I had the opportunity last week to attend the monthly meeting of my local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, which covered a legislative update for its membership. I am from a family of lawyers so I understand they have a role to play. But every time I come away with the same feeling.
For over 30 years when I attend these it always seems to be the case of us against them. The lawyers tell us that we have to begin to develop strategies to combat the rash of regulations coming out from the various regulatory agencies that can have dire affects on our organizations. Then I look at the daily RSS feeds from the EEOC I get every morning. It shows an apparent imbedded philosophy that organizations can try to get away with something and hope that they don’t get caught.
Consider this different scenario originally conceived by the Cadbury Chocolate Company as discussed in the book the Chocolate Wars. Just what if instead of considering your human capital assets they were partners and stakeholders in your organization? What if you treated them as a vital asset of the company and like Cadbury strived to ensure that their lives were better because of the organizational policies rather than one who needs to be derogated through adverse policies and work environment?
I would suspect that the employment attorneys could make as much by moving their concentration towards the negotiations of mutual commitments between all parties on how to make life better. Cadbury went so far as to build homes for their employees, originate the concept of pension plans and to encourage each and every employee get the continued education to enhance their skills to be used in the business.
So what would this new scenario look like? To begin with work with employees to ensure that your organization had readily available the out of office training necessary to enhance their skills portfolio. Don’t worry about whether they will leave if you provide the training because if you make the other suggestions that follow they would have less of a reason to leave.
Second demonstrate that you believe in the worth of the human capital assets. Change your culture to allow the full participation of each employee in the organization. Forget this worn attitude that they only need to know information on as needed basis. Allow them to see the full transparent of the organization. Let them see the true financials, the reasoning behind corporate policies. Stop using performance reviews as a form of punishment. Managers must become full blown coaches to guide them forward in their quest to be part of your organization.
Third ensure that all management understands that a hostile workplace maybe the way you were trained to behave bit it does nothing but serve as a deterrent to a great organization. We complain all the time about our children suffering from bullying in the schools but we tolerate it in our workplace. Harassment and discrimination becomes a commonplace atmosphere. We punish human capital assets that point out the problems either to management or the regulatory agencies.
Fourth, management needs to change their attitude from being a management silo to run the organization to being one that encompasses all your stakeholders. Notice I did not say shareholders and that was intentional. You need to move toward an environment where you understand that everyone who touches your products, services or processes has a role in guiding your decisions about your organization.
We are in a new workplace environment and it calls for a changed corporate culture in which everyone has an equal part in the successes of the organization. You as a manager would not be able to do what you do if it were not for the front line workers. The front line workers would not be able to do what they do unless management set out the vision, mission and strategies to move the organization forward. So it is time we stop considering them as the enemy and start considering them as our partners. You complain about the large fines for your actions but do nothing to stop the situations where the violations appear in the first place. For some very stupid actions organizations have paid out $8,391,800 fines for actions that stemmed from the “them against us” philosophy since June 1, 2016. How much of that level of response to not claiming your human capital assets as non-owned corporate leased assets can your organization tolerate?