HRM Awards 2011, What is ‘Hot’ and what is ‘Not’.

I was last Friday (4th of March) invited to present the Singapore HRM award 2011 for “Best Change Management Practices” to the winner of this year contest. This year’s winner: Kraft Food Singapore managed to beat on the line MOM, ANZ, NOKIA and a few more organizations of the same league.

I have been on the Judging Panel for the HRM award for the past 4 years, and it is an interesting experience to have a first-hand view at the efforts that leading organizations undertake to address some of the keys challenges they face in relation to their “Human Capital” such as talent/leadership development, Performance Management, Recruitment Practices, Work-Life Balance, etc. The fundamental idea behind all the award categories is that People should be treated as PRODUCTIVE ASSETS

Indeed it is almost a ‘Cliché’ nowadays to say that…

Our people are our most important Asset!“. Most CEOs would readily claim loudly that it is certainly the case for their organizations.

Unfortunately, it is NOT the reality as all too often people are still treated like a ‘COST’ by most organizations. The focus tend to be on both minimizing the ‘cost’ of human capital while at the same time squeezing the maximum value in terms of output produced. It is hard to change old habits!

Nevertheless surveys shows a gradual recognition of Human Capital as a key Value Creation Asset. It is the least we can expect in today’s knowledge and information based economy.

Hence the HRM Awards are an important opportunity to put the spotlight on the organizations that make the efforts to ‘walk the talk!’. The different awards categories document their efforts and can be used as signals and translated into best practices to encourage other organizations to improve as well.

Now looking at the evolution of the award over the past 4 years;  it is clear that there have been commendable efforts made by a wide range of organizations from various industry sectors to expand the role of HR into a value creating function. The list of the awards is also a reflection of which areas are really “hot” and will deserve an award such as “Best HR Leader” or “Best Learning and Development” and which ones are apparently not so hot and hence, are not actively sought after by organizations or are not even on the list… Sadly, Risk Management is NOT on the list… And I also noted this year the ABSENCE of “Business Continuity Management Practices”. Finally another important risk area, “Change Management Practices” does not seem to attract as much attention as other award categories. Overall the picture is not very encouraging for Risk Management, as it seems that it is not on the top of the priority list of HR professionals.

It is interesting to note that the most popular awards year after year are the awards that reward the general efforts of specific individuals (such “champion of HR”, “Best HR Team”, etc) or companies (such as “Best Employer Branding”, “Employer of Choice, etc).

IF organizations want really to treat their people like a Productive Asset, they will have to do better when it come to their HR Risk Management practices. Otherwise they will NOT be able to optimize the Risk/Return balance to the “Human Capital” Asset.

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