Relax – ‘It’s just doing its job’ (Editor's Notes)

Employers should be thankful for the 'chirping' coming from HR department

I woke up with a start this morning at 4:11 a.m.

I had heard a strange sound, a sort of voice off in the distance — one of those middle-of-the-night noises where you can’t quite figure out if it was part of a dream or something that actually happened.

But my wife was woken by it too, so I knew it wasn’t part of a lingering dream. We listened in silence to see if the apparition would speak again. It did.

Through the house, the words echoed: “Caution. Low Battery.” And then the same words repeated in French.
Ah, the damn smoke detector.

I cursed it for waking me up, then stumbled out of bed to obligatorily change the batteries. But muttered, under-my-breath expletives turned to appreciation as I fully woke up. That’s because my grandfather’s voice popped into my head as I recalled a story he told me.

My grandpa had a smoke detector placed just outside his kitchen. It was always going off. It wasn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving at his house if it didn’t start chirping at some point.

Those are the strongest memories I have of my grandparents and the holidays — excessively wrapped presents under the tree, the smell of roast turkey in the air… and the wailing of the smoke detector as dinner neared. (It was a sign that dinner was surely almost ready, an unconventional dinner bell.)

One day, the local fire department had a booth set up at the mall to remind people to install smoke alarms. Fed up, my grandfather approached a firefighter to voice his displeasure and ask what he could do about the alarm’s unnecessary noise.

The firefighter’s response was simple: “There’s nothing to do. It’s just doing its job.”

My grandfather never complained about the smoke alarm again. In fact, he liked to retell that story when it went off.

We all have annoyances in our lives, both at work and home, from people and things that are “just doing their jobs.”

Human resources professionals, in particular, fall into this category. Many managers and executives see them as the annoying fire alarm that’s always going off in the office.

“You can’t just fire Bob because you don’t like him…”

“We have to comply with this new standard…”

“You can’t turn a blind eye to that… you have to intervene… you can’t ask that question…”

The list goes on and on and on.

But, instead of complaining, employers should be thankful for the chirping coming from the HR department.

After I changed the batteries in all the detectors in the house, I stumbled back to bed. I was no longer annoyed at the alarm for waking me. Instead, I was grateful it was doing its job — protecting my family.

I just wish it could have told me around 7 p.m. that the batteries were dying.

A new era in HR designation: We want your opinion
We’re curious to hear about what you think of the three new designations — a junior level, mid-level and senior one — being unveiled by the Human Resources Professionals Association(HRPA).

On page 1 of this issue, senior editor Sarah Dobson took a look at the sweeping changes that will, among other things:

• introduce a junior-level designation that does not require a university degree

•include knowledge of employment law

•introduce a senior-level designation that appears to be a very different animal than the current Senior Human Resources Professional (SHRP) designation offered by HRPA and, until recently, the Saskatchewan Associated of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP).

These aren’t just questions for our readers in Ontario and those who are members of the HRPA. The HRPA is open to sharing the criteria for the new designations with other associations across the country.

In fact, HRPA CEO Bill Greenhalgh said it’s not a question of why other associations would pick it up, “it’s a question of why wouldn’t they?”

Any way you slice it, this is huge news for the profession. And we want to know your thoughts about these changes — positive or negative.

We welcome letters to the editor anytime at [email protected] You can also tweet your thoughts to us

Canadian HR Reporter will also be starting a discussion on the new designations on our Linked-In page. If you haven’t joined — we just recently launched it — search for “Canadian HR Reporter” in the groups area of LinkedIn.

We’d love to have you as a member.

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