Monday, December 2, 2013

The Disconcerting Disconnect Between HR and Staff

(image credit)

Kenexa is an IBM company, and as part of their annual Compensation Outlook Survey they asked about HR perceptions on a range of matters affecting people.  Then they compared these perceptions with those of visitors to their consumer website and to world norms in their Employee Engagement database.  The captions for each of the findings in the infographic above are as follow:
  1. 69% of HR professionals thought staff were engaged, while 34% of staff themselves admitted to being engaged.
  2. 81% of HR professionals expected staff to recommend the company to a friend, while 38% of staff actually would.  
  3. 71% of HR professionals felt company benefits were fair, but 48% of staff agreed.  
  4. The numbers on benefits were mirrored on compensation: 53% and 30%.
  5. Finally, 83% of HR professionals surmised that staff planned to say at least another year, and 41% of staff agreed.
These findings are disconcerting, to the say the least.  Kenexa reasoned that poor manager communications were the culprit for the disconnect between HR and staff.  To the extent that they are the key liaison between HR and their staff, then this reasoning makes sense.  

But I wonder about organizational priority and culture: Does senior management view, and thus deploy, HR as its proxy vis-a-vis the staff?  I have had HR colleagues who insist they they represent the staff, but have been reprimanded to say otherwise.  How well regarded is HR to begin with, that is, across sectors of people in the company?  One senior manager pointed out in a group meeting that HR was not a profession and by implication its people were not classified as professionals.  

I wonder, too, how much and well HR takes initiative to understand people, to forge relationships, and to safeguard communication lines.  These findings suggest that they take relatively little and if they do they aren't so effective at it.
This disconnect in the data between HR professionals and employees is not a sign that HR doesn’t fully grasp the effects of decisions on populations or the criticality of thoughtful programs for employees. What we find in this disconnect is that HR has become too distanced from the employee population, leading to a misunderstanding of where the employee mindset is. Consistent communication with employees, in any form that is appropriate for that employee population, is key. Ultimate success lies in proper manager training.  Managers need to be prepared to discuss and promote programs, as well as collect feedback for HR on how
those programs are perceived.
Reference: Employee Attitudes and Engagement.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

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