Hey HR – Is It Time to Be Less Business-y?

Paul Hebert Culture, Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, Paul Hebert

This post might whip a few HR heads around.

I’m suggesting that that HR may want to spend a bit more time being touchy-feely and less time being all business-y.  I know you’ve been beat up for the past 10 years about getting that proverbial furniture assignment—you know—the seat that must not be named.  You’ve been told that the path to relevance is paved with spreadsheets, financial data, business models and strategery.

If you want to have influence, and impact the success of the organization, then you better be a better business person.

Well… Bucky—you may need to balance that against your ability to hug it out in the hallways.

EQ – IQ – Tomato Tomahto

One of the big tasks laid at the feet of HR lately has been the whole employee engagement issue.  Getting employees to engage, to lean in to the organization and contribute discretionary time and energy is your job.  And some evidence is suggesting that your ability to drive an emotional culture is going to impact how successful you are in that endeavor.

In other words—love may be the killer app for engagement.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog network ran a post a few weeks back entitled “Employees Who Feel Loved Perform Better.”  The story highlighted a couple of instances (and some research) that suggests the more emotionally connected employees are—the more they feel and express—gulp—“love,” they better they perform and the more engaged they are with their job.

They suggest you:

First, broaden your definition of culture. Instead of focusing on “cognitive culture”—values such as teamwork, results-orientation, or innovation—you might think about how you can cultivate and enrich emotional culture as well.  Emotional culture can be based on love or other emotions, such as joy or pride.

Second, pay attention to the emotions you’re expressing to employees every day.  Your mood creates a cultural blueprint for the group.

I like how they identified another dimension of culture.  Just like you personally are not one dimensional—your company isn’t either.  I believe that having an emotional dimension compliments the more business stuff we’re used to discussing when talking corporate culture.  It just makes sense.

Although This May Be a Problem for HR

But… from an HR point of view this could pose a problem.  I think that the recent focus for HR has been all about the business—to the detriment of the emotional.  It may be too hard for HR to now shift and pivot and embrace (pun intended) the love.

I point you to a post on fellow FOT-er Tim Sackett’s blog where he talked about sending heartfelt notes to the parents of employees (and I weighed in suggesting significant others be considered, too) about the employees’ work and their impact.  Some of the other commentators—HR peeps—said they would never do that. They didn’t see that as part of their role and believed that it could cause more problems than it would solve.  It was (my opinion) too emotional.

And it may be.  Expressing emotion isn’t everyone’s strong suite, especially in a business setting.

But I’ll submit that for long-term employee connection, it should be part of the tool kit and part of the employee experience.

So HR—go out and feel the love.

Maybe the Beatles were right… maybe all you need is love.

What do you think HR?  Is showing emotion and showing love a weakness?  Does it undermine the effort HR has made to be seen as a business person?  Can you still be a professional HR person while hugging in the hallway?

I’m curious… what say you HR?  XO XO