May 27, 2022

Slightly controversial: Deterioration from HR to “People & Culture”

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

John C. Maxwell

I noticed I’ve been writing negative articles lately and that my mindset has been in constant search for improvement in whatever I read, see, feel or hear. Unfortunately, this is also one of those articles; not to lean on the negative side but simply point out the observation which could impact differently to anyone who reads this. HR as an industry has been changing for the last couple of years and as with any change there are some good things and some bad things. You can never really progress without the change but while we’re changing or what we’re changing has to be constantly monitored so it doesn’t lose purpose, quality, sense or whatever other paramater that makes the topic in question useful. Today we’re going to discuss how HR deteriorated to something less strategically optimal to business and more to a sales pitch-like memo which activates a dopamine receptor for a split second and immediately after that becomes useless. Uh, that sounded a bit harsh but when you do look at social media platforms which promote industries and their evolution, HR doesn’t really stand out as something which would be useful to a business. We will get into details later but as our culture is becoming more and more fragile, HR sphere has morphed into what we call today „People & Culture“. This means that it’s not entirely the industry’s fault for becoming something less optimal but more of an adaptive mechanism to change, no matter what kind of change that is, be it good or bad.

Whatever you read today about HR topics the chance is that ambiguity and moot topics take place in your, already confused, mind. There is no learning curve which you could take out from and use it on yourself as an improvement or to a business and turn it into numbers and profit. Every content is designed to make us feel good regardless of that content’s quality or how that information helps you in actually using HR in practice. I suppose this ties into our last article on how social media promotes anything but useful intelect topics anymore.

The irony here is that whatever makes you „feel good“ doesn’t make you any better if you want to learn more and progress in your career.


HR > People & Culture

The problem I’m seeing in social interactions and online provided content is the fact that „People & Culture“ is a watered down version of a strategically built HR aspect. What we’re being shown from respective colleagues is a day to day lives in companies filled with pictures of free lunch, gifts and over the top recognitions for mediocre accomplishments. Sounds a bit too harsh coming from an HR person but for the sake of article, let’s call a spade a spade. There is no showcasing of a process in action or how to improve your day to day work and receive better results in whatever HR aspect you’re interested in. No, everything is always happy atmosphere with free pizza and mind wellness is king. Whatever mind wellness means, mind you.

As a true professional, I would appreciate looking into details how a company decreased their turnover, how they allocate their budget in the most effective way, what kind of career plan they have for each position, how your HR operation tasks look like as to decrease the time consumption on it etc. These were just on top of my mind about what they could discuss. Another huge misconception is that a lot of colleagues think posting free pizza pictures is what one might consider a good company culture. No, that’s not company culture. That’s the convoluted idea right there as there are many companies who use this tactic in employer branding to mask the corporate chaos that actually resided in their workplace. Company culture is first and foremost a behavior which is promoted within an organization. Am I allowed to voice my opinion? Am I allowed to suggest a change for our company? Does the organization value my time? Does the organization value my indiviudalism? All these questions make up a more complex task at hand, building a social stigma inside an organization which everyone could appreciate as opposed to free pizza which should make all problems  go away.

The society as a whole is leaning towards a human interaction which supposedly has to look out for any minor inconvenience one might feel regardless of the situation. Our language and actions are constantly being monitored as to not go over the top in whatever we’re trying to achieve. I think the same is happening to a few industries, HR being impacted the most since the human factor is most present.


Don’t sell, do

So what should we do to do better? How can we stop selling our company as if we’re bunch of children dancing on TikTok? Go back to basic human understanding and revive your need for learning new business processes. Spread your company reputation by the way you interact with employees, what you offer them as a benefit no matter how small it is, show appreciation in the form of deeds etc. I was tempted to write instead of pizza pictures again but… oh well, I did it anyway. The most important thing here is to share balanced knowledge and awareness for HR as a means to an effective business practice without tainting and convoluting its purpose.