Is ’employee engagement’ a better name for your HR team?

Once upon a time, it was called personnel. As workplaces and workforces evolve, maybe it’s time for yet another change.

If your company is like most, you have a human resources department, and you might still call it HR.

For the traditional roles of human resources such as attracting, retaining and developing employees, the name makes sense. The responsibilities of this group are evolving, though, and the name HR fails to fully capture or give credit to the important ways this team serves and involves a company and its people.

Some 25 years ago, there were personnel departments. As the responsibilities changed and expanded to include services such as benefits and compensation, the name became outdated and evolved into human resources.

Well, an evolution is happening again, and now HR is ready for rebranding. Here are four important reasons to consider changing your HR department’s name to employee engagement:

1. Employee engagement professionals engage employees.

Marketers do marketing. Accountants do accounting. HR people do…?

This team is increasingly responsible for creating an environment in which workers genuinely want to give more than what is asked for or needed.

Employee engagement professionals create meaningful and effective ways to connect with their employees—such as buddy programs for newer employees; committees that bring people together, such as community development, fun and wellness committees; and professional and social opportunities in and out of the office.

Employee engagement describes this overarching tenet much more effectively than the phrase human resources.

2. Employees will want to come and meet with your team.

Sometimes HR staffers get a bad rap, and employees aren’t always excited to deal with them.

You want your people to feel comfortable approaching the division, and a good way to do this is by better explaining what your group does. The name employee engagement sends a message that your goal is to help people do their jobs better and that you’re there to support them, not to get in the way.

Engagement is inviting; it says you are open to ideas, conversation and feedback.

3. Employee engagement elevates your department.

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with companies and CEOs who understand the importance of employee engagement. However, I know other employee professionals who have not had the same experience.

Human resources can be a murky, catch-all term that doesn’t clearly convey the meaning it should.

Employee engagement professionals are a vital part of the fabric that makes up a company’s leadership team. They help develop the strategy and the direction of the company through its most vital asset, its employees.

Human resources just can’t compete with employee engagement when it comes to this perception of the company.

4. Employee engagement will re-energize your group.

Working in employee engagement, as opposed to human resources, can shift the way the department’s employees view their own work. It can give them clarity to concentrate on the most important aspect of their jobs, the company’s workforce.

With a name change, and the change of focus that goes with it, you will see greater productivity and pride from your team and an excitement that makes all members of an organization serve as its ambassadors and champions.

A name change takes time and needs substance to support it. Changing from HR to employee engagement could be the spark your organization needs to boost engagement and create an even better workplace.

Michelle D. Roccia is the executive vice president of employee engagement at WinterWyman. She is responsible for developing WinterWyman’s organizational and talent management strategies, including training and development programs for all levels of the organization. A version of this article first appeared on the WinterWyman blog.

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