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It’s the smallest things……

06/23/2009

As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), I have become more attuned to the impact that the small things have on morale and motivation. No longer do I knee jerk to the “HR has to be commercial, lets slash and burn the fuck out of the organisation” mantra. Instead I try to understand what is important to others as well as myself.

This is never more in focus than in recessionary times when the pressure is on to target these marginal elements for cost saving, to see them as “low hanging fruit” (pause to vomit).

Reducing the quality of the coffee
Removing the subsidised canteen
Cancelling the Christmas party
Changing the expenses policy

In one organisation I worked in they altered the frequency that the bins were emptied. Instead of the bins being emptied everyday they emptied them every other day. Most colleagues ate at their desks whilst working and not taking a proper lunch break. Their commitment was rewarded by stinking bins. Their response? To ban employees from eating at their desks. Go figure….

And this highlights the second issue. In my experience, there exists a colossal reality gap between the decision makers and the people that are impacted by their decisions. I give you two scenarios from a recent “recession planning” board session,

The Sales Director proposing the removal of the canteen subsidy saying, “No-one will notice the extra couple of quid on a sandwich”. Not when you are earning a good six figure salary no. But then…..most people aren’t.

The IT Director that proposed making savings “by restricting access to social networking sites”. And totally pissing off a large proportion of the workforce who is under 35, work excessively long hours and like to check into Facebook during the working day.

These are the sorts of decisions and conversations that are going on all over the corporate world. I believe it is incumbent on any decent HR professional to stop and challenge and make sure that we realise the extent of the decisions we are making and are not jumping head first into short-termism that ultimately rips the heart and soul from our organisation. To stand up for the people who maybe don’t have a voice at the big table and to represent a fair and balanced view of what is important to employees.

Because, like it or not, if we don’t do it, it’s unlikely that anybody else will and ultimately our organisations will suffer….as will our people.

And for the record,

We still heavily subsidise the canteen
We have open access to social networking sites
BUT,
We didn’t pay any exec bonuses

Now that’s what I call real savings……….

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