You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Business

  • World Cup defeat hurts stocks
    Argentina and Germany face off in the World Cup final on Sunday and investors in both countries will do well to be alert to potential drops on their stock markets the day after in case of defeat.
  • Big Tobacco companies in merger talks
    Big Tobacco may soon get smaller. The makers of Camel and Newport cigarettes said Friday they are in talks to combine two of the nation’s oldest tobacco companies. A deal between Reynolds American Inc.
  • Jobs coming to Kosciusko
    Kosciusko County will be getting a boost to its employment base after a business requested a $22 million tax abatement this week for new equipment.
Advertisement

Cutting access to HR bad idea

Q. I work for a large nonprofit (300 to 500 employees) that has recently restructured its human resources department. The new policy is that employees are not allowed to contact HR directly.

All requests or questions – including pay issues, benefits concerns and supervisor conflicts – must first go through supervisors and up a multi-level chain of command before HR sees them.

Is distancing and even removing communication between HR and employees a standard practice? We’re all baffled at how this is beneficial.

A. I turned to Steven Miranda, managing director at Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. As he sees it, your new policy creates three major problems:

1. Increased risk for the company. How can workers safely report harassment if the perpetrators are part of the reporting chain?

2. Mistrust. Employees could infer that management either doesn’t trust HR or doesn’t trust employees to know what issues are worth elevating.

3. Inefficiency. The multiple reporting levels are “bad operational hygiene,” Miranda says.

Miranda sees three possible explanations:

1. If HR lost most of its staff in the restructuring, the policy may be a way to manage workflow.

2. If the department is not competent, management may be avoiding routing important decisions through it.

3. The company may want to make middle managers more accountable and engaged.

I recommend seeking a friendly high-level source who is willing to listen to you explain, using Miranda’s three points, that the policy is bad for the company. This source might be able to communicate that to the higher-ups and convince them that they should communicate their strategy to worried workers.

With luck, you’ll learn that this new policy will be in place only until management finds a high-performing HR leader. But in the absence of such a strategy, the policy sounds, in Miranda’s words, “nonsensical,” “unexplainable” and downright “crazy.”

Advertisement