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Is HR good at helping staff manage their work relationships?



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Greg Newman, product manager of HCM Solutions at TrustSphere explores how HR leaders can up their game when trying to monitor the health of their workforce’s relationships and interactions.

If someone asked you to list all your work-related relationships, how many do you think you could list? 20? 50? 100? Our research shows that office workers potentially maintain anywhere from 26 to over 400 relationships, with an average of about 130.

We know how important it is to maintain a single strong relationship at home, but how can we sustain 130 strong relationships at work? Even if we did, would we have any time left to do work?

Common sense and most workplace studies indicate that authentic office relationships increase job satisfaction, decrease stress, and boost collaboration and productivity.

It follows that successful companies are built on strong internal relationships, and that the most valuable employees are the central connectors who can naturally cultivate and influence networks.

We know how important it is to maintain a single strong relationship at home, but how can we sustain 130 strong relationships at work?

Next most important are the brokers or boundary spanners, who connect with other teams or networks and external bodies. They are critical for driving innovation and collaboration, and are powerful change agents.

A 2015 Gallup study says that 70% of American employees are disengaged and not fully contributing to the organisation. Another 2014 study by Officevibe claimed 88% of employees are not passionate about their jobs, leading to high turnover and costing billions of dollars annually.

HR teams, therefore, try to improve employee engagement by pinpointing influencers based on anecdotal evidence or word of mouth.

This is, however, a hit-and-miss process, especially in large organisations.

Today’s cynical employees are also unlikely to embrace overt attempts at workplace engagement.

Today’s cynical employees are also unlikely to embrace overt attempts at workplace engagement.

Data-driven methods such as people analytics or enterprise collaboration solutions are more reliable (and subtle) ways of identifying influencers to approach when implementing change.

Once employers analyse this concrete relationship data in combination with factors such as performance statistics or employee attrition, it is easier to identify the unsaid strategic elements that engage a workforce and make it more effective.

That said, HR still has a lot of catching up to do. A 2012 McKinsey report noted that HR has an inherent inability to relate any ROI or business impact of their operations. Another Deloitte study in 2014 revealed that only 14% of all organisations had even attempted to use analytics to answer business questions.

Companies seeking to address employee disengagement ultimately need to monitor the health of their workforce’s relationships and interactions.

Data concerning communications between individuals and teams often translates into actionable relationship insights that help companies increase engagement and create happier, more effective workplaces.

 Image: Provided

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