I was scrolling through LinkedIn and I saw an Influencer post the following statement:
"The principal job of HR is to make their organization a great place to work. Sadly, many HR people and their leaders fail to understand this. "
If you ask a recent grad why they are interested in going into HR (Besides needing to pay off their student loans and to feel like they have accomplished something without moving back to mom and dad's house) the general responses you will hear are:
1. I am a people's person!
2. I want to be an advocate!
3. I want to help protect the organization and its people!
4. I want to make a difference!
I haven't ran into one recent grad who has stated “I am inspired to be in HR because I want to be the sole person responsible for the reputation of the organization I work for.”
Because no normal person with common sense wants to wear the weight of the world on their shoulders!
So I'm sure you have figured out by now, I 100% disagree with the above statement!
In my opinion, HR serves as an advocate for the company itself, the company’s culture, and the company’s people.
As an advocate, a human resources professional should be a spokesperson for the company that they work for. A HR professional has to be 100% bought into the company's culture and vision in order to advocate for it and its people. In other words, like in many other professions, if the employee isn't happy, he/she will not be successful in this role...
Additionally, HR is similar to a legal department because it is in place to mitigate risk. Although most HR professionals are not attorneys, they are expected to be well versed in the area of employment law. An effective and successful HR professional will look through an ‘employment law lens’ and take a proactive approach to retaining a dedicated, engaged workforce, mitigating risk, maintaining compliance, and recommending and implementing HR best practices.
To say it is the sole responsibility of HR to make the company a great place to work is not realistic. It really should be a collaborative effort cross functionally to make an organization a great place to work. That approach should be trickling from the top of the organization down... We all know operations is at the top of the pyramid. 🤷🏽♀️
HR does have a responsibility to drive engagement, but so do all managers/leaders in any functional area throughout an organization. There should be accountability across the board. Organizations that rank high in the area of engagement generally will have a structure that has defined leadership training for its employees, a culture that truly embraces diversity and inclusion, career pathing for its employees, and consistent recognition and rewards for those who perform well.
At the end of the day, people generally leave their managers, not HR! 🤷🏽♀️ There are many employees that have HR professionals that throw birthday lunches, give out rewards and recognition, and partner with operations leaders on how to deliver instruction to their employees.
There are other HR professionals who walk through the manufacturing plants they support or offices of functional areas to speak and engage with all of their employees. These same organizations still have employees who resign each and everyday.
I recall resigning from an organization (that I will choose not to name at this time) years ago. I was a HR manager that oversaw the company's two small manufacturing plants at the time. The turnover rate was high, the tenured employees were miserable, morale was down, and the owner thought that he had the best company to work for in town. I surveyed the organizations employees and did my best to engage with them. I partnered with our attorney (which told me my first day meeting him that he sincerely advised that I find another job . He had worked with the owners for years and the culture was a bottleneck) to revise our handbook and the update salary structure. Additionally, I created and lead a safety program (there was no safety manager onsite) and implemented monthly employee rewards and recognition programs, an annual picnic, and holiday celebrations.
With all of the work I put into that organization, the owner refused to remove leadership who talked to employees disrespectful and that had multiple harassment allegations. Many of our employees worked in hostile environments and even with the facts from my investigations, the owner and president of the company said that they just needed to be coached. Too many college buddies and family members in leadership was a large part of the problem. I felt like working for that organization was damaging my professional reputation. I didn't want people to think that I was aligned with the culture.
I said all this to say, that when I put in my notice, I had an employee who had been with the company for 15 years come into my office crying. She said that I gave her hope and that they had never had an HR Manager put in that much effort to the organization. She said she wasn't going to ask me because she already understood why I was leaving.
Although, the employees appreciated me and my efforts, they understood that without leadership and the owners alignment, the culture could not be changed by me alone.
To put the reputation of an organization and its culture on the back of an HR professional doesn't make sense! HR is one piece of multiple layers in an organizations leadership and structure. HR professionals can make their events fun and make others enjoy working for them, but they cannot solely determine if an organization is a great place to work alone. It should truly be a collaborative effort.
"Making our company a great place to work" is not the principal job of HR. It never has been, and never will be!
What are your thoughts on this? Sound off below!
Did you enjoy reading this blog? Make sure you subscribe and become an official member of my "Guru crew" so that you are alerted of future blogs and in the know of all that I am working on!