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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Times Are a Changing

Hi

The email id is sure a misnomer..having followed your blog for many months now, I have to admit, it has completely altered my image of the work done by HR professionals. Often enough, we as employees feel that the sole job of the HR department is to make our lives and jobs more difficult (solely my opinion, can be attributed to the places I worked at..). Now, it doesn't seem the case.

My question to you is:
There has been a lot of debate in the web2.0 space about how social media is changing the roles of media and advertising. As I look at it, the social media scenario is also impacting crucial business functions such as HR and Internal Comm. Would you concur with the above statement? Does it impact the roles of these functions and how? In your opinion, are companies geared to handle this change? With sites like Vault that allow employees to check on organisations and a host of other similar sites that allow potential employees to get an inside look before they join, I believe HR would have to reinvent itself.

I would be grateful for your expert view.


Well, then, it seems I have failed in my duties—HR’s sole purpose is to create paperwork and barriers to success! Plus, we like to count people by race and gender!

Sorry, I forgot non-HR people can read this blog. I’d hate to have our secrets get out.

Social Media and HR? Yeah, it’s made a huge difference. First of all, I’m writing this blog, which lets you in on the inner secrets of HR. (Drat! Now I can’t keep the abysmal failure that is forced distribution performance ratings a secret.)

Secondly, we have to realize that the world has changed. HR has a reputation for being followers rather than leaders (which is the exact opposite of how HR should be. What does SHRM say? Leading people, leading organizations. We should be in front.)

So, now we have to create and enforce e-mail policies and internet policies. We have to decide what we’re going to do about employee blogs. Do we restrict what our employees can say about the company? Do we search facebook and myspace and blogger to look at candidates? What if we don’t search, they tell us? If someone says something controversial on a blog do we not hire them?

And about the information employees now have—salary info is more readily available, reviews about the company, sites like Linked In give you a way to find people who work in the company you are interested—and talk to them before accepting a job.

These are all questions that a few years ago, no one would know about. Your writings in 1985 stayed private unless you managed to get them published. Even being published didn’t make that knowledge easily accessible. Today? Anybody can start a website and put whatever they darn well please out there. Do we punish employees whose private thoughts are now public? Why? Does HR really want to be the thought police? (Answer: Yes. Just kidding! No, we don’t. I don’t. Really, I don’t.)

So, yes, I think social networking et al is something that has changed the face of people management and HR should be in front. If we’re leading people we need to make sure we’re not stumbling along at the back of the line, putting in policies only when a crisis arises.

2 comments:

The Engineer said...

"So, now we have to create and enforce e-mail policies and internet policies. We have to decide what we’re going to do about employee blogs. Do we restrict what our employees can say about the company?"

Huh?? You really have to do this? Is there no management where you work? It is no wonder that employees think HR is the enemy if you allow yourself to be saddled with policy creation (and enforcement). Assisting with policy enforcement (i.e. helping the supervisor do the right thing) seems a role for HR but not creation itself. Isn't that why so much time was spent grooming and selecting managers?

"Do we search facebook and myspace and blogger to look at candidates? What if we don’t search, they tell us? If someone says something controversial on a blog do we not hire them?"

I would Google anyone I'm looking at hiring. What do you do with a candidate that says too much during an interview? What about a "controversial" statement during an interview? Why do you draw a difference?

Founder: Lea Setegn said...

To respond to the first comment here, I'm not sure where you work, because in my experience it has never been solely up to management to determine company-wide policy. HR folks have experts who have a good sense as to what kinds of policies will be legal and what won't, and they have a sense of how the policy will affect all areas of the company. Once HR finishes a draft of the policy, then it has to go in front of employment lawyers to make sure that it's legal and doesn't violate state or federal law.

One of the goals of HR is to make sure that company policies -- from dress code to vacation/time off to parking, to name a jew -- are applied equally across the board. If every supervisor decided to make his/her own decisions on things like e-mail useage or blogs, there would be grounds for a lot of lawsuits against the supervisors for violating First Amendment rights at the very least. Not to mention all of the nasty, negative sentiment from employees against the company for punishing some people but not others for the same offenses -- and that will cost a company good employees, both current and future.

Policy creation and enforcement may be part of why HR is considered "evil," but it's a better alternative than allowing anarchy -- which will make HR's job of finding new hires impossible and make YOUR life worse when people quit and can't get replaced so you're doing the work of four people.