Revisiting “Why We Hate HR”
The notorious “Why We Hate HR” article published in a 2005 issue of Fast Company drew a lot of buzz at the time. Now, Smart Money has come out with an article, “Ten Things Human Resources Won’t Say,” that sounds just as controversial. However, it doesn’t reveal anything that surprising. Reports are plentiful that companies check social networking sites before they hire candidates (even though legal experts caution against this activity), companies do extensive background checks, and they monitor Internet and e-mail activity in the office. That said, there are a few points on the list that are worth a closer look. Why? Because they erode employee trust.
• HR is not always an employee advocate. HR professionals are employed by the company to carry out workforce management. It is inevitable that they should serve two masters: the organization and employees. That isn’t always an easy line to walk. That’s why company policies, strong employee communication, and commitment to HR initiatives from upper management are critical factors in maintaining a fair and professional workplace. If everyone is informed and treated with respect, employees know what to expect when they have a complaint or concern.
• Many employment agreements contain arbitration clauses. As a result, employees don’t have the option of taking their workplace claims to court. Again, the best policy is honesty. Why bury the clause in the fine print? Few employees — especially in this economy — will dispute the clause or refuse to take a job because of it. However, if they aren’t aware of the clause, their trust will erode just a bit more when they find out the employer tried to hide it.
In The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey offers a way to balance the multiple masters of HR. Covey doesn’t encourage blind trust. Instead he advocates a “trust but verify” method, which is a fitting mantra for HR. It is critical to follow policies and rules, but once those basic tenets are set, trust must rule the day. When all parties are treated fairly and with respect, no one is surprised by the checks and balances HR must carry out to manage a compliant, safe and productive workplace.