HR Programs – One Size Does Not Fit All


Today’s HR Programs are put in place to attract, retain and engage our people. If the program is not relevant then you might as well “nix it” because it will only cost you money to maintain and it will not generate the outcomes that will positively impact your business. Yes, it may mean abolishing that learning and development platform that cost you a fair chunk of change and replacing it with a program that employees are actually embracing and accessing.

Currently in the workforce we can have up to 5 different generations working alongside each other. The needs for each one of these groups are significantly different. The Millennials want flexibility on how and when they do their work; options for learning and development are important and regular consistent feedback is required for them to stay engaged. The Baby Boomers on the other hand expect a more regular work schedule; like the idea of mentoring rather than learning and development opportunities, and feedback every six months suits them just fine. How do you possibly develop an HR program to meet such diverse needs – you don’t!

One size does not fit all and you should not expect to have HR policies or programs that look the same for everyone. You do need to make certain that your policies and programs are fair but this does not equate to “same”. For many of us who have been in the workforce for a number of years – not that we are counting, but I personally have been around for 30 plus – the notion of administering a program or policy depending on generational preferences is daunting and we are concerned that we are setting up our organization for potential human rights complaints around discrimination. We need to get beyond this if we want to attract and retain the right people to our organization – they don’t want “same” they want “relevant”.

Attracting, retaining and engaging the best talent for our organization requires us to understand what it is that “the best” want and need in order to do their “best” work. Does it really matter what time an employee comes in to work as long they deliver the results you need? Why is it important for your organization to “prescribe” learning and development platforms or group benefits – why not allocate dollars to a spending account and let employees decide how to spend the dollars based on what is most relevant to them? What about your performance management program – would it be better to ask your employees what they want and need with respect to feedback and then make certain you meet with them accordingly?

Relevant HR programs and policies require us to rethink the concept of one size fits all. Without a doubt, as we move away from consistency in how we develop and administer programs, the importance of communication becomes even greater. Employees want to understand the ground rules and “why” programs and policies are in place – they are looking for relevancy. As employers we need to communicate our values which determine how we develop programs and policies. If you decide on a “one size does not fit all” approach you will be communicating values that are consistent with relevancy, trust, and transparency. These values are consistent within organizations that are employers of choice, and result in the ability to successfully attract, retain and develop the best people.

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