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  • Mark Shaw

Is HR making life better or harder for managers and workers?

I was recently reading an article titled ‘How the HR monster destroyed the workplace’ written by Juliet Samuel and published in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. In it she challenged whether HR is making life better or harder for managers and workers.

She quotes Matt Young who claims that thanks to HR, businesses are “struggling with policies that often-run counter to their commercial interests”. By way of example, she cites how many HR departments have become a channel for the dissemination of radical political ideas like critical race theory, Diversity, Inclusiveness and Equity training, and supporting trans activism.

She emphasised that through a mixture of generational change, good intentions, credulity and a raw hunger for power and status, HR Practitioners have become front-line foot soldiers in a social and cultural revolution they never knew they were starting.

A core argument she presents is that the trend seems to be HR pursuing social agendas, rather than adding value to the business. She quotes a HR industry representative as saying the political frenzies gripping HR are just reflecting a broader shift in societal thinking while trying to address real and long-standing issues such as racism or sexual harassment.

As her article concludes, she refers to several legal cases where employees have successfully had management and HR decisions overturned on the basis such decisions overstepped the mark of employment law.

She found such decisions supported the view that HR had forgotten that their primary function is to follow employment law and enhance productivity and instead, have overstepped in the name of “progressive” censorship.

As someone who chose to spend his career in HR, the article challenged me to reflect on Juliet’s comments and conclusions. And on balance I agree with her.

Many HR Practitioners have forgotten that our primary function is to follow employment law and help the enterprise enhance productivity. Or rephrased, to demonstrate how we are adding value.

The challenge I see is for individual HR Practitioners to define the value proposition they are providing for their specific company/enterprise and then deliver on that promise.

Only then will the HR monster Juliet refers to, be defeated, and respect for the outcomes HR delivers will be recognised and appreciated.

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