Tuesday, May 15

When HR is short for ‘horror’

You know my views on HR. But here’s an interesting article on HR. I quote:

There are plenty of movies and novels about salesmen, copywriters, editors, journalists, accountants, and even CEOs. But when was the last time you saw a movie or read a novel in which the hero/heroine was an HR executive? Never? Ever wonder why? I have my own theory: writers and filmmakers know that their main character should be one with whom the audience can empathise. And having an HR manager as the lead character sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Sure, not all HR execs/departments are bad. There are exceptions, but most are busy proving the rule. Last week, I got a call from a journalist friend who had just resigned from his job at a reputed publication. He was upset with his ex-employer’s HR.

During his last month at the company, he came down with gastroenteritis and took four days’ sick leave. But the HR deducted four days’ salary from his final paycheck though he had plenty of sick leave left. Apparently, his company’s HR policy did not allow an employee to take sick leave (or fall ill) during the notice period.
“What kind of idiocy is this?” he ranted. “Suppose during my notice period I have a heart attack and so can’t come to work for a few days, my company’s humane response would be to aggravate my misery by cutting my salary!”

So far so ok, nothing surprising at all. But check this out.

So what exactly is the role of HR? You don’t have to be an MBA to figure out that HR has four critical functions that, unlike salary processing or attendance marking, can neither be outsourced nor automated: 1) retaining talent; 2) identifying talent outside and persuading them to join the organisation; 3) coming up with sensible ways of measuring performance; and 4) putting systems in place to keep employee motivation high.

While friends in the media cite the odd organisation that may be above average with functions 1 and 2 above, most HR departments are clueless about 3 and 4. This is all the more puzzling, given that if you have an effective way of measuring and giving feedback to employees, then that becomes a training tool as well, and a motivator for employees who are performing well.

I should point out that by statistical definition, there wont be just the odd organisation above average, assuming a normal distribution, there will be a fairly large number of organisations above average otherwise if you have different distributions, then you will have some extraordinarily wonderful organisations which pull up the average compared to a very large great unwashed herd of bad HR organisations.

I know, I know, I am anal, I am quibbling over minor things, but heck..come on, that’s my job on the blog!

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