HR was once where biscuits, tissues, tea and sympathy were dispensed to distraught colleagues.
That touchy-feely image has now been ditched – but are some HR professionals going too far and becoming the company bully?
Employment law once seemed the answer to HR’s prayers, but you cannot build a power base on the strength of telling managers: “You can’t do that; it’s against the regulations.” You have to show you are a hard-nosed business partner.
Sadly, some have let this go to their heads. You see it in the bruisers who have built careers by wielding the axe, whether through outsourcing or offshoring initiatives, or just no-holds-barred downsizing.
Witness also the HR directors who seized on the consultation regulations introduced last year as an opportunity to show who was ‘the daddy’ on the employee consultation body.
Elsewhere, HR staff read the riot act to managers over company policy, but blatantly flaunt how they can bend the rules when it suits them. Witness the wave of sackings of older staff ahead of the age discrimination laws.
And then there are those who bully other colleagues, notably occupational health nurses, forcing them to reveal confidential medical files – breaching the data protection rules and the nurses’ profes-sional code of conduct.
The really hard challenge would be to persuade sceptical board members to embrace worthwhile HR strategies, such as employee engagement or high-performance working. So come on then, if you think you’re hard enough.
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