My good friend Alison Green over at Ask a Manager passed me this question she received because it’s HR-centric. I think many of you will get value from what could have been just another private email conversation, so I’m sharing the question and response here. If anyone else has comments PLEASE add them below, because we’re all better when we help each other, right?
Dear Alison,
I’m currently in my final year of high school and strongly considering pursuing an HR designation in post-secondary. Reading through your blog, I am very often reminded that HR exists primarily for the company (preventing lawsuits, attracting and retaining talent, etc.) and issues that employees have are resolved with the company’s best interests in mind. As such, I can understand why HR can sometimes gain a reputation for being useless (even if I do find it somewhat discouraging).
That being said, I would like to ask you for your input on what an effective HR manager should be like in terms of going above and beyond to support employees when the job description may not ask for it.
I’m thinking especially on how you would advise someone on the HR side to handle a situation where, for example, a department manager is out of control (but not doing anything illegal) and because of nepotism, is safe from consequences or intervention? If HR’s hands are tied, how could HR still go on to assist the employee even though the root cause isn’t solved?
How can HR still be supportive to employees in situations where the company calls for neutrality (or even to side with the company when it is ethically at fault)? And vice-versa?
I think overall I am just experiencing a sense of helplessness when I read stories with negative experiences with HR. On one hand, I can understand that there may be certain legal and logical restrictions to what an HR rep can do that sometimes the employee can’t see. On the other hand, I don’t want to be someone who just throws her hands up and says, “There is nothing I can do for you.” and adheres to the bare minimum requirements.
Is this something that will get better once I have more experience? Am I just being too emotional or naive about my job expectations? If so, any input on helping me recalibrate?
-J

Thank you for being very clear about your questions and concerns, J.

HR does exist to protect the company, and this is still prevalent thinking in many organizations. However, it’s also true that many forward-thinking firms are offloading these compliance-related functions to legal and are focusing more on how to improve employee performance, create better working environments, drive worker engagement, etc.

5 characteristics of a great HR manager Continue reading

art

Art

A reader recently emailed to ask me if I thought HR was more of an art or a science. My quick answer was “both.” Projects, programs, and strategies all (should be) based on solid numbers and facts. Otherwise, why do them at all? However, the more day-to-day interactions that most of us are familiar with seems to be more of an art. When you’re flying by the seat of your pants and making quick decisions based on your gut instincts, there’s not much science involved.

This is a large snippet of a post called HR is an art, but you should act like a scientist from Renegade HR. I read it a while back, but I came across it a few days ago and thought it was appropriate. Continue reading

If you\’ve read much in recent months, it\’s probably had some flavor of social media running through it. It seems like there\’s no way to get away from the topic, no matter where you turn. But every once in a while a great question comes up that can\’t be ignored, and that\’s what happened this week. Check it out:

We want to let our employees know that we have set up a Facebook page, but we don\’t want to give them the impression that it\’s okay to use Facebook at work. What should we do? As the HR rep at my company, my boss is waiting for a response. Help!

-J

My take on Facebook

  • I think it\’s a great tool for your business to interact with people on a more personal level (assuming you\’re maintaining it once it\’s set up).
  • If you\’re worried about employees spending all day surfing the web, that\’s a problem with your own culture and leadership, and it\’s not affected by this decision.
  • How many of your employees have personal cell phones? They can access Facebook at any time, even if you block it with your company firewall/filter.
  • If the point of your Facebook page is to get the word out about your company, then make use of your employees. They know a lot of people, and they are your marketing team to the world. Turn your employees into champions for your brand.
  • If you want to encourage the use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites at work, but you don\’t want it to be completely out of control, why not create a social media policy? Here\’s a site with 40 examples of social media policies.

Anyone else have an opinion they\’d like to share with J?

If you have a question you\’d like to get an answer for (whether publicly or privately), just shoot me an email.

Photo by daveynin.