A force for good 

This week the world will mark International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. 

The event takes place every year on May 29th and this year’s theme is Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace. 

Its aim is to pay tribute to the personnel – uniformed and civilian – who contribute to the incredible work of the organisation. 

Not only do peacekeepers protect and care for civilians and make sure ceasefires are kept, they also protect human rights, uphold the rule of law and support free and fair democracy. They also have a mission to ensure women’s voices are listened to in all areas of life. 

This year the UK commemorated the event with a ceremony at the Cenotaph in London and a major conference in Whitehall. 

This was the UK’s most authoritative public review of UN peacekeeping activities, bringing together UN practitioners, diplomats, military and the public to discuss the most pressing issues in peacekeeping today. 

Of course, not all human conflicts are as life-changing or monumental as those tackled by the UN. But there are serious issues in our daily work lives here in the UK where a crack team of professionals must keep the peace, ensure fairness and promote harmony. 

These are the Human Resources personnel, super-skilled professionals who have evolved from what was known as Personnel Management. 

Once their primary focus was on keeping employees’ files up to date, paying wages on time and ensuring a company’s overall work practices abided by the rules.  

Now the modern world of HR is much more complex – and satisfying for those who take up top positions. 

Although HR and recruitment professionals make up just 1% of the UK workforce, they’re a vital part of any organisation.  

As well as handling recruitment and being instrumental in a firm’s employment policy, an HR role can also mean dealing with grievances and disciplinary procedures.  

To achieve peace in the workplace takes an in-depth knowledge of employment law, great communication skills and, of course, tact and diplomacy. 

The really fun stuff, however, is helping colleagues to continually develop their talents through training and development. This is vital to ensure everyone in an organisation has the opportunity to progress in their own career. 

In fact, mentoring employees is a particularly rewarding specialism in HR. 

The role combines a detailed knowledge of the company’s business strategy with the ability to motivate others to upskill and move forward, often in formal classroom environments. 

This means having excellent presentation skills. The tech-savvy HR pro will also use training materials, such as online courses and interactive websites. 

Employee development is an increasingly major part of the HR mission and, in 2019, HR executives are engaging with frontline managers so they in turn can lead their own teams to greatness.  

To help them, they’ll use regular performance reviews – not the outdated annual report card but continuous assessment so career support can be offered to employees whenever and wherever it’s needed. 

This is where HR professionals have the opportunity to create incredible transformations in an organisation. 

Career development also helps another part of the job: boosting staff morale. 

Another way to do this is by celebrating success. When an employee goes above and beyond it’s often the HR manager who will make sure they and their work are recognised.  

This could be anything from a simple thank you shared on the office noticeboard to a reward scheme that involves a pay bonus, vouchers or holidays. 

Some companies also offer away days and team-building activities, designed to create closer bonds between colleagues and encourage employees to think about each other’s strengths. Such HR-led initiatives can be powerful tools for improving employees’ general health and happiness at work. 

There are challenges, too, for HR workers. Developing a digital culture and employees’ technical skills is one of the UK industry’s most important missions. 

Artificial Intelligence and automation are transforming workplaces and HR pros must keep up to speed with a world being transformed by new technology. 

Another important area for HR is to push even harder for gender equality, a theme that’s sure to dominate the employment conversation throughout 2019.  

Helping a business thrive in a sustainable way is also easier when the HR team promotes eco-friendly work practices and encourages colleagues to offer ideas to make operations greener and the workplace more pleasant. 

Finally, even those working in HR welcome a pat on the back, so it was a bonus when the UK’s civil service HR chief recently praised staff networks for helping to meet the government’s 2020 diversity targets 

Rupert McNeil added the civil service was lucky to have thriving networks that were a vital channel for generating ideas and implementing HR strategies. 

They may not be on the frontline in the same way as our brave UN Peacekeepers but HR professionals are doing their bit to make the world a better place. 

If you’ve been inspired to start your own mission in HR, browse all the latest vacancies online now.