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Holistic HR


Do we really need another term to describe human resources? Many of we “oldsters” saw our personnel departments slowly transform into HR departments, effectively becoming a strategic element of the organization as compared to the purely administrative function of our grandparents’ employers. The younger gens are entering the workforce with an already well established HR presence in most organizations.

And if we are going to start coining new terms, “holistic” works: It is the “all-encompassing view based on the knowledge of the nature, functions, and properties of the components, their interactions, and their relationship to the whole.” ( Or, in short, the human resources of today’s world.

The people who are drawn to the HR profession come from all walks of life. Many have a business background, some finance, while still others come from technical backgrounds. Some have come through fields of psychology and social work. Today many young professionals enter the HR field with specific HR-based degrees. The breadth of backgrounds and education in the HR field contribute to the holistic approach of the profession as a whole.

Educator, author and TED Talk presenter Ken Robinson suggests there are 2 kinds of people in the world: Those that separate people into two kinds of people and those that don’t. While I found this humorous, I also found it to be true. I tend not to divide people into categories at all; however, sometimes that exercise can be helpful when demonstrating a point.

No matter the education and background of HR professionals, they tend to fall into 3 preference categories:

One category tends to focus on the “H” of HR, with a people-oriented, humanistic approach to much of what they do. They tend to lead and operate from a “people-person” perspective first.

Another of these categories of HR professionals tends to focus more on the “R” and has a resource perspective. These professionals tend to have a preference to work in and on systems, administrative functions and the mechanics of HR.

The third, smaller group includes those who have a holistic approach to HR. In my experience, finding this type of HR partner is most challenging due to the scarcity of these more hybrid individuals – those who not only see the bigger picture of the organization, but who can also operate where people meet business objectives and more mechanistic and process-oriented resources and needs.

Each group has its benefits and features, and each group, in context, can have some gaps or shortcomings; however, it is the third group that, in most cases, tends to bring the most value to their organizations. Their holistic approach, when embraced by an organization, allows for greater effectiveness with people, systems and processes. Holistic HR practices and strategies tend to be more synergistic, leveraging the talent in any organization toward meeting – and often surpassing – the objectives set for the organization.

This doesn’t mean the HR professional falling into one of the first two groups is not effective; however, they would likely benefit from working with a strategic, holistic HR partner for certain projects and initiatives. That is exactly the type of strategic HR partnering Emergent believes in and provides.

Emergent’s integrated approach to leadership and organizational development includes four Leadership Quotients:

Spiritual Leadership:

Connecting to purpose, meaning and values. This includes the ability to connect daily activities to the overarching purpose.

Emotional Leadership:

Recognizing and managing our emotions and the emotions of others to motivate ourselves toward performance and outcomes.

Mental Leadership:

Our ability to become whole-brain integrated thinkers. Holistic thinking creates synergy between our rational left brain and our intuitive right brain.

Physical Leadership:

Tending to our physical plant and equipment. Moving, eating well, hydrating and sleeping soundly provide us with the energy to thrive versus survive.

It is the integration and culmination of these four Leadership Quotients that Emergent brings to the table in all of their Leadership Development, Professional Coaching and HR Strategic Partnering services.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our Strategic HR or Leadership Development offerings.

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