How many times has someone appeared in
your doorway about to faint? “I was told to come to HR by my
Supervisor, am I fired?” You reply with a smile, “Relax, you just
forgot a signature on a benefit enrollment form, no biggie, just
sign here and you can go back to work” right?
How many times has this happened and it
was simply for a signature on a form, to provide an update on FMLA
hours used or to ask for documentation?
It should be no secret to anyone who
has worked in HR for a month that it has a stigma amongst employees of
all levels as the place for time out, the naughty corner, a dungeon
of doom, kiss of death — a most horrid place you want to stay away from
like the plague, the kind some people never return to their work area from.
My last employer had white boxes they
would pack employee personal effects in — in front of staff trying to
work, while employees were undergoing termination in HR. The joke
was, “I got called to HR, if you see a white box you know I’m not
In addition to losing an employee on
those days, one in which a significant investment in training,
coaching and mentoring had been made and would be costly to replace,
productivity and morale would be shot, psyches wounded, employee
satisfaction eroded.. the list went on and on until it got down to
the bottom line..
Yet, unless all those peeps that still
like to keep me apprised of the drama have forgotten to mention it,
in spite of a C-Level overload of brain power in the organization..
they have yet to learn why attrition is high, morale is low and if
other jobs were available people would bail like on the last voyage
of the Titanic.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The
accountability of how human resources is perceived is self-fulfilled
prophecy. Here are my 10 best practices to ensure being called to your
HR department is not viewed as the kiss of death.
- Don’t call people to HR without letting them know why.… Hello.
- Being a role model for respect in the workplace and insisting that
the corporate culture adapt it as an imperative is doing the
right thing… from the C-Suite down, of course.
- Internal marketing for HR is as important a function as any in the long list of what we do.
- Ensuring supervisory personnel (through C Level — of course)
receive initial and ongoing training on how to deal effectively with
employee relations issues is one of the best “best practices” in HR I
can think of.
- We should never forget that while confidential knowledge is
shared on a need to know basis (hopefully) an HR communication
vacuum is hazardous in an organization.
- If you ask for feedback (like e-sat surveys and even suggestion
boxes) be prepared to deliver the results along with
recommendations for improvement to the big guns.. and stand your
ground firm that if they aren’t going to be prepared to act upon
results they should skip asking for opinions.
- During new hire orientation let employees know the best way to
communicate with HR and what your department’s strategy is to
communicate with staff.
- Create a service level agreement for HR, track, analyze and
report quarterly how you’re doing. You’ll find “areas of opportunity”
for yourself *gasp* and put your department up for the same scrutiny
you are always subjecting others too.
- Be there. Be available. Be visible. You don’t have to take the
door off the hinge but you should have posted open door hours. Hiding
behind closed door gives the perception you are not available, you
are getting ready to fire someone or you are plotting how to cut
- Get out from behind your desk and into the work area. Interview
random employees about their jobs. Compare your notes to their job
descriptions and their last performance evaluations. If the math
doesn’t add up it’s a predictor their resumes are posted all over
Internet job boards.
I have a lot of HR friends with tons of
great experience. So chime in please, can you add a step to avoid
running an HR dungeon of doom?