One of the biggest dilemmas that the HR Business Partners / Generalist HRs face across all the sections of industries is ‘Who to trust’ and ‘Who not to’ when employees come up with reasons for not being happy / to quit / for their lower contribution and so on so forth.
A simple dip stick check with HR professionals can unfold this folklore. They will share the horrifying lies which some employees come up with while putting down their papers; some could be as frivolous as taking a break to get a clarity on the way forward to something horrendous like someone near & dear is on death bed and they need to be beside that person at this juncture of time. In both the cases one wouldn’t be surprised that their resume is probably floating in market or you would have already landed with a call for reference check from the new employer or worst-case scenario you would find them working in a complex besides yours from the next week itself.
When you encounter such cases where in the Values of the employees is on decline, the larger questions that arise in our minds is that, are these set of employees an exception or do they represent a growing tribe which believes faking information is fashionable and integrity and values don’t matter in a professional career spanning 25 years or so? A similar trend is witnessed in usage or interpretation of Policies and welfare schemes. For example, if an organization has unlimited Sick leaves, would employees put fake medical certificates and exploit it or would they use only when genuine need arises.
There are no easy answers to this one. We can generalize this as a trend but surely it is a pain in all the wrong places.
So, the larger question is why would employees’ resort to this mechanism? Is it because their personal values are eroded or is it because the organization culture doesn’t permit them to be truthful or is it because it is a fad to be rebel or law breaker or simply is it a reflection of an aspirational society which is on the verge of being greedy?
When we compare the number of incidents with negative shades vis-a-vis positive ones, we still observe that the number of positives is greater. For example, most employees are still thankful for gestures like working from home, employees have wet eyes when they get promotions / increments, employees are ready to stretch when one of their colleagues has extra workload, employees are ready to sacrifice their leaves and lend them to their colleagues, bosses will stretch along with their teams when required, seniors would take the flak from clients when the team members goof up and so on.
And most of all, the volume of these incidents is way higher than the negative ones!
This leads to building a fair hypothesis that the negatives are far lesser than the positives and hence the broader conclusion can be that this is not an organization culture issue but limited to individuals who are not capable to filter the pressure of surviving in an aspirational society. So what does this means to us, the HR professionals? Should we take every reason presented by the employee with a pinch of salt, should we be gracious all the time or should we be cynical that the reason being offered is bound to be some fake story?
To find answer for this we must reflect on the reason why the function of HR / Personnel came into being. Our sole purpose was to ensure that we are the Conscience Keepers for the organizations, besides safeguarding the interest of employees as and when the need arises.
Considering the above, our approach must be to reprove the 5% crooks that represent the negative syndrome and ensure that in this process the other 95% don’t get affected. So, what is our approach in the following dilemmas which we may face at workplace on a day to day basis?
- What do we do when we have to introduce a new scheme which has a possibility of being exploited?
We will go ahead and implement because we will not let the agenda be hijacked and dictated by the minority of 5%.
- What do we do when someone comes with a reason which sounds unreasonable?
We will give benefit of doubt and listen, assuming it is genuine but during the course of conversation hint to the employee that if it is found frivolous or a lie it would attract penalty.
- What do we do when we discover someone has pulled a fast one (negative)?
We will go ahead and make an example of the same so that a general culture or trend doesn’t set in the organization that it is ok or fashionable to display a lack of Values or work ethos at workplace
- What do we do when we discover someone has stood fast (positive)?
We will go ahead and make an example of the same so that we send a strong message that Good exist among us and we reward and respect the same.
- What do we do when we have a doubt on someone while hiring?
We will ensure that we set the expectations on what we stand for and what we don’t. We should state our fears & anxiety based on the past experience of employees. We don’t have a guide neither it is advisable to have one as we can’t accurately predict the human behaviour in a dynamic situation as we are in. At the same time, we should believe and work towards our core philosophy of why as a function we came into existence.
Will look forward to your thoughts and observations on my blog below and will do my best to answer the same.