In our strategic HR planning discussions, we focus heavily on the cost-benefit relationships of Human Resources operations to the organization. Using the human capital approach, the value that employees as a commodity bring into any organization is linked directly to the output that is produced for the organization. We assess employee value by ensuring that human productivity is constantly measured, evaluated and monitored as part of a best practice approach to human resources management.
It all makes sense from a pure HR planning perspective. When we move from theoretical planning to actual implementation, however, the human element of the human resources equation pops up again to remind us that we are always dealing with people, not just products.
In a recent research article the authors explore the negative impact of the incessant need modern organizations have to monitor employee productivity.
As noted in this article, it seems that the Human Resources function has been trapped into measuring and promoting policies that contribute to increased employee anxiety. Increased employee anxiety leads to lower productivity and more employee dis-engagement. Are we, as HR professionals, responsible for contributing to the ‘mirage’ of successful productivity by avoiding the real implications of constant workplace pressure on our fellow human beings? In an effort to measure what people do, are we also contributing to the mechanism of who gets blamed when the results of what is measured go wrong?
Human Resources champions have fought long and hard for a seat at the corporate table. We argue that Human Resources has the strategic edge to brings the business numbers and the people numbers together so that decision-making produces organizational benefit. While our Human Resources champions do not want to give up that seat or that fight, we must be reminded of why we wanted to contribute to organizational success in the first place.
We represent the Humans in any organization. Human Resources must champion human achievement and organizational success, but not at the cost of worsening the human condition in the workplace.
- What types of employee productivity measures do you think contribute to increased employee anxiety?
- Why would organizations (like the example of Volkswagen mentioned in the article) knowingly engage in the ‘misrepresentation’ of productivity data?
- In your opinion, does an ‘accountability culture’ breed a trust environment in the workplace? Why or why not?