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Is HR Old Fashioned and Suffering an Identity Crisis?

6 months ago - Mark Ashton

Having worked with so many different HR professionals over the years and have the pleasure of sampling many different HR styles and processes, I wanted to write a short post in whether or not HR is old fashioned, and ask the question is it indeed suffering an identity crisis.

Outdated HR Practices

Over the past decade alone, the way employers and employees work together has changed dramatically.  I don’t need to tell anyone this.  The interesting thing for me, however, is that it seems that HR hasn’t fully caught up, nor have they changed the way that they approach employees for what seems like an age in itself.

So, my question is this, are they still relevant?  Are HR advisors and functionalities being replaced by online platforms and outsourced services that offer defined management at a fraction of the cost?

A complaint I often hear being bandied around is that companies feel they are not always seeing quality candidates. This is a statement I have heard time and time again when talking to HR Managers and Advisors alike.  On the flip side of this, candidates also complain that they do not feel that they are being fairly evaluated or assessed.  So, who is to blame here, are both sides being unrealistic in their expectations or is there some bigger amiss?

My personal viewpoint on this matter is that the overall talent pool is infinite.  However, it remains largely untapped due to the somewhat narrow-minded approach and thinking.  Couple that will standardised job descriptions that are outdated and a hiring process that could be labelled as somewhat archaic and you start to get a feel for the underlying issues.  A much more prominent way to approach this task sure needs to begin with focussing on the impact the people who are hired can have within a business and not simply looking at how much it costs to hire them.

In my opinion, it is now more than ever that businesses need to be nurturing staff and looking after them.  I might even ruffle a few feathers here with this question, but here goes:

Are HR even Human or Resourceful anymore?

I’m going to start this section by quoting an article that was posted in Forbes.com just last year.  ‘How can HR leaders look in the mirror and feel good about themselves when they enforce despicable policies every day at work.’ 

They are also of the opinion that some HR policies that should have been ditched decades ago are still prominent in the workplace today, both across the pond and in the UK.

I have to agree with the tone of this article that is along the lines of; if you don’t trust your adult workforce to be competent enough to do the job that YOU employed them to do, what kind of underlying message does that say about how you operate your business and treat your team.

Eight Outdated HR Policies That Have NO Place in your Business

  1. The Policy that dictates a candidate is required to divulge intricate details about their salary, bonus and benefits package about their former company.
  1. The Policy that requires ‘management approval’ for internal transfers. If a manager knows they are onto a good thing with an employee and are getting more value than they are paying out for are they going to sign-off on their progression plan or sidestep and be faced with the immediate issue to recruit, replace and train a new hire? I don’t think so. Would they need to seek their manager’s approval to go and work for another company?  I don’t think so.  So why risk losing an experienced and valuable member of the team who merely wishes to diversify their skills and deliver more value to the business in doing so?
  1. The Policy that will allow a dedicated and committed employee to put in countless additional hours either from the office or home without recognition, additional pay, or any awareness as to when they log-off late after completing extra hours. However, management seems to know exactly when they log in a few minutes late in the morning or after a lunch break and pulls them up on this so-called “poor time keeping”.
  1. The Policy which is devoid of ‘real conversations’ with ‘real people’ when it comes to their personal development and instead, sticks with a militant line of cold questioning that bears little resemblance to what they do, and offers no practical help to aid them to develop in a meaningful way. Too many candidates I talk with, report that their manager just wasn’t interested in helping them or understanding their individual goals; ‘they just wanted to get the forms completed and submitted to HR before the deadline’.
  1. The Policy that prevents a manager giving a personal reference for a former employee. I understand there are certain restrictions with the law that prevent negative references being given, but this isn’t about that.  If someone has done a bloody good job and a manager wants to portray this, why on earth would an HR policy or an employer prevent them from doing that?

In this day and age, Employers who nurture their talent, are not afraid to appreciate and encourage development and have a mutual respect and appreciation in the workplace; are the same employers that only contact me to get my help when they are expanding. They don’t need to replace candidates. They don’t have employees who have left their business in search of development, career progression or to seek better prospect.

So, in my own words, I would say these are all examples of policies that are old fashioned and that potentially ruin employee-employer relations.