My perceptions of HR have been shaped by my education in South Africa. In many ways I think it has a system in place that is among the best in the world. Why do I think this?
1. It recognized that the employer is in an unbalanced position of power over the employee. 2. It seeks to protect the rights of the employee. 3. Employees cannot be fired or let go from jobs without cause. 4. There are systems in place for correcting employee behaviour through warnings. 5. Warnings are categorized according to severity of behavior and seek to correct it. 6. It promotes a culture of respect, dignity and upholding the law in a balanced way.
Many companies today seek to bring in coaches, outplacement companies and diversity experts to help people work together. The mental health of workers is not taken into consideration when employment contracts are terminated. Having outplacement companies in place to help people revamp resumes and emphasize the importance of networking does help. But, when there are bills to pay, families to think of or if the person is single without any other source of income and minimal Employment Insurance, it is of little consolation.
In the short term it may save billions of dollars and companies may think that it is the responsibility of workers - contract or permanent to ensure that they have the skills that they need to hit the ground running. However, in the long run society as a whole declines, as trust is broken and people have to rebuild their lives.
HR in the West seeks to protect the employer's interests first and foremost. HR protects the reputation of the employer, even when the employer is in the wrong and as a result when news does eventually reach the newspapers it is sensationalized. It would require humility on the part of employers to admit that they are wrong and to work to change things for the better.
What would happen if we started from the basic that we are all human beings, looking to do our best and succeed in the workplace?
How would the dynamics of the employment relationship change then?
We live in trying times and keeping a hopeful spirit can sometimes be challenging. Being surrounded by people who are kind, considerate and caring makes a big difference. People who focus on the spirit behind an act, contract or idea. People who care.
Is your spirit holding on to hope or holding on to despair?