When thinking about some of the biggest business transformations of the last decade, one thing that stands out amongst these workplaces is the willingness to innovate.
Rather than forcing employees into policies and practices that remained in the manuals solely out of tradition, many of these companies were eager to break the mold and create something that worked for their employees and business needs. Here are some of those innovative HR practices and policies.
1. Finding (or Redefining) Purpose
Mission statements and purpose documents have increased in recent years as businesses aim to be more than service providers. In fact, many of them consider their broader purpose to be what differentiates them from their competitors – and they’re not wrong! As the workplace has become multigenerational, one emerging trend particularly salient amongst the younger generations is desire and interest in working for and purchasing from businesses that have a social mission or higher purpose.
2. Creating Flexibility
From remote work to flexing work hours to alternative work arrangements altogether, workplace flexibility is becoming increasingly common amongst businesses and it remains one of the key elements that top talent seeks. There are a number of ways to create more flexibility in the workplace – from the “work from anywhere in the world” roles that are available, to simply allowing people to work from 5am to 1pm or 2pm to 10pm if they please, allowing employees more voice and choice about where, when and how they work is one of the most impactful forms of HR policy innovation.
3. Custom Positions
Rather than creating a list of skills and qualities that candidates must have for a particular role, some businesses are identifying high-performers and top talent, and customizing roles for them that allow them to maximize their strengths. Instead of trying to balance the elements of a role that they excel in and settling for mediocrity in their weak areas, these companies build teams that complement each other – after all, one person’s weakness is where another person thrives.
4. Flat Organizations
Removing hierarchy from business functions is a growing trend. From eliminating job titles altogether, to designating the organization as “flat” – meaning no managers or supervisors, but a number of individual contributors working collaboratively towards the same goals – there are a number of ways to remove some of the challenges that can come with traditional hierarchies and senior/junior job titles.
5. Creative PTO
Businesses have gotten quite flexible with Paid Time Off – it’s no longer reserved solely for sick leave or vacation. Paid Time Off for volunteerism is gaining popularity, as it allows employees to give back to their communities and strengthen business and community partnerships. Unlimited Paid Time Off and Mandatory Paid Time Off have also been increasing. While unlimited PTO is explanatory, in practice, some employees didn’t feel like they were actually able to take advantage of it without repercussions – from this came mandatory PTO which requires employees to take at least the minimum amount of leave. And allowing employees full ownership over their PTO – including giving them options to donate it or cash it out – is yet another option.
To bring this to life, Netfllix is often cited as one of the leaders in the innovative HR policy and practice space, after their commitment to treat employees like adults. For their business, this looks like eliminating approval processes around expenses and PTO – they simply trust people to spend what’s necessary, take the time that they need, and they ask their leaders to serve as role models. They’ve also avoided things like performance bonuses and aim to always pay market-rate.
For Netflix and companies with similar practices, the focus is on hiring the top talent, offering guidance and trusting them to do their best work – while actually creating the policies that allow them to do so. And while it may not be an approach that works for everyone, many employees would be well served by practices that indicate trust and esteem – rather than punishment and restriction.