5 liberating ideas for HR

Be honest. How are you feeling about going into work today? Excited at the prospect of new challenges and the chance to work with colleagues on creative solutions to business problems? Or, are you worn down by constant ‘fire-fighting’, endless admin, and a stream of difficult people-related issues to deal with?

HR often finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Senior managers are constantly demanding new and innovative solutions to workforce issues. They expect HR to push change through quickly and effectively.

On the other hand, despite the profession’s best efforts, employees often regard HR as the enemy and are mistrustful of any new initiatives.

So, if you’re feeling a bit battered and bruised, what can you do to re-energise yourself and get your confidence back? Here are five liberating ideas to help HR do its job better – and have more fun!

1. Step out of your environment

Let’s face it, your office isn’t exactly the most creative environment.

But you don’t have to go to far-flung, exotic destinations to get inspired. Just getting out from behind your desk and walking in the fresh air can often unlock new ideas and help you see problems in a new light.

Or you could go one step further and take part in a Street Wisdom workshop. Street Wisdom is a social enterprise that aims to help people get inspiration from their everyday urban surroundings. Volunteer facilitators lead free street quests, designed to help people find fresh answers by drawing on hidden messages, chance meetings, and unexpected discoveries they can find in three hours of ‘walking and wandering’. You can find more detail on www.streetwisdom.org.

2. Focus on the positive

It’s easy to get into the trap of always focusing on the negatives. The mistakes we’ve made, the projects that have gone wrong, the conversations we wish we’d handled better. Shifting your mindset to a more positive approach can, however, pay enormous dividends.

Try to spend more of your time looking at what’s gone really well and how you can learn from, and do more of it. Reinforce this positive mindset by surrounding yourself with evidence of your achievements. Try keeping a pinboard, for example, with thank you notes or positive emails from colleagues or clients to give you a daily boost and remind you of just how much you’ve achieved.

3. Create a vision

There’s been an explosion of interest in vision boards over the past few years. The idea is that you collect images, objects, images, and clippings from magazines and build them into a collage that represents how you’d like your life to be in the future. Keeping the board in a visible place where you can see it every day reminds you of your goals and encourages you to take small steps towards achieving them.

This picture it and make it happen approach is equally applicable to your working life. Get your team together and create a vision board to represent how you want HR to be perceived and where you want the department to be in a year’s time. There’s something very therapeutic about spending an afternoon ‘cutting and sticking’ – and it’s a great way to create a joint vision and get everyone focused on the most important goals.

4. Embrace the power of time off

Every seven years designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a year-long sabbatical to ‘rejuvenate and refresh’ his team’s creative outlook. In a fascinating TED talk he describes how the inspiration the team takes from being in new surroundings without the pressure of the conventional 9-5 feeds into the work they do for the next seven years.

While a sabbatical in Bali may be out of the reach of most of us, it is definitely worth considering how you can use the power of time off to give yourself and your people the chance to rejuvenate and develop fresh perspectives. Explore the possibility of offering short sabbaticals to staff with the management team and think about how you might be able to give people free time within the working week to do the things they love. Google, for example, is well-known for its policy of allowing its software engineers to spend 20% of their time pursuing personal projects – many of which have resulted in new discoveries and pay-backs for the business.

Tech blogger Ryan Tate’s book The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business tells us how organisations use this method to increase innovation

5. Have more fun

Work doesn’t have to be serious all the time. If you can find ways to inject a bit of fun and humour into the workplace, people will be happier, more relaxed, and ultimately more productive.

Try some of the varied team-building activities now on offer (scavenger hunts, inter-department fitness challenges, cooking workshops, etc.) to inject an occasional bit of fun with a purpose. Or, think about setting up lunchtime clubs to bring people with common interests together.

One organisation I know, for example, has a lunchtime ukulele club as well as a ‘stitch and bitch’ session for the more crafty-minded. Remember though that one person’s idea of fun isn’t necessarily anothers. Encourage your team to come up with their own suggestions for activities they would enjoy and make sure anything you do organise is inclusive

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