RADIO SHOW/AUDIO PODCAST: Solutions...with Courtney Anderson! (SwCA) Episode 158 - Originally aired 7/31/2014 9:00 AM - HR HEROES HANGOUT series - “How much law do I really need to know to succeed in the HR field?”
Our HR HEROES HANGOUT™ series is dedicated to those who serve our societies each day, toiling in the bowels of the human capital infrastructure issues that fuel all organizations (hiring, retention, engagement, efficiency, compensation, legal compliance, policy and procedure continuous improvement, training and education, litigation mitigation, etc.); our HR HEROES! These are the unsung heroes that ensure that organizations achieve and sustain maximum human capital competitive advantage! In this episode our topic is, “How much law do I really need to know to succeed in the HR field?”
Answer: As much as possible.
Human Resources is all about humans! Finding, hiring, retaining, engaging, educating and serving humans. The end-users for organizations are humans. Even at a veterinarian the human is the end-user customer who finds, procures and pays for the animal medical service. In the arts the human audience or attendee is the end-user. For-profit organizations have human end-users as clients and customers as do public governmental agencies. The human is the entire focus of commerce, government and society. It is therefore logical that the expert in human resources is a pivotal role in an organization!
The HR professional is a professional. The field of HR is rapidly changing with new issues impacting business (technology, transparency, innovations, inventions, etc.) and the wider societal frameworks that businesses operate within (law, custom, etc.). The HR professional must understand the basics of the legal framework that their organization exists within. It is not sufficient for an HR professional to know that a particular form must be filled out by staff. They have to understand why the form is filled out (what is the purpose, how does it impact other areas, etc.).
I make the analogy in the show that the legally uninformed HR professional is analogous to a person who does not know how to play a sport being told to stand on a playing field and do a certain movement. What is the bigger picture framework of the game? What are the rules? What is the purpose of the recommended action?
HR is an exhilarating and fascinating field and in many organizations (especially smaller and/ or newer ones) the HR staff member is not a trained specialist. They were simply asked (or even told) that why would now “handle HR stuff.” They do their best without knowledge of the larger framework of employment and/ or labor law but they are not able to determine what is the best course of action for their employer as they don’t even know the game. This most often occurs when someone in leadership conflates the awesome realm of HR with administrative tasks.
It is analogous to a person who knows nothing about baseball watching a professional player and saying, “all they do is stand there most of the time. I could stand there as well as they do!” Yes, for some positions at some times, players do stand in an area. Yet, to equate the entirety of the sophisticated nature of what they do with this one visible behavior is ill-informed, ignorant and incorrect. Similarly, HR HEROES do perform some administrative tasks but that is not the entirely of what they do. They have a sophisticated knowledge and expertise of external law and custom and of internal organizational policies and procedures.
There is so much underneath the outward visible surface...