate employees and lead to disengagement.
[For more insights on how to better manage your payroll process, read “9 Steps to Better Manage the Payroll Process in the UAE”]
This is why payroll management will always remain an important part of HR.
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