HR needs happy staff to show its success (Guest commentary)

Rodney Dangerfield may have said it best: “I get no respect.”

He could have been HR’s poster boy.

Why is it that HR continues to get no respect or lacks credibility? The results of recent studies on employee attitudes about their workplaces indicate HR isn’t engaging employees.

Where HR departments are truly successful, the majority of employees are not only passionate about what they do, their roles and responsibilities reflect the best use of their gifts, talents and abilities.

But recent surveys indicate HR has a failing grade in achieving these results.

A Watson Wyatt survey of 3,000 Canadians, released last month, reports 46 per cent of people would leave their employers if offered comparable work elsewhere. Only 43 per cent consider their organization a good place to work, an alarming drop of 12 per cent since Watson Wyatt conducted the survey two years ago. (See Page 3 of this issue for more on the Watson Wyatt findings.)

In a recent study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management in the United States, 75 per cent of current employees said they are looking for a new job. For executives, the number jumps to 82 per cent.

A CTV/Ipos-Reed Poll discovered that more than one-third of Canadians hate —yes, hate — their jobs and fewer than 10 per cent are passionate about their roles and responsibilities.

When 80 per cent of employees dislike what they do — from mild irritation to loathing — what does that say about the success of HR systems and processes? Only in baseball can you fail 80 per cent of the time and still have a job.

Sometimes the problem may be a reluctance to face the fact the job and the person just don’t fit together.

Just last week, in an open meeting with my own team, I made this statement: “Unless you enjoy and love working here and feel we are tapping into your gifts and talents, I don’t want you working here. Let’s find you another place where you can be passionate about what you do.”

Some might think this is heartless but, actually, it is the opposite. Why subject an employee to any level of misery when you can help her find more enjoyment elsewhere?

Every business day, firms are paying individuals who simply go through the motions to collect paycheques.

Accountability for both success and failure in engaging staff must lie with HR. If not, why bother with an HR department? Let’s just go with a personnel and payroll department and forget HR.

Many HR professionals get caught up playing “not to lose” rather than playing “to win.” They wonder why they are not respected by their peers and by those even farther up the food chain. Show me a work environment where individuals are not only good at what they do but who actually enjoy what they do, and there’ll likely be a well-respected HR department. The opposite is also true.

What to do about a lack of respect if you are an HR professional? The answer is to fulfill the primary role and responsibility of human resources management — to maximize the productivity of human capital.

What methods are you using to determine HR results? Traditional methods of measurement, like cost per employee or grievances, will get traditional results. We’ve all heard that the definition of insanity is to continue to the same things over and over while expecting different results. Getting non-traditional results will require a new mindset, culture and approach to HR management. It means bringing the best out in employees, and measuring their engagement.

Do you know whether 80 per cent of your employees are looking for a new job? Even if you had half your staff enjoying their work and using their gifts and talents, that is a 100-per-cent improvement over the norm.

No one is suggesting that the HR task ahead is easy. Remember: respect must be earned. If you love what you do and have the necessary gifts, talents and abilities, you’ll enjoy the journey of achieving great HR results.

Ken Keis is the president and CEO of Consulting Resource Group in Abbotsford, B.C. He can be reached at (604) 852-0566, [email protected] or visit www.crgleader.com.

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