The other day I overheard an HR professional talking with her colleague about an employee who had missed the deadline to file their benefits enrollment. Her comment was, “we aren’t here to hold their hands, (explitive); they should learn to follow instructions.” There was a time in my HR career when I would have agreed with her. Of course we’d like our employees to be more self-sufficient. Of course we’d prefer to give them the paperwork and send them on their merry way. I don’t care how strategic you want your HR department to be, I don’t care how much you want to be “at the table,” the bread and butter of what we do – at least for the forseeable future – entails making the lives of our employees easier so they can focus on what they are paid to do. Saying “we shouldn’t have to hold their hands” is just a cheap way of saying, “I don’t want to do my job.” In fact, you don’t have the right to even yearn to be more strategic if you can’t point to the administrative side of your business and honestly say “I got that shop in order.” When’s the last time you measured your customer service scores? Do you even have a customer satisfaction survey? No, an annual employee commitment or engagement survey doesn’t count. Until you can confidently say your employees leave the majority of their interactions with the HR department with a big fat smile on their face, until you can say you make it easier for your employees to go about their day jobs, until you can say your customer service scores rival those of the best call centers around, stop day-dreaming about the board room. Because even if you get there, you won’t stay there for long.
And by the way, it doesn’t matter if you are an HR coordinator or an HR Executive – “hand-holding” should be on your job description and you should take it seriously.
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