Why We Love HR. Really. #CarnivalofHR

giraffe valentine's dayOh human resources. A decade (!) on and we’re still battling to overcome the infamous “Why We Hate HR” article. This was such the thing back-in-the day that even SHRM commissioned a “Teaching Guide” to help us dislodge the arrows we found stuck in our collective back.

But it’s (almost) Valentine’s Day and, in the spirit of love in all its forms – agape, storge, philia and even eros – the writers on this week’s Carnival of HR share their affection for not only the things we do really well but also a bit of overall delight for this crazy profession in which we toil. And, since love knows no bounds, I’ve broken the rules for this week’s Carnival; you’ll find several posts from the semi-distant past.

So with a nod to Elizabeth Barrett Browning…

How do we love thee HR? Let us count the ways…

The business of new HR is love and social capital Jon Ingham

“I suggest the business of HR, or at least future-oriented ‘new HR’

is developing the right connections, relationships and conversations,

or generating social capital.” Jon Ingham 

10 Reasons Why I Love Being an HR Professional Andrea Devers

Best friend at work? Just have my back. Mary Faulkner

7 Tips for a Happy Work Marriage Erin McCune

Married to HR Kristina Minyard

Unconventional HR Advice: Love Your People Ben Eubanks

The Long Now of Employee Engagement Paul Hebert

How Paycor’s Guiding Principles Help It Build and Maintain Employee Engagement Chris Ostoich

The Engagement Answer Heather Bussing

“There is pretty much nothing you can do to make

employees love work or be happy. You can do all sorts of things to

completely make them miserable though.” Heather Bussing 

What Does House of Cards and Employee Personalities Have In Common? EVERYTHING. Bridget Webb

How to Develop a Performance Improvement Plan for Your Employee Blake McCammon

Has your lack of leadership led to a cultural failure? Mike Haberman

Delegation: Ask Permission, Beg Forgiveness, or Practice “Per-Giveness”? Jathan Jove

What Does Successful Succession Management Look Like? Lindsay Colitses

Your Hiring Manager is Bigger than Your Brand Adam Lloyd

You’re Not Special: Puncturing Egos for the Greater Good Victorio Milian

Do You Have a Blah Blah Blah Vision or a Driving Vision? Jesse Lyn Stoner

I Love Chocolate & Great HR David Richter

“When a company’s HR department is motivated, empowered and

aligned with the strategy and values of the rest of the company,

then magic can happen. That is what I love about great HR. “

David Richter

The Benefits of a Structured New Leader Transition Process Jennifer V. Miller

All You Need Is Love… To Succeed In Social Recruiting Tim Barry

As the HR Schoolhouse Crumbles Kyle Jones

 

“I do think an organisation where HR, and the rest of the business,

invested in love and hugs would result a rather special

as well as healthy and productive workplace.” Jon Ingham

 

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image courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

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The Harsh Reality: Sometimes HR Has to Talk about Sex

50 Shades of HRThis week brings the much-anticipated (well, in some quarters) release of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 4 years you’re likely aware that the Fifty Shades trilogy has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. According to Boxoffice.com, the movie is forecast to make $89 million in the US and Canada over the upcoming weekend and it’s been reported that close to 50% of advance ticket sales in the US have been from fans under the age of 30; two-thirds of them are women.

And next Monday morning these moviegoers will flock back to their offices, gather around the water cooler or huddle in cubicles, and give a blow-by-blow discuss flogging, paddling and shackles with co-workers. Amidst all the breathless (no doubt) titillation, I can guarantee you there will also be employees who are offended and place a call to the HR Department. Most human resources practitioners are accustomed to having conversations about FMLA, WC, ADA, OSHA and LTD … but not so much BDSM.

This all got me thinking about the “Seinfeld” case. Who remembers that one?

In 1993, Miller Brewing Co. fired Jerold Mackenzie, an executive, for an incident that arose from his discussion of the show with a female colleague. Mackenzie, relaying the story line from an episode, explained that Jerry was unable to recall a woman’s name that was described as rhyming with a part of the female anatomy (Mulva? Gipple?). Mackenzie, embarrassed to tell his colleague Patricia Best what the character’s name (Dolores!) rhymed with, ended up showing her the word in a dictionary.

She was offended.

Mackenzie, after being fired for sexual harassment, sued Miller Brewing Co. and Patricia Best. The jury (10 women, 2 men) ruled for Mackenzie and ordered Miller Brewing Co. to pay $26.5 million. The verdict was appealed and eventually the entire jury award was set aside. (note: the actual case focused on issues other than harassment – specifically Mackenzie’s lawyers argued that Miller deceived him for years and dubbed it “misrepresentation to induce continued employment”)

I’m not suggesting that HR Directors send out emails admonishing staff “not to wear leather” but perhaps it’s advisable to listen for excess talk about riding crops and bondage. It may be time to figure out, once and for all, if the cultural norms of one’s organization include language or visual displays that, well, might not meet grandma’s approval. As the lawyers and Supreme Court like to say, a hostile work environment is one that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.” This means when you work in HR you need to watch out for that stuff. I’m not saying be a humorless prude…(lord no); don’t be like the HR lady I met at a recent conference who was upset that an attorney speaking-about-sexual-harrassment used anatomically correct words for body parts. Please don’t be like her.

I am saying that even though you may not find it easy to tell the guys on the loading dock to “knock it off,” sometimes you just have to do that. And you might have to use words you’ve picked up by reading “Fifty Shades Darker” in order to adequately convey your message.

Claims of a sexually charged hostile work environment are often not painted in black and white; sometimes they’re in shades of grey.

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image: classic HR swag via Cornerstone on Demand

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Why Does HR Always Bring the Cupcakes?

cupcakesWork is communal. Without a doubt what I miss the most of “working for the man” in a corporate setting are the everyday interactions; chatting at the coffee pot or grabbing a co-worker to head out to lunch. I miss simple conversations in the lady’s room, team birthday parties, and holiday potluck luncheons.

Huh. Most of that stuff revolves around food doesn’t it? Well hopefully not the potty breaks.

Oh how I love a gathering with cake and punch or a crock pot filled with queso dip where everyone enjoys the camaraderie. Bill from the IT Infrastructure Team doesn’t seem quite so creepy when he’s chowing down with you over a platter of cold cuts and cheese, does he?

But when the festivities have ended, who cleans up? Does Bill pitch in? What about Steve the Director of Purchasing? Does he grab Tyler the A/P Rep and get busy with a sponge and a bottle of dishwashing liquid? Or is it Gwen from Sales, Bev from Customer Service and Karen the VP of Marketing who roll up their sleeves and tackle the mess?

This recent article in the NY Times, Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee, discusses how women are often the employees who do the “office housework.” This goes well beyond packing away the office silverware after a party. As the article points out: “Someone has to take notes, serve on committees and plan meetings — and just as happens with housework at home, that someone is usually a woman. Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, finds that professional women in business, law and science are still expected to bring cupcakes, answer phones, and take notes. These activities don’t just use valuable time; they also cause women to miss opportunities. The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.”

This, I swear to you, applies to just about everyone I know who works in human resources.

And I think it’s because, deep down, we care. We can’t distance ourselves from thinking about the work environment/culture/employment experience in all its manifestations so we end up being “mommy” – or “daddy.” Most of us grew up with a mother or some other nurturing parental figure and became quite accustomed as children to being cared for to some degree. We associate that, male or female, with a nurturing quality. So when the nice HR lady brings cupcakes or makes a point of keeping a candy dish on her desk it’s sort of paying that forward, isn’t it?

It does make me wonder about the achievement of gender equality in the workplace though; if we continue to do these things it will be expected that we continue to do them…in perpetuity.

It’s nice to want to help people; it’s a wonderful human quality and, quite frankly, society could benefit from having more people with this mindset. If you make a KILLER tiramisu and want to bring it for every damn celebration in the office, I say go for it. Cook up your award-winning brisket or make that always-requested kale-pomegranate salad for the next pot luck.

Be yourself. Rock your awesome self.

Just make sure old Bill from the IT Infrastructure team stays to help you clean up.

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