HR Strategy: Seeing Beyond the Benefits

Employee Satisfaction & Benefits ROI

The following post was written by Jessica Hoylo, Director, Client Relations at Bright Horizons.

I grew up in a very sports-oriented family and some of my favorite childhood memories involve professional sports games. I'd watch the game itself, but like a typical child I spent much of the game distracted by all the sideline activity. One character who always caught my attention was a stadium vendor, otherwise known as "Swanny the Beer Man." Swanny was an older gentleman with a raspy voice and a larger-than-life personality who strolled up and down the steps yelling, "Get your popcorn, peanuts, beer!" He soon became a local celebrity. He worked multiple sporting venues and even had his own baseball card that he handed out to lucky attendees (yes, I got one).  Swanny's title was "vendor," but in reality he was so much more. He brought humanity to the vendor job  you could tell he genuinely had fun, liked the work he was doing, and loved interacting with people.

Looking at the Big Picture

Swanny saw his job as more than the sum total of popcorn and beer - he was part of the entertainment, even the team. He had a genuine desire to make people smile. Swanny understood that the work he was doing contributed to a much bigger goal  enhancing the overall game experience. I think of Swanny a lot when I think of the human resources profession and HR strategy. It's easy to think of benefits as just an expected part of doing business, with benefits vendors merely providing the services employees expect to see. I imagine many HR professionals feel that struggle as they reflect on how their colleagues outside of HR view them and their role in the organization.

Understanding HR Strategy

But those of us who work in the field know it as a bona fide strategy a way to solve the unique work/life challenges employees face and get better business results like recruitment and reduced employee turnover in return. We dissect organizational culture and values and identify what types of work/life benefit programs would help to address unique organizational cultures. Our HR consulting group at Bright Horizons, in fact, helps clients do just that through well-being assessments and workforce needs assessments. Programs launched as merely as the price of doing business don't have much chance of success. Programs launched as responses to actual problems - the ones that, like Swanny, recognize their place in the larger picture those are the ones that succeed. The goal is to make a difference; to create partnerships and work together toward mutual goals that ultimately support not just the advancement of HR initiatives for their own sake, but that support employees and ROI.

Making the Whole Game Better

The best HR programs aren't merely pushing policies, procedures, and programs out to their employees. They have the very specific goal of working with business leaders and helping them achieve their business results. HR leaders want to better understand the business so they can support them with recruitment, retention, employee engagement and satisfaction. I think about Swanny a lot as I partner with clients to help them with these goals. And I fully embrace Swanny's approach. Because no matter what we're providing we only succeed if we believe in the product, and if we're doing so with solid goals and a bigger purpose. Or as Swanny might say, it's not just about providing a service; it's about making the whole game better.