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How Human Resources can positively influence a changing work environment.

18 January 2021

Read time: less than 5 minutes

Staff sitting together on the floor

The world of work is changing. My goodness is that an understatement! Never have I truly felt that we are working in what is described as a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world as much as I do right now.

Just 12 months ago, I was happily sat in my office in Leeds city centre thinking about how we respond to things such as AI, Brexit, IR35 and Gen Z joining the workforce. Now working remotely, along with most of my colleagues, I reflect on the challenges and changes that we’ve faced and overcome in 2020 and I ask myself, what made the difference between Lhasa surviving 2020 and thriving in 2020? 

In my opinion, it was my colleagues and our collective approach that made the difference. It would have been impossible for us to have reacted so responsively without hundreds of thousands of decisions being made independently and sometimes simultaneously throughout the organisation. Changing priorities, facilitating the transition to remote working, adopting new technologies, etc. all while facing the individual and collective challenges of the pandemic.

The working environment is far more than just the physical place of work, it is also the psychological aspects of work and the employee-employer relationship that I believe HR plays a key role in helping to shape and influence. In some organisations this relationship can be very parental often paternal in nature. This type of employer relationship is usually accompanied by a command and control leadership style. Yet at the same time organisations are increasingly expecting employees to be motivated and demonstrate very adult traits such as being responsible, productive, creative, resilient, and forward-thinking.

We have amazingly talented people working at Lhasa and in 2020 we recognised that to enable them to do their best work we needed to change our strategic approach to how we work – to change our psychological working environment. We aim to cultivate a ‘start-up’ style working environment where decision making is principles led & outcome driven, coupled with delivering member value through empowered teamwork. This approach can only be successful when consciously underpinned by the right employment relationship. 

Our people strategy, leadership style and approach to developing the employment relationship is very much inspired by the work of Lucy Adams and Dan Pink.

  • The EACH approach to Human Resources, coined by Lucy Adams, former HR director at the BBC, promotes treating Employees as Adults, Consumers and Humans, so alongside adult to adult relationships, employees should be considered consumers – employees are consumers of the people services, so HR should endeavour to deliver what employees really need from the function and be flexible and adaptable to meet their individual human needs.
  • Dan Pink makes a study of motivation at work, in his book ‘Drive’, he argues that motivation is based on three interlinked elements of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

It is these principles that underpin the work we do in HR; whether that is supporting our colleague’s wellbeing whilst riding the coronacoaster* together, developing our inclusive practices to enable us all to fetch our whole self to work, or exploring best practice and new trends in remote working and global mobility. If we can work effectively from home now, what can we do to take that a step further?

This is a journey and changing how we work is harder than creating it from scratch, plus HR are humans too we don’t always get it right, we can default to old habits and sometimes it takes more than one attempt to hit the mark, but that’s okay, we are learning and exploring too. The right working environment for us is built on a foundation of trust and recognises that it is better to innovate and for individuals to learn and grow from the experience than to kill motivation and creativity by binding it in the bureaucracy and practices associated with traditional HR and leadership approaches.

There are a broad range of factors that influence the working environment such as the organisations’ purpose, vision and values, the industry, employee demographics, employee skill level and organisational appetite for risk to name but a few. Many organisations are alike but no two are the same, in my experience one size does not fit all, I’d actually go as far as to say that one size rarely fits anyone well, so my advice is to not simply follow someone elses blueprint for working environments, but to explore, be inspired but also expect and embrace change, it has to fit and adjust to your organisation context. It is by understanding our individual organisational context and the individuals within it, that HR can add true value when influencing leadership approaches and implementing people strategy.

Thank you for taking time out to read this and I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well too. If you want to know more about HR at Lhasa please get in touch, we would love to hear about your approach and share ideas. If you would like to be part of our working environment take a look at our careers page for our latest vacancies or drop a line to recruitment@lhasalimited.org and let us know more about you and the career you are looking for.

*Coronacoaster noun: The ups and downs of a pandemic. One day you’re loving your bubble, going for long walks, baking cakes and pottering in the garden, the next you’re crying, drinking gin for breakfast, eating party rings and missing people you don’t even like.

View recent vacancies and more information about a career with Lhasa, here.

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  • Pearl Saville

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