Russell J. Campanello, 44, is that rare breed of human resources executive--an innovator and power player in a function that still plays second fiddle. This summer, he was named chief people officer at NerveWire Inc., an Internet professional services firm based near Boston. Previously, he spent nine years as vice president of HR at Lotus Development Corp. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of HR at the high-profile biotech company Genzyme Corp. In an interview, Campanello discussed the future of HR.
Question: How has the digital economy changed HR?
Answer: It is the age of intellectual property--which means that it is the age of human capital. The work force is no longer willing to take whatever organizations are willing to give. But therein lies the problem for HR: All of our models for how we do things have been formed around an industrial past. HR hasn't made the transition as quickly as the work force has. We're in an atmosphere of constant catch-up.
Q: How are you trying to catch up at NerveWire?
A: We use technology to enhance the relationship between the company and our people. For example, we have a 'radio hour,' during which we use audio and PowerPoint to share important material about the business. But the leadership teams also follow up with face-to-face discussions. We communicate with people a lot, because our communication is as much about building relationships as it is about sharing information.
Q: Do you ever get bored talking to your significant other?
A: No, because you're always discovering new dimensions of the relationship. Technology enables us to approach relationship-building using different media.
Q: HR is synonymous with benefits. How are benefits changing?
A: In the Internet economy, productivity comes directly out of people's heads, and inspiration is just as likely to occur at 2 in the morning as it is to occur at 2 in the afternoon. That's why employees want flexibility and understanding. HR needs to provide services and support to enable not just an employee's life at work but every other aspect of an employee's life as well. Companies are starting to face the music: Many of them offer services like pet-sitting and a concierge. But most important, organizations need to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits doesn't work. A 25-year-old and a 38-year-old may be hired to do the same job, but you can't assume that their pay, options, and benefits should be identical. Their needs are vastly different. We have to recognize and respond to those differences.
Contact Russell J. Campanello by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.