Reclaiming the Human in Human Resources
I shared a post on Instagram from @hr.shook that said “Take back HUMAN resources” placing an emphasis on the human part which hit me hard. I would need about thirty sets of hands to count all the times I’ve had to tell an employee “You’re not in trouble” or an employee exclaiming “I didn’t do it!” before a conversation in my office. So where did our field go wrong?
Human resources is more often than not thought of as the hammer, the department that writes and enforces the rules and then tells an employee when they’re not following them. We have to do some hard things, firing, lay-offs, and saying “no” A LOT. We’re often viewed as only looking out for the company’s best interest and not the employee’s best interest.
What I really wish that employees would understand is that in reality, we’re looking out for the company’s interests by looking out for the employee’s best interest. It’s imperative that employees are happy, engaged, and productive in order for an employer to be successful and avoid litigation. If our employees aren’t happy, that’s not in an employer’s best interest.
Here’s are some ways that I try to bring more human back into my field.
Try to Understand the Why
One of the most profound realizations I had was when I was working in luxury hospitality. We would regularly employ international employees on J-1 and H2B visas and I came to the realization that the employees worked for entirely different reasons. Our J-1 employees were on a student visa and they were working to save money to travel before they went back to their home country for school. On the other hand, our H2B employees were often working to send money home to their families in their home country. Our employees were doing the same work but for two entirely different reasons.
When we take the time to understand why people work it can help us connect with employees on a deeper level.
Show Your Human Side
Get on your employee’s level by showing your human side. You are just as human as they are you just work in a different role within the company. Spend time having conversations about your family, pets, or what you did that weekend. It fosters a relatability and a comfort level that will only help the role of HR within a company.
We have a lot of work to do as a field in terms of bringing more human back into employment. Don’t lose sight of the fact that we employ humans. Humans, with all their quirks and emotions, they also have the potential to make incredible contributions to the workplace.