Human Resources Interventions

This story begins with “Once upon a time…” but doesn’t end with “They lived happily ever after.” It may have been ended with “problem solved” but I seriously doubt it.

HappilyEverAfterMany, many years ago, a return to the office from lunch involved an elevator ride with some HR colleagues. Joining us in a crowded elevator were two women who brought their lunchtime conversation into the elevator with them. “I can’t believe that I’ve worked here for three months and HR hasn’t fixed my name on my paycheck.” Three months into her new job and obviously she was already not a happy camper. There were several things wrong with this situation starting with the fact that there was an employee self service module online to make changes to records. When I asked who she had contacted in HR I got a blank stare. There seemed to be some expectation that Evil HR was supposed to intuitively know that there was a mistake and magically fix it. I explained how to find the online change form, handed her a faded dog-eared business card from my wallet, and told her to call me if she needed help. This story still haunts me today because so many problems in an organization could be resolved if someone just took the time to perform an intervention on bad practices before problems occur.

Intervene in complex administrivia – Second only to the candidate experience in its ability to create a negative impression, onboarding is a daunting process where many new employees can be confused and lost. Sometimes they are required to submit the same information multiple times on multiple forms because of different systems’ requirements. Fortunately, today most companies have better tools to insure accuracy of data than the situation I described earlier. If databases do not talk to each other, make it happen! At a bare minimum, perform a 100% audit on new hire data to insure accuracy. There is no excuse for having a manual handshake between systems with the technology at our disposal, but many times payroll and HR records get “untied” in a complex process.

Intervene in new hire orientation – Face it, most small companies delegate the new hire orientation to junior human resources assistants presiding over a forms completion and collection exercise. Even in larger organizations the next step is usually a grueling death-by-PowerPoint show listing all of the “thou shalt nots” and mandatory safety and security drills. An orientation should be a celebration of the marriage of this new person to their dream job. There are subtle psychological messages buried in their brains that accepting this job may not have been a wise decision, so the only time that a positive first impression can be substituted is immediately… now… without delay.

Intervene in post hire follow-up – The recruiter is probably the first person that introduced the new employee to the company. A few weeks after the start date, this friendly face should be seen again across a lunch table in a friendlier interview about how things are going. “See, I didn’t tell you any lies about this place.” Or “What surprises have you had about your new job.” This not only sends a message that somebody cares, but it also helps to fine tune the messages for future candidates. There is probably also an HR Partner for the group that should have an informal debriefing with the new hire as a check on the recruitment process and to verify that the perceived fit in the organization was correct.

Intervene in HR branding in the company – Most new hires will fall into line with the current culture of the organization whether it is bad or good. The impressions of management about the value of human resources will ooze throughout the organization and fill all crevices with either positive or negative vibes. If HR professionalism fills the vacuum before others have a chance to offset that image, then the culture will encourage respect for HR. This is not a propaganda mission, but a sincere effort to promote positive programs and not be seen as simply the enforcer of policy. Knowledge of the company and its operations makes HR an integral partner with management in running the business.

And now MAYBE they can live happily ever after.

Image credit: paulprescott72 / 123RF Stock Photo