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Setting up your HR? Learn From the Trendsetters

In Human Resources — by Recruiterbox

Human Resource Management (HRM) has travelled a great distance. From merely a personnel function to a strategic and influential department, HRM is now a critical component of any organization, not only aiding the latter in its seamless functioning, but even aligning and determining its broader course. Realizing this, corporates have revolutionized their HR practices. Complemented by innovation and new age techniques, setting up HRM in your organization will become simpler, and will lead to a more joyful and efficient work culture.

HR Management: Strategic vs Traditional

Some Types of HRM Practices

  • Traditional– Including, but not limited to, the Harvard Framework of HRM, Guest’s Model of HRM, ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ HRM, Patterson’s Model of HRM, Best Practice Model etc.
  • People Centric– Treading the not very thin line between ‘Personnel Management’ (mainly administrative) and HRM (aimed at employee motivation, cooperation and development).
  • Matrix Management– A ‘two-boss structure’, or bi/multiple internal standing committees, resolving the issues of centralization and decentralization of resources. The roles and responsibilities of both bosses/ Committees must necessarily be well defined through discussion and RACI – Who is responsible? Who is accountable? Who should be consulted? Who will implement?
  • Holacracy– Doing away entirely with hierarchal structures and vertical reporting, holacracy allows for self-governing and self-contained teams within an organization.

Ogle these trendsetters!


Revolutionizing HRM in a manner akin to its transformation of internet search, Google is the globe’s first and the only organization with a data-driven approach. Here, ‘human resource management’ is ‘People Operations’. Basing their HRM on People Science rather than hunches, their ‘People Innovation Lab’ enables Google to analyze behaviors, attitudes, personality traits and perception over time, allowing them to modulate accordingly.

What is Unique and how does it break away from the Conventional HRM?

  • World’s only HRM based on data, as opposed to traditional HRM which was control, risk avoidance and administration based. Decision making vis-à-vis human resources is based on people analytics and is predicated on data premised upon algorithms, as opposed to employee relations.
  • “Project Oxygen”, an analysis of a plethora of data to identify eight characteristics of a great manager or leader. Managers are rated by employees on all eight twice a year.
  • The “PiLab”, where applied experiments are conducted internally, for determination of the best approaches for maintaining high productivity and seamless management. An ingenious example – improvement in Google employees’ health by reducing caloric intake, by reducing the plate size of food. Oh, and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are made from organic ingredients by chefs working for Google!
  • Mathematical algorithms, data analysis and predictive models enable Google to assess recruitment, retention and promotion problems with employees and forecast people management issues. This workforce planning in turn ensures that they are prepared for what is to occur, and decisions can be taken in a timely manner. These processes are continuous and ever evolving, allowing Google to consistently and efficiently adapt to even frequent change.
  • Unrivalled focus on innovation, which in turn comes from a combination of discovery or learning, collaboration and fun. Inter-function collaboration within Google is encouraged. The workplace is carefully created (aesthetics, interiors etc.) to maximize the three factors.
  • ‘On the job learning’ is a priority, with interesting mediums such as project rotations and even external talks by the likes of Al Gore and Lady Gaga. Google works on the principle that lessons learnt through practice rather than preaching are never forgotten.
  • Instead of imposing its observations and findings of data analysis on its employees, Google presents them with the unavoidable data and the obvious inferences of the data. Analytical and logical executives are bound to exercise their brains, and since the proposal is objective (hard core data), pre-conceived notions are challenged and set aside as a self-educative process, rather than an oppressive or dictated one.


  • Very employee centric, and not adequately customer centric. Lack of direct customer support services.
  • Accounts such as Ad Word and Ad Sense can be shut immediately, and there is simply nothing substantial that the end user can do about it.
  • Free food equals ludicrous amounts of wasted food.
  • Constant changes in protocol tends to cause confusion and irritation.
  • Projects can get shelved any time, which is a damper on job security.

Google Rules of HR

Image Source: NY Times


An online shoe retailing startup acquired by Amazon in 2009, Zappos has an incredulous HRM culture, though referring to it as ‘HRM’ is a bit of a stretch. Popularly known as ‘holacracy’ or WOW! culture, Zappos has introduced a work ethos which is comfortable, fun, innovative and still allows employees to be accountable and responsible – without constant reinstatement.

What is Unique and how does it break away from the Conventional HRM?

  • No managers, no titles. The company operates through self-governing teams which decide their goals and what is required to be done. The same teams also decide how the goals are to be achieved and how to go about ‘doing’ the work.
  • 10 ‘Zappos Family Core Values’ govern this workplace. Deliver WOW through service; Embrace and drive change; Create fun and a little weirdness; Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded; Pursue growth and learning; Build open and honest relationships with communication; Build a positive team and family spirit; Do more with less; Be passionate and determined; Be humble.
  • A training team works on coaching each employee on the ten core values. It is a learning process for all persons working in the company.
  • Interviewees are asked, amongst other questions, to describe how weird they think they are.
  • Zappos even offers new employees $2000 to leave, if they believe that the employee is not a good cultural fit in the organization.
  • The main motto is to ‘deliver happiness’ to employees, customers and whoever the company comes in contact with.


  • The hiring process takes a longer time than at usual companies, and may even take up to months in certain cases. It may include cultural fit interviews, meeting and spending time with hiring managers and other employees and teams.
  • The entire ‘culture fit’ rigmarole is seen by some as ‘overly fraternizing’. Interviews may occur over vodka shots and the like.
  • Long term sustainability of such a set-up is yet to be proven, and human incapacity to self-discipline makes it a suspect.


This company went public in 2002, but refused to go the bureaucratic way. Forsaking yesteryear shackles of rules and structures, Netflix decided to premise its HRM policies and practice on good old common sense.

What is Unique and how does it break away from the Conventional HRM?

  • Vacation Policy – no policy! Employees may take time off when they deem it appropriate, and by working it out with co-workers and managers. However, this freedom is to be exercised within reason, i.e. those in accounting or finance are asked not to plan vacation during/ around the beginning and end of a quarter etc.
  • Vis-à-vis formal travel and expense policies, employees are asked to place the interest of the company above all. Meaning, ‘do not eat at an expensive restaurant with a co-worker, unless you’re working sales’, or ‘do not use travel agents, book your flights online’.
  • Motto: Employees, when treated like adults, will usually behave responsibly.
  • Employee Interviews with competitors are encouraged, to discover competitive market based pay.
  • Formal reviews are a no-no. At Netflix, managers and employees have informal and frequent conversations about performance – 360 degree reviews. The workers are asked to identify aspects they think their co-workers should cease, begin or continue. An anonymous system to begin with, over time, many teams have face to face ‘360s’.
  • A hard and conscientious worker, when asked to leave due to unavoidable circumstances, is told the absolute truth about why he/she needs to leave. Such employees are awarded large severance packages, to show gratitude for their service to the company.
  • An open and flexible compensation strategy. Employees may choose how much (if any) of their compensation will be in the form of equity. For those who opt for stock option, salaries are reduced accordingly. Options are distributed every month at a small discount, and these may be cashed immediately without a vesting period.


  • The vacation policy keeps people on edge constantly, wherein they are ‘on’ and connected to work around the clock on smart phones and tablets. Even on vacation, employees may be stressed and cringing at the thought of piled up work waiting for them.
  • Only 38% of U.S. employees use their entire allotted vacation time, as per a survey of 9,000 people by An average worker takes only 14 of the 18 permitted days off.
  • To ensure that all employees take approximately equal time off and the vacation policy remains fair across the board, very strong managers are required.
  • Companies that depend on call centers, and companies which pay by the hour, would have a tough time implementing such policies.


Operating on the principle that it is the people who make the company, Ikea has brought as much change in traditional HR policies as it has in its low cost, environment friendly, easy to maintain and easy to store furniture.

What is Unique and how does it break away from the Conventional HRM?

  • Flexibility and freedom for employees to choose when to start and end a working day, subject to store requirements.
  • Option to transfer to a different store location, if there is an opening.
  • First day of your child’s school? Take the day off as paid leave.
  • Ensuring that the employees take care of Ikea, by Ikea taking care of the employees. The company provides a quiet room for prayer and meditation, nursing rooms for new mothers, on-site childcare facilities, discounts at Ikea restaurants, welcoming rooms to receive family/ friends in.
  • Financial assistance for further education of employees.
  • Discounts on ‘co-worker appreciation day’, and on completing certain tenure with the company.
  • Hierarchy is not emphasized, instead, they follow a ‘flat organization structure’. All employees are referred to as ‘co-workers’ irrespective of their job and role.

It appears that Ikea’s HRM has no disadvantages. It inspires its employees, and boosts their confidence and morale.

Ikea HR Management

Image Source: Bored Panda


Founded in 2007 by two MIT students fed up with emailing files to themselves to be able to work from more than one computer, Dropbox is today considered a God-sent, with more than 300 million users.

What is Unique and how does it break away from the Conventional HRM?

  • Whiskey Fridays, at work!
  • Searchlight meetings as a mode of scouring new talent. These are short and informal meetings at which employees are asked to make hiring recommendations. People get together, chat and suggest who may be a good co-worker. Business Insider states that referral employees produce 25% more profit, and are 20% less likely to quit in comparison to a regular hire.
  • The premium placed by this company on hiring persons capable of thinking out of the box and be creative, is evident by some questions asked during interviews -“If someone came in right now and announced that the zombie apocalypse had just started outside, what would you do in the next hour? What is something that you’re geeky about? What is a superpower you would give to your best friend?”
  • Freedom and flexibility, to be at work and still be able to accomplish personal well-being by interacting in their game room, doing yoga in the yoga room.
  • ‘Razor scooters’ for employees inside the workplace, to enable them to move faster and waste the minimum amount of time.


It seems that due to the type of interview questions asked, men or ‘boys’ have more of a tendency to land and want a job at Dropbox. The overly ‘fun’ current may not work very well with women.

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