The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

What’s in a name?

From the early days when HR was referred to as workforce management or personnel management, to the emergence of scientific management and labor unions, the practice of human resources has been constantly evolving.

The name for the practice and principles of getting the most out of people in business has continued to change too, with the latest term ‘human resources’ coming into being along with an acceptance that human factors were more important than physical factors and monetary rewards for motivation.

But, in an era when the pace of change and transformation are constantly accelerating and innovation is increasingly important to maintaining relevance, should we still be focused on ‘human resources’? Or does our view and language need to evolve?

Every day customer experience becomes more crucial to market success, and more people are talking about happy employees as being the key to happy customers. But, are employers backing up this talk?

Today most digital transformations have at their heart, several elements of an evolved customer relationship management (CRM) approach and often one or more customer journey maps.

So, should we be shifting our views from a focus on Human Capital Management (HCM) to a focus on ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and EX (Employee Experience) to mirror how we are thinking about the importance of employees as something not to be managed but instead to be empowered, supported and developed?

And how will Generation Z change expectations of employers?

Making a shift in our mindset and our language when it comes to employees, could also cause us to focus on different metrics – shifting from a focus on controlling the costs of salaries and benefits to optimizing employee lifetime value (ELV).

Employees are not just a cost, they are a source of incredible value and to unlock their full potential we must invest in helping them maximize the value they can create, access, and translate for customers. Me must go beyond training and invest in even more powerful initiatives like human libraries and internal internships to help each employee not just do the job they were hired to do, but to do the job they were born to do.

Innovators Framework(one of the many concepts introduced in my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire)

Building on the work of London Business School’s Gary Hamel and shifting to an Employee Relationship Management (ERM) mindset we can get beyond the obedience, diligence and intellect that fear, greed, management and leadership can deliver, and instead focus on unlocking the initiative, creativity, passion and innovation that will drive the organization to higher levels of success and continuing relevance with customers.

We must reimagine our approach to the humans in our organizations and to recognize and leverage their uniqueness instead of treating them as replaceable cogs in a machine.

The time has come for organizations to manage both the experiences and the relationships with each of their employees as individuals to make the collective stronger, healthier, and more resilient.

What say you?

About Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Human-Centered Design, Innovation and Transformation consultant, a popular innovation speaker, workshop leader, and creator of The Change Planning Toolkit™. He is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons and Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden is a US Navy veteran and earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
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