Why has HR got such a bad reputation in many organizations? How can we improve the reputation of HR and increase its’ rating amongst the plethora of professions across the globe? Novel idea – ask the audience!
They say - don't they - that reputation counts for everything? Well - don't we know it! "So - what do you do Paul?" I would get asked. I used to be proud to announce "I'm a human resources manager". And people used to respond positively. Not now!
"Oh - you mean human remains!" is a common response. Or, "Oh, hopeless redundancies!". Or, "(Un(helpful) recruitment!". Or - which is more common now - "Oh - what do you think of this weather we're having?"
We are losing the reputational battle - and we need to do something about it! I don't think this is a job for the branding experts either. This is one that we all need to take on - and which the CIPD needs to lead. But - like all efforts to break bad habits - we need to first of all acknowledge the problem. Sit down, look ourselves firmly in the mirror - and say "Paul (if that's your name!) - what does being a HR professional mean to you? What do you stand for? What are you trying to achieve and what do you want to contribute to your organization?"
Sticks and stones can break reputations - look at estate agents and politicians and journalists and..... Do we want to be next in line?
I am proposing that we develop three simple questions for all organizations to use as a “mood barometer” within their workforce on the views and attitudes towards HR. The three questions are:
- What does your human resource department do well?
- What does your human resource department not do well?
- What would you like your human resource department to do more of in the future?
These questions could be used in a variety of ways – on intranets, through social media, on post cards during workplace conferences etc etc. Crucially, the respondent should be allowed to remain anonymous – and the results should be fed back to the CIPD for them to correlate across all industries.
The questionnaire should be able to be applied fairly simply – at low cost – and should then form the basis of an overall strategy to review the HR function across the organization.
The key challenge will be getting senior managers and the HR function themselves to agree to this level of open self scrutiny. The way to overcome this is place it within the context of a wider, high level review of the organization or as part of reviewing the organization’s values and objectives. In this respect, you might suggest that other corporate functions – such as finance or communications – undertake the same exercise using the same questions.
Board level approval.