Stop navel gazing and start doing the business

Why is it that, every time someone runs a survey about how happy people are at work, HR always falls into the ‘miseryguts’ pile?

If you’re a twenty-something female hairdresser working in the North East there’s a strong chance you’ve got high levels of work satisfaction. But HR as a profession ranks a lowly 17 out of 20 on the City & Guilds happiness index, coming in just ahead of bankers, caterers and secretaries.

The survey indicates that training and development opportunities are one of the keys to contentment (a quarter of HR people agree with this), as is ‘doing something worthwhile’. But money doesn’t buy employee happiness, apparently. Those earning £10,000 to £15,000 a year say they are more satisfied at work than those earning £40,000 to £45,000.

Metropolitan Police HR director Martin Tiplady suggests in this week’s Opinion piece, that one of the reasons for HR’s unhappiness could be that the profession does so much navel-gazing that organisations don’t always ‘get’ HR or understand what it’s supposed to do and that in many cases “HR is the whipping boy of sloppy administration and doer of deeds not fancied by managers”.

Is that true of your organisation? If you’ve got any other suggestions as to why HR isn’t proving to be the joyous job you’d hoped, I’d love to hear them. E-mail me the feelgood stories, too.

Tiplady’s answer for HR’s future is to become more concerned with transformation rather than transactions, and to get “a whole deal wiser to the business”.

Of course, being totally aligned with business strategy is one route to securing a seat on the board – an issue much debated in HR circles. But board membership brings even more attractive benefits than status or influence in an organisation. As Pricewaterhouse-Coopers/Monks figures show, being on the board brings with it the kind of salary that might just put a smile on HR’s face.

Karen Dempsey
Editor

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