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The Future of HR Leadership — Transforming Companies From the Inside

August 25, 2022
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HR professionals are central to all employee-centered needs of a business. They are responsible for employee recruitment, training, engagement and management. They help ensure that all employees understand and follow company policies, potentially saving the business from landing in legal hot water. HR is the one department that touches every employee in multiple ways across their entire relationship with their employer — from the first face they meet in hiring interviews through conflict resolution, professional development and accessing their benefits, up to planning their exit and retirement from the company. When you consider all the responsibilities of the HR department, it's hard to believe it could become even more central, but that's the likely future of HR. In a world where the entire corporate structure — indeed, the very concept of what a corporation is and does — is rapidly evolving, the human resources department is taking on an increasingly central role in business management, and that's likely to continue.Before looking at the future of HR and what it holds for HR professionals, employers, employees and the corporate world as a whole, it's important to take a look back at the origins of the modern human resources department.

The Evolution of the HR Department

Not that long ago, the idea of a department devoted solely to addressing the needs of employees was a foreign one. Until the late 19th to early 20th centuries, employees were seen as largely expendable. Employee management consisted mostly of payroll management. With few laws protecting workers, there was little reason to employ anyone other than bookkeepers to ensure that workers were paid as promised.That all began to change with the Industrial Revolution, as leaders of the industry began to realize the importance of a healthy, happy workforce to business success. Robert Owen, a Scottish textile manufacturer, and Charles Babbage, a mechanical engineer, are generally credited with being the fathers of human resources by connecting worker treatment with worker productivity.

Early Days: Employee Relations and Safety

Babbage and Owen's theories coincided with a growing labor movement that demanded better, safer working conditions, often through costly — and sometimes violent — labor stoppages. The first personnel department — a precursor to the HR department — was created in reaction to a series of strikes and quality control issues at the National Cash Register Company. In 1901, owner John Henry Patterson concluded that "Enthusiasm is the biggest asset in business… Therefore, we have solved the labor problem…if we can infuse enthusiasm into all the various kinds of people who go to make up a working force. It is a give-and-take proposition of mutual benefit and mutual responsibility." Following his conclusion, he set up a department to deal exclusively with employee relations. In addition to handling payroll, the new personnel department also handled employee complaints and disputes, maintained employee records and managed an impressive list of benefits designed to keep its employees content. While Patterson was a pioneer, other industry leaders were also learning the benefits of providing incentives for their workers: employee loyalty, reduced retention and training costs, higher morale and increased productivity.

Mid-Century: Rules Compliance

In the 1930s, labor unions achieved a series of legislative victories that culminated in the creation of the National Labor Relations Board, which forced a shift in the focus of the personnel department to ensure that companies complied with new laws and regulations. Where the early incarnations of HR management had focused on managing employee relations and benefits, the focus on rules compliance fundamentally changed the structure and role of the HR department. While the department was still responsible for the functions of personnel management, they now also had to contend with a growing raft of regulations encompassing worker safety, equal pay and discrimination in hiring, firing and disciplining workers. By the 1970s, the personnel department had evolved into the typical HR department, concerned with hiring, firing, training, disciplinary measures and benefits management.

Late Century Evolution: HR as the Bad Guy

In the 1980s, the growing use of the office computer and the arrival of the HR information system (HRIS) revolutionized the HR department yet again. The new technology freed up hours of HR time by making personnel records easily and quickly accessible. By freeing HR professionals from the time-consuming task of keeping paper records, HRIS had the potential to empower the department to renew its focus on recruitment, training, retention and planning. Unfortunately, the 1980s also ushered in the era of downsizing, with many companies gutting their HR departments, and others pushing them into being the "bad guy," delivering the news of layoffs and cost-cutting measures. Between their roles in compliance enforcement and discipline, HR acquired a reputation as the department with no sense of humor.

HR Today: A Transformative Evolution

As companies outsourced many of the traditional HR functions to payroll and benefits management companies, business pundits began predicting the death of HR as a profession — but they were premature. Instead, the combination of better technology and changing attitudes toward workforce management have again turned HR toward its original principles — improving relations between management and the workforce. The adoption of HR platforms that allow employees to access and manage their own benefits has freed the HR department from its most tedious traditional tasks and returned the focus to attracting, training and retaining talent.

The Future of HR: An Active Partner in Corporate Leadership

In the process, the corporate C-suite has begun to recognize the creativity and people skills of HR professionals. Over the past decade, the HR department has been moving out of its role as a buffer between management and labor and coming into its own as an active partner in planning and implementing future plans and policies. The upheaval of the pandemic accelerated the transformation by highlighting the vital role of HR in helping ease the sudden transition from office work to remote work. As companies continue to evolve and adjust to changes on the ground, executives will increasingly turn to HR professionals for their expertise and knowledge in the field of personnel management, recruitment and retention.Today's corporate culture is recognizing that employees are at the center of their company's success. In order to remain competitive, they need to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of their employees. No one knows how to do this better than the HR department, which puts HR professionals in the perfect position to actively collaborate and lead corporate teams in redefining company purposes, goals and future strategies. After all, HR management is about empowering people to be the best they can be. It's not a stretch to apply the same principles to inspiring entire companies to rise to the same level.

How Groundswell Supports Your HR Team

Groundswell recognizes the work, talent and creativity that goes into HR in the modern workplace. Our platform gives your HR department tools that take the time-consuming work out of administering your corporate giving program while providing a seamless way for each of your employees to support the causes that mean the most to them. Contact us to learn more about how Groundswell can support your company in attracting, incentivizing and retaining top talent by providing them with the means to do more good.

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Unlocking Philanthropy: A Ready-to-Use Corporate Giving Policy for Modern Businesses

Sample Corporate Giving Policy You Can Use Today

In today’s socially conscious environment, more companies than ever are recognizing the value of corporate philanthropy. Not only can a robust giving policy boost a brand’s image and reputation, but it can also play a pivotal role in community development and global betterment. If your company is considering the establishment of a formal corporate giving policy or refining its existing strategy, this sample policy might be the perfect starting point for you.

Download Sample Policy

Pillars of a Strong Corporate Giving Policy

Corporate giving programs range from employer donation matching programs to full blown corporate social responsibility programs with grantmaking and volunteerism.  Many companies find somewhere in the middle that aligns with their size, budget, geographic presence and most importantly company values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. But what truly makes a corporate giving policy stand out? Let’s delve into the key features, from donation matching to the strategic use of platforms like Groundswell.

1. Donation Matching: Doubling the Impact

One of the most effective tools in a giving policy is donation matching. This is where companies match employee donations to eligible non-profits, effectively doubling the contribution. Such programs not only amplify the impact but also motivate employees to participate, knowing their chosen cause will receive twice the support.

2. Charitable Stipends: Encouraging Employee Choice

Charitable stipends are allowances given to employees to donate to a non-profit of their choice. This not only encourages a culture of giving but also empowers employees to support causes they’re passionate about. The stipends can be a fixed amount annually or can vary based on the employee’s role or tenure.

3. Dollars for Doers: Volunteering Translated to Contributions

“Dollars for Doers” programs convert volunteer hours into monetary donations. When employees volunteer their time for a cause, the company makes a donation equivalent to the hours spent. This fosters a culture of hands-on involvement and ensures that both time and money are being donated to valuable initiatives.

4. Corporate Grants: Sowing Seeds for Bigger Change

Beyond individual employee contributions, companies can set aside a dedicated fund for corporate grants. These grants can be given to non-profits, research initiatives, or community projects that align with the company’s CSR objectives. Such grants can lead to substantial, long-term changes and foster strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

Why Choose Groundswell for Your Giving Initiatives?

Incorporating these elements into a giving policy requires streamlined management, transparency, and ease of execution. This is where platforms like Groundswell come into the picture.

Groundswell offers an efficient and affordable solution for companies aiming to elevate their philanthropic endeavors. Here’s why it’s the ideal choice:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Groundswell’s platform is designed for both companies and employees, ensuring smooth navigation and straightforward donation processes.
  • Versatility: Whether it’s donation matching, handling charitable stipends, or managing corporate grants, Groundswell offers solutions tailored to each company’s unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Groundswell provides a comprehensive suite of tools at competitive prices, ensuring that more of your money goes towards the cause rather than platform fees.
  • Transparency: Track donations, monitor employee involvement, and generate detailed reports to measure the impact—all in one place.

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An effective corporate giving policy is a blend of structure, employee engagement, and impactful contributions. By incorporating elements like donation matching, charitable stipends, “Dollars for Doers,” and corporate grants, businesses can create a ripple effect of positive change. And with platforms like Groundswell, executing these initiatives becomes not just feasible but also highly efficient and cost-effective.

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5 Tips to Boost Engagement & Impact on Giving Tuesday

Leverage GivingTuesday to boost generosity

Every November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as GivingTuesday, which often serves as the unofficial start of end-of-year giving campaigns. This comes on the heels of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions to lean into the end-of-year holiday spirit with generosity and compassion. For many charities, GivingTuesday has become their biggest day for donations – and can help resource their ability to have an even greater impact in the year ahead.

For companies, GivingTuesday and the end-of-year giving season offers an opportunity to double down on their commitment to social responsibility, strengthen relationships with employees, and boost their impact in the community and broader world.

At Groundswell, we partner with companies all across the country to design and launch GivingTuesday campaigns – leveraging our easy-to-use platform that makes it easy for employees to participate and send donations to the causes and charities that they care most about. Below are some best practices to boost engagement and inspire generosity during the giving season.

1. Make Giving Easy:

A lot of giving platforms out there make it incredibly hard to donate. Some don’t have all 1.5 million IRS-approved charities listed. Others require employees to navigate through a web of intranet or sharepoint sites to find the giving program landing page. And others require that HR is notified of any donations an employee wants to make. At Groundswell – we are committed to removing all of the friction, and ensuring that employees can find charities easily, through a platform that is accessible from the palm of their hand, so they can give whenever they want to.

2. Launch a GivingTuesday Match Campaign:

Through Groundswell you can customize and launch a special GivingTuesday match campaign in a matter of minutes. Simply pick the nonprofits to include in the special campaign, select the start and end-date for the campaign, and then determine the match – 2x, 3x – along with any overall budget limits, then you’re done!

3. Boost engagement by involving ERGs:

Share nonprofit recommendations from Employee Resource Groups to provide inspiration around causes and nonprofits that matter to your employees. You can feature these nonprofits on dedicated ERG Corporate Spotlights and Campaigns that will be visible to all employees on their Groundswell dashboard.

4. Surprise (and Delight) Employees With A Gift to Give:

Consider sending a surprise “gift to give” to reward those already participating in your giving program (and to incentivize others to enroll). These gifts might be used to further maximize impact through the existing campaign, or to donate to other nonprofits your employees care about. Groundswell’s custom gift feature allows companies to easily schedule and send gifts with little to no administrative burden.

5. Level up with Volunteer Matching:

Groundswell’s Volunteer Matching program – sometimes known as Dollars for Doers – recognizes that some employees may not have funds to contribute, but have time – and rewards them in the same way. It’s an inclusive approach that invites everyone to participate in GivingTuesday, even those who may not be able to donate their own funds.

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12 Employee Benefits Survey Questions Modern Companies Should Ask

In today's business environment, having the right and highest performing talent is more critical than ever. With benefits packages playing a vital role in these decisions, how can companies truly gauge their effectiveness? By initiating regular employee benefits surveys.

Scroll down for a free survey template below.

Let's dive in to the importance of asking the following questions.

Is our workforce satisfied with the current employee benefits package?

Gaining insights from "how satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?" can offer companies a quick pulse on the effectiveness of their benefits. A dip in satisfaction might signal a need for re-evaluation, especially if you're looking to maximize your budget.

How comprehensive are the employee benefits we offer?

Do employees feel that the organization covers a wide range of their needs? Asking, "do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?" can shed light on any potential gaps in coverage.

Are we showing true commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion through our benefits?

Are the company's efforts in promoting DE&I resonating? This can be gauged by asking if the benefits genuinely support diversity and inclusion. If they aren't, here's an opportunity to collect ideas directly from your employees.

Read more about how to make sure your giving program is equitable and inclusive.

Do our benefits reflect our company culture and values?

The question, "do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?" will highlight any potential discrepancies in practicing what you're preaching.

Did you know? Two-thirds of employees say it’s important for a company to align to their values.

Are we catering to the needs of a remote or multi-location workforce?

With remote work on the rise, is the company adapting its benefits accordingly? It's essential to find out if employees feel supported, regardless of their work setting.

Would employees recommend the company based on our benefits?

This is an easy one to skip, but it's a great question to ask. See how influential your benefits package is for employee referrals. Determining if employees would advocate for the company based on its benefits can be a key metric for recruitment.

How do specific benefit categories fare?

By querying satisfaction levels across various benefits – physical health, social impact, mental health, financial health, and fringe benefits – can companies discern which areas are thriving and which need enhancement?

What additional benefits do employees desire?

Is there a particular benefit that could make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention? Discovering this can be as straightforward as asking, "if you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?"

If your workforce desires a more meaningful benefit, see why decentralizing your corporate philanthropy strategy can achieve greater impact at scale.

How often should I send an employee survey about our benefits?

While every business has their own set of unique needs, conducing a quarterly employee survey at minimum can help you get a pulse check.

There will be some natural and unplanned peaks in valleys throughout the year that can drastically affect employee morale and company culture. By proactively seeking feedback through surveys, companies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring they remain at the forefront of employee satisfaction.

What are some affordable benefit options we can provide employees?

Corporate matching or giving programs can be a low-cost addition to your benefit offering that supports your employees’ unique passions and perspectives through charitable giving and boosts your company’s commitment to social impact.  Groundswell offers a comprehensive solution with a simple implementation and nearly zero administration burden.

[Free Template] Employee Benefits Survey Questions

  1. How satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?
  2. Do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?
  3. Do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?
  4. Do you feel our benefits package supports our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion?
  5. Do you feel our benefits package supports our remote or multi-location workforce?
  6. How likely are you to recommend applying based on our benefits package?
  7. How satisfied are you with our physical health benefits (i.e. health care, sick leave, etc)?
  8. How satisfied are you with our social impact benefits (i.e. corporate matching, volunteering, etc)?
  9. How satisfied are you with our mental health benefits (i.e. vacation time, EAP, etc)?
  10. How satisfied are you with our financial health benefits? (i.e. retirement, student loan assistance, etc)
  11. How satisfied are you with our fringe benefits and perks? (i.e. fitness subsidies, stipends, etc)
  12. If you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?
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