How CSR can be a Part of HR.

CSR

I would prefer a higher income that allows me to contribute on solving the social and environmental issues within my community, rather than the company to take decisions for me.

If you are in HR, what will be your response if one employee will approach you with that statement? Will you try to convince him or her about the opposite or do you prefer to skip this subject?
In many organisations CSR is integrated in Communication or Public Affairs. It’s hardly ever a part of HR. In essence, CSR survives only through enhancing the social education of employees. The HR department has a crucial role in this. HR can change the system. HR can influence the top-level management of the company to support CSR initiatives.

It is time for HR to wake up to CSR.
Elaine Cohen

Currently, there is not enough HR involvement in the CSR strategy at corporate level. We live in an era in which the talented Millennials want to create a positive social impact. They search for companies that offer them a purpose in life. In fact, we are witnessing a change of mindset at every level. A job is not just a job anymore. Most of the employees want to contribute and make things better. We all want to work for organisations which stand out in CSR and go beyond those related to the environment and social causes. These companies take very good care of their own people.
Let’s think forward. There are several initiatives that the HR department in any company can take to embrace the needs of our times. And HR can adapt the existing strategy for creating a sustainable environment for the employees.

HR needs to get CSR Training

HR should be prepared for what CSR really means and for the related practices. If the company already has a CSR manager, this is already a step forward. HR and CSR can work together and develop the sustainability concepts related to employees.
Speaking with some of my friends working in multinational companies in Europe, they knew very little about the CSR actions of their organisation. These usually take place outside of company and have low involvement of the employees. The general approach to CSR is mostly related to compliance with ethical standards and with the law, protection of the environment, philanthropy and the support of social causes.
HR can change the mindset of leaders, can educate employees and can create a culture of social responsibility. This requires knowledge and partnering with the responsible for CSR.
Everything begins with people. On the long-term, the investment in people’s education has immense benefits for a company conducting business in an international environment. The employees could have a certain vision on what sustainability means, according to their own culture. HR can shape that vision through the company’s CSR oriented culture.

Set achievable Goals

People have to believe in doing right. HR can create short and long-term goals which are achievable and can be easily followed up. Involving employees in planning will be a great idea. This way they can feel part of the team and most likely they will want to contribute as much as possible.

Communicate

“Transparent” should be the word standing next to communication. Employees should be in the loop all the time. It helps engaging them in the workplace and it creates trust in the company.
A starting point could be the redesign of the internal brand campaign to include also CSR. HR should work with the Communication & Public Relations department on this. Using social media and internal tools is great, but HR should not limit itself to virtual communication only. Face to face formal and informal meetings between HR, Leaders and employees are a good opportunity to promote sustainability at the workplace and beyond.
The most efficient communication is through action, though. Good reputation is based on what the company does and which efforts were made. The perception of the employees about CSR practices can be modelled through real facts and examples and not just words.

Inspire and engage Employees

There are many ways of engaging employees.  These can shape people’s behaviour and motivate them to embrace CSR and consider it part of their life, not only of their workplace.
HR can help employees to better understand what CSR is, how to be responsible on day-to-day basis and how to support their colleagues and the company. On the other hand, HR should be transparent about its own actions and about the efforts done for supporting the employees.
There are three approaches that can be taken towards engaging employees:

  • Creating or facilitating access to leadership development programs designed to build CSR knowledge.
  • Introducing mentoring programs between senior and junior employees focussed on sustainability practices.
  • Officially dedicating several hours to voluntary work or workshops. The special allocated time doesn’t necessary have to be spent outside of company. HR can arrange places within the organisation where employees can meet and hold brainstorming workshops oriented towards finding new and better ways of sustainable management.

If employees understand that participation to different CSR initiatives can improve their skills and can get them closer to their dream job, they will voluntarily take part in no time. HR can make them see the benefits, such as expanding their network, building relationships, breaking the daily routine and stimulating creativity.

Celebrate Success

Celebrations are always welcome. Recognising the efforts is a ‘must do’ for any organisation. Employees want to feel appreciated. Companies have many ways of doing this.
Successful CSR actions have to be officially reported at least on annual basis. Companies have to be consistent and transparent when reporting their achievements.
Internally, a good information system should be put in place. Employees will need to know first and in real time about successful activities. This is a great motivation technique.

Follow-up and improve

Online tools and internal newsletters can be used to track CSR actions. HR can invite employees to join dialogues on sustainable practices. HR can follow-up together with them and identify the weak and the strong points.
HR should use valuable information coming from the results of internal surveys and employees’ feedback when designing the next programs. Everything should be transparent and communicated in real-time.
Employees will definitely appreciate the efforts coming from company’s side on improving the practices and trying to create a better place to work.
Coming back to the first question it’s clear that skipping social responsibility is not an option for HR. Employees of a company with strong CSR practices related to human resources will not make such statements like the ones at the top of this blog. They will feel appreciated by the organisation. They will want to contribute to different CSR actions initiated by the company. And they will develop a passion for doing good.
One good resource to support the idea of CSR integration in HR is the book CSR for HR written by Elaine Cohen. Here is a summary presentation of the book.

HR strategy: Control + Alt + HR function ?

snale - HR Strategy

HR strategy, the discussion.

I’ve been in HR now for more than 15 years. In all these years the “strategic” role of HR has not been out of the debate.
Through the years I’ve noticed that this strategic role is complex and intangible. I will not try to define and describe the word strategic in this blog. You could check other literature for that. I am looking for what defines the strategic role. And I would like to answer the question how HR could become more strategic in the future.  I am aware it’s not perceived as strategic today.

The management team

There’s a perception that being a part of the management team is the most important indicator for the strategic nature of an HR manager. Only when you’re on the team, you are strategic.
But this is nothing more than a perception. I’ve known HR managers who are member of that team but who were not strategic at all and vice versa. So it’s not that. So it’s not team membership. Could the strategic role depend on the person?

The person

If an HR manager is not perceived as being strategic, surely it’s due to his or her own behaviour. There is one key question. Does the HR Manager have enough power to influence the strategic decision-making ?
Being able to influence is always an advantage. Sometimes it might be necessary. But it’s absurd to limit the strategic power of the HR function to the personal impact of the HR Manager.
So it’s not team membership or the HR Manager’s behaviour. What then is the determining factor for  HR to become strategic?

The functions and roles

Dave Ulrich has introduced one of the most influential models in HR. He clearly described 4 roles for HR. HR was to become next to the administrative expert also a champion for the employees, a change agent, and a strategic partner.

The 4 HR roles, inclusive the HR strategy role.
Dave Ulrich’s model of HR

This offered a framework that helped HR departments to develop into what they are  now. Various people fulfill the different roles within the department. Those people need to collaborate with one another and with the internal client.
The focus on the internal client cleared the way for the HR business partner. This is a generalist who functions as a single point of contact for the internal clients. This function also integrates a change driving and strategic dimension.
So here we were and are.
HR finally became a full function, covering the four roles. And the people in  HR departments started integrating the strategic dimension in their roles. The strategic HR role was born.
Was it ?
If all of this were true, why hasn’t the discussion about the strategic role of HR not stopped? Why have certain HR functions dramatically felt the crisis? Why have they been hit by serious cost cutting? Why was HR unable to turn the continuous “noise” about its HR strategy into satisfaction ?
Could it be that we have forgotten the people?

The people

Employees and their managers do not benefit a lot from the fact that the HR function is strategically positioned. That’s because there’s a long way between the definition of a strategy and the experience in the field.
Suppose your manager:

  • is a member of the management team.
  • supports and communicates the HR decisions to the own department.
  • is actively participating in the HR decision-making process.
  • has the active support of an HR business partner.

Then chances are that

  • the implementation of the HR strategy will go ahead smoothly
  • you will effectively feel “something” of what the HR strategy is all about.

But even then. Interpretations, convictions, emotions and misunderstandings about roles and responsibilities between the business and HR could spoil the party.
Should we conclude that an HR department can be as strategic as it wants, but that at the end of the day it’s the people who mess up ?
Absolutely not.
If people perceive the collaboration between HR and their department negatively, there is a problem. People do not experience the  HR strategy as intended. In that case HR has seriously messed up.
HR and the company face a huge challenge here. An HR strategy can only be successful if there’s a good collaboration between HR and the line managers. And I’d take it a step further. The line manager should become the real owner and executor of the HR strategy in his/her department. The HR business partner can give support and not drive the HR agenda. It’s about coaching business people towards HR (strategic) decisions. The HRBP should not take this decision him/herself.

The people processes

So the line manager is responsible for HR. And the HR business partner has a supporting and coaching role. We cannot expect our line manager to set up a “mini HR team”. That would not work. That would only lead to ineffective fragmentation of the HR function.
But line managers manage a lot of processes. So they can also manage HR-processes if they’re supported by experts and coaches. Some examples are:

  • Recruitment
  • Performance management
  • Outflow of weak performers
  • People Development
  • Team building

Let me introduce a new process the business could perfectly drive: the HR strategy process.

Control + Alt + HR function

HR Strategy is about the continuous improvement of people processes. It’s driven by the business. HR is no longer a function. It’s a process, driven by the business.
How do we have to understand these processes?
Some examples. Improvement of:

  • Hiring. How and where to attract our future talents ? Business people  know the market better than HR people.
  • Talent acquisition and development processes. Which competencies will we need within 5 to 10 years? Business people  know the future needs of the customers better than HR people.
  • Industrial relations. How can we convince the unions better than by telling them how the business is working ?
  • Internal communication. How can we integrate social media in the existing employee communication platforms?
  • Retention. How can we use the output of exit interviews more appropriately?
  • Team building and collaboration. How can we better deal with conflicts in our teams?
  • Leadership development. How will our own leadership have to evolve if we want to stay successful ?

Imagine managers becoming responsible for driving and managing these people processes. They are not only responsible for driving existing people processes but also for co-creating new ones. Of course, they are supported by colleagues and HR.
Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 20.13.24
I think these managers will be much more willing and able to:

  • see the HR strategy as their HR strategy
  • make it much more concrete for their people.
  • transform employee’s negative perceptions about HR into transparent understanding of it.

That is the real meaning of strategic HR.
 
Read also:

About human centricity

glasses

The rediscovery of humanity

It’s maybe a strange thing to say, but business seems to have rediscovered the importance of people. Ever since McGregor has published ‘the human side of enterprise’ many words have been said about people and business. We can show many businesses in which people are at the core of strategic discussions. But alas, many businesses have an espoused human-centric vision, which does not come true in reality.

Human centricity defined

Being human-centric has to do with the integration of human characteristics like empathy, fairness, reciprocity, kindness and compassion into business strategy. Business people that adopt a human-centric always ask 2 questions: (1) what can the people in the organisation accomplish, (2) how does this business decision affect the people and (3) how can the business create value for the people working in it. So it’s about leverage and impact. A true human-centric strategy will take people as a point of departure and will look for a balance between people and results.

A difficult position?

Saying that you’re human-centric is easy. Making sure people experience it is not. Why? First, people have different expectations. What is felt as right by someone, might be felt as wrong by someone else. Or like one manager tells me: you cannot do right for all. Second, the subjective nature of personal experiences leads to a variety of responses. People are less predictable. So you cannot do right for all and not all the time.
It’s easier for leaders to state that the business is exclusively results-oriented. You do whatever it takes to get the result. Whatever. This is very clear and this kind of strategy leaves no room for too much subjectivity. Everything that supports the strategy is right. Everything that does not support the strategy is wrong. We all know where this kind of approach leads. One of the issues of this position is that the goal justifies the means. And in that approach people are seen as means.

A trembling Balance

A human-centric approach does not treat people as resources. A human-centric approach will see people development and wellbeing as objectives. No results without people. No people without results. It’s a (trembling) balance.
I work in a company that strives for that balance. And nevertheless, sometimes people tell me that they do not feel the human-centric approach. This kind of feedback comes when someone feels friction. Examples are negative feedback, a missed promotion,  a dismissal, …
Human centricity does not mean that all is rosy and soft. Human characteristics entail also unproductive or counterproductive behaviour like low performance, territorialism, disengagement, negative politics, overestimation of personal potential, feuds, … So whenever something happens which jeopardises the success of the collective, something will be done. Also in a human-centric approach the result is important. The biggest difference might be the way you achieve that result.

Confusion

But when people tell me that human-centricity is a farce because they do not personally feel it, this is the result of confusion. Human centricity does not mean that people will always have an easy life. Neither does it mean that they can always have what they want. It does not mean that human centricity would be an excuse for not aiming at results and for not achieving them. Human centricity does not exclude the fact that sometimes-difficult decisions. It means that you will take those decisions taking into account the human side of that decision. It also means that you will not do it indifferently, but with full implication. It means that you will execute the decision in the best possible way: dignified and with respect.
This is comparable to customer orientation. A company that puts the client at the core of the business does not intend to do anything at any price for the customer. Human centricity means that you create a partnership with the people that work for the organisation. It’s a relationship of giving and taking, a balance of listening and demanding. It’s also a matter of making choices when trying to find the balance between people and results. The basis of all of this is the intention of the leaders of the company.

What is the value of human centricity?

There are two plausible answers to this question. The first one is financial and the second is more of philosophical nature. Let’s first talk about the return on investment of human centricity. There is research that suggests that companies that treat their people well will do better in the long run. In the short run there is the higher engagement and productivity. People will stay longer. There will be lower absenteeism rates. All of these elements contribute to the overall performance of the company. But finally, even with all the financial arguments, the philosophical answer might be more important. One could say that being human centricity is the only way to do business, because the alternative is worse. Being human-centric allows businesses to add value to someone’s life. And to paraphrase an old Jewish saying: if you touch one person’s life, you touch all of humanity.
Related Blogs

Long Termism

Short termism

Today’s capitalism is much different from what it was half a century ago. Then, valuation of a company was more based on tangible assets corrected with potential, while today financial analysts take a look at potential value, hardly influenced by information on tangible assets. That is why companies like Twitter get such a high valuation, without being profitable. The stock price of today takes into account the potential of tomorrow, even when that potential is highly speculative and not based on evidence or assets. This is how financial crisis is inherent in the system. The Tulip crusis, the dot com crisis and the 2008 crisis are all examples of the financial system getting overheated because of overvaluation. This is wat Sloterdijk has called futurism: our entire lives, our economy is based on growth and the future value of today’s decisions.
Another thing that has changed, is the short-term thinking. While investors used to have a long term perspective upto 6 years, today the perspective is a quarter. This is called short termismAnd you might assume that this perspective, which has led to many weird decisions – would have been abandoned after the 2008 crisis. But this is not the case.

The holy grail of Long Termism

McKinsey and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) conducted a survey involving more than 1,000 board members and C-suite executives around the world. The purpose of the survey was to assess the progress in taking a longer-term approach to running a companies. For the full article published in Harvard Business Review, follow this link.
The results are stunning.

  • 63% of respondents said the pressure to generate strong short-term results had increased over the previous five years.
  • 79% felt especially pressured to demonstrate strong financial performance over a period of just two years or less.
  • 44% said they use a time horizon of less than three years in setting strategy.
  • 73% said they should use a time horizon of more than three years.
  • 86% declared that using a longer time horizon to make business decisions would positively affect corporate performance in a number of ways, including strengthening financial returns and increasing innovation.

The authors propose 4 lines of action:

  1. Invest the portfolio after defining long-term objectives and risk appetite.
  2. Unlock value through engagement and active ownership
  3. Demand long-term metrics from companies to change the investor-management conversation.
  4. Structure institutional governance to support a long-term approach

To me Long termism is like the holy grail. We all want it but we seem not to find it. If business leaders are convinced that long termism is the way forward, why is it then so hard to move in that direction. Especially when we know that the economy and the entire world would benefit from it? Why is it so difficult to focus on sustainability of business decisions? These are of course naive questions. And the answer is simple: greed and growth. The quarterly reports are rituals of an economy that has bedazzled itself by greed. And growth has become the ultimate target. And unfortunately inflation makes it necessary to have growth in order to maintain profitability (oh yes, we need profitability).

Short Termism and Talent

This blog is not about the above 4 strategies, nor does it provide solutions on how to move to long termism. This blog is about the impact of short termism on what companies like to call their single most important asset: its people. Asset managers should take into consideration a company’s capacity to attract, develop and retain a workforce. For that you need leadership, an attractive context, investments in people and of course a clear people strategy. Asset managers should refrain from trying to valuate these corporate characteristics into money value. Attempts to do this in the past were not satisfactory. The so-called human accounting failed because of the lack of clear criteria to valuate human characteristics and more importantly because of the fact that human assets are not owned by the company. You could view the human side of enterprise as some sort of goodwill, without property rights (you can own a strong brand, you do not own talent). On a more philosophical note you could say it’s also not human(e) to try to valuate human factors of companies. That is why I do not talk about human assets, human resources or human capital, but just about people.
There is at least one issue asset managers and business leaders should take into account: short termism has possible detrimental effects on the people strategy. There are several reasons for that.

  1. People are flexible and versatile, but not as versatile as many non-human factors
    The makable person is partly an illusion. People can only become more of themselves and as a company you ought to work with the talents at hand. Now this might be a reason to prefer short term reorganisations every time the company changes its strategy. The question is how often one can do that. Companies that restructure often will see their employer brand damaged. It is even to be expected that the memory of the labour market will increase due to social media supported exchanges berween current, former and future employees.
    People are simply not interested in short term thinking. They crave for stability, certainty anh predictability. In the current economic turmoil these are things that are difficult to offer. But in the turmoil, a stable strategy can do wonders for economic performance as the article in Harvard Business Review shows. It can do wonders for a people strategy as well.
  2. Culture
    Culture is one of the most determining yet less tangible aspects of corporate life. But culture is not easily changed. So short term decisions can fail because of their incompatibility with culture. Short term decisions that require culture change are bound to fail. Of course you could engineer the corporate culture on short term decisions. But this is not advisable. Culture is about identity and values. Those are parts of the corporate equation you do not change lightly and easily. Let’s not forget that culture is key in attracting and retaining people. Most people are looking for a company they can identify with.
  3. Great things take time
    Rome wasn’t build in a day. Companies usually start small. A decision is often 1 % of the work. You can dream to realise objectives in a quarter, but you need more time than that to realise great things. Let’s not fool ourselves. Compare it to architecture. Before you can build, you need to plan ahead. And when you start the construction, you’d better know how it will look like. Having to change the plan during the construction phase is possible, but costly. And then, you need to take the necessary time. Fast implementation can lead to sloppiness, unstable constructions, repair costs, … Not every construction has to be a Sagrada Familia, but if you want to leave mediocrity and create great things, you need to give it time. A quarter in corporate life, is like a second in a day. And this is especially the case where people are involved. Time and again I have seen how the time fetish has led to senseless decisions. Time is only of the essence when it comes to competetive situations. But focussing on the long term, does not exclude agility. Agility can even be a long term strategy. And even becoming agile will take time and perseverance.

What Long termism can do for People management

Imagine what a long term investment approach would mean for the daily operational management, especially people management. A long term approach makes these things possible:

  1. Building a (performance) culture
    Now this should be something any asset manager should be interested in. Having a long term perspective enables companies to build culture, also a strong performance culture. But we should bear in mind that a performance culture is not only about people working hard. A performance culture is a system that is carefully built and that integrates leadership, strategy, performance management and talent management. To build a high performance culture you need to create processes but also rituals and habits. You need values that take time to come down from the walls and settle into the hearts, heads and hands of the employees. Above all, you need to create meaningfulness. People can work hard as long as what they do is meaningful.
    So as a company you need to invest in conversations with the employees on all levels, in order to explain the strategy. And if a company restricts its strategy to financial parameters, people will not be interested. Finance does not thrill most of the employees. And if you change strategy too often, leadership will lose its credibility. People on the shop floor are very critical about strategy changes. So make sure that there is a stable strategy, as part of a performance culture. And if you change that strategy, you’d better make sure you have a good reason to do it.
  2. Retaining people
    In the war for talent, the gravity of a company is crucial. Short termism reduces that gravity, while long termism increases it. By retaining key performers a company can create a stable operational quality
  3. Hiring on potential and attitude, rather than on experience and competencies
    Short term pressure makes it difficult to hire people who are not ready yet, but have the potential for future contribution. As pressure on short results puts line managers under pressure, they are less likely to easily recruit young people, management trainees or people with atypical profiles. There is just not enough time to invest in education, training. Short term pressure leads to cloning and a lack of diversity.
    A company can benefit from diversity. Diversity leads to creativity, better decisions, more input. Companies can translate this into money value. Of course you need to start hiring for diversity, hiring on potential and attitude. And when you start, you cannot expect immediate return.
  4. Capability Building
    An essential element in strategy is capability building. A capability creates a competitive advantage. Capabilities could be operational excellence, customer intimacy, product leadership, time to market, talent building, leadership, … All of these capabilities are based on human charachteristics: knowledge, creativity, engagement, customer orientation, … Creating a capability requires all people to contribute according to the desired capability. Building a capability requires time. Short termism destroys capability. Long termism helps to build it.
  5. Allowing for errors
    In a short term approach errors are problematic. Errors reduce results, put more pressure on people. Because errors usually have a negative impact on committed results companies might look for scapegoats. This narrows behaviour to safe behaviours, to umbrella tactics and reluctance to take initiative. The risk appetite of companies need to be determined and needs to be translated into both corporate culture and investment culture. Errors can be sources of learning and therefore a leverage for future success.
    Short termism leads often to a focus on operational excellence and not enough on explorative activities. Exploration indeed can interfere with exploitation, unless you plan for it. And if you plan for it, you need to expect that explorative processes need time.
  6. Chosing the proper way and the proper moment to act
    Short termism urges companies to take short term decisions on employment matters. These decisions might be necessary, but inspiration sometimes comes from a short term target. Sometimes companies may lay off people in one year, just to find that they need to recruit similar profiles in the next year. Asset managers might urge companies to do so based on short term targets and short term benchmarks.
    In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, many companies were facing a massive decrease of sales. Customers emptied inventories and did not order, because they were facing similar problems. It was a vicious circle and some economists feared a total breakdown of the economic system. Indeed, sales slowed down in many sectors, leading to a general slowdown of the economy. This has led to many bankrupcies and lay-offs. Still, some companies tried to avoid this. For a clear reason. The employees involved had competencies that were difficult to replace. Those companies realised that they had invested a great deal in their skills. So they held on to their employees. They made use of techniques in the labour market such as flex time, temporary unemployment, voluntary reduction of working time, … These companies have recovered faster from the crisis than companies that took short term action. Long termism was beneficiary.

Conclusion

The authors of the McKinsey Study conclude:

We are convinced that the best place to start moving this debate from ideas to action is with the people who provide the essential fuel for capitalism—the world’s major asset owners. Until these organizations radically change their approach, the other key players—asset managers, corporate boards, and company executives—will likely remain trapped in value-destroying short-termism. But by accepting the opportunity and responsibility to be leaders who act in the best interests of individual savers, large asset owners can be a powerful force for instituting the kind of balanced, long-term capitalism that ultimately benefits everyone.

Short termism destroys value, also in terms of people. A true people strategy needs to be long term. It creates culture, capabilities, engagement, … The model of the future needs to be based on long termism. Also in people management.
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Books from the past about our future – Things are going great

Every book contains a treasure.
This blog is about books, old books.

Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
These are dire times. Since 2008 Europe has been going through one crisis after another. The basis of this crisis lies in human behaviour and leadership. The problem is that we could have known where it would end. In the past decades many people have warned for the lack of sustainability of our economic and societal model. We haven’t learnt much, because maybe we did not listen. And we are still not listening because there is no need.  And the proof is there : the NY stock exchange is doing great (date: 5 march 2013, revised 15 september 2013) and so we are back to business as usual.
Looking back
But let’s look back and see what some people warned us about what could happen and which hints they gave us. So I picked to review three ancient books that are still inspiring.

Book Cover - Human Side of Enterprise
Human Side of Enterprise

The first one is The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor (1960). McGregor hoped that social sciences could help to create a ‘good society’. He predicted the coming of evidence-based management and saw a direct positive impact of research. In that he was a little naive, comparing social sciences to exact sciences, but still. He hoped that companies would move from a “carrot-and-stick” approach (Theory X) towards a higher form of management (Theory Y) that relies on self-control and self-direction. McGregor described 50 years ago elements of what we call today the new way of work and modern leadership. We can ask ourselves what we’ve done with that positive view on management? And why did it take us so long to pick up certain things that he wrote.
Book Future Shock
Future Shock

 
A second book is Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, written in 1970. Toffler said that the increasing speed of change would cause enormous distress, what he called future shock. In this massive book he describes in detail the changes that occur, many of which have come true. Two special elements merit some attention: decision stress and information overload. In a changing environment people will have to make more decisions, which causes stress. Toffler launched the word information overload to illustrate that people need to process more information than they can handle. In 1970 the world was turning at a slower pace and the digitilisation had just begun.
 
Book Cover Small is Beautiful
Small is beautiful

A third book is “Small is beautiful: Economics as if People mattered” (1973). This book by Schumacher in which he criticizes Western economics. The context of this book is the Oil crisis. Schumacher argues that our economic model is not sustainable. He talks about enoughness and stresses the need to balance human desires and technology. He attacks the notion of growth, and pleads for a focus on well-being with less consumption.
Many of the ideas from these three books could have been written today. You can find those ideas in Tim Jackson’s “Prosperity without Growth” (2009),  Sennet’s “Culture of a new Capitalism” (2006), or even Gratton’s “The Shift” (2011).
More than just a curiosity
Reviewing old books is more than just a curiosity. We should be aware of what historical figures have written and suggested and see them as inspiration from the past for a better future. They make us also humble in the sense that most problems have already found a solution. But something stopped us from listening to these (and other) thought leaders. Instead our society went bezerk, focussing on greed and consumption.
There is hopefully a time of a sustainable way of working coming: doing business as if people mattered. I strongly believe that the HR profession can and will play an important role in this evolution. And if not, someone might read this blog and say how wrong or how right I was and regret that nothing has happened since 2013.
 
Adapted from a first publication : http://hrbookofthemonth.blogspot.be/2013/03/guest-post-david-ducheynes-hr-books.html