From an email press release

Nearly one in seven (14%) of HR staff say they have felt physically threatened at work highlighting growing concerns about the impact of stress on disputes in the workplace, new research from MetLife Employee Benefits shows.

I’d say that just shows the startling passivity of the general population. Who hasn’t tried to deck an HR bod at some point or other? Not enough of us, obviously.

36 thoughts on “From an email press release”

  1. Come on Tim, Human Remains may be idiots at times, but they are usually women. Call me an irredeemable sexist, but I would have difficulty raising my hand to one, whatever the provocation. And I’m in the middle of a redundancy “process” atm 🙂

  2. Yes, sorry, that’s the job you do. “Sorry, John, we’re going to have to let you go”. Don’t be surprised if John isn’t too impressed with that, might be holding back the rage.

    HR is just parasitic. They generally add nothing. When I worked in the 80s, managers hired people. They might have got personnel to help write ads, or called on them to look over a CV, but they were subservient to the management. They now control the process and do nothing but add cost and delay. They justify their existence with psychometric tests that are a piece of piss to fake. Think some HR person can screen a good programmer from a bad except by ticking off keywords? I’ve had to give clients the ‘sorry taking something else’ treatment because their HR department had already taken 2 weeks and someone came along who could give me work starting tomorrow.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    I am with both the above posters. I agree with Mr Fiennes that no one should shout at the poor girls who run most HR departments. Yes, they are in charge of horrible soul destroying processes. But they are still girls.

    And I am with Anon. As with most women in the work place they add nothing and we would all be better off if they were at home raising children and making sandwiches. But people like Rusty insist that things like IQ tests are racist and everyone is exposed to law suits. So we need some moronic processes to cover our ar$es.

    It is a growing drag on the real economy. A simple one step reform would be to abolish the laws that require HR people in the first place. Hiring goes back to the managers, the HR people go back to being pregnant and in the kitchen, the damn lawyers can get real jobs and everyone is happy.

  4. Enemies of HR need to ask themselves a couple of questions here:

    1) Who came up with all the statutory regulations that now have to be followed?

    2) Who gave HR the job of hiring and firing, and why? This suggests laziness and wimpiness on the part of the managers responsible. “Hiring goes back to the managers”: managers that need government to make this happen should be found suitable alternative employment. I can’t think what though.

    As for punches, metaphorical or otherwise, if there isn’t some sort of tension between any two departments, then those departments aren’t trying hard enough.

  5. I have no words capable of expressing what I feel for HR departments. Utterly, utterly counterproductive in my experience – I’ve seen using the same “aptitude” tests for hiring engineers, sales people and random admin bods (I was under the impression that a major defence contractor would be interested in hiring engineers for their engineering skills. How wrong I was), chucking good candidates in the bin while forwarding no hopers to management, siding with management against employees (when the ultimate aim of an HR department should be to avoid getting sued by said employees)… And and and…

  6. Jack C

    I take your point but on 1/ I don’t think anyone is defending the legislation that requires HR policies and there is probably general agreement on this thread that the last two governments have been the worst since the Norman Conquest in terms of social impact – so saying ‘HR are better than the politicians inflicting the legislation on us’ is a true statement but not one that effectively addresses the problem – which lies with implementation of the legislation as well as the legislation itself….

    Where you are on stronger ground is your point 2/ I think people who can’t be bothered to manage a complex hiring process use ‘HR inertia’ as an excuse for their own inactivity (among myriad other excuses) and you would have to question their sense of prioritisation if they are clinging to it as reason for a hiring delay…..

  7. How can it take 9 weeks to say “no”, as I’ve just had? And when was the last time an employment agency tried to find anyone a job, rather than getting rid of applicants…?

  8. RF

    “…I would have difficulty raising my hand to one, whatever the provocation.”

    In that case, you could try a playful slap on her rump. I believe this works wonders with HR girlies.

  9. Ted S: “I note that Jack hasn’t called for the regulations to be repealed.”

    And neither did you.

    Commie.

  10. How can it take 9 weeks to say “no”, as I’ve just had? And when was the last time an employment agency tried to find anyone a job, rather than getting rid of applicants…?

    Because there are no consequences for non-performance of HR, it is the individual departments / teams that suffer the consequences.

    Better to either outsource HR or devolve activities involving hiring to specifically trained hiring managers.

    HR does not add value to the organization and the costs of permanent HR team can outweigh the actual costs of litigation.

    Unless your organisation has a high turnover, it would probably be cheaper to deal with employee issues by hiring a solicitor involved in employment law whenever serious problems arise.

  11. Abacab,
    Again, you’re at least partly describing non-HR management failure. Clearly there are stupid processes, but who came up with them?

    Strip out the junk, and ignore the name changes. There’s a whole of lot of admin that HR does, and we’d all miss it if it wasn’t done. We wouldn’t be paid for a start.

    The junk seems mostly caused by either governments poking their noses in, and/or Classic Corporatism. 1) Arrange things so that more than one person is responsible (so no one is responsible). 2) Delegate inappropriately so that everyone has cover. HR can do the firing, while being able to say “we’re just the messenger”. Those actually responsible can then wimp out.

  12. Strip out the junk, and ignore the name changes. There’s a whole of lot of admin that HR does, and we’d all miss it if it wasn’t done. We wouldn’t be paid for a start.

    Last time I was a paid employee, it was accounts that operated Payroll (since it was part of the Financial Accounting and Payroll system)

    The point I am making is that the things that HR does can be undertaken by other parts of the business which have more of a vested interest in them being done quickly and efficiently.

    HR tends to be a sink of the useless, people you literally wouldn’t hire for any other function. I know, I was married to one of them.

  13. Who gave HR the job of hiring and firing, and why? This suggests laziness and wimpiness on the part of the managers responsible.

    I’m with you on this. Given how spineless and pathetic most managers are on every issue other than their own promotion and pay, I am not surprised they were happy to outsource handling employee issues.

  14. HR tends to be a sink of the useless, people you literally wouldn’t hire for any other function.

    I’m fond of saying people don’t go into HR, they end up in HR.

  15. “The point I am making is that the things that HR does can be undertaken by other parts of the business”

    Agreed, but not just HR.

    I can remember when it was just Sales, Operations and Accounts, pretty much. New departments seem to have grown like weeds over the last couple of decades.

    Possibly the most pernicious is the independent Customer Service department, who have no internal power at all and minimal knowledge, but who are there to soak up the abuse. (Unless it’s Amazon CS, which is all-powerful and has a hotline to the Gods).

    The central Corporate tenet is this:

    “Being accountable requires having authority to act. So Accountability and Authority must always be separated.”

  16. When I was a contractor I never saw HR in an interview. Process was be technical interview, and possibly a brief chat with the boss for his reassurance that you aren’t a loony.

    Permanent positions: HR all over it, long lengthy process.

    Could be something to do with the contract position having a one week notice period, while the permanent one had one month, probationary period, warnings, process, blah blah.

  17. I seem to recall that the move to segregate “cost centres” and “profit centres” led to the profusion of departments as well as the introduction of American management methods in the 1980’s.

    Personally, I find the more divorced from the customer / production process a department is, the more inefficient it is.

  18. Personnel used to be the department that made sure people got the training needed to do the job, and did the grunt work on hiring and firing, including promotions. In other words, kept the playing field reasonably level. Now they seem to see their role as persecuting the people to ensure they don’t get too uppity, and controlling the wage bill by firing anyone, with the exception of managers, who has the skills to command a decent salary. One of the best things a former employer did was fire them all and outsource the admin to the Philippines, making the managers deal with all the rest. Culled out all the useless managers in months. Shame it took 4 years of losses before they realised HR was part of the problem.

  19. Jack C,

    Oh, absolutely. You can’t blame HR for wedging themselves into the process and inflating their roles – its senior management that let them.

    I know small companies that use an external HR company, and they first appear after a new hire has agreed a deal. They cover the legal shit, set up payroll and pension. They might get asked for advice if the manager is having problems.

    I know a recruitment consultant who has dropped a lot of big companies. He’ll get candidates, pass them to HR, but by the time they come back for an interview, the candidate has gone.

  20. Or the more divorced from pain generally (which is usually from customers but not always).

    IT, by which I do not mean “coders”, is mutating and spawning all of the time.

  21. @Rob – Sadly the lead time/requirements for contractors starting seems to have increased to match joining as a permie (at least in banking sector) 3 interviews, 2 techie, 1 sanity/social check, background checks, 5 years job history, credit checks, criminal record check and more I can’t remember – and they take months to make a decision as budgets freeze and thaw.

  22. “Being accountable requires having authority to act. So Accountability and Authority must always be separated.”

    There are few fuckups I’ve not seen in the oil and gas industry that were not the result of the accountability and authority being completely separated.

  23. There are few fuckups I’ve not seen in the oil and gas industry that were not the result of the accountability and authority being completely separated.

    Yup. Had exactly that problem at BP.

    Nebulous management by committee which meant that lots were involved but when a decision was made nobody was either committed or accountable for that decision.

    Too many managers who had no genuine authority or autonomy.

  24. “background checks, 5 years job history, credit checks, criminal record check and more I can’t remember”

    I don’t have to get involved in any of that, but am aware of it sometimes. We should all remember to count our blessings from time to time.

    (Note: neither all Western governments nor all corporations are run exclusively by female HR people. In fact, none of them are).

  25. “Too many managers who had no genuine authority or autonomy.”

    Oh, christ yes. This. 100 times over. Managers who are just a message-forwarding service for higher management, and are given no leeway in the useful things they actually are expected to do in terms of day-to-day coalface organisation.

    And if the upper management are detached, unrealistic and have no clue, you end up with the middle managers having to go all Pravda on you, which is not great for confidence or cohesion.

  26. Had a great interview for a job with the RAC. Suited me great, with decent pay and perks. Then HR lost the paperwork 2 days after the guy who interviewed me retired. No paperwork, no job.

    Not a fan of HR since.

  27. Human Resources, allowing plcs to pretend they appoint women to the board for nearly a generation.

    I used to work for the company that published Personnel Today. One of its most successful products was an online forum, because HR people can’t find anyone in their own organisation to talk to…

  28. I’m a School Governor. At the end of a recent meeting our HT asked for a couple of people to stay back to confirm her decision on pay rises for two staff. I volunteered.

    This confirmation amounted to her telling us what her decision was and why (based on a short summary document).

    I asked the (to me obvious) question, something like how can we monitor/confirm your decision on whether a teacher is worth a pay rise or not on a document you wrote which is your record of your observations ?

    One of the two I knew well enough to know she was worth the rise ; the other one I had barely seen at all.

    I don’t doubt our HT is honest, some aren’t though.

    This is the same mentality at work. My approach would be something like ; the HT makes the appointments (after taking advice), the HT is responsible for that decision if the appointed is a complete f**k up.

  29. When I started work, staff department for a factory with 20k workers comprised two nice middle-aged ladies who sorted out problems for new entrants (getting a NI number, finding decent digs for graduate new entrants coming up from the south, how “staff” salaries got paid into bank accounts) and made sure wages got paid correctly, including the right amount of overtime where relevant, every Thursday, kept records of who was on holiday, who was sick (I suspect they fretted about that), reminded bosses when someone was due a 25- or 30- or 40-year award or retire.
    Nowadays, a firm with 100 workers has a HR departtment, comprising more than 0.05 of a person*.
    Nostalgia won’t cure the problem but it highlights how far we are from where we ought to be.

    * The individuals in HR that I recall were *each* more than 5% of a person – one of the guys was a bit wet but a decent guy, one lass should have been a manager but lacked the necessary technical qualifications so they put her in HR where she could use her managerial talents.

  30. John77, every corporation in the world could save themselves billions by reverting back to the 2 middle-aged ladies to do just as you describe.

    Everything else a bloated HR department does is superfluous.

  31. Never suffered an HR person in my life. They’re for wage slaves. But unlike SMfS, the femaleness of the people I have to deal with doesn’t count. On the contrary. They’re marginally easier to make cry.
    There are times when abuse is the best policy. Make yourself thoroughly unpleasant & they’ll give you want, just to get rid of you. And it’s a policy I thoroughly recommend. If a company is interviewing its third Customer Complaints bod because the previous two have fled in hysterics, earlier in the week, they just might get the message they’re providing unacceptable service. Being polite to them gets you filed under ‘another victim duped’.

  32. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Being polite to them gets you filed under ‘another victim duped’.”

    Well on behalf of everyone who finds it hard to be rude to random strangers on the telephone, thank you for making Britain better for the rest of us.

  33. I remember being hired by a large multinational company simply because a.) I’d performed the same job (well) in their overseas subsidiary for five years and b.) the department had a crying need for someone with at least five years’ experience in that field. Ergo: no CV or resume needed; a simple transatlantic phone call to my ex-boss and the managing director, and another to my major ex-client, and all was well. (I should point out that the job was NOT a junior one, and involved major cost- and revenue implications.)

    So I joined, and after a week, I was told that HR needed a resume from me “just to fulfill the file requirement.” So I drew one up, had my (new) boss attest to its veracity, and sent the thing off to HR to be filed away.

    Imagine, then, my surprise, when I got a letter in the U.S. Mail from HR saying that the Company didn’t need anyone with my qualifications.

    As my boss said: “They could have saved the postage and just sent it through the interoffice mail.”

    I didn’t think it was that funny. For one thing, my work visa stood to be revoked as a result of this letter, and deportation was not unlikely, either. So I demanded that the HR clerk who sent me the letter be fired for gross incompetence.

    It took two years.

  34. Human Resources, allowing plcs to pretend they appoint women to the board for nearly a generation.

    That is so true: I have worked for at least one giant corporation that had as the HR rep the only board member who was a woman.

    I think it was dearieme on here who said that the sign of a company’s decline is when HR get their own department; when they have a seat on the board, the decline is terminal.

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