In biology, the centralized nervous system is one of the hallmarks of an advanced organism. It coordinates essential functions like heartbeat, reflex, and growth so effortlessly that we don’t even have to think about them. This frees us to succeed at more than just basic survival, giving us space to discover our purpose, forge new relationships, and build something more than ourselves. In this four-part series, we’ve explored how HR works with finance, management, and recruiting. For the final piece of this series, we’ll explore how the signals HR sends have a huge impact on your organization’s internal branding. This has an impact on your current employees and helps shape your interactions with the rest of the world.
The human body has as many as one trillion neurons, the specialized cells that make up the brain and nervous system. To cover the whole body, they stretch out in chains that would stretch more than 90,000 miles if you laid them end to end. And from your spinal cord down to your fingertips, your neurons are constantly sending and receiving signals. That’s a lot to manage and coordinate.
Your organization isn’t going to have a trillion people to coordinate, even though it might feel like it sometimes. But as your organization grows and gets more complicated, coordination becomes more important than ever, because coordination is key to creating a great place to work. And developing your employee experience is the kind of internal branding that can make all the difference in the age of Glassdoor, where your internal branding matters just as much, if not more, than how you advertise. In terms of recruiting and employee engagement, a poor employee experience can paralyze an organization.
In the nervous system, when everything is working well the automatic and semi-automatic processes like heartbeat and balance fade into the background. You only tend to notice these processes when they get in the way of each other, like when you laugh while sipping your drink. Most of the time, though, you’re free to chase your goals, both in how you think and the actions you take.
It would be amazing if our organizations had the same efficiency and coordination as our nervous systems. That’s where HR comes in. When you divide your workplace concerns into automatic, semi-automatic, and strategic tasks, and use the right people or technology for each process, you smooth things out so you can accomplish great things.
Let’s take vacation time as an example of how this could work. Employee Beth at Ideal Co. has plans to go to Luxembourg on a 10-day trip to visit family. She made the reservations a year ago and informed HR and her manager when she did so. Along with this informal communication, she also entered her request into her HRIS software, which made sure that automatic reminders came through.
Around the same time, Ideal Co. decided they wanted to promote employee vacations. So the HR manager worked with Garon, one of his HR specialists, to develop training for managers on how to handle extended employee absences. Garon rolled out his training, and now the managers in the organization feel more comfortable about planning the time-off process. It’s become second nature, or semi-automatic.
The HRIS informed the events team of Beth’s vacation when she forgot to mention it, letting them plan around this vacation for an important trade show Beth needed to attend. And thanks to the program in place and Garon’s attention to detail, Beth’s manager was prepared to cross-train Beth’s teammates and reassign work as needed. So when Beth got on the plane, the rest of her organization wished her well instead of choking and spluttering in her absence.
As a result, the employees in Beth’s company know that they can take a vacation and reap the benefits that come from truly getting away. Beth comes back from her vacation refreshed and ready to jump back in. And Beth’s company builds on their reputation as an organized, pleasant place to work, making it easier to entice the right talent for their needs.
In this and hundreds of other ways, coordinating strategic, semi-automatic, and automatic tasks makes all the difference in your internal branding. It makes the idea of a great place to work more than just an idea; it gives you the capacity to execute your strategies and make it a reality.