5 Negative Human Resources Practices That Should Be Extinct

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Are you and your Human Resources department dinosaurs? Despite dinosaur movies, paraphernalia, and popularity, dinosaurs are extinct. Certain HR roles and practices need to become defunct, too. If you and your HR department are still spending time and energy on these HR roles, and just plain bad or out-of-date practices, consider making them extinct.

Requiring Social Security Numbers on Job Applications Is a Negative

In this age of identity theft and data hacking and insecurities, potential employees don’t want to give you their social security number until they believe that they are a viable candidate for your job.

Sure, once they’ve been through a job interview or two and they believe that you are ready for background checking, the interested candidate is happy to give you that number. But, not just to have their online application accepted for review.

Tracking applicants, or employees for that matter, with their social security number, is a bad practice. Why would you want all of that responsibility for their personal data, well before you actually need it, or listed in multiple locations where it wasn't needed at all? Most universities stopped this practice of using social security numbers for student IDs about 30-40 years ago. Why are businesses so slow to get it?

Job searchers frequently complain about the practice and refuse to use their social security number to apply. You’re potentially losing great candidates who refuse to place their social security number on the table until it is actually needed following a job offer. (Increasingly, job search experts recommend that a candidate put all 0s in the social security number question in an online application.)

Human Resources Taking the Lead on Disciplinary Matters

Not you, hopefully. That’s a task that belongs to line managers—with your coaching and assistance—even your attendance at the disciplinary action meeting, of course. Not positive whether Human Resources staff was, at one time, expected to take the lead on any disciplinary action with employees, but it sure plays out that way in small and mid-sized companies every day.

When asked, HR staff members indicate discomfort with how their managers approach disciplinary action. From tongue-tied in the meetings to downright saying way too much in the wrong words, managers lack training in approaching problem employees. With lawsuits just waiting to happen, HR best serves the organization by training and coaching managers.

HR, it’s not your job to take the lead on disciplinary action. You weren’t there. You didn’t witness the employee’s performance—or lack thereof. You were not privy to any of the coaching conversations, assuming that they occurred. You were not in the middle of setting performance expectations. Nor, were you the keeper of the documentation.

You can check your manager’s documentation, ascertain that the appropriate conversations occurred, and coach the manager to an ethical, legal, classy disciplinary meeting—but you can’t do it for the manager. Don’t even try.

The Practice of Doing Basic Employee Admin Work Yourself

Spend much of your time changing addresses, benefits information, and helping employees access their employee information? With online capabilities available today, the entire employee transactional systems should be automated with employees able to access and update their own information.

Benefits? HR cannot be the point of contact for benefits either if you expect to spend your time on the strategic needs of the business for employee performance, motivation, engagement, and satisfaction.

Major healthcare insurance companies and providers have comprehensive websites and customer service representatives that can access employee accounts and answer all of their questions about eligible services and processes. There is no need for HR employees to have to explain or be experts on the ins and outs of policies—unless an employee has a problem. In those cases, help the employee solve their problem.

Failing to List Salary Info in Posted Positions

Yes, HR practitioners are aware of all of the arguments, both pro, and con on this topic, and they have been debated at length, in HR discussion groups. But, many HR managers have landed squarely in the court that advocates transparency on salary so that HR staff, hiring managers, and prospective employees don’t waste everybody’s time.

Readers have long complained that they apply for jobs only to find out after an interview or two or a job offer, that the proffered salary is way too low. Candidates also complain about feeling strung along by employers who indicate that a range is available then offer an experienced applicant the lowest number in the range.

The old HR attitude about getting employees for the lowest possible compensation needs to change to one of paying employees fairly based on their experience and other qualifications. Employers need a fair and equitable compensation system that is transparent in the sense of providing employees guidance about how they can move financially to the next level.

Many HR practitioners are not advocates of employees sharing salary information. But, the process for obtaining raises, how an employee goes about increasing compensation, and what they need to do to move to the next level ought to be transparent to all employees.

Unfamiliar with any private sector employers who use this practice, but government offices and agencies are still at fault. Says a former government employee,

HR Being in Charge of Interviewing and Hiring 

“One dinosaur thing that drove me crazy in the government was that the HR staff did all of the interviewing and hiring. Then, they sent a person to work on your team without any input from the line manager who was filling the position.

"This practice was bad for the new hire since they often don't really know what they are getting into. It was bad for the existing staff since they didn't get a chance to ask some of the real world questions that would help them determine who was best suited to join the team.” Most importantly, neither the manager nor the coworkers owned the new employee or were invested in the new employee’s success.

In one worst-case scenario, the HR staff hired a single mom, placed her in their Atlanta office, and never told her that she would be expected to travel about 25 percent (or more) of her time. This was a disaster for a single mom with no support structure in a new city.

While every HR department has some practices and procedures that ought to be reconsidered, these are particularly noteworthy. Sometimes the issue is budget or company priorities, but often the HR practitioners have just not taken the time to think about the impact of dinosaur practices on employees and potential employees.