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Stop Fixing Employees When the System is Broken

Have you noticed that organisations act like screwdrivers going around fixing people to make you work better? One more training. One more policy to regulate your behaviour. One more piece of feedback. One more wellbeing and mental health initiative to train you to cope with the stress the system is causing instead of fixing the system. One more assessment to identify what's wrong with you. One more framework they shove you into so you are moulded into the shape they want you to be based on the competency framework while singing the DEI song of "diversity is a must". 

Do we not see that the system is the problem and people are just reacting to it? 

They react to the poor leadership and management you tolerate. They react to the system that forces them to commute for hours (commuting is one of the greatest causes of stress) while your wellbeing agenda teaches them how to manage the stress the system is putting on them. They react to the system that looks at them and think, "Hmmm we gonna fix you" and they teach you how you should be thinking, feeling, and behaving and when you do that you can get a Meet Expectation at the end of the year as a reward." 

Most interventions aim to fix individuals but that's not what organisations need and this was highlighted by Oxford University earlier this year. Read here. We need to look at the system that is incompatible with today's workforce instead of teaching employees how to cope with the consequences of the differences between their needs and what the system has to offer. The current system was built by and for people with different circumstances and mindsets and it just doesn't work for the people today. 

HR and employees alike are complaining that they are overwhelmed yet all we do is add one more initiative that targets the individuals to the madness. I remember a restaurant manager once telling me "Every week there is some HR BS operation must deal with. We have work to do here, you know?" That was the best sentence I ever heard! This highlighted our ignorance of the pressure we put on people who make the money for us. HR, I would like to urge you to go back to the drawing board and declutter your department. Your system is overwhelmed and that is negatively impacting your employees. Good HR is not about adopting every trendy program, word, initiative, and training. 

Think about this: You (HR) are apparently in charge of the people but you are asked to speak the language of the business (money) but nobody has ever asked you to speak the language of the people. As a result, their workforce is being dragged into endless initiatives. Your employees are asking you to speak their language but you are not listening. 

They say HR protects the business but you don't because you waste billions on things that are not wanted or needed by your employees. Some of these initiatives are straight-up harming them. It is your role to protect the workforce and the company from false narratives and agendas that are negatively impacting them but somehow this is not how we see it. We think good HR is the one that implements everything that is out there. As a result, HR looks like a flea market of programs, initiatives, and agendas. 

You (HR) must not fall for every trendy word, program, or initiative and expose your people to them. Social media gurus will sell you everything and anything so they can make money, but your role is to ask questions, scrutinise everything, and do what makes sense for your people and particular businesses regardless of who is saying or doing what. Don't fall for the "Companies that implement .......... have 15% higher productivity and 26% happier employees." These numbers are all made up and even if they were true, are the variables the same in your company so that the result will be replicated? The answer is no. 

HR and organisations, start fixing the system because employees had enough of you treating them like machines going around acting like screwdrivers trying to fix them to make them work better with every initiative you throw at them. Machines work/function better as a result of fixing, people work/function as a result of their environment. Fix that with your screwdriver. 

PS: How do you think employees feel about your initiatives when they know you are only helping them to get better so you can get more productivity out of them? Maybe if you changed your intention they would respond better to your initiatives. Just a side note from me. 

If you need help with how to do it let me know, read my guide or watch my video:

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