Research shows that it’s not enough to have great human-capital programs. It matters how employees and leaders interpret and make sense of them. It suggests that HR practices, such as rewards, training, and development, must have distinctiveness to get attention, consistency to be relied upon, and consensus to avoid confusion.Since most companies review benefits programs and tackle strategic planning during the fourth quarter, this is the perfect time to identify and correct any glaring inconsistencies between your policies, rewards and daily practices. Even if your human capital philosophy and behaviors appear to be in synch, Boudreau says it’s not a bad idea to consider how to shake things up and make them even more distinctive going into 2012. Of course, you’ll need to start with an audit of your current policies, philosophy and business goals to spot troublesome gaps and then gather candid feedback by conducting a series of employee focus groups or an anonymous survey. Look at every facet of the HR function including total rewards, training and development, promotions and performance reviews to see if they support the company’s vision, mission and business goals. Finally, consider engaging a cross-functional team to prioritize the to-do list, suggest remedies and implement change, because everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page and accountable for consistent communication and execution.
Does your company advocate innovation and creativity, but not offer a reward for great ideas? Does your policy support workforce diversity, though you have a homogenous management team? Your employees notice those dichotomies, and failing to practice what you preach can negatively impact their motivation and engagement. As USC Professor John Boudreau recently wrote: