My HR “Customer” Experience

employee experience

I recently started a new job (sort of; my company was acquired) and, for the first time in my working career, I am NOT a member of the HR staff.

I don’t have to worry about learning the employee benefit offerings inside-out. I’m not wondering when I’m going to have to conduct my first employee investigation. (note: at a previous gig I had to kick-off a Sexual Harassment investigation at 1 PM on Day One of my employment tenure. #GoodTimes). I’m not worried about expeditiously memorizing every policy in the Employee Handbook. (confession: I’ve been feeling so carefree that I didn’t even read the Employee Handbook, in its entirety, until several weeks after my start date!)

This atypical experience has been simultaneously rejuvenating and surreal.

I don’t have to, as a new hire, observe my HR team to discern how cultural norms, procedures, and historical precedents dictate the inner workings of people operations. I’m not privy to the decision-making that has informed “why” the company has XX number of holidays or “how” employees are socialized and acclimated to the organization.

I am, instead, merely a willing recipient of HR’s services. I’m a new vessel, fresh off the OnBoarding Assembly Line, into which the People & Culture team is pouring information and assistance. I dutifully open all their emails, follow their directions immediately (“it’s time to enroll in your benefits!”), and attend every informational session and meeting whether mandatory or not. I’m fully immersed (I love this stuff!) into the values and culture and community aspects;I was posting on a Yammer community by day 3.

I think, if I do say so myself, I’m a great HR customer.

And it’s really confirmed something I’ve long believed – every HR professional, preferably at an early stage of their career (unlike me), needs to join a company in a non-HR role. When I think about peers and friends who work in HR I realize that the vast majority have always worked in human resources. Lots of them came out of school, landed a gig in HR, and have never gotten off the treadmill.

I get it. It’s a profession. And we’ve battled – seemingly for decades – for HR to be acknowledged as a profession. We’ve grown our HR careers by switching back-and-forth from generalist to specialist roles or moving up the ladder/criss-crossing the lattice from Coordinator to HRBP to Director to VP. There are some (many?) who say “HR is my calling; I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” There are others who are content, comfortable and possess a soupcon of complacency (I get that too!) and don’t want to try something else.

But…

… how can we, the individuals in charge of designing and nurturing the environment for employees to be successful, truly understand the “employee experience” if we’ve never…well…EXPERIENCED “work” as an employee?

How many HR professionals have ever:

  • been subjected to their own HR-devised Attendance Point Policy?
  • had to navigate Benefit Enrollment without fully understanding the difference between co-pay and co-insurance?
  • held off on making plans as they’ve wondered if the company will close early on December 24th, like they have for the last decade, because HR refuses to memorialize it as an official “company holiday” (even though it sure seems to be one).
  • tried to figure out WHAT, exactly, “performance calibration” means and HOW in the world it seems to be the only explanation provided when annual performance increases are announced?
  • wondered how transfers and promotions happen for others yet they never seem to even get an interview (or a response) when applying for an internal move?

It’s the quintessential dictum isn’t it? “Put yourself in their shoes.”

Personally, I think I look quite styling in my new pair of pumps loafers flip flops.  

Share

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again: 15 Years of the Carnival of HR

HR Time Warp
Images of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” are copyright 1975 by 20th Century Fox.

The very first Carnival of HR ran 15 years ago this week (February 21, 2007) when Suzanne Lucas kicked off our long-running tradition with this post.

In the intervening years there have been hundreds of Carnivals as various people took on the role of Ringmaster: Alison Green (aka @AskAManager) in 2008; Shauna Griffis from 2009 -2016; Robin Schooling (hey that’s me!) from 2016 – 2021; and John Baldino (2022 – beyond!).

There have been numerous shifts in the online HR community since the halycon (and experimental) early days of HR professionals getting on social media, participating in Twitter chats (RIP weekly Thursday night #HRHappyHour) and creating blogs left and right. (check out The Unofficial (and totally non-scientific) History of HR Blogging written for the 10 year anniversary of the HR Carnival).

Is ”blogging” as we knew it, dead? Maybe. But it’s been supplanted with newsletters (so.many.newsletters), podcasts, and “live” events on LinkedIn and Facebook. And that’s a GREAT thing…because those of us working in/around HR have a LOT to say. And now we have increasingly more ways of getting our message out into the world.

So let’s take a jump to the left and then a step to the right…and check out some recent HR content. Shall we?

*****

“You look like you’re both pretty groovy!”

Dr. Frank “N Furter

Golden Girls – Betty White/Rose Nylund – Anthony Paradiso at AllThingzAP

How to Prevent and Manage Burnout – Joey Price at While We Were Working (podcast)

“If only we were amongst friends… or sane persons!”

Janet

Employer Branding Can’t Fix a Poor Candidate Experience – Kevin Grossman at TalentBoard  

Just Because You Can Do Something, Does It Mean You Should?- Wendy Dailey at My Dailey Journey

“It’s astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll.”

Riff Raff

Leadership Barriers to DEI and How to Address Them – Kelly Primus at LeadingNOW

We Don’t Talk About Bruno: Acknowledging Former Employees – John Baldino at Humareso

The Return of Candidate Resentment – Kevin Grossman at TalentBoard

******

Peace out HR.  “’Don’t Dream it. Be it.”

Share

In Order to Form a More Perfect (HR) Union….

HR professionals are raised (trained? taught?) to view labor unions as the enemy. Unions are the Moriarty to our Sherlock Holmes. The Hans Gruber to our John McClane. The Ursula to our Ariel.

But unions served a historically important role fighting for many of the workplace norms we now take for granted. Early organizing efforts advanced women’s rights and gender equality while the voices of the labor movement brought awareness (and change) to dangerous and unsafe working conditions. 

Occasionally I wonder if HR professionals should exercise their collective voice and form a union; after all a group of organized workers is, at its most elemental, dedicated to furthering the economic and social interests of workers.

And if we do so I have decided we can call it the HRPWU – “Human Resources Professional Workers Union.”  

If HRPWU came into existence there would be no more dependence upon “the world’s largest professional HR association” (also known as they place where one gives money but has no voice) as the place for peers to gather. Rather, with HRPWU, members could elect their own officers, determine their own goals for the profession, set their own dues and choose the rules by which the union operates. Banding together, HRPWU members could negotiate, on behalf of HR workers everywhere, better working conditions and wage equity. HRPWU could promote better work/life integration and working hours flexibility; no more of this 60+ hour per week crap that many HR professionals find themselves sucked into against their will.  I also envision a GROUP collective bargaining process; negotiating with ALL employers across the board for appropriate pay, benefits, health and safety policies and practices (including access to mental health resources) and workplace equity and justice.

As a bonus, being represented by HRPWU, Human Resources professionals could, once and for all, be assured a seat at the (bargaining) table.  

Talk about making an investment into the future of HR…

Share

Replicate? Or Redefine?

best practices

A number of years ago, as I was cavorting-in-the-job-market whilst in pursuit of a new gig, I had an interview for an HR Leader role when the site leader (we’ll call him Bob) asked me “what HR best practices are you aware of in our industry? I want us to implement all the best practices.”

(I could sense the HR-splaining pride oozing out of Bob’s pores as he tossed that cliché (“best practices”) into the conversation. I decided he must have visited the SHRM website in preparation for hiring into an HR role he had not needed to fill for a number of years.)

Well,” said I, “I’m not particularly a fan of merely replicating what’s been done at other organizations. I’ll most certainly look at our immediate market competitors and across the industry  but I’m not one for simply ‘copying’.”

“Why,” I asked, “should we replicate when we have the opportunity to redefine?”

I got the job. 

(And I like to think I kicked ass at the job).

It certainly would have been very easy to walk in there, researched a bunch of shit from other companies in our industry or in our geographic area, and copied and pasted every single HR/People Ops program and initiative. Bob, as a matter of fact, was a great believer in duplicating (even down to the “naming” of things) what others were doing. Not unlike many (many!) other leaders:

  • “Acme Company, LLC down the street is doing X. We need to do X too.”
  • “When I worked at Ginormous Corporation we did A, B and C. I want to do that here at Small Potatoes, Inc.”
  • “Did you see that recruitment campaign/post/job advert from Sexy Company? We need to do that!”
  • “Well, I know Big Bad Competitor Across Town, LLP is leading the market with compensation and coming in 20% ahead of us in starting pay but we really can’t compete with them….” (oh…wait…bad example…#snicker)

Here’s the deal…

Market intelligence is important. Keeping an eye on what’s happening in the world of work is necessary. Conducting regular environmental scans/PESTLE analyses is imperative. Finding out what job or environmental factors matter to candidates and employees is crucial.

And yes; taking something one did at a previous company, adjusting it and implementing at a new company is often a wise move. Over the years I’ve carried (digitally speaking) forms, templates, policies, and training curriculums from one company to the next. These are the sorts of things that don’t require a reinvention, as the saying goes, of the wheel.

But not everything is ideal for imitation. You shouldn’t blindly borrow, plunder or copy someone else’s:

  • Company Values
  • Employer Branding
  • Talent Acquisition Strategies
  • HR Metrics and Success Measures
  • Performance Management Process
  • Rewards and Recognition Structure

Why? Because their (the other guy’s) “best practice” may not be the BEST practice for YOUR organization.

Besides…it’s much more fun to CREATE rather than replicate.

Share

Time to Think: The HR Knowledge Worker

knowledge worker

The term “knowledge worker” joined our business lexicon courtesy of Peter Drucker; the concept of “knowledge work” first appeared in his 1959 book The Landmarks of Tomorrow.

For the most part we all understand that knowledge workers access and apply information to answer questions, solve problems and generate new ideas. Knowledge workers interact with tools and systems that enable communication and information sharing. They acquire new information and use it in a creative manner. They produce, distribute, and share their knowledge with others. They never stop learning and acquiring new knowledge.

We often ascribe this moniker to scientists, engineers, programmers, design thinkers, creatives, academics, attorneys, and the like. Hollywood versions of the knowledge worker include Professor Indiana Jones, David Levinson (the Jeff Goldblum character) in Independence Day and Olivia Pope.  

They “think” for a living.

Sounds like what we should expect of HR leaders…doesn’t it?

Thinking.

Yet far too many HR leaders, caught up in the grinding gears of the corporate machine, are losing out on providing real value (their knowledge) to their organizations. There are far too many HR functions where every moment is filled with tasks. Busy busy busy. Activity after activity after activity. All in a misguided attempt to demonstrate to CEOs/Owners/Leaders that HR is needed.

But knowledge workers – meaning HR leaders – need time to pause, review, research, read, and ponder. They need to explore hypotheses before acting. When making decisions and weighing “can” they do something versus “should” they do something, they need time for contemplation and evaluation.

Sometimes HR Leaders need to prioritize merely getting together with peers to think collectively. Every meeting doesn’t have to be about getting through an agenda, giving updates on task accomplishment (busy! busy! busy!), or racing though a post-mortem on a problem or incident. It should be about gathering with peers for an off-site discussion or forming a community of practice.  It can be heading to a conference or event for the day rather than cranking out yet another report that no one will read. (Busy busy busy. See how busy I am?)

At other times HR leaders need to purposefully carve out the time for silence and concentration during the workday; grab a cup of coffee, turn off the phone and put on some headphones in order to scroll through the internet or page through a book to foster ideas.

Unfortunately that’s viewed as idleness in far too many organizations. “Susie, our HR Manager, wastes a half hour every day scrolling through websites,” an organizational leader once said to me. “She’s not even working! I need to write her up!”

Sigh.

So yes; it’s often about finding an organization (and a boss) who supports creativity and intellect. A boss who encourages their HR leader to use their brain. A boss who realizes – or to whom it’s explained – that it’s not about formatting and running reports; rather it’s about designing the strategy behind the report data.

Sssshhhh. It’s time to think.

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”—Voltaire

Share
1 2 3 17
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.