I’ve always struggled to explain what exactly “Human Resources” is, and what we do as professionals. Ultimately, we look after the employment lifecycle of individuals. We make sure they have the best possible experience working for our company, starting with the recruitment of that individual up until the point that they leave (and everything in between!).
It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? We find these amazingly talented individuals, tempt them to join our business and the rest is history. Hopefully they’ll love us enough to stay forever; they’ll be dream employees and we’ll be super sad if/when they leave. We hope that they’ll be given the opportunities to progress and have a flourishing career. Any chat that we have with them will be positive, we’ll be happy and they’ll be happy.
We all know in reality that doesn’t always happen. On the whole, the majority of employees will come to work, do a good job and go home. They’ll fit in well, help to promote engagement, get on well with the people they work with. But there are always people who like to throw us a curveball. People that take up our time (and often our energy) and require us to use our brains to figure out what’s going wrong:
- Have we upset them?
- Are they bored?
- Is their job too stressful?
- Are they always making excuses for not coming to work?
- Do we need to do something to make this person happy again?
There are a million reasons for someone to all of a sudden become unhappy at work. It could be their manager. It could be that they are bored of their job and are looking for a new challenge. They might have things going on at home that they don’t feel they can talk about. They might have just had enough (there, I said it) and want to leave.
Luckily, most of this can be resolved with a simple conversation; a connection human to human. Asking questions and finding out how we as a business can make them flourish again. Sometimes it’s a training course, a meeting with their manager or just an ear. In some cases it’s a bit more difficult and you might need some support from an HR professional because you’re just not sure which path to take. You might need to go down the disciplinary route or have a more stern conversation with them if they fail to do the right thing at work. It might be that they just don’t fit your culture or they’re refusing to step up like the rest of your team and you have to figure out if you want that person in your business any more (or indeed, if they want to be there).
Whatever is going on in your employees lives, don’t get frustrated with it. Try to get to the bottom of whatever it is and get them back on track – a blip could just be a short phase and it’s all OK again, but sometimes it needs a bit more care and attention to resolve. But spending time with that employee, making them feel like they’re valued and appreciated can make all the difference. Give them the opportunity and the tools to be the best that they can be so that they’re happy, you’re happy and life is better again.
HR covers a multitude of areas – but ultimately, we care about people. It sounds like a cliché, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t always put people first in my career. They are your strongest competitive advantage, and if you get that bit right, the rest of your business success follows closely behind.