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Common HR blind spots

February 1, 2019

By Heather Nezich, courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Today’s HR departments suffer from several major blind spots, according to the HR Blind Spot Report 2018 from and Ipsos. By understanding and addressing these blind spots, HR professionals can maximize their ability to achieve crucial organizational goals.

The goal of the study was to uncover the blind spots that can keep HR leaders from reaching their objectives. 
Five common HR blind spots are:

Conflicting perceptions of HR’s role
At the heart of this problem is the fact that while HR professionals most likely view themselves as strategists, employees are most likely to view them as regulators. Employees tend to see HR professionals as administrators or enforcers of rules.  When employees see HR professionals as regulators, they are more likely to fear HR and less likely to see HR professionals as strategic members of the organization. If HR professionals do not understand how others view them, then they cannot communicate and build credibility with employees or senior managers as well as they should. 

Difficulties in winning needed executive support
Part of this problem relates back to number one.  HR professionals are not always recognized as strategic members of the team.  HR team members must work hard to “earn themselves a seat at the table.”  As Mary E. Corrado, President & CEO of ASE, recommended in a 2017 blog, “Consult with fellow leaders in the company.  Start a dialogue with top management to truly understand the overall strategy and begin to view how HR can contribute to that strategy.”

Insufficient communications with employees
HR is the go-to for any staff issues or employee communication needs.  HR professionals may initially think of communication mainly in the context of delivering messages to employees about business issues and policies and procedures, but two-way communication plays an essential role in effective communication. Listening and reacting to employee issues and concerns builds loyalty. Communicating with staff about issues or concerns before they escalate can help avoid formal grievances or lawsuits.

Failures to understand employee work-life balance concerns
Today’s workers have many competing responsibilities such as children, housework, elderly care, education, etc. that place stress on them.  Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining a supportive and healthy work environment, which allows employees to have balance between work and personal responsibilities.  The result is strengthened employee loyalty and productivity.

The true, rather than perceived, loyalty levels of employees
The way managers perceive employee working conditions and employee engagement can differ greatly from what workers actually feel. Know your employee value proposition (EVP) for each role and make sure it aligns with the employees in that role.  Going back to the importance of two-way communication, make sure that employee reviews include time spent understanding how your employees see their own careers developing.

The study found that HR often misunderstands the work stresses faced by employees and so is less able to address stress-related performance issues. By gaining a greater appreciation for employees’ desires, needs, and challenges, HR is better able to create effective HR policies and cultivate engaging corporate cultures.

“Just like when you’re driving,” the report concludes, “it’s often the obstacles hiding in your organization’s blind spots that can do the most damage. Fortunately, by taking a proactive approach, HR teams can steer their organizations to success by turning these blind spots into competitive advantages.”

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