People are undeniably the most prized assets of any organisation. Through the implementation of coherent and strategic people management programmes, many organisations have achieved outstanding success. The annual HKIHRM/SCMP People Management Awards are held to recognise organisations that have developed and initiated such programmes. Public recognition is particularly meaningful for organisations that have carried out effective people management initiatives to weather the economic storm and sustain growth, according to Wilfred Wong Kam-pui, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM). 'Many organisations recognise the importance of good HR management and consider it a long-term investment,' he said. Under uncertain economic conditions, effective people management initiatives always helped organisations realise good returns for their investment because they were able to motivate all staff to sustain growth, he added. The awards, now in their fourth year, are jointly organised by the institute and the South China Morning Post. Open to organisations of any size and type with operations in Hong Kong, the awards have two categories: the People Management Award for organisations with more than 100 employees and the SME Award for those employing 100 or less. Judges will look at how a people management initiative helps an organisation overcome a particular issue and the initiative's impact on performance in terms of growth, profitability or meeting objectives. They will pay particular attention to creative and innovative programmes that set new standards for best practice. Assessments are based on six criteria. 'The most important one is the business outcome focus,' Wong said. 'Because future sustainability and profitability are the critical measure of success in any people management initiative, judges will look at how entrants have applied cost-effective solutions to achieve them.' Effective HR management requires strategic thinking and a thorough understanding of the strategic direction of the organisation and its core objectives. The ability to communicate and influence will be assessed. Outstanding HR professionals should demonstrate an exceptional ability to understand the broader organisational environment and bring informed judgments to decisions. A measure of this skill is the ability to influence and communicate change effectively so that the organisation maintains its competitiveness. Another judging criterion is the focus on customers and other stakeholders. HR practitioners should initiate effective consultation with employees at all levels in addition to customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. 'HR professionals build their credibility through developing and implementing HR solutions to challenges identified by various stakeholders and establishing sustainable long-term people management practices,' Wong said. HR practitioners must be able to apply professional knowledge and skills across all people management areas of responsibility when proposing solutions for any challenges. The judging criteria also include the sustainable development of ethical behaviour in an organisation. It is the responsibility of the HR department to communicate and ensure that sound ethical practice underpins the culture of its organisation. HR professionals should demonstrate their continuing commitment to improving the quality of life of the workforce, community and society. All applications, which must be received by the institute by noon on September 30, will be assessed at the first stage. Judges will then shortlist entrants for the subsequent two stages. Organisations will be asked to complete an online self-assessment questionnaire and submit the validation by their most senior HR practitioners and CEOs. Two key customers and stakeholders will be nominated to complete another online questionnaire for cross-checking. Entrants also need to submit documents substantiating the claimed HR outcomes. Finalists will be invited to a presentation and interview session with the judges in early December. Results will be announced at the awards ceremony, tentatively scheduled for January or February. 'For the winners and finalists, the awards provide public recognition in the HR profession and the broader business community, and help enhance their corporate images,' Wong said. Facts and figures The annual HKIHRM/SCMP People Management Awards aim to recognise organisations which have implemented effective, innovative HR initiatives The awards feature two categories: People Management Award for organisations with more than 100 employees and SME Award for those with 100 or fewer employees In their fourth year, the awards have continued to enjoy keen support from local organisations The main judging criteria include a business outcome focus, strategic thinking and application of professional HR knowledge Deadline for entries is September 30, 2009. For more details, please go to www.classifiedpost.com .