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Take “culture change” off your list of HR to-do’s. HR cannot, by itself, change culture. Maybe the company culture is stuck in the 80’s and needs a little more diversity or maybe there is a pending merger with a more nimble business. Something has happened that requires a culture, or mindset change. This isn’t bad. What is bad is HR taking this on like it’s a slightly bigger task (Changed the culture. Check!).
Company culture will only change when it starts at the top. HR needs to focus on the core business of HR, we can still do a ton of great work in this space:
Are your employees safe at work?
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Are people paid fairly and accurately?
Do your employees have benefits they can easily use or is every trip to the Dr. a hassle because your plan is so cheap?
Do your managers know how to have the tough performance conversations with their employees?
Do you know the key positions at your organization? Do you know where and how to recruit the next group of employees in those key positions?
All of the above, done right, will have an enormous positive impact on your company and your employees. You can and must push for fair treatment. “Culture” is not an excuse for unethical, illegal or unfair treatment. It is not okay for you to throw in the towel and forget your ethical obligations to the company and its people.
HR gets into trouble when we dislike the culture and try to change it without support from the business. Our actions can have a huge, positive impact but we can’t set out to change culture without support from the top. Focus on changing what you can and you will have a positive impact on the people at your company. HR is unique in that we can have a positive impact on a large number of people at a company. Go out and pursue that!