Among HR folks, I hear this a lot:
“I’m so busy at work that I barely have time to think.”
Here’s a truth. There’s an inherent risk in busyness. Despite the myriad of tasks to get done, in HR you need time to think.
Mistakes in HR are costly. Sometimes mistakes occur are because you miss a detail.
Other times they occur because you miss the bigger picture.
Mistakes by HR:
- Contribute to poor employee relations.
- Damage HR’s reputation as a contributor.
- Result in someone getting overpaid, or underpaid.
- Result in someone getting hurt.
And there’s more. Failure to think could cause you to get caught up in perpetuating bad people practices.
If you’re a professional, you should never just do what you’re told without asking why. While familiarity, routine and predictability are satisfying, they can lull you into a dullness that prevents you from probing deeper. Our industry is full of debunked policies still labelled as best practice and new products and services that do nothing but make their inventors wealthier.
I can remember a time when I had spent a lot of time fixing up some gaps at a client. Quite literally, I was handed a checklist of things to do, thankfully all in my wheelhouse. In a short period of time, I got employment agreements in place, introduced a benefits plan, got an organizational chart in place, facilitated the development of HR policies, and addressed a very problematic attendance management and WSIB issue. I organized employee records and improved payroll. I got a training plan going and the subject of “people” on the executives monthly meeting agenda. The approach fit the mandate and was scalable, the I’s and T’s were addressed, but the impact was minimal.
I didn’t think.
I’m not saying that getting in the basics was unimportant. The important element that was missing, which I did not actively sell due to perceived time and budget limitations, was what might’ve moved the needle on employer branding and improving productivity. When it came to HR, a fast-growing company like theirs needed something of a sizzle, and this needed to coincide with the introduction of the basics.
What employees needed most was a roadmap of what kinds of things they might expect to see in the future. They also needed a way to express their preferences.
And, what they really wanted as an outcome was for HR to be their advocate.
Do policies and terms of employment need to come first? Not always.
So think about the value of what you do, the impact of your activities and their importance.
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