The Humans of Human Resources
When people ask me what I do for a living and I mention the term HR, I usually don’t receive a favorable response. How many of you think of HR and roll your eyes? I see you raising your hand out there.
Why is that? The perception of many people is that HR “forces” employees to do those not-so-fun tasks like document issues, enter your own changes, complete trainings, complete performance reviews, and they’re always enforcing those policies. Are these things so bad? Don’t you appreciate compliance, efficiency, and self-service? Maybe it’s just that most people don’t fully understand the why behind HR’s requests
Beyond those “nagging” requests, do you really understand everything that HR does? Let’s break down a few components to shed some light on the amazing work HR folks do every day.
Oversees the Employee Life Cycle
Once you gain approval to hire someone new, HR is responsible for sourcing talent from both inside and outside of the company. They are the ones who bring people in the door and help promote internal mobility. Once someone is hired, HR continues to manage the entire lifecycle of that employee from onboarding through their departure.
Part of that lifecycle is performance reviews (I previously mentioned them, so you had to know this would come up!). HR owns and manages the technology, process, and strategy for the talent management cycle with critical input from business partners outside of HR. Without this cycle, employees may be rewarded (or not rewarded) based on bias and with no feedback and documentation to back it up. Peers may not have an opportunity to provide feedback on each other, and managers may not realize the full potential of their team.
And have you ever needed a report on anything employee related (birthdays, work anniversaries, org charts?) Oh yes, this is HR, too.
Supports Employee Engagement and a Positive Company Culture
How many of you enjoy your corporate perks such as a discount on your cell phone bill, tuition reimbursements, or maybe even discounted (or free) childcare? Did you know HR manages those, too? Many people choose a company for the health and financial benefits as well as the perks offered, but more people stay when they see how they’re rewarded (again, note the importance of the talent cycle mentioned above.)
Twenty years ago, I started working for a large financial organization (wow, twenty years!). At least 90% of my former co-workers are still employed by this organization because they don’t want to walk away from the large 401k match or the very rich health benefits offered, among other perks.
HR is constantly looking at what constitutes the best employee experience and what will attract and retain their loyal employees as well as create a positive culture within the company.
Getting People Paid
Alright, here’s the big one…getting paid! Sure, sometimes Payroll falls under Finance rather than HR, but either way, the Payroll team is either part of or an extension of the HR team. Can you imagine if this function breaks down? Yikes!
Very often we start our engagements with a process mapping exercise. Without fail, Payroll’s processes are the longest and have the most pain points. We once created a process map for a company who was able to print out the map on plotter paper, and the Payroll manager was hidden behind it when held up from her toes to over her head. It was so cumbersome that the others in the room thanked the Payroll team for making sure they actually got paid.
And we can’t forget our friends in Compensation. Without them, you wouldn’t receive a raise, or have negotiation powers for your new hires.
These are just a few of the tasks on the plates of HR professionals. If you lived a day in their life, you may have a different perspective. You would likely gain a realization of the extraordinary effort these folks put into their job. They put in this effort because of the one thing I didn’t describe above, passion – passion for the company, the employees, and making sure the culture of the company is a positive and productive environment, one where you want to be and not just where you have to be.