‘Human resources’ or ‘human relationships’ – which HR is your company?

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In the multi-generational workforce of today, it can be difficult to create a unified workforce.

But one expert claims her research into organisational behaviour has outlined a procedure for doing so that will please all of your employees.

“It’s never been more important for companies to treat employees well and fairly—but it has also never been more complicated to do so,” Anne Bahr Thompson, founder and chief strategist of Onesixtyfourth, wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

“With so many different generations in the workforce, each expecting different things from their employers, exactly what kind of relationships should companies be fostering with employees—and how should they go about doing so?”

Her research into organisational culture showed that nurturing faithful employee relationships today is no different than cultivating loyal customers.

“Both begin with a ‘me-first’ orientation—that is, [workers feel that] companies must satisfy their wants and needs first—and then stretch across a continuum, culminating in a ‘we’ orientation—[where employees feel that] the company address the issues that are important to their community and the broader world,” she explained.

“Just as consumers now look to do business with companies that advocate for causes they care about, employees are looking for employers who advocate for them and on their behalf for causes that matter to them.

“Companies are no longer ‘just’ companies. As technology has removed the boundaries that historically divided our work and personal lives, we are now imbuing employers with the characteristics of friends, family and even enemies —looking for them to focus on the things we care about and, if they don’t, then joining forces with someone else who does.”

It takes a careful mix of mission, management, and culture.

Bahr Thompson outlined five ways that companies can be gear the ‘me-to-we continuum’ towards the expectations of different generations.


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