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HR, Piety, and Sterilization

mad men2PR junkie had an interesting piece the other day on where have all the good times gone in Corporate America.  One of the commenters suggests that HR is responsible for the sterilization of our workplace…that the days of liquid lunches (and sexist behaviors) are all but gone thanks to us.  I particularly like the notion that we’re “pius” and that people shouldn’t put up with it anymore.  I’m a Mad Men fan – a big one – but the thought of regressing back to the 1960′s office is frightening to me…even as a male.  That aside, I have encountered the occasional suggestion – some of them blatant – that HR’s high & mighty commitment to managing risk in the workplace has gone to the brink of forever banishing fun from it.  I admit I’ve reluctantly been the wet blanket from time to time - It’s the least favorite part of my role.  I don’t think there’s anyway around this…no one else will do it, that’s for sure.  But I do think we need to focus really hard on finding that grey…no matter how small…between allowing a down right no-foul naughty time and doing it in a way that truly subjects the organization (or employees) to extreme risk.  I know, the purists would suggest there is no grey.  I’m not there…yet.

  • laurie ruettimann

    Yeah, I’m totally responsible for the sterilization of the workforce.

  • Charlie Judy

    That is well established, from what I can tell.

  • Jennifer

    It’s tough for HR professionals. If you listen to your employment attorney, you wouldn’t even offer free coffee in the office. Did you know that hot coffee can actually burn you? Anyhow, I do remember when I started out in HR 14 years ago and we actually did “fun” things. The employees were much tighter and they helped their co-workers. These days, sadly, I see less and less of this. Now… I’m particially to blame, saying we can’t have beer at noon, are you crazy. Oh well…

  • Jennifer

    I’m partially to blame. (what kind of type-o was that above?) Geez!

  • Charlie Judy

    @jennifer i hear you loud and clear and strongly believe our litigious society is much to blame…as well as those attorneys who fuel it. i recognized long ago that your employment attorney practices law because they aren’t programed to practice with people. it’s the hr professionals responsiblity to bridge that gap and i do believe there is room in the middle (i brought a case and 1/2 of beer into a halloween luncheon last week and people are still talking about it). how simple! thx for the comment

  • Jennifer

    Charlie, good for you. I actually used to go out and make the beer run with another employee. We had some good times. To this day, we still talk about that company. Some of my closest friends, I met working at that company. This is not counting my husband of 13 years! Boy, we had some good times…. :) I keep in touch with more former co-workers from 13 years ago than I do with former co-workers from 5 or 3 years ago. That would be an interesting blog subject. What makes a great company? What makes you keep in touch with former co-workers long after you left a company (or after the company goes out of business)? Sadly, when I leave this gig, I probably won’t keep in touch with anyone.