The human resources department should be the most humane department in a company. Don’t you think so?
Well, according to Zety’s research, the idea of humanity in HR is actually missing. Interviewing around 1,000 American workers, the research revealed that nearly 7 in 10 respondents said they do not believe HR people. Among the respondents, 37 percent would not report being sexually harassed at work and 43 percent would not report discrimination, indicating that employees feared that HR would be involved in their problem. The only topics employees feel comfortable discussing with HR are related to compensation and benefits, with 82 percent confirmed this statement.
Zety’s research suggested that employees would prefer to hide their true feelings and conditions rather than to deal with the HR department. Fear of getting HR involved is greater than fear of doing nothing and potentially working under duress and stress, which consequently, undermines individuals’ career and productivity. The survey also showed that HR might potentially become the problem within a company, no wonder that HR often gets a bad rep around C-suites.
Tracy Waters, head of people experience and development at Sky UK, also said that HR might have a bad reputation. For the majority of people, HR’s role is simple: to hire and fire people – that’s why people have come to fear HR. Yet, to make the workplace more sustainable and effective, this kind of bad reputation should be eliminated and HR should start building trust with employees. Waters suggested three acronyms to tackle the issue: CX – customer experience; UX – user experience; and EX – employee experience. It is in the latter area that HR has a huge role to play.
Among the three, employee experience should be HR’s number one priority. Workplaces are becoming more technology-driven and it is HR’s role to help humans and machines coordinate in a way that brings delight. To do so, HR must embrace a new mindset and methods. Waters has implemented some experimental techniques in an attempt to put the human back into her company by practising: design thinking and agile.
Design thinking is about problem finding and agile is problem-solving. In her talk, Waters stated that design thinking must prepare the way for agile. It means that if you do not truly understand the problem that you are trying to solve, then it does not actually matter what method you use for solving the problem. Therefore, HR must understand the problem before proposing a solution. This design thinking model instructs HR to ask four more questions: what is, what if, what wows, and what works.
In improving employee experience, HR must be able to create a real wow experience. To pursue this, Waters advised us to take data from the first two inquiries and develop four ideas that will get employees to respond well to. To achieve the final step “what works”, Waters is still doing the research at the time of speaking. Yet, she ensured that this practice is suitable for all HR departments as it has cost no money.
In short, the distrust of HR might not go away immediately. It takes time and trust to build trust. But there has never been a more salient moment for ensuring HR can be the department where humans are not just part of the title. It should be part of the HR job to ensure humanity in its practices.