Businesses are being encouraged to put the ‘human’ touch back into staff development.

HR expert Alison Schreiber from the HR Dept, Durham and Darlington, believes adopting a softer approach to HR support is a key ingredient in getting the most from employees.

She says more and more businesses are relying on technology and software to manage their staff development rather than the human touch.

Alison, who supports businesses across East Durham with their HR requirements, said: “We live in an age of technology, order and process. Advances in computing including big data, cloud software, mobile and even virtual reality are transforming how modern workforces are managed.

“Most businesses nowadays will rely on an annual appraisal for managing performance in the workplace. That, coupled with some robust policies covering everything from disciplinary procedure right through to social media usage, are regarded as the professional way to operate.

“Of course these are all good practices. Along with documenting incidents and issues, they are essential in dealing with people problems if they escalate. Throw in good HR software like our own HR Toolkit for example, and you’re all set.

“But it’s also important to use some good old-fashioned softer approaches alongside the modern ones. The impact of small, everyday touchpoints can be immensely powerful. Little things like going out for lunch occasionally with staff, remembering to say Happy Birthday, and having informal catch-ups can make all the difference culturally in a workplace.

“Not only does it show the human side, but it also gives more opportunity to nip certain problems in the bud before they become more formal issues. Regular, informal conversation gives the opportunity to get a much better sense of an employee’s mood, and also the opportunity for them to signpost issues in their life that could impact their well-being and performance – allowing you to act.

The modern approaches are important. But they are even better when you keep the ‘human’ in human resources.”