Wednesday, October 19, 2005

HR's Relationship With Employees

I came across an exit interview recently that said, "Please have someone from corporate come to this office and really listen to the employees. I do not mean HR. HR has made it very clear that they are friends with the managers here and are not willing to listen to our concerns."

Another one said, "This relationship between workers and company would benefit from a liaison that should act as an information provider and go-between for management and personnel, and as an advocate for both sides. This should be provided through Human Resources, but with all the duties they perform, they have not had the adequate time to provide this service. "

And "HR makes excuses for their friends in management here and does not listen to us."

Eye-opening isn't it?

Is HR working so hard for a seat at the executive table that we've lost a seat in the employee break room? We all know that HR's job is not to be the employee advocate. But we also know that HR's job is to help the company succeed and reach goals through employees. If we've strayed this far from employees, how can we effectively manage the people component of the business?

Let's admit it. HR people have become afraid of listening to and helping employees. We've been called "socialists," we've been called "social workers," we've been told we have no head for business. Rather than correcting the naysayers HR has responded by withdrawing from employees and spending time holed up in the office concocting complex spreadsheets and metrics that can rival any CFO. We've created
Powerpoint presentations and we talk the talk about "global talent strategy." We've swung the pendulum so far into the boardroom that it has whacked us on our backsides on the way through the door.

If HR is about managing the people component of business strategy, then to whom do we need to be close? The people of course. Understanding employees' needs and concerns doesn't make us less of a business person, it makes us a better business person. It is only through being close to the employees that we gather the knowledge to create and refine the people programs to achieve business success.

There are clearly two tables that HR needs a seat at. Let's not forget that our success at one is directly tied to our success at the other.


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