Why Human Resources Defines Company Culture and How to Improve It

Why Human Resources Defines Company Culture and How to Improve It
human resources team hiring a man

Oh, Human Resources. To so many in the corporate world, you’re either an age-old punchline or a desperate last resort.

It’s a shame. Human resources play a vital role in a company, welcoming new talent and helping them onboard. HR also has the difficult but equally important task of resolving workplace violations including harassment, discrimination, and unequal treatment. 

Though they have no role in building out the company’s actual product or service, human resource employees play a disproportionately large role in shaping the company culture. Let’s take a look at why this is and what to do about it. 

Human Resources Representatives Are Referees

A human resources department can proactively create an inclusive, respectful workplace. It can do this through regular diversity training and offering special accommodations to employees as necessary. HR can also hold discriminatory or otherwise unprofessional employees accountable, even when those employees are high up the company ladder. 

At a healthy company, HR’s best practices are in line with the company’s ethics and rules of conduct. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Every time a human resources department ignores an employee complaint or tries to dissuade the employee from “making trouble,” it is sending a clear message. They’re saying “we care about the company’s bottom line, not about how you’re being treated.” To further the referee analogy, a no-call is always a call in favor of the stronger team. 

Sidelining employee complaints is a great way for human resource departments to expose their companies to a potential lawsuit. But even if your HR department is savvy enough to avoid being sued, constantly protecting the company’s interests instead of individual employees will be detrimental to everyone in the long run. Top performers will leave. Top talent will seek out your competitors instead of you. 

A good referee is fair. They study each play as it happens instead of immediately jumping to conclusions. A good referee also makes sure that every player understands the rules of the game. As a human resources professional, your job is to act in the company’s best long-term interest even, and especially, when it’s inconvenient. 

HR Representatives Are Monitors

In addition to onboarding new employees and handling workplace conflicts, human resources representatives have the responsibility to help optimize company output. They do this by analyzing both soft and hard data. Soft data includes difficult-to-quantify information like morale and feelings about the culture of the company. Hard data refers to metrics around output, profit margin, and employee retention. 

A monitor can be either passive or active. Your data could be showing you that a new initiative is detrimental to the company’s output. It could expose that the current culture of the company is creating a high profit margin but low morale and low employee retention.  

In other words, the data and observations you gather may lead you to conclusions that are at odds with what the top executives believe. Sometimes, human resources representatives may not feel empowered to share what they’ve learned. This is a waste of resources. 

At its best, a human resources department can act not only as a mentor and coach but as a business partner too. Use the data you’ve gathered to propose new strategies. Identify the gaps between the stated company tenets and its culture in practice. Offer ideas for how to bring these into line. Incentivize and reward employees who demonstrate sound leadership in line with the stated company culture. The best HR representatives are fair, communicative, and focused on making the company the best it can be for employees and shareholders alike. 

If your team is looking for guidance or help with recruitment, contact Victoria James Executive. We are here to help every step of the way. 

Victoria is an accomplished direct and digital marketer with more than 20 years of industry experience. The Founder and President of Victoria James Executive Search, Inc. direct and digital marketing search firm, she has had a successful and accomplished career, holding senior level sales and marketing management positions in companies such as Citicorp Diner’s Club, Donnelley Marketing. Victoria understands the need for premium talent in the Direct and Digital Marketing industries, is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association, NEMOA and other associations, and holds an Executive MBA from Bernard M. Baruch College. Contact Victoria today to learn how her team of recruitment experts can accelerate your efforts and help you quickly accomplish your goals.


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