What HR actually is, is a question I have had in every job before I got the academic knowledge about internal communication from my time at University. Where I learned that a part of HR is to make people feel welcome in their new job, introduce newcomers to the company culture and facilitate employee training. This works well with, what I see as the HR department’s mantra: “The worker and Work joy is a resource”.
Then, it is sort of strange, that the only form of communication I had with the HR department, was when I signed the contract, the mail header on the store mail and the occasional complaint from the nearest leader:Onboarding
“Now HR want us to do insert annoying task here!
”. Perhaps it was because of the positions themselves since the places I have worked was far from the HR department. I worked on the floor, so to speak, in positions like a store clerk, dishwasher, cook, waiter and my first (and cliché) position as a 13-year-old newspaper boy.
But now I am hearing the straw-man reader asking: “Why is this relevant?!”
Well I have been new in all these jobs, obviously, and I have been welcomed into the companies work culture, I have been answered all my obvious questions and I have been trained in my different job functions. As an example, I worked in a big Danish store chain. There it was a colleague that trained me in ordering goods for restocking, it was my store manager who told me the store rules, it was another colleague that told me all those unwritten rules about breaks and so on. Last but not least the corporate culture I learned by trial and error, except the overall company lines, which was given to me in a pamphlet.
But in this process HR was invisible to me, but I was still being onboarded. So, was HR successful? If so then why did I not, as a daily leader with 2-3 workers under my charge, bump into HR. I trained and introduced the new ones the way I was put through these processes, without the help of HR or their Terms. For example, I only last week learned that Onboarding
even was a thing.
But the things I did know, was what I wanted, and still want, from a new employment. I want to be introduced to a corporate culture, so I know what it is to be a good colleague in the company, so we can work together in a proper environment. Like in the store I worked in earlier, there I was welcomed into my colleague group. This also helps me not wanting to feel like a commodity, but as a viable resource, and to be allowed to put my own meaning and my own personality into my work. Without the influence of my boss or HR, I ended up putting my own meaning into the job. Like when I worked in customer service in the store chain, I made my own style of customer service based on my own ideas of human interaction, which luckily fit well with the company line in my own way.
But wait, in the store chain I used as an example. The relationship with my colleagues, my knowledge of the corporate culture and the way I ended performing customer service, all ended up towing the company guidelines.
So where does that leave me and this blog post? In the example, it would seem that HR did what they were meant to do, at least In the Onboarding process. But I never saw or heard from them in my everyday work. I guess I’m just wondering, how much credit HR, in the before mentioned store chain, could claim in my seemingly successful introduction to the company. I had to go to University and work with HR directly to know what they do.
So, I guess the real question is, did my successful Onboarding process happen through the invisible and organized hand of the HR department, Ninja HR as I like to call it, or was my successful introductory process a result of coincidences away from HR’s control? This is an interesting question and one for which I do not have an answer.
But no matter the answer, the question can be expanded to include another point: Are successful HR practices invisible the worker on the floor, or can HR’s image benefit from being more visible to all the employees?