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Five futile exercises HR should immediately discontinue
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Tuesday, 28 February 2017

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Organisations or HR continue with certain age-old practices, which actually hold back optimum performance of employees.

New technologies, new generations and newer ways of working are redefining the modern workplace. These are times when everyone expects to work in an environment that’s open, flexible and enabling. Although the world of work is rapidly moving towards automation and technology-enabled modern ways of operating, there are certain practices that are still holding back organisations in various ways and may not necessarily be required now.

Such age-old, worn-out practices at the workplace may consciously or subconsciously be impacting the workforce in unforeseen negative ways, demoralising employees, thereby hampering optimum performance. The challenge, however, is that in most cases, despite the realisation, organisations or HR hang onto these practices —simply because they have been doing it that way forever. However, there certainly are things that need to change if organisations are to survive the test of time. For the wellbeing of organisations and workforces, the things that HR really needs to get rid of are:

1) Annual performance reviews or rankings: In times of instant or real-time feedback, be it on social media with the instant likes or dislikes or shares across large networks, annual reviews at the workplace make no sense. What exactly is the point in discussing something a year later? Discuss and act ‘now’ when there is still time to improve upon and enhance outcomes. In addition, treat your employees as responsible adults and not school kids, who would require annual testing for promotion to the next grade. Annual performance reviews are pointless, insulting and culture-killing programmes that almost all smart companies are ditching now while switching to real-time feedbacks and discussions on performance.

2) Attendance record-keeping: While employees work from anywhere anytime, the concept of attendance also needs to change. In blurring boundaries between the usual work-hours and non-work-hours, it is foolish of organisations or HR to keep tracking attendance in the conventional ways. The benchmarks could now be about task completion or KRA achievements in a stipulated timeline.

3) Monitoring work hours: HR cannot afford to keep a close watch on employees, monitoring their hours spent working as work and life now blend together for most people. Although there are technologies and tools to keep track of employee work hours and productive time spent working, it is a turn-off for most people if HR consciously keeps track of when employees arrive and depart from work, but ignore the hours they spend working overtime or taking work home.

4) Enquiring about past salary: One’s past salary is private and confidential information and HR has no right to know the same or judge a person’s capabilities based on the same. In fact, it shows an HR manager’s inability to judge candidates based their talent. Pay for what people are worth and not what their past salaries are worth. Moreover, do you tell job applicants how much you make, or how much the manager that wants to hire them makes, or how much the last person in the job was paid? If an HR professional needs to know what another employer paid someone in order to judge what their company should pay them, then they’re worthless in the hiring process, as HR is all about judging the value of workers.

5) Treating human resources as human capital: Employees or human resources are an organisation’s asset, the foundation that makes the organisation stand strong and emerge successful. However, HR need not treat people like they’re numbers in a Power Point presentation or ‘human capital’ that can be sold off like a stock that’s in free fall. They’re humans after all, with emotions, families, fears and aspirations for the future. They need to be respected for their contribution to the workplace. For people who choose to invest their time and energy in the organisation, HR needs to understand and agree that the organisation’s success is all about people.

© 2016 HR Katha


  • Comment Link Prasanna Monday, 20 March 2017 posted by Prasanna

    The author's observations are half a decade too early. Although the trail blazers have already put most of these processes in place, the "one size fits all " approach cannot be pushed down the org. For instance, processing industries cannot risk time tested approaches just to appear daring.

  • Comment Link Dwayne Willis, MSHRM, SHRM-CP Wednesday, 15 March 2017 posted by Dwayne Willis, MSHRM, SHRM-CP

    While there is some merit to your suggestions, they should all be viewed contextually. None can be realistically abandoned wholesale by HR. In addition, your definition of the term "Human Capital" is counter to the correct one. Correctly defined with brevity, the term implies that employees ARE assets with future value that can be increased through direct investment in their knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics, rather than expenses to be cut. This definition is incomplete but more accurate than what you have stated in your article. In fact, studies show a positive correlation between company performance and human capital investment.

  • Comment Link Renuka Monday, 13 March 2017 posted by Renuka

    Totally agree that Annual Performance Review needs to be done away with .. But how do your differentiate performance for increments and bonuses which happens annually? The conversation notes are good idea but are any of you managing a whole Performance Review system in that manner ?

  • Comment Link D Brown Saturday, 11 March 2017 posted by D Brown

    Disagee with asking salary. If a company has pay scales (which most do to ensure equal pay), you need to know if the person fits in the scale. My son tried to discuss salary with an interested company who tried to recruite him. He had worked for them in college and had risen in current job. He also knew he was making good money. They spent time and even had his wife fly out to look at housing as they went through interview process. When the offer came in, it was well below what my son made. He apologized to his ex-boss for wasting their time. There are good reasons why a company needs this information. If someone has made less money, you still put them, using their experience, into the appropriate pay range. Pay is an issue that should be talked about openly.

  • Comment Link Marcos Rojas Friday, 10 March 2017 posted by Marcos Rojas

    Don't ask for innovation, be innovative!

  • Comment Link Rod Swartwood Wednesday, 08 March 2017 posted by Rod Swartwood

    Maybe these would work in India...Not much chance of these taking hold in the US. Too much government involvement here.

  • Comment Link Pamina Mullins Wednesday, 08 March 2017 posted by Pamina Mullins

    Great points that challenge perceptions in a rapidly evolving world.

  • Comment Link Crystal Jonas  Wednesday, 08 March 2017 posted by Crystal Jonas

    Great article, I hope as many companies as possible change their approach to reflect these insights!

  • Comment Link ANTONE ABOUD Wednesday, 08 March 2017 posted by ANTONE ABOUD

    I would agree with many of the issues raised; however, I don't think that HR can in many industries disavow attendance record keeping and work hours. First, for those who are overtime eligible, that is not an option. In addition, not everyone works from everywhere. Some jobs still require a physical presence; and in 24/7 operations (human services; hospitals; some retail settings -- almost 24/7), the need for consistent attendance patterns is critical in maintaining staffing. In the case of hospitals and human service organizations (e.g., nursing homes), this can include mandated minimum staffing requirements.

  • Comment Link Pamela Ulmer Wednesday, 08 March 2017 posted by Pamela Ulmer

    I agree that "Attendance record-keeping" and "Monitoring work hours" should be discontinued. Unfortunately employees still work after leaving the office. And I think perfect attendance does not translate into perfect performance.

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