I like to offer practical advice from time to time. Sure, there are folks with more experience but I have been through a few things myself and sometimes I wished someone had prepared me for the real deal. I often times remember something one of my professors said back in graduate school, like “You will see a difference between what is practiced and what is procedural (In HR)…” Man was he ever correct. It takes guts to be in HR. It ain’t no easy “win” for sure. There are going to be times when you’re going to have to get dirty.
We probably need to be featured on “Dirty Jobs” with Mike Rowe because you can get filthy. There are different types of dirt in HR; good dirt and bad dirt. Good dirt falls under the category of analytics and statistics. We need to maintain accurate numbers on things like cost per hire, costs of job posting, EEOC and affirmative action metrics, you know the compliance stuff. You should also keep a record of salary, sex, race and age figures just to ensure you are not unintentionally violating federal laws. Getting to the bottom of those figures takes time and usually the person in charge neglects them and it gets get to be too much to manage. And if you can’t prove otherwise you leave yourself open to law suit.
Then there is bad dirt, we have talked at length about sexual relationships, in appropriate hiring decisions and special favors. The organization and HR is implicit in these acts and unfortunately it takes a major embarrassment like with the former CEO of BEST BUY or former Head Football Coach of the University of Arkansas to get people to do the right thing. These guys didn’t carry on these affairs by themselves, many people enabled in their libidinous behavior. There’s also drug use. Workers are bringing their dirty habits into the office; smoking weed, using pills and even crack…sadly it happens. It’s scary I know, but you will encounter this type of dirt, and my best advice is to remember “The job of HR is to protect the company” and that means you must protect it from itself.
There are tough decisions to be made; people to terminate, layoffs or restructuring. There are some aspects that we wish we didn’t have to worry about but that’s with any career. I love the fact that by and large we do our jobs (HR) so well that everyone thinks they can do it too. They rely on instinct but we know instincts alone will not make a successful HR practitioner. You have to know the laws, weigh the pros and cons and get a little dirty sometimes; just don’t wallow in the muck like a slob.