How HR culture is dehumanizing the workplace
The following pieces are sorted out from Cliff Weathers’ article Your HR Department Hates You: How Corporate Overseers Exploit Workers. HR culture is killing innovation and dehumanizing the workplace. Worth to read it fully.
Something began to change in the 1980s. With the arrival of globalization and the Information Age, corporate stability gave way to rapid, unpredictable change. Corporations no longer saw workers as loyal partners and creative beings in a productive enterprise. Instead, they became commoditized assets on a balance sheet to be acquired and discarded to suit changing fortunes.
The rebranding of “personnel” to “human resources” signaled that employees were now resources to be managed like any other capital, such as finances, office equipment and property. Like a copy machine, it suggested that humans were to be used as much as possible and discarded when they wore out or their usefulness came to an end.
One tool used by human resources professionals is the open manipulation of “workplace culture.” Employees are expected to follow cultural cues from HR departments, which model how they want employees to act to create a “positive work environment.” And you better like the culture HR creates for you, or else.
As a company pivots its business strategy, it’s human resources’ job to retain only those employees they believe will help the company reach its goals.
The mediocrity pandemic starts with an important goal: the desire to formalize things, establish common practices and make sure everything is orderly.
The unfortunate irony with formalizing the workplace through hyper-documentation is that it demonstrates that human resources, the department that should be advocating for workers, doesn’t really trust them. Additionally, in monitoring workplace efficiency, it creates so much “busy work” it actually impedes productivity.
Opting for less dehumanizing terms is a good start, and hopefully more corporations will find that treating workers as creative, social individuals instead of disposable assets can still be great for their bottom line.