Five Things I Learned in HR

A friend of mine celebrated 20 years of working in television by posting "5 Things I Learned From 20 Years in TV" - he has five parts to this. I can list five items that I learned and any Human Resources Manager will understand this. The rest of what I learned is really too much to post on a forum as easily accessible as this is. Even I recognise what NOT to say about my 15 years in the trenches... most of it is too private and too case-by-case to keep it generic.

So here are the five things that I learned:

1. All employees are innocent. It doesn't matter that I had several different infractions on video; paperwork statements from six managers and 25 coworkers; it makes no difference if the offending party's hands are covered with dye that traces the missing items. They all look me in the eye and say with great confidence, "I didn't do it." Hence, they are all innocent.

2. No one has been overpaid. Now, you know that if I don't find the error, someone else will! But no. However, I had someone tell me with great vehemence that they were short by 4 cents. Really? I gave the employee four pennies. That's right. But no one's ever been overpaid...

3. No one believes background checks will be run. Honey, if the forms you are signing SAY you will be under that kind of scrutiny, assume that you will. Because every company I worked for did this. Private leisure, pharmaceuticals, high-end technology, we are all the same - completely paranoid. And with very good reason! People will steal high-end jewelry, high-end small technology (I worked for PNY Technologies, makers of memory chips), and absolutely drugs! Don't pass go; don't collect $2oo... just assume we mean it when we say we ARE-GOING-TO-RUN-A-BACKGROUND-CHECK. I can't tell you how many people looked me in the eye and said with great confidence, "I didn't do that." (Now, where have I heard those four gruesome little words before...?)

4. Time keeping is not really a problem. No matter how obviously late someone is; no matter that they are lined up at the clock 20 minutes before their shift ends; no matter how clearly it is on video that one employee is standing there swiping 50 cards (you know the other 49 aren't theirs), it is the same thing. It is someone, something, the stars are misaligned, fault. Always. I cannot fathom this. A guy with no vehicle who doesn't take the bus shows up every day, on time but the guy with a car can't manage it in a month of Sundays. Uh-huh. How many people did I fire for swiping other employees' cards. My personal favourite was standing there watching this one person swipe about a dozen cards. It was a short conversation but what did it start with? "That wasn't me." More gruesome little words...

5. Breaks and How Many You Get in the Great State of New Jersey. This is my absolute favourite. Every smoker and break-monger in the world gives me the super-mouthy response, when told they are abusing the break system, "I am entitled by law to two 15-minute breaks and a lunch break." My answer, "You get nothing unless we allow it. The state of New Jersey allows me to work you to death and you are by no means entitled to any breaks!" That is actually the case. New Jersey case law allows breaks for those 17 and under. THAT IS IT. Any breaks are given at the grace and pleasure of the employer. So if you are labouring under the impression that you are ENTITLED to anything, toss it out the window.

Hence my hatred for the word "entitled".

Now, I learned far more than that, and some day, I will write a book called "Lumps in the Sugar" and of course change all the names to protect the guilty and tell the world the rest! Then I will naturally have to enter the FBI protection and assume a new identity and face for the thousands that will hunt me down. (But I am willing to take that chance! )

Welcome to the wonderful world of Human Resources Management.


Kittie Howard said…
Nicely done! You hit so many nails on the head. With so many people out of work, it makes me wonder why those with work would push the system. That obvious aside, stealing is stealing, be it by punching another's time card (the dude isn't there) or whatever. Shame on NJ for not having more worker-friendly laws. I assume companies issue Depends.

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