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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Best Benefit an HR Manager can Muster

Thinking aloud again...

As your company grows and achieves its goals, do you see your employees growing and progressing towards the achievement of their own goals together with the company? I personally believe that this is the HR manager's most important social responsibility- to see people grow with the organization and maybe even to the point of outgrowing the organization.

Several HR activities highlight this responsibility: employee compensation and benefits, reward systems and most importantly human resource development.

As HR managers, I believe that we should strive to help employees get a fair share of the company's gains not only in terms of cash and non cash benefits but in terms of human development aimed at improving their stocks as professionals.

Truly I wouldn't have made it as a training manager and HR Director if the management of 7-Eleven did not invest on my training when I was just a store clerk in 1991. If they didn't allow me access to training and information as a training assistant I wouldn't have become a training supervisor. SPi, the biggest BPO company in the Country wouldn't have hired me to head the training department of such a prestigious company in 1999. I wouldn't have earned the exposure I needed that prepared me for HR management job in PET Plans and then eventually in Athena E- Services. I can say that I am here where I am not only because of my own merit but also because the HR managers and owners of companies that I worked for helped me by providing me training and experiences that helped improve my skills and my stock as a professional. If no company did what they have to do in getting their people out of mediocrity, I would still be mopping floors and ringing sales in 7-Eleven Boni Branch.

I am writing this because I see a number of big organizations with marked growth and record breaking financial success continue to employ people who are poor and almost as sure to remain poor as the company is sure to amass more wealth. The disparity between what these companies earn and what they give back to employees is almost criminal if you ask me. I read from somewhere how one of these companies brag about giving employment to a multitude of Filipinos as if that was not coincidental to that company's desire to meet its financial objectives. Many of these workers however will remain sales ladies or factory workers for as long as they can bear it. They will most likely receive very little training that will help them build leadership skills. They will most likely have no training that will allow them new skills that will give them opportunity for higher paying jobs.

My boss in SPi told us that we should strive to prepare our employees for lifetime employability and not only lifetime employment. Out of that mandate, we initiated technology related training that are totally unrelated to their current work at the time. We taught computer skills and other livelihood programs. It also gave birth to continuing education programs. Some of the encoders applied for subsidized training on programming. I was also a beneficiary of that program. I enrolled in web development because I realized back in 2001 that the way people learn will change in the future and that I should be ready when that happens. The amount of return that investment made by my former company is immeasurable and will continue to benefit me, long after I have gone from that company.

I say that more than money (not that it does not matter) facilitating professional development is the most important contribution that we in HR can give employees. If we can help turn many of our frontline or factory workers into future managers or professionals who command better compensations or self reliant business owners, that would be our best accomplishment. Some would probably say that the success of individuals is entirely up to them and that there is nothing that we in HR can do to help those who do not want to help themselves. I agree, but we can sure do a lot to pave the way for those who wish to get out of mediocrity and lead successful lives.

The tasks inherent to HR management is daunting yet thankless at times I agree, but it should not stop us from doing the noble responsibility of helping people grow personally and professionally.

Do not allow employees who enter your company go out the same way – with nothing to help them succeed in life. Do something. Have a human resource development program in place that extends beyond just helping them doing their jobs right.

When people resign from your company for a better job that pays more and you know that you helped her reach that level. See how it feels. It feels great!

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