My Brain On HR

"Easily the most knowledgeable and upbeat Un-HR, HR lady you'll ever meet!"

Image by Vladimir Fedotov

I've been working in HR, recruiting, and employer branding for 20 years. I've seen bb guns shot down hallways by Sales Directors at their own employees. I've seen Jewish employees forced to put Christmas tree stars on top of an office Christmas tree. I've seen some really bad corporate leadership, and I've worked with some exemplary leaders and mentors who have also heard and seen it all.

 

There isn't much of anything that surprises me these days, however there's one thing that has been most pleasantly surprising, and that has been being blessed to witness the passion the younger generation has for social and societal change. As an individual and a business leader, I can't help but to proudly support all efforts to make our world (and our workplaces!) better for everyone.

I got out of corporate HR and recruiting after a string of unfulfilling, low paying HR jobs came and went. At one of the largest, most secure Big 4 firms in the world, I stood there with my 100+ person HR team, as we were all told that at least 50% of us would be laid off in the coming months, but they didn't know who would be leaving and who would be staying yet, they would tell us in a few weeks when they had it figured out. Next, they told us "we shouldn't worry or feel bad if we're one of the ones who's let go, because at least it's at no fault of our own."

What did they just say to me?

 

I should take solace knowing I could be fired anytime, along with 50% of my team? It should comfort me that I'll lose my main income stream, even though I did nothing wrong to cause it? Geez. Thanks, employer. I feel so relieved.

 

I never understood why we all justify this type of treatment, as if this "employment at will" arrangement is what any of us REALLY want. 

Let's face it. People want things to be fair. They want to be appreciated. People want to know the time and effort they put in has been and will continue to be impactful. 

Unfortunately, the Employer-Employee relationship has become so one-sided, being an employee isn't all it's cracked up to be. Of course there are some great organizational leaders out there who are doing work on behalf of their employees, but the vast majority of companies still treat their people in a manner in which they are expendable. 

 

People are only hired so they can be used any way the company sees fit, then they can discard you with the trash when you're no longer of use or when you step out of your lane too often or much. If you're an employee, your fate is largely up to your company to decide for you, which means it will be decided by shareholders who don't know or care about you.

I can't accept this.

 

If anyone is going to leave jobs, lose my income streams, or screw up my life, it's going to be me, dammit. Who it's not going to be is some gigantic, greedy corporation that touts treating people fairly but maintains its own passive-aggressive bullying game to get their least favorite employees to quit (so they can avoid paying a higher rate of unemployment taxes).

Can you imagine if this is what we expected in our personal relationships? What if every married person treated their spouse this way?

 

"Ok honey listen up! You're going to need this information to survive, because this is how our relationship is going to work...

 

You must be loyal to me, and I'll think about being loyal to you.

I'll decide when this relationship is over, and you'll decide nothing. 

 

You will live to please only me. No one else's opinions or needs matter, including your own.

I'll tell you how to spend all of your free time, including how and when you get a lunch break.

 

I'll control every aspect of your life whether you're here in the office with me or not. You'll never know what's going on behind my closed doors, however, you can be sure I'm listening in on all of your conversations. 

I'make all the rules, I'll change them when I feel like it, and I'll tell you what to do with your own body. Of course, you can't tell me what to do with mine. I might even require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine just for you to be allowed to stick around a little while longer.

I'll court other people for your position behind your back so I can quickly and easily replace you whenever I've ready. 

 

First, I'll start ignoring you, then over time, I'll grow outwardly frustrated with you and make big deals in front of other people over small non-issues, just to embarrass you.

 

Next, I'll give you a couple of written notes that I'll call "warnings." These warnings are not for your own good, nor are they an attempt by me to help you "save your job." 

 

HELLO!?! Wake up! These warnings aren't for your own good, they're telling you to leave! I'm about to kick you to the curb if you don't leave on your own! You're not wanted here anymore!  

 

But sweetheart, please don't worry. I love you and I'll be fine. As for you, well, you just keep working hard and being loyal to me and you won't have to worry about a thing!"

Can you imagine?

 

But this is how the vast majority of us maintain relationships with the business-world, and there are plenty of corporations treating their employees like this every single day, meanwhile they tout their commitments to diversity and inclusion and fair employee treatment. 

 

In a personal relationship, this is called abuse, and anyone with any self respect would run for the hills if their partner began treating them these ways. In the business world, this is called "employment at will."

 

So why do we allow big rich corporations to get away treating us poorly, but demand more from our personal relationships? Why don't we call out bad, egotistical bosses who treat their people unfairly, the same way we'd call out a man who just punched a baby in the face?

Fear.

Fear of losing our income.

Fear we won't find a better job fast enough.

Fear the next boss will be worse.

Fear if we let one bad apple/employee go, we'll start a domino effect and lose all of our good ones too.

Fear we'll choose the wrong benefit so we don't add anything at all. 

It all comes back to fear of something. 

 

If you're a business owner, you should already know "fear" isn't a good reason to do or not do anything. Today, it's unacceptable for leaders to keep quiet, or to try and silence their employees, not allowing them to take a stand for what's right or make effort to speak out against injustices. 

So employers, it's time to show the world who you are, not just what you sell. You can't hide your company culture, either. Job seekers today are informed. They care about the future they're going to inherit. It matters to them what the people who are in places of power are actively doing to make the world a better place. They care about impacting the environment. They care about each other, and they want to help each other cope in positive ways.

 

Today's employees are more demanding than ever from their employers, and I say BRAVO! What it boils down to is this: the employers who listen and act on what they hear from employees and job seekers about what will make the world and workplaces better, are the employers who will win the talent acquisition and retention game, and maintain a competitive advantage.

How can I help to improve your company's standings or your personal situation at work? You don't have to do this alone. In my daily work,

  • I help companies leaders like yourself, to implement people friendly HR and recruiting practices that attract and retain the best fitting talent.

  • I work with individuals who need a boost of motivation to find their next great career move.

  • I help employees going through traumatic work experiences and potential EEOC filings.

  • I offer small businesses "a la carte" recruiting and HR services. 

  • I provide growing organizations peace of mind when I work to implement robust, strategic HR solutions that meet their business' precise needs. 

I love what I do, and I want you to love what you do for work too! Please add me on LinkedIn and get in touch with me! I'd love to help out and get to know you!