Thursday, November 29, 2012

When HR Gives A Shit But Doesn't Take It - A War Cry for some Soft HR

Recently, a Gallup poll found that Singapore is the most emotionless society in the world. No wonder, when politician's wages are linked to the GDP that productivity is the focus of government, rather than the happiness (or even emotion capability) of citizens.

What's this got to do with HR?

Well I reckon if an organisation was a nation, finance would be the people calculating the GDP and aiding in strategies to maximise it. HR would be the people calculating and strategising on Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Just like HR, the GNH has its fair share of detractors. In fact, a lot of the time HR doesn't get the recognition it should, and is in the same struggle for credibility that the GNH is in. HR looks into matters finance can't represent with numbers, and it's equally important despite being on the warm and fuzzies instead of the cold and foldables. Both finance and HR are strategic, both are aiming to make it a more productive organisation. 

All this talk of HR being business minded, getting a seat at the table, thinking strategically, and proving itself in the bottom line - it makes us look like we think we are lacking as professionals. But we are equally as kick ass! Looking into the emotional side of things doesn't make HR a counsellor, or the creepy soft voiced person who likes to rub your arm while you're talking to them.

When HR gives a shit it's looking at things like healthcare, working hours, commutes, community, facilities, safety, diversity,  and everything else that isn't in a P&L. And when HR doesn't take shit, it fights the good fight of consistency, fairness, discipline, and accountability.

Happiness is not smiles, and rainbows, and good mates as colleagues, and a fun work environment. That's cool and all, but most people would be so much happier at work if their job was secure, they were treated with respect, issues were resolved quickly, and they didn't need to break their personal moral code to get the job done. I think adults never really lose some things that make us happy as children, you know, like boundaries and people expecting the best of us.

HR is the champion of this and that is pretty badass.

I'll see you in the office tomorrow wearing your biker jacket - you badass you.

Now, if only we could get rid of the stereotype that a woman that cares is motherly and a man that cares is an exceptional leader.


Cheers,
Sarah

Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guilt Trip Calculator - For the Self Motivator in All of Us

Ok, this is totally lame, but I put massive guilt trips on myself for not achieving what I think I need to be achieving. If I was in an interview, I guess I would say I'm a self-motivator. So, when I came down with something recently that absolutely took the stuffing out of me, the time out was mostly spent feeling crap about myself. You know that feeling of guilt for calling in sick, and then feeling even guiltier for not doing a single thing the whole day? Not even a load of washing! It's not very useful thinking for getting better.

Apparently people should write what you want to read, and right then I just really wanted to read something telling me I wasn't lazy - I was sick!

So, on the other side of it all, with far more energy and less guilt - I have written the Guilt Trip Calculator.

From being totally at blame, to no blame at all, I chose four states of inaction.

Lazy: "the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy"
Demotivated: "less eager to work or study"
Run-down: "tired and somewhat unwell, especially through overwork"
Fatigued: "extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness"

And made a flow chart out of it - because that's what process crazy gals like me do for fun when they get home from a big night that included far too much red bull (no joke, this is a product from 4am).


(click to enlarge)

It's all a bit of silliness - but underneath there is something that all of us self motivators need to remind ourselves to do. Maybe it's just me? Ok, I'll talk to myself then: Guilt is a really crap way to get better.

Be kind to yourself, and eat some green veggies. Your mum would have wanted it that way.


Cheers,
Sarah

Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My 100% Assured System of Training People to Engage on Social Media

Update: Thank you to Michael (@MJCarty) for offering me the opportunity to have this post hosted on the wonderful blog XpertHR. You can see my guest post here. How much fun is this blogging thing?!

This would be my imaginary task:
1 day of training to get a group of HR people to engage on social media.

This is how I would do it:

  1. Aim solely for them to engage on Twitter - Facebook can be learnt later, but Twitter is the easiest and best way to jump into the fun of social media.
  2. Set up Twitter accounts for each of the participants and set them up to follow a good list of people and each other. Feel free to look at my list of who I follow on twitter @whippasnappahr  - I really like my feed and think it's a good group to kick off from.
  3. Meet the group at 9:00am for the training to start and line up to jump on a bus with good, fast wifi enabled, and a smart phone in each participant's hand.
  4. At the bus door I'd hand out their log-on information, the 140 character limit rule, a #HRtwitute hashtag, and a twitter themed scavenger hunt list.
  5. We would drive from 9:30am to lunch time, and arrive at our destination of a great pub with good food and drink. Lunch would be real world networking time to complement the twitter networking done before and after. Then we would drive home.
  6. In that driving time, we would have a twitter themed scavenger hunt including:
  • Write your profile information
  • Follow 10 people who are in your industry
  • Follow 10 people who are in your geographic location
  • Follow 10 people who are in your hobby
  • Tweet a photograph
  • Use at least three different hashtags
  • Favourite 5 tweets
  • Link to 5 articles
  • Reply to 10 people's tweets
  • Write 10 original tweets
And when we arrive back at the end of the day, everyone would be a twitter aficionado with a few friends they have enjoyed engaging with over the day. If they really, really didn't want to try it out, I suppose they could just nap on the bus and have a good lunch - napping on the bus is way more comfortable that on a training room chair anyway. So everyone's a winner in Sarah Miller's training haha!


Cheers,
Sarah

Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Western Business Can Bring Prosperity to Asia - Elites Block New Technologies

Foreign Policy wrote an interesting article on 10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart, and I am writing parallel posts about Western businesses in Asia. I believe they have the opportunity to bring prosperity to Asia, and are missing that opportunity in some ways.

Obviously, I am no expert on what I want to write about -  I am just a simple person with some observations and personal experiences. My introduction to this series of posts will explain this all better.

5. Elites Block New Technologies - Corporations Disregard Workplace Health & Safety

Foreign Policy cites an example of countries that chose to adopt railway technology, and those that blocked its introduction. In "1840s, tiny Britain was undergoing a railway mania in which more than 6,000 miles of track were built, while only one railway ran in vast continental Russia - it ran 17 miles from St. Petersburg to the tsar's imperial residence." Austria also chose not to adopt rail technology, and "as Britain and the United States grew rapidly - Austria and Russia failed to do so." As FP states, new technologies "redistribute not just income and wealth but also political power."

Just a huge unmarked steel trip risk on an unlit bar floor...
Obviously, Workplace Health & Safety isn't a technology in particular, but it involves various technologies and new mindsets that have not become common practice in Asia. I acknowledge a safety mindset isn't particularly prolific in a society where dad holds the new born baby in one arm and steers the scooter with the other - and it's totally acceptable. So yes, I can see how this translates into an employee's complacency - but it shouldn't translate into an employer's complacency. Nevertheless, construction workers will jackhammer without hearing protection, or work on drains during torrential rain in bare-feet. And office workers will become unemployable if they can't work 12 hour and above days, due to bad backs or repetitive strain injury. And women with injured ankles must wear high heels as part of their sales uniform. And people working outdoors at theme parks may not wear hats or sunglasses, even though they are spending at least 5 hours in the sun each day. These are real life examples of people I know, or have observed, who work in Western corporations in Asia, run by local management.

I believe a society advances most when members aren't seen as disposable. To me, this means not turning a blind eye to how all operations are run down to the lowest employee. Western business would bring prosperity to Asia by ensuring local management runs operations according to ethical safety standards - not just issuing direction to the higher levels and then turning a blind eye to the rest. A safety mentality brings prosperity just simply because of the lower levels of injuries and acquired disabilities. But also, a safety mentality redistributes political power in an organisation, limiting the possibility of unethical employers treating employees as disposable resources . If Western businesses operated in this safety-paradigm in Asia, and showed it's not only possible but profitable, it sets the path for other employees to demand it of their employers. This is already a clear trend with flexible work practices in Western businesses that quickly become preferred employers in Asia - and I could see a strong case for this happening with Western businesses enforcing strict workplace health and safety standards too.


Cheers,
Sarah

Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Western Business Can Bring Prosperity to Asia - Greedy Big Men


Foreign Policy wrote an interesting article on 10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart, and I am writing parallel posts about Western businesses in Asia. I believe they have the opportunity to bring prosperity to Asia, and are missing that opportunity in some ways.

Obviously, I am no expert on what I want to write about -  I am just a simple person with some observations and personal experiences. My introduction to this series of posts will explain this all better.

4. The Big Men Get Greedy - The Little People Get Stuck

Foreign Policy uses Egypt as an example where a powerful family looked after close mates, namely Hosni Mubarak, and the "whales" who "received not only protection from the state but also government contracts and large back loans without needing to put up collateral." As FP explains "their stranglehold on the economy created fabulous profits for regime insiders, but blocked opportunities for the vast mass of Egyptians to move out of poverty."

I observe similarities to this with multinational corporations with exceedingly large budgets and prestigious brands in Asia. CEOs of these corporations stand to earn fabulous sums of money, the corporations also stand to earn fabulous profits, all benefiting from the low taxes and the cheap labour. The entry level employees, and the support staff, in the corporations generally earn very small wages and have little recourse to negotiating higher benefits. What is considered a 'benefit' in Asia is company outings to theme parks, or paid weekend vacations to overseas hotels. With CEOs of corporations tending to be great chums with government officials or hopeful future government officials (and in Singapore, the interesting concept of tripartism and prohibition of industrial action), wages are kept at the lowest point possible. And I don't mean the lowest point possible of an ethical decision of what is affordable for a person to live off - I mean where supply meets demand, where as long as there aren't enough jobs a person will be desperate enough to work for $5 an hour. (For context, a Starbucks coffee costs $5, so 1 hour of work equals 1 cup of 'luxury' coffee.)

An advertisement board for a local restaurant where the most you can earn is $12/hr (between midnight-4am), and a set meal costs $15/hr (it's for basic Thai food)
I believe a society that is the most successful has the least distance between the rich and the poor. I believe strangleholds on working conditions means entire societies struggle for their own survival while a few benefit in disgusting disproportion. Western business would bring prosperity to Asia by disregarding Asian custom of 'benefits' and working towards paying fair wages for real lives. If an employee wants to spend their wage on a holiday rather than their only opportunity being the company excursion - power to them. But they could also choose to spend their higher wages on education for themselves or their children, they could afford higher health care insurance premiums for better coverage, they could make retirement savings, they could afford free range eggs(?). I just think that it's so much fairer to pay wages that are commensurate to the costs of living (not survival) and that gives employees power over their own lives. Of course that means less money in the pockets of the CEO or the corporation - but that doesn't mean an unattractive profit overall. It just means letting the little people have a go too.

Of course, this is all written from my simple observation and personal experience. So what do I really know? I am definitely no authoritative expert on this subject - I look forward to your take on it all. Please, do comment below.


Cheers,
Sarah

Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.
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