Is HR department only a personnel administering department, or is it more a strategic one?
Administering benefits (hamburgers) instead of real employee development?
If we understand the concept of benefit as adulating somebody, than it is mostly one-way action. Trainings, courses, conferences or other developmental means have nothing to do with benefits, as in no case they should be treated as actions nomen omen beneficial only for one side.
We have written many times that such notion of benefits (e.g. coal allowance, gym, health insurance, tickets for concerts, vacation) for employees completely fails to fulfill the function associated with them by many companies – they do not motivate or increase engagement.
It’s beyond my strength to list reasons for that again, so I’ll be brief: I haven’t heard of any research (and I have been keeping track of them for years) that confirms the opposite. Besides, you need no research for that, the common sense is enough.
HR’s most commonly used argument: Others do the same. But is it really an argument?
Why then HR departments, with such stubbornness, waste more and more money for something that simply, comparing to other instruments, has no effects?
There are only two possible answers: Either they don’t know it (because they are e.g poorly educated), or they know it, but they ignore it (because they are e.g. lazy). Both these answers put HR departments and their strategic usefulness in a bad light, so nobody will surely be surprised, if soon they will be replaced in their benefit administering role by service centers. The toy or if you prefer – (non)occupational therapy, will be taken away from children in HR and it will be the next reason to say: Goodbye HR…
The common sense indeed suggests that every, averagely intelligent man (employee) values much, much more own development than cheap and often dull consumerism. It is also confirmed by those concerned – in surveys they list development opportunities as the most or second most important motivating factor, together with the sense of work they are doing.
Are then HR judging employees by themselves? Or are they suffering from some kind of consumerism or oniomania (compulsive buying disorder)? That would be the third possibility.
The common sense also suggests that benefits are consumed quickly and the only thing that is left of them, is maybe some kind of wind.
If something has to stay longer and be mutually beneficial, than it has to be employee’s knowledge and skills development.
Well, but you need strategy for that, you need a competence of analyzing needs and proposing a reliable offer. Not an offer that pretends something, that imitates other companies (another benefit).
You don’t have to buy so much and cheaply, as in the case of above-mentioned shopping addiction, but less, however more exquisitely.
But for that you need an exquisite taste – and in this case high-class knowledge.
High-class knowledge is demanding (thinking) for/from HR, but it is also this feature that in the eyes of intelligent employees gives development … beautiful color.
Benefits have the color of hamburgers.
Some might nourish themselves with them, or fill up with them, some might even taste them (depending on their taste), but surely they can’t enjoy their color. Well, unless they are the connoisseurs of brown-grey.
Then, if in some companies, development is realized within benefits, you can be sure, what is it’s color. Very often also some HR departments pretend that they are interested in added value for the company that should result from employee development, as the money for it comes from other budgets than for benefits and needs to find reflection in another spreadsheet. But, as this development is not strategically anchored and nobody in the company is particularly interested in it, it is very quickly “checked” in the HRs’ heads, with the similar benefit approach. They are buying a lot and very cheaply, in rubbishy training companies, because it is easier to have mediocre checked. And these better training companies only complicate life and annoy, and spoil the taste of swallowed hamburger.
At the end I would like to ask you one question:
- Development is perceived by those concerned as the factor with the strongest impact on their engagement, and benefits as the factor with one the weakest impact,
- Development is much more cheaper than benefits,
- Development is mutually beneficial, brings profit for both company, as well as employee,
then for what other reasons than these mentioned by me, HRs are trying with such ferocity to force employees to be happy, harming the company at the same time?