New Year's resolutions, HR style

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Channel the energy of 'new year, new me' sentiments into positive change for your businesses

Our inexplicable tendency to pepper an already miserable month with unrealistic goals and ambitions for total life overhaul needn’t be limited to the domestic front. In fact, New Year’s resolutions based on our working lives might have a higher chance of success, given that for them to be effective we have to engage colleagues and teams, and think carefully about their balance between desirability and feasibility. Luckily at work we’re usually forced into the discipline of a business case before embarking gung-ho on major change.

So if you want to bring your zeal for change and renewal into your HR role - and hold back the desire to sign up to three new gyms, a mindfulness retreat and a new utility provider - here are some suggestions for channelling that energy into positive change for your businesses

1. Champion a cause. In HR we often bemoan our lack of influence, whether at the 'top table' or in the teams we work with. The challenge often is that to have influence you have to stick your head above the parapet. Your workforce won’t be immune to anxiety and nervousness about the future. So why not give them a helping hand?

You could champion wellbeing at work, make 2017 the year where your business switches gear in demonstrating how it values its people. Whether focusing on listening more to what staff really want, offering mindfulness classes, or encouraging walking meetings or 5pm Friday digital shut downs, there are things you can do to make work a more positive experience for those returning in January thinking “this year I must quit this soul-destroying place". And there’s a business case for doing this; employee voice, engagement and wellbeing go hand in hand with performance and productivity.

Another approach would be to champion employee volunteering; it’s fantastic for staff development, and gets us out of ourselves and into other peoples’ lives. And those fresh perspectives can be fantastic for creativity and innovation.

2. Get with the evidence. Make 2017 the year you’re proud to embrace a more theoretical underpinning to our profession (we’re about people after all and people are complex by nature). If you’ve followed some of the buzz about businesses abandoning performance management why not find out what the evidence says (as opposed to what ‘best practice’ prescribes)?

3. Learn a new language. One of our difficulties in achieving the influence and impact we seek is that we tend to dress up our strategies and plans in language that’s unique to HR. Perhaps this is the year to sit down with finance and operations colleagues and figure out how together you’re going to produce the analysis of business performance, risks and opportunities in a common language that’s meaningful to all. And from a common starting point.

Done right our work in HR has the potential not just to enable businesses to grow and develop but also to have a positive impact on people’s working lives. That’s a job worth getting out of bed for, even in January. Happy New Year!

Laura Harrison is director of people and strategy at the CIPD

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