The power of open-sourcing HR: Why belonging is best built without walls

It’s no secret that different people and HR teams have their individual superpowers.

While each team is focused on elevating the performance and management of a business’s employees – prioritising their satisfaction and wellbeing to deliver something special – that doesn’t mean team leads won’t be better at building some things over others.

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For instance, people teams might see their strengths as lying in building world-class employee experiences that draw individuals more into the beating heart of a business.

Or it could be that team leads see their talents in belonging and how they drive inclusivity in-house.

Elsewhere, people team leads might be focussed on driving equal pay and championing salary transparency.

The clue is in the title, but people teams, much like people themselves, can have any number of focuses and disciplines. Another factor of course is what’s personal to the team lead.

Speaking for myself, as someone who studied law and was very involved with social justice in South Africa, equal opportunities for people and fixing inequities is one of my greatest motivators.

But as every forward-thinking people team lead knows, HR cannot afford to be lopsided and risk developing blind spots to people’s experiences and needs.

Fortunately, there’s a way of ensuring we don’t need to be masters of all, and can benefit from the knowledge of others – and that’s open-sourcing for people teams everywhere.


The beauty and power of open-sourcing HR

Open-source HR refers to different people and HR teams making their own strategies and resources freely accessible beyond their organisation. It does not include any compromising data or personal information, instead representing a communal attitude towards solving people teams’ biggest challenges.

As the belonging and impact lead for Pleo, open-sourcing HR is a lever that I believe can transform well-being and belonging.

Especially in a climate where employees are struggling to be engaged, with Gallup reporting that at the close of 2022, only 32% of full and part-time employees were engaged, while 18% were actively disengaged.

Further, 41% believe levels of engagement or culture in the workplace needs to change.

At Pleo, we have built our people team by leaning on the open-sourcing of progressive people and HR teams across industries worldwide. And we have tried to give back in our own way as we go.

The beauty of inclusivity is that it encourages the free exchange of ideas from people of different backgrounds, ages, races and ethnicities, and experiences – and utilises their perspectives to eliminate barriers.

So what’s more fitting than designing belonging work around this idea and making listening to others the first step we take?

After spending months thoroughly researching our own belonging work, Pleo decided to open-source it.

We launched a digital zine called The Beginning is a Very Good Place To Start. This is a resource filled with templates, workshops and learnings that has been pivotal to our own journey – and, we hope, to the journeys of others too.

We’re not the only sharers out there either, and for every resource we’ve put into the space, there are those from great people leaders which we’ve benefitted from ourselves.

I am always inspired by peers who help one another to develop world-class people organisations.

There’s Whereby’s Jessica Zwaan, who open-sourced a three-part series on her company’s reward and performance philosophy. Not to mention Oyster’s people builders initiative, which helps team leaders build initiatives such as ‘work from anywhere’ and ‘continuous feedback’ policies. While Coachable co-founder Ally Jones freely shares great executive coaching tips on her LinkedIn.

By leaning more into open-sourcing, people teams can help their businesses become globally competitive as they’re constantly exposed to the freshest ideas, and not just the ones in their purview.

Plus, in a world of cost-cutting – where HR teams often find themselves the most impacted – open-sourcing helps businesses save money, while retaining that one thing they can’t do without: momentum.


Solving a problem we face together by working together

It could be that since the days of school exams, we’ve been hardwired to not look beyond our own desk and workings to see what our neighbours are up to. But open-sourcing isn’t copying or plagiarism – it’s about harnessing a network of like-minded people to work together and solve problems that we all share.

Further, for people team leads and their particular superpowers, it offers them the opportunity to make their insights and expertise go beyond their company’s own four walls. When our work is untied by knocking walls down, not building them, this is something we can all get behind.

Jessie Scheepers is belonging and impact lead at Pleo