All business leaders want to innovate in their field. But it is the HR innovators who innovate in their company’s human resources that get the most out of their workers. Getting the best from employees is critical to the success of any business, especially a small business just starting up. But how do you go about making the kind of positive changes in corporate culture to bring out the best in your workers?

The HR Innovators Who Changed the Way We Think of Human Resources

Bramwell Partners are HR consultants that help businesses make changes in their human resources and corporate culture to improve efficiency and productivity. To better understand how these kinds of changes are made, we put together this article of some of the great HR innovators from history and around the world. We discuss their contributions to the field of human resources so you can get a better idea of how you can bring about positive and permanent changes in your corporate culture.

John H. Patterson of the National Cash Register Co.

The names John H. Patterson and National Cash Register might not be familiar to you, but the human resource innovation that they brought about should be. In the early 20th century John H Patterson created what is considered by many to be the first Human Resources department at the National Cash Register Co. in the US. It was called the Personnel Department, and its purpose was to focus on safety, grievances, payroll, and to train new managers. A single department in a company dedicated to these activities was revolutionary at the time, and certainly qualifies John H. Patterson as an HR innovator and a changer of corporate culture as we know it today.

Peter Drucker, the Management Guru

Peter Drucker was an Austria-Hungarian academic who is considered one of the great thinkers and writers on the topics of business management. He was very active in his work during the second half of the 20th century. He made many contributions to the field of HR, including coining the phrase “knowledge worker” and giving rise to the idea that there are employees whose knowledge is a part of a company’s capital. He also said that a successful company must develop engagement in its workers through the four following actions:

  1. Careful placement of employees in jobs that suit them, and promotion of workers that excel.
  2. Expecting high levels of performance from all employees.
  3. Making sure that all workers are well informed, and that they understand the importance of the information.
  4. Having workers acquire managerial vision, so the can better work autonomously without the need for supervision.

Making sure that a company fully engages with its employees is often thought of as a new idea, but Peter Drucker realised the need for it long ago. He was one of the great human resource leaders and visionaries.

Konosuke Matsushita, Founder of Panasonic

The history of Panasonic is a big part of the history of industrial post-war Japan. Konosuke Matsushita was right there every step of the way innovating the way Japanese businesses are run. Not only was he the president of Panasonic until 1973, but he was also a philosopher on business and social matters. When asked what his company produces, he would say Panasonic produces people, and we also produce some consumer electronics. He felt that the amount of capital, equipment, and technology a company had didn’t matter if their human resources were not developed.

One of his ideas on HR included having employees work only 5 days a week instead of 6 as a way to increase productivity. He, like Peter Drucker, believed that employees should be well informed about the operations and future plans for the company. Many of his managers warned him that telling the employees too much could risk leaking business plans and trade secrets to competitors, but Matsushita felt that the employees would work better being well informed and knowing that they are fully trusted by management. He made sure the company’s management was transparent by making monthly announcements of the company’s accounts, feeling that for employees to see the results of their work directly reflected in the financial figures would further motivate them. He was very much a people-come-first leader, which was a new way of running a business in Japan.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple

Steve Jobs is celebrated for being unconventional and shaking up the tech world. He is most well known for his perfectionism in product design. However, that perfectionism wasn’t only limited to Apple products, but also to the way he put together his teams. To put together the best possible teams of employees he had a simple hiring philosophy – hire the best. But his way of thinking about his employees didn’t end with simply finding the best talent. He also felt that a company shouldn’t hire smart people and tell them what to do, but rather the company should hire smart people so the smart people can tell the managers what to do. This way of dealing with human resources is very humbling, and it made Apple not only an innovative company in technology but also one of the great innovative HR companies.

Melanie Perkins, Cofounder of Canva

As the cofounder of Canva, the technology company that is simplifying the world of design, Melanie Perkins is credited with breaking into Silicone Valley from right here in Australia. Her way of thinking about human capital is that by creating a place where everyone loves to work you end up getting the best out of your employees. This is especially critical in the fast paced and ever changing tech industry. She was able to create a corporate culture at Canva that supports creativity and outstanding performance. She is a firm believer in paying attention to customer feedback, as well as employee feedback. Knowing what your clients and employees think about your company will lead to positive changes that promote excellence.

You Too Can Implement these Kinds of Ideas at Your Company

Some of the prevailing themes from the above human resource leaders is to empower employees with information and to make the workplace a place employees want to be. Bramwell Partners is one of the innovative HR companies that provides HR support for small businesses. Let us work with you and your company to implement these kinds of HR ideas to make positive changes to your workplace culture and improve productivity. You can get in touch with us by calling 07 3630 5695 or you can contact us online. We look forward to working with you.