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What is progressive HR?

Progressive HR refers to an organisation’s employment practices and policies that advocate social change gradually over time.


It is designed to put people at the heart of any decisions that relate to people working for an organisation.


Examples of progressive HR

Examples include implementing employment policies above the required legislation like:

  • Paying a living wage rather than a minimum wage

  • Increasing paid leave (sick, annual, parental, wellbeing, “life”)

  • Measuring and reporting gender and ethnic pay gaps

  • Introducing a four-day work week at full pay


And practices that enhance the employee experience:

  • Implementing practices designed to address conscious and unconscious bias, minimising barriers to more diversity and inclusion

  • Introducing a “dress for your day” policy

  • Signing up to GenderTick, Pride Pledge or Wellbeing Tick


Why progressive HR?

We know that an organisation is made up of people, who are complex, and each have different lived experiences. Traditionally most organisations have been set up for profit as their number one goal. Service organisations (like the public service or not-for-profit) often replicate the policies, practices, efficiencies, and structure of a traditional private organisation. This has evolved over time and has meant that people have not always been the priority in decision-making within an organisation.


With the increase of social reform and advocacy in terms of how people are treated at work, the increase of workplace burnout, the increase of research suggesting a positive correlation between employee engagement and organisational success, there is increased pressure for organisations to look at their people practices and policies and ask themselves, “what is this serving?”.


Now that we are experiencing a global talent shortage, and people are reflecting on what’s important in their lives, the power has shifted to the hands of the employee, who are making more decisions for ethical reasons than ever before. This also extends to consumers, who want to know how people are being treated before purchasing a product or service.


Case studies

Gravity Payments (US)

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments increased their minimum wage to US$70k and has paid parental leave, full health care benefits, paid time off, and allows everyone to work remotely. In 2021 they had 25,400 applications for 72 jobs. Gravity payments experienced a near record high for employee retention, and record lows for resignations.


Perpetual Guardian (NZ)

In 2018 Perpetual Guardian conducted a world-first 8-week trial and introduced a four-day work week on full pay for their 240 employees. Following the trial employee engagement increased by 40% and initiated a conversation about productivity that had teams thinking consciously about what they were doing and how they were doing it.


They also found that when it came to leadership, they were highly successful in empowering staff to find their own solutions as to how they were going to continue to support and service their clients while at the same time coming up with their own productivity measures.


What are you waiting for?

Get in touch with me to talk Progressive HR at your organisation.



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