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09 2011

What HR Information is Strategic?

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

My move toward more writing has been noticed! I know because suddenly emails are flooding in for all sorts of new publications. I enjoy reading and news releases are mostly short and pithy, so for now I’m not overwhelmed or annoyed, just somewhat puzzled. For every useful item that lands in the inbox, there are about five that make me wonder who thinks this will be of interest to someone they often address as “Dear HR Strategist.” (Thanks to Canadian HR Reporter, that’s my label at the moment and one I’m honored to aspire to.) About half of these make me wonder why they think anyone at all would be interested. Cases in point – one entitled “Employees’ Poor Emotional Wellbeing Is Obstacle to Wellness Efforts.” No, really? There are stats to prove it, sort of: “40% of employees say an emotional or physical problem has interfered with normal activities..” Yup, when I get a cold or flu, it sometimes interferes with stuff. If I had an emotional problem that might well too, though I might not know what was happening or be willing or able to report it. Wonder what they were hoping for with this factoid. The same survey shows unhealthy habits among sizable segments: “34% of employees consume one or less fruits and vegetables a day.” Maybe of more direct concern at work: “Only 16% get enough sleep.” What HR strategies should I promote for these? I can report my intentions to be a good leader caused me more than once to ask a team member if they were sleeping OK, but I have to admit it never occurred to me to ask about their fruit and vegetable consumption. Lest I be unfair just quoting teasers, let me add the objective is to point out emotional problems may lead to poor wellness habits, so wellness programs without a component to help with mental/emotional issues may be less successful – a laudable aim. Another opens with the dangerous headline: “Canadian Employers Not Doing Enough to Keep Employees Happy.” Bosses are justly suspicious of trying “make employees happy.” It goes on to say about a third of both Boomers and Gen Y feel employers should do more to address their concerns. Not a surprise. and clearly related to the endless surveys showing 65% to 80% or more of employees are varying degrees of disengaged. Surprisingly their attached press release expands on this to say 75% of Gen Y and 82% of Boomers are satisfied with their jobs. and yet 40% of the young group couldn’t get jobs in their preferred fields and 33% are planning a job change soon and 60% are working for money not enjoyment. So. they’re not as happy as they’d like, but they’re highly satisfied, but not in their preferred fields and thinking of moving. What’s the right strategy for this? I’m a huge believer in two key observations. First, human beings are constantly subject to contradictory feelings, wants and needs. making it difficult to articulate a consistent direction. We want autonomy at work, but lots of feedback on how we’re doing, clear direction and support, but not micromanaging. These are contradictions we can understand and work with. Need I go on. We are contradictory beings and that makes life and HR interesting and challenging, but we can shape strategies on these. Second, we develop innovations, both strategic and tactical by facing such contradictions squarely, so calling them out clearly can be helpful. My puzzling is about how to sort out useful contradictions from such ‘teaser’ factoids and headlines that may not reflect anything like the actual meaning of the reports they purport to summarize. Often it seems more likely the confusion such reports create, but don’t specifically try to resolve just makes strategic innovation more difficult. If a dozen readers can develop even more than a dozen interpretations of the study by picking and choosing from the supposed highlights, what use can we really make of it? Bookmark and share this post More »

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