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ISO Releases the First Standards on Human Resources Practices

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 260 has issued its first four standards in human resources management. According to the ISO, “A new series of ISO standards aims to help not only improve the recruitment process, but improve businesses through better human resource processes.”
The standards are:
  • ISO 30408, Human resource management – Guidelines on human governance. This standard provides the guidelines to create an effective human governance system that can both respond effectively to organizational and operational needs but also foster greater collaboration across all stakeholders, anticipate and manage risks in human resource and develop a company culture that is aligned with its values.
  • ISO 30405, Human resource management – Guidelines on recruitment. This standard provides guidance on effective recruitment processes and procedures, and is designed for use by anyone involved in recruiting.
  • ISO 30409, Human resource management – Workforce planning. This standard help organizations respond more effectively to their current and projected requirements for staffing.
  • ISO 30400, Human resource management—Terminology. This standard provides a common understanding of the fundamental terms used in human resource management standards.
Each of the standards provides steps for benchmarking an organization’s practices in each critical area and clear guidelines for best practices. They provide an excellent and relatively easy way for an organization to conduct an internal gap analysis and establish better practices. 
According to ISO, “Studies show that a high-performing human resources (HR) department, with effective people management and recruitment, is linked to greater economic performance of the organization and plays a key role in instilling company values throughout the workforce. ISO’s new range of International Standards for human resources aims to help HR departments improve their performance and, ultimately, improve the performance of the organization in which they work.”
The standards were developed by ISO Technical Committee 260 on Human Resource Management. James Lewis, U.S. Committee Chair, says that “improving human resources performance is not just about staffing, but about aligning the values of an organization throughout and taking all stakeholders into account…Organizations that put their people at the center of their decisions tend to perform better, as there is a clear company culture and staff are more content.”
He adds: “The HR function has enormous potential to support the strategic goals of a company by developing talent, aligning organizational values and, ultimately, shaping culture and behaviour…These standards can help anyone involved in an HR function – whatever their background and company size – to establish, maintain and continually improve effective recruitment and governance processes.” 
According to Lee Webster, Director of Employee Relations at the University of Texas Medical Branch and administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group 260, the standards are just the beginning: “These standards are purely voluntary and generally use the term ‘should’ versus the more affirmative ‘shall.’ Comfort is slowly growing in the idea that there should indeed be firm standards for human practices standards. There are more and more analytics backing up the notion that human resources standards can provide the same benefits as manufacturing standards.” 
The application of formal standards, Webster notes, provides fodder for academics seeking to study the impact of organization initiatives, as occurred with the emergence of ISO quality management standards. 
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