Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Advocacy in the Workplace

Lost in translationImage by star5112 via Flickr

Here's what I have been thinking about recently...

What is the role of human resources in employee advocacy?

How is it perceived?

How is it measured?

What form does it take in the work place?

What form should it take in the work place?

My initial impression is that in most companies, the human resources department does its best to act as an employee advocate within the constraints of the business model. In other words, they will seek to put forth a view from the perspective of the employees who will be impacted, but this view is tempered by reality. One being how the business will be impacted by making a decision based solely on employee needs.

Even when the advocacy position put forth by HR is accepted, many times a policy may be implemented without anyone but the policy makers being aware of the role played by HR in the decision making. The role of the HR department takes places behind the scenes and transparently. No public credit is ever given to the advocates inside the company.

This may be one of the reasons that the role of HR in the organization gets downplayed.

Up next: The Roles of HR as an advocate.

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  1. I do know of at least one American multinational that uses 360 degree appraisal and the HR director has .33x40% of his/her pay based on employees satisfaction with management.

    What this translates to is running an proactive advocacy service.

    The bottom line for most HR is that strikes or stoppages are a sign that advocacy did not happen earlier enough. It helps though when one's colleagues bonuses are equally linked to what their subordinates think of them. They will be interested them, even it aren't usually, in the advocacy service.

  2. I think there is conflicting views on this issue. If your read lots of content on the SHRM site, it seems that the role of hr is to advocate for the benefits of the employers. That is, SHRM spends much more time fighting policies that would impose "undue" costs on the employer, than it does supporting policies that would provide better accommodations/benefits to employees.

  3. @flowingmotion - thanks for citing one of the most clear solutions to creating a culture where employee interests are truly considered. If you don't do it because it is the right thing to do, you will probably do it when you have a vested stake in the outcome. That's a smart employer!

    @Jason - I wasn't really considering this with SHRM in mind, but thanks for sharing another idea for me to throw in the mix. I think it is reasonable to consider the costs to the company as part of any decision analysis you do, but how that is weighted or how it biases your thought process is something HR people and organizations need to be analyzing as well.


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