Can We Trust H.R.? Can We Trust Anyone?

Posted by Richard Moran.


“You know you’re in trouble when you get called into the boss’s office and someone from H.R. is already there.”

“The only thing the H.R. people care about is diversity training.”

“The H.R. police were all at the sales kick-off meeting in Vegas. It was no fun.”

“Every memo from H.R. basically says NO! I am going to start calling everyone in H.R. Dr. No.”

Comments like these are real ones that I have heard recently regarding the Human Resource professional. The comments are not so good for the perception of the people who are there to create a thriving workplace.  In addition, the way the movies and TV shows portray the H.R. rep is always the clueless, goofy woman (always a woman) who is heard saying, “you know the ruuuuules!”

Now a recent article in TechCrunch by Danny Chrichton documents the rise and fall of H.R. people.

But before we throw the H.R. people under the bus, let’s look more closely at the role and the complexity the people in that role face.  First, it’s not just H.R. people. The Edelman Trust Barometer, has found that a majority of workers don’t trust their company’s leadership. Worse, less than a quarter believe that their CEO is ethical. As trust has declined, the role of H.R. has grown more complicated.

The employee manual always exists on the credenza or in the bottom drawer but surely does not cover all the issues of the workplace. Show me a manual with #metoo in it. Show me a manual that addresses playing hooky when the local team wins the championship. Yet, H.R. is the interpreter of all acceptable or not acceptable behaviors.

The big question that employees and H.R. wrestles with is: Is H.R. an advocate for employees and the builder of a healthy and happy culture or, are they there to keep the Company out of legal hot water? An effective H.R. person is probably both but, based on the surveys, employees are of the belief that H.R. is there to protect management. The result is that now people are turning to alternatives and not going to H.R. at all. Alternatives in the form of a bevy of apps now allow employees to protect themselves like never before. And lots of places, especially the world of small companies have not H.R. at all. The apps can really help.

Maybe we are asking too much of H.R. Maybe with the right set of tools and a management team that does the right thing and can be trusted, the perception will change. But the workplace continues to evolve quickly and only the best organizations and H.R. people will evolve with it.

Can we trust H.R.? The answer to the question should be yes and I hope it is in your workplace. Can we trust leadership? It would be a lot easier if some of them would stop doing stupid things.

Is Cursing at Work Now OK?

Posted by Richard Moran.

Not Safe For Work is a standard warning we all receive. Even when we plead to be dropped from a dirty joke distribution list, the bad jokes never end. Besides off-color jokes, the NSFW label sometimes announces the delivery of a rant full of expletives about a politician or a wrong that is occurring somewhere in the world. There is not a shortage of rants or wrongs or expletives. But now, when it comes to those rants full of curses, I am wondering what is safe for work and whether NSFW even matters.

Lately, I’ve heard major network announcers use an expletive that precedes the word “hole” or “house”, depending on what was heard. Some pundits seem to say the words with glee. Other words that my mother would call curses have crept into daily language. Bob Sutton, a professor at Stanford developed an entire movement centered on a curse word. When he wrote, “The No A—hole Rule”, it was adopted by organizations large and small. We all know what the concept means.  Are these words offensive? Depends on who you ask.

What are the new rules when it comes to curse words? (For example, I am editing out curses so that LinkedIn will print this post.) If a network announcer can use that word on television, why can’t I use it in the conference room? Sometimes a curse can really save a lot of time when it comes to language.

If everyone else on the team curses, does that make it ok? What if the customer curses, should we curse back? Are there appropriate substitutes for curses that still convey the sentiment, like “Shut the front door!” What if the name of the entire company is based on a thinly veiled curse?

Like almost everything in the workplace, the definition of acceptable language is changing. What is acceptable can be confusing and what was a curse ten years ago is now part of everyday business banter. NSFW might really describe what is safe for work today. The best rule is still the safe rule, pretend your Mom is in the room and use good judgment before you release the F-bombs. If your Mom curses like a sailor, you might want to pick another relative.

Woof Woof Woof – Three Reasons Why You Should Bring Your Dog to Work

Posted by Richard Moran.

Each time the subject of dogs in the workplace is broached, hate mail ensues. The record will show that I am not a big fan of dogs running around whilst you try to finish that spreadsheet analysis.  Keep in mind, I love dogs – dogs literally are man’s and woman’s best friends. But dogs and work is just not a combination that scales. It’s ok if you work from home and Fido is lovingly nestled at your feet. It’s another thing to have a hundred dogs jumping around the office eating your bagel and making a mess on the rug. But maybe I am wrong.  Maybe I changed my mind; I am not proud or always correct.  Maybe we should bring dogs to work. According to a big study from Uppsala University in Sweden, research shows that owning a dog is linked to a longer and healthier life and, to my mind, might improve a work culture.

At the same time as the Uppsala report about the heath benefits of dogs, lots of other research shows that work is bad for your health. The stress, the commute, and the doughnuts all contribute to the belief that work can cause heart disease and worse. Some researchers like Jeff Pfeffer, noted Stanford Professor, have found a multitude of ways that work is killing us. So maybe the secret to work health is, DOGS.

The researchers can’t pinpoint what it is exactly about Rover and his friends that lead to the healthier results but a Ph.D is not required to come to a few conclusions that can apply to the office. The sense is that dogs seem to point us into better lifestyle choices and happier moods. Who doesn’t want healthier and happier colleagues at work?

The new research brings me to the hypothesis that dogs and work is a good combination and can lead to a happier and more productive culture.  Perhaps love from a dog could help make the job better and make you more successful. Maybe a few reasons for consideration will make you run to the pound for a rescue dog.

Corporate culture research almost always focuses on the boss and learning and purpose and behavior. Maybe one of the secret to a healthy and engaged culture is a dog. The new research could have implications about building a better workplace.

Here are a few thoughts that ties the research into the workplace:

Dogs at work can reduce feeling overwhelmed? Not sure about making the deadline? Pet the dogs belly and feel the love and your stress level will go down. Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and stress. All the studies show people performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around. And lower stress means lower blood pressure.

Dogs require walking. Fitting exercise in to the schedule is tough, especially at work. But having Buster jumping around with a leash in his mouth will make you get out of the chair and take a walk. Dog owners are way more likely to get exercise, even at work. And as a bonus, all of that dog walking will help you lose weight as long as you don’t take a doughnut with you on the walk.  Daily dog walks will force you into activity and will help you lose weight.

Improve your social life at work. When everyone is wearing headphones and texting it can be difficult to develop relationships with your colleagues. Forget Facebook, try walking a dog. People will jump out of their routine to say hello and pet the dog and maybe talk to you too. Dogs are a built-in team builder.

So dogs at work reduce stress, help you lose weight and make new friends. What’s not to like? What kinds of dogs are best for this to happen you ask? The research pointed to dogs like terriers and retrievers for the best results.

Of course there is still the downside of packs of dogs taking over the conference rooms but that’s a minor technicality. So be nice, go out and get a puppy for your boss and all your colleagues.