Do you have a conflict with your boss? Get passed over for promotion? Did not get the expected salary raise? Well, join the big club of employees experiencing the real corporate jungle. But you are raising hell, so what can a boss do in these cases? Usually not very much, as his hands are tied by companies policies. The easy way out for any manager is to send the disgruntled staff member or employee to HR. They will listen to you, they will be reasonable with you, they will talk to your boss and in the end you will not have been helped at all. Why is that? There are a number of reasons why HR unfortunately is not the employee’s best friend. Read below why we employees, in many cases, will not be helped by HR.
HR departments often depict themselves as a valued business partner for management and staff at the same time.
Nothing matters more to companies than the people who work there. Companies are made by capable, educated and trained people! And I am sure that not one, single individual wants to be referred to as a ‘human resource’. So, the name is wrong: very wrong. It signals to everyone that this department manages ‘human resources’ in a top-down fashion, i.e. managing humans in a similar way to other resources such as finance, property or machines. If departments can’t see that this is sending out the wrong message, then they don’t deserve to be there anyway.
Serving two masters?
Another issue is that HR departments should be there to serve two masters – which, in most cases, is not very successful. On the one hand, they are there to provide support for the employees and, on the other hand, they are there for the company and the senior management to help manage (and monitor, discipline, appraise, etc.) employees.
One look at an average HR recruitment advert indicates where the responsibilities lie, with job requirements such as “the candidate must align the people agenda with the overall business strategy” and “provide support and guidance to line managers with disciplinary and grievance investigations and hearings”.
It is clear that all of this creates a conflict of interest and in almost all instances HR departments are forced to opt to support the company/management side, rather than to the support the employees side. In other words they have become a willing management tool. Not a nice thing to say, but believe me, it comes from experience.
What value do they deliver?
What really matters is whether HR delivers any value.Tasks that can provide value include: recruitment, education and training, motivation, communication. Recently a number of companies have shut their HR departments down completely; outsourced the function or reduced it to a minimum. The reason they have done it, and not suffered any significant throw-back, is because HR wasn’t delivering any real value. Most of their time was taken up with bureaucratic and administrative tasks or legal issues. If HR doesn’t deliver some unique benefits then outsourcing it makes a lot of business sense.
How does an organisation learn? It learns by the feedback of its employees. So if HR isn’t trusted it will fail to learn what it is doing wrong, not get the best out of staff and suffer damage to longer-term productivity. HR must attend to the psychological needs of its people.
Executives say the traditional HR department—which claims control over everything from hiring and firing to maintaining workplace diversity—restrains innovation and slows down businesses with inefficient policies and processes. Whenever did an HR guy measure a link between the company’s employee engagement and customer satisfaction? Is an assessment of the recruiting process present in your company in order to e.g. lower the cost of recruitment? Why, when I requested HR for candidates for a regular job, they still always say that they have to advertise? Do they not develop their own database?
Not the best in the business
It is said that the best and the brightest don’t go into HR.” Then who does? Intelligent people do, sometimes — but not business people. HR doesn’t tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream; they’ve fared poorly in meatier roles — but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.
Equipped for business?
And here’s one more slice of telling data; when HR professionals were asked about the worth of various academic courses toward a “successful career in HR,” almost all said that classes in interpersonal communications skills had “extremely high value.” Employment law and business ethics followed, at lower levels. But where was change management? About one third of the HR managers mentioned it. The same for strategic management. Finance was hardly mentioned at all. What does this lead to? Most human-resources managers aren’t particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that’s sort of a problem.
Conclusion + recommendation
The time has come for HR (Human Resources) departments to rethink their strategies and values. Not only the name is wrong, but they firstly serve the management of a company and only then its people. They deliver no added value to the company, fail to have business insights and as such have maneuvered themselves into an isolated position.
From my personal observation, they have or feel no work pressure at all. They appear to have no deadlines. They come last and disappear first, whether they had been on holiday breaks or not. In its current form there is no place for HR in a people oriented organization.
So, does HR have a future? Read all about this in an article by Dave Hoff, consultant and former HR executive, here.
I would like to end on a positive note though. Fortunately for us there are more and more companies that have invested in the ‘people function’. They realize that they need people who ensure that the company finds, recruits, retains and develops its people. He he, now how difficult is that? Human Resources should take a leading role in this development!
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You would like to share your experiences? Please do so in the comment box below. I will address any questions you have within 24 hours.