The Importance of Neuroscience in HR

People tend to get worried when terms such as neuroscience are bandied about. But don’t be alarmed – nobody is expecting HR professionals to start reading up on brain surgery. However, knowing how our brains work can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.

Neuroscience refers to the impact the brain has on behavior and cognitive functions and how it reacts in certain situations – for instance ‘fight or flight’. It can apply to how the brain develops, memory and learning, sleep, stress and the senses.

Understanding what can help the brain can be invaluable

Understanding what can help the brain, and what can hinder it, can be invaluable when you are trying to work with staff to improve their skills and productivity.

For instance, when you send someone on a training course, they don’t necessarily retain a large percentage of the knowledge that is imparted. But if that course is delivered with consideration about how the brain actually learns and retains information, you get much better results. In fact, some companies are introducing exercise into their training courses, as aerobic exercise (along with decent sleep) can contribute to a better learning environment.

Being able to work with the brain has to be advantageous

And being able to work with the brain and its functions, rather than fighting against it, has to be more advantageous for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

HR professionals can also practice what they preach. By understanding how the brain works and reacts, they can help their people when they are under stress or in difficult circumstances. Communicating with them in the right way can have a huge impact – and help them improve performance and productivity, as the brain cannot function properly if it is under too much stress.

And by helping the people within the organisation to recognise how the brain works, they can also help themselves. For instance, by understanding their personality and why it makes them behave the way they do; recognising the way other people’s minds work can help them to function together as a team; and of course recognising how they learn best and so choosing the right kind of courses or other ways of learning new skills.

Utilisation of this science can help

Neuroscience is not all new – and indeed you may be using some of these techniques without even thinking about it. But the utilisation of this science can help in so many ways:

  • Performance: Managers can be helped to work on giving ‘brain-friendly’ feedback, which will leave their staff open to their comments, rather than shutting down.
  • Learning: Your average workshop produces knowledge retention of around 10 per cent. If you can deliver it using ‘brain-friendly’ techniques, you can substantially increase that figure.
  • Productivity: Some tasks are by their very nature, mindless and repetitive. But productivity can be improved if the workers are aware that what they are working on will be of benefit to someone else.
  • Coping with change: neuroscience can be used to help to improve employees’ resilience and thus support them when they have to adapt to change.
  • Engagement: Improve employee engagement by focusing on people’s strengths

If you would like to discuss training, change management or your HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.