Marketers, and CEO’s, too often see HR as simply a function to recruit people or manage current employees. This is a huge mistake. Senior company executives should be meeting regularly with senior HR people to take the pulse of current employees and candidates.
A colleague of mine is a senior VP of HR for a large consumer products company. I recently asked “what’s your biggest challenge?” and without a moment to think she said “getting management to understand how complex our function is and how important it is to organizational success”.
She said she spends most of her time meeting with current employees and managers, but she said “I learn more with my eyes than with words”. When I asked her what she meant, she said that most employees won’t really open up when it comes to problems within their functions so it’s more important to understand what’s “not being said”.
Late last year, while on a consulting project, a Director said that his marketing projects were slow to be executed because people were “always leaving their jobs”. My two business partners and I decided to do some digging and found that the rank and file were happy with salaries and benefits, but couldn’t stand the open office environment, the back to back meetings and managers who didn’t seem to care that people were not taking vacation days because of the workloads.
We presented our finding to HR who said “they had no idea” which to me was another alarm bell going off. Rather than tackle the issue HR hired an outside HR group to evaluate the situation while they continue to lose people.
HR people can make or break your company and you should be meeting with them on a regular basis to listen to the pulse of your company. Don’t take HR people for granted and make an effort to retain your best HR people.