Five common myths that HR needs to let go of

The most common myths that HR professionals need to let go of as well as some facts that they should focus on instead, according to Arlene Wherrett.
By: | May 31, 2019


About the Author
Arlene Wherrett is the Vice-President and Managing Director of Sage Asia.

Now that we are reaching the end of the first half of this year, it is a good time for us to calibrate our strategy and look into whether we are still on track on what we have set out to do. Are we still on track in fostering an engaging and rewarding work environment?

Often, we make extensive lists of the many things we want to change or do better in the beginning of the year.

While some resolutions are overly ambitious in nature, some are downright impossible because they have been based on false information or even HR urban myths!

When unrealistic goals are set in the organisational management and planning setting, things can go downhill quickly and dramatically.

Here are the most common myths that HR professionals need to let go of as well as some facts that they should focus on instead.


Myth #1: Pool table + pinball machine = Happy and productive employees

Sure, having a comfortable office lounge with games can help to build team morale. However, despite 40 percent of companies believing that these are important to employees, our Sage research ‘Why your workforce isn’t working’ found  that less than 10 percent of respondents found company outings beneficial and half of them said office games were a distraction.

Ultimately, employees don not value ‘gimmicks’ as much as their employers think. Instead of splurging on items that only a handful will benefit from it, why not spend more time in ensuring our employees feel valued?


Myth #2: A simple ‘thank you’ is all they need

Two-thirds of employees polled want to feel more valued and recognised by their superiors, and just saying ‘thank you’ is not going to cut it. They want to feel that their company values the contribution they are making to the business.

Do not just thank them for completing their tasks; reward and recognise the effort they have put in by creating a system for rewarding and recognising good work.

Whether it is a simple quarterly email  to employees spotlighting great performance or handing out awards at regular employee townhalls,  or a token ‘red packet’ during the company’s Chinese New Year ‘Lo-Hei’, it is important to make sure your team members feel appreciated, receives feedback regularly and that they are getting rewarded for their performance.


Myth #3: Flexible work arrangements are just a fad

Flexible work arrangements are nothing new, but some organisations are still resisting it. Some 81%of employees we spoke to shared that these arrangements are vital to them.

They want to work in an environment where they feel comfortable and are able to maximise their productivity.

Here in Singapore, 87% of workers prefer agile working according to a Randstad Workmonitor survey, as it increases their productivity, creativity and job satisfaction.

Everybody is at their most productive at different hours of the day, so why restrict them to a 9-to-5 work schedule when they may not be at their optimum efficiency?

Everybody is at their most productive at different hours of the day, so why restrict them to a 9-to-5 work schedule when they may not be at their optimum efficiency?

Parents should also be afforded time to spend their mornings with their families as much as possible, since they may be working long evenings as well. A happy worker is a productive worker.

Give employees the flexibility to plan their own schedules while meeting their work commitments. This can have surprisingly positive results to your workplace productivity.


Myth #4: Wellness is forgotten after January

It is likely your employees will return from the holidays with wellness goals—both mental and physical. You should be prepared to support these initiatives – but not just in January.

Some 39% of employees we polled said they believe HR and People teams could do more to improve wellness at work. Although January is a great time to start, if it is not continued throughout the year, then it can seem like an empty gesture from employers.

Whether it is offering subsidised gym membership, providing free fruit, ensuring there is mental health support in place, or demonstrating at a wider level that the company values employee’s health and wellbeing through an instilled culture, this is something that is important to employees year-round.


Myth #5: The Annual Survey says…

Our research has found that HR’s most trusted tool, the Annual Survey, is often wrong rather than right, with 20% of respondents sharing that it was neither of any benefit or seen as a catalyst for significant transformation.

In fact, employers are not just asking the wrong questions, they are not asking any questions at all. 47 percent of respondents indicating that they have never been asked by their employer how they can improve their working experiences.

Listening to your employees is just as important as listening to your customers. If you are consulting your customers on what they want so that you can put to market an in-demand product, why can’t this be done for your employees to keep them motivated and happy?

However, it is advisable for progressive HR and People teams to be using data and People analytics to build actionable insights. At what point in the year does the organisation experience the highest turnover?

This is because accessing actionable insights can make the difference between understanding myths – and reality.


Ready to become a People Company in 2019?

If you are running an organisation that understands the importance of real recognition over frivolous gestures and ‘gimmicks’; gives employees the ability to choose when and where they work; offers wellness programmes throughout the year and makes decisions on data rather than gut feel; then you are well on the way to becoming a truly people-focused organization.

If you are not, this may be the perfect time to start.