Human Resource staff make people behave and they don’t like it. They are the ones that tell you that even if you think the jokes are funny, you still can’t tell sexist, racist or homophobic jokes. This is one function that goes all the way to the top. The HR people, the compliance people, are telling everybody how they have to treat each other and a lot people don’t like it, including senior managers.
It doesn’t help that Human resources have become responsible for things that they don’t have the authority to make happen. But are still responsible for. Like getting people to fill out performance appraisals. A task no one likes, it feels bureaucratic, with the potential to upset people. HR end up nagging people to complete the forms.But they can’t make them do it. And as a result, HR end up wearing out their welcome.
It doesn’t help that where as finance and IT have a reputation for solving immediate problems Human Resources best work is addressing long term issues. They head off employee relations problems by keeping good relations/ an open dialogue with the trade unions, advise on negotiations with staff groups about changing working practises, they introduce procedures and data to help managers tackle absenteeism, mediate in conflicts between individuals and deal with grievances against managers, often digging managers out of holes they have dug for themselves. In so doing they contribute to reducing staff turn over. They take the led on training and development to insure the organisation has people with the right skills and knowledge in the future. To this end they also manage the recruitment process so posts are fill speedily and managers are assisted to get the right person in the right post.
These functions are often seen as the soft end of the business keeping the work force happy rather than adding to the bottom line, maybe even at the expense of the bottom line. Perhaps because the work of HR is long term the financial benefits are often not highlighted. However recruitment is expensive getting it wrong is costly, high staff turnover is disruptive and costly, high levels of absenteeism reduce efficiency and effectiveness, bad industrial relations inhibits an organisation ability to respond to changing circumstances, a failure to invest in staff training and development will result in a less agile, less responsive , less efficient organisation. All of which impact on the financial health of the organisation always important but even more so in a post pandemic economic recession.
Blair Mcpherson former Director author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk