Workin’ for a Livin’ – HR Style

Is work something we need to fix? Is work broken? Does work suck? Unfortunately, for far too many people, the answer is an overwhelming “yes.”

Earlier this year my friend Laurie Ruettimann launched the “Let’s Fix Work” podcast where she talks with guests about all things careers, leadership and the future of work.

A few months ago Laurie and I had a chat on “Let’s Fix Work” which you can listen to here. Or, if you’re sitting in your cubicle (at your sucky job!!!!!) and can’t jam out to a podcast because the boss and/or HR lady is cramping your style, here’s how Laurie recapped the conversation:

 

 

What does it take to get the title, ‘America’s HR Lady,’ from Laurie? Robin has been in the HR profession for a long time. During her two decades of HR experience, she worked across many fields: healthcare, academia, banking, gaming, and that’s just to name a few. In other words, she’s pretty much done it all. And when asked how to fix work, Robin’s first question was how we would fix HR.

Robin has a fantastic analogy on the state of work – it’s a hemophiliac who has fallen down too often and gotten too many bruises. Work might be broken, but it’s in the ER and needs urgent care if it’s going to be saved. Robin shares how she thinks we got there, based on her wide breadth of experience. She also dives into the power shift happening between job seekers, employees, and employers. The day of reckoning is at hand.

Robin admits that HR is certainly part of the problem of work being broken, and the reason she gives is that HR as a department isn’t really sure where to place itself in the conversation. It started out as being very insular, and over the years, things have improved. But not enough. While HR departments have come to understand business, the next step is for them to understand the world. And what does that mean exactly? Robin explains.

There’s also a fine line that many HR people must straddle: the needs of the employees and the needs of the business. Sound familiar? Robin says it’s a ‘cop out’ in many ways. Sure, there might be a bit of truth in it, but ultimately, being an advocate for both the business and the employees isn’t mutually exclusive. It’s not one or the other, and that’s where many HR people struggle.

You’ve heard it many times – employees are fighting HR to get something they need. So why should anyone care about HR? Robin reminds us all that HR isn’t a faceless mass out to get you. They are your co-workers and they are people, too. In fact, Robin’s experience with other HR people is that they got into it for the right reasons and with a good heart.

Recruiting is a huge part of human resources; it’s one of the happiest times for both HR and employee. But according to Robin, those good feelings don’t carry over. She offers the great idea of doing the same with employees as they navigate within the company, whether it’s handling health care, mediating disagreements, or even changing positions within the company. Ultimately, this little-by-little change is fueled by people caring for one another. And equally as important, HR people need to bring the stories of employee realities to leaders.

Laurie asks if she’s naïve for believing that if we fix ourselves, we wouldn’t need HR, and Robin’s reply is priceless. In truth, HR as we know it will always be there. It has to be to ensure things are done according to legal requirements. Even with the automation that is becoming far more common, and Robin talks about why humans will always be needed in human resources.

What is the future of HR? Robin sees it splitting into two separate departments or having two divisions within the same department: administration and people. The administration side deals with compliance, payroll, PTO, and the other dry things, while the people department works with employees to help them understand what’s happening, as well as growth and development.

Are businesses and their HR departments ready for the reckoning that is coming? In fact, Robin believes that HR, at least, is poised for the shift. So what positions are in danger? Is the generalist here to stay? What about the firefighter? Robin shares her thoughts on who had better be ready to adapt to new roles and dive into specialties in the near future.

So what does the future of HR look like? Robin has settled on a phrase: she is an advocate of the workplace revolution. It’s time to change – not only should you be an advocate and ally of the people who hired you, you should also be an advocate and ally to those who come to you with their work-related issues. It sounds simple, right? Robin reveals what it actually entails.

 

 

 

“Wait til @jkjhr sees us, he loves us!” – #ILSHRM18

Many of us like to point to our vast social networks and talk about the friendships we have either made or deepened that are directly attributable to hanging out on social media. I, for one, can point to the early days on #HRtwitter as instrumental in bringing lots of people into my life; folks on whom I continue to rely for advice, counsel, fun and frivolity. People I admire and adore.

John Jorgensen is one of those people.

Back in 2008/2009, John and I “met” online via twitter; hanging out on #HRHappyHour every Thursday night, chatting offline about SHRM (I was Past President of my chapter in Louisiana, he was State Director in Illinois).  I remember the first time we met IRL; HRevolution in 2010 in Chicago. My plane landed, I checked into my hotel, and I sent him a message asking where he was. After getting the answer I walked down the street, popped into an Irish Pub of some sort, and hung out with my friend for the first time!

Fast forward a few months and John (along with William Tincup, Jessica Miller-Merrell and Geoff Webb) sat with me in a bar at HRFlorida and helped me come up with a name and buy the domain for my original blog. Yup.

Why is John so special and why are we honoring him today on “John Jorgensen Day?” (also the first day of #ILSHRM18):

  • He is a wealth of knowledge on human resources and if new practitioners dive into his brain for just an hour or two they will walk away with the best foundation for their blossoming HR career
  • Behind that curmudgeonly exterior is a heart of gold; he will do anything to help another person whether it be his family, friends, alumni of his schools (he just landed a board role for his HS alumni committee), or his pals on Team Tuppy Trivia
  • He has worked diligently at the forefront of changing the dynamics of SHRM (local, state and national levels) while also promoting and championing the history of our professional organization
  • He will advise you of the correct ways to prepare and consume chili (no beans!), Chicago style hot dogs and Portillo’s Italian Beef
  • He loves old school blues music, The Godfather and Animal House, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Gettysburg
  • He calls me at least once a month so we can catch up, joke around and solve-all-the-days-problems!

Cheers to you John Jorgensen – this is a day when we, your friends and fellow HR professionals – salute you!

Eeeww: The Top Employee “Issue” That Makes HR People Queasy

Working in human resources means you get to do all sorts of cool things related to organizational culture, employee experience, performance and development, and change management. Sometimes you just get to crank out some good old-fashioned rah-rah cheerleading which, although many in “strategic” HR are loathe to admit it, can be quite enjoyable.

Working in human resources also means you have an inside, often uncomfortable, view of the seamy underbelly of humanity.  We’re in a special place where we learn about all the unpleasant, disreputable and downright sordid activities with which people fill their time.

The HR Department is no place for the prim and prudish.

During my career in HR I have had to deal with my fair share of shocking incidents, and, being friends with loads and loads of HR folks, have heard tales from many others. There are many perplexing behaviors the average HR professional can pretty much take for granted they will deal with at some stage such as when an employee is discovered:

  • watching porn at work
  • taking naked selfies at work
  • sharing naked selfies with their co-workers
  • sharing homemade porn (starring themself!) at work
  • posting homemade porn on the internet so it can be “discovered” by co-workers

No? Just me and my HR friends?

Well surely, if you work in human resources, you’ve dealt with an employee who:

  • starts a consensual romance with a co-worker
  • thinks it’s perfectly OK to have consensual #sexytime, during work hours, in the bathroom
  • uses the executive conference room for #sexytime, after hours, while ensuring the Auditing Firm’s files are not disturbed

No? Again? Just me and my HR friends?

So…yeah…eeeww (you might be saying). Give me a performance issue or an investigation into timeclock manipulation or even a damn body-odor conversation! DIscussing sex is just distressing to all sorts of HR practitioners; puritanical or not. Yet, again and again, we have to head down that path.

But do you know the Number 1 employee issue that makes HR people squeamish, the granddaddy of them all, the absolute WORST conversation to have with an employee?  It’s the chat about “sexual self pleasuring at work.”

Surely this situation has arisen (no pun intended) in just about every workplace? I think every HR person I’ve ever swapped HR Horror stories with has had this delightful ER experience. I’ve heard stories of gals and guys taking care of business in bathrooms, offices, cubicles, parking lots, janitor’s closets and walk-in-freezers. Brrrrr. A google search on the situation leads us to questions, queries and articles such as  Masturbating at work is a doctor-approved stress reliever.  Well then.

Yesterday I cam across an article on the topic: Several Women Say Airlines Don’t Take Their Complaints About Men Masturbating Next To Them Seriously.”   This led to some HR pondering:

  • If your employee heads on a business trip, sits next to a masturbator, and is traumatized by the experience, how does that impact their employment?
  • What if they have to travel for work?
  • Can the employee hold the employer responsible for subjecting them to the masturbator?
  • If the employee can no longer travel and is fired is that a constructive discharge?
  • Would it be compensable under workers’ compensation?
  • And on the flip side….what if your employee IS the airplane masturbator?

Eeeww indeed.

At least some folks have the sense to take the matter into their own hands (pun intended) in the janitor’s closet back at Headquarters.