Thursday, 17 November 2011

Are We Miserable? "Not Bad Thanks"

I heard the UK Prime Minister (David Cameron) on the radio yesterday talking about happiness. Now I am no big fan of Cameron or his party (Conservatives) but I really don't get all the abuse he seems to be getting on this particular issue.  Ok the Conservatives are not famous for caring is people are happy or not but surely the fact that it is being discussed is a good thing?  After all from an experienced Human Resource professional point of view we understand that happy people equals productive and creative people.

Following Cameron's statement last year that he wished to consider the Gross Domestic Happiness of the nation the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has been working on working out how to measure happiness.  Earlier this month the ONS published their initial thoughts on what they call the 10 signs of happiness:
  1. Are you satisfied with life?
  2. Are you satisfied with your husband, wife or partner?
  3. How satisfied are you with your mental and physical health?
  4. Are you happy in your job?
  5. Do you feel involved in your neighbourhood?
  6. Are you happy with your personal income?
  7. Are you satisfied with your education?
  8. Data on how many voted and trust in Parliament will also be measured
  9. Statistics on the economy will also be included
  10. As will environmental factors, including greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants
These questions were developed from what I think is a pretty sound model of what well being is for individuals living in the UK:

Whilst I have some issues with government telling me to be happy, I must say I have even more of an issue with the general response to this initative.  This all reminds me from a Scottish trait that can be rather annoying - when asked, "how are you today?" the stock response is more often than not "not bad thanks".  So the steady state is bad is it?! OK so this may be political nonsense - but surely anything that raises awareness of "well being" is better than nothing? After all we all know what GDP stands for dont we?

HR Business Partnering - Focus on Reality - Part 1

Working as an HR business Partner can be complex and, at times, frustrating often as a consequence of the ever evolving nature of the role.  One of the key challenges is that theory does not always match up with practice with many HR professionals still operating in non-strategic areas of the business.  The reality of "real" practice will therefore have a significant impact on how the function (and the individuals within it) are perceived by the organisation and on how successfull transformation will be - as I have said before; "HR is in perpetual beta".

Whilst I am sure none of this is especially surprising to any of us working in the profession, it remains important when considering the challenges of HR transformation.  Over the next few weeks I plan to write a number of referenced articles aimed at helping practitioners think through, plan and execute change in their HR department.

As a starter for 10 I have revisited one of the fields "classics",  HR Transformation by Dave Ulrich and others.  This, highly regarded research, defines outcomes of good HR work in terms of organisation capabilities.  It goes on to offer specific guidelines for transforming all elements of HR. These guidelines redesign, re-engineer, and upgrade the HR profession. Finally, it suggests specific roles for line managers, HR professionals, employees, and advisers to deliver on the desired outcomes of transformation.  Ulrich describes his step by step approach in this short video:

Pretty much common sense and, whilst there is an ongoing debate on the focus for developing capability (Jon Ingham's challenge on Ulrich's view is especially eloquent and interesting), this forms a good starting point for thinking through transformation.