Jason Lavender recently joined a Zoom room with Ellen Raim, an HR leader, a nonprofit board member and the Founder of People Matter, to chat about common opportunities and challenges for HR and People leaders, especially in the category of people development. Read part one and part two of Ellen's interview. Read on for part three of Ellen's interview.
Employees need to be given more credit for corporate growth.
Ellen: I am really fascinated by the fact that people are treated like a cost. They're the one thing when companies are not doing well that they can sever the cost on quickly, because everything else is contractually based. That just seems so odd to me.
There's no place on a company's financials where the employees are getting credit for coming up with the innovations. I am truly puzzled by the disconnect between the way employees are seen in the financials and the way they are seen by HR.
Now that I'm not working inside of a company all the time, I have more time to ponder this deeply. I don't have an answer yet.
If you think about it as human capital versus machines as capital, it's ridiculous. You depreciate machines over time. So they're not a cost forever.
There ought to be some kind of grace for the fact that employees are not just a cost.
HR + people leaders should prioritize learning the business.
Jason: What advice do you have for one-person HR or People teams?
Ellen: Learn the business. I mean really learn the business. Because that gives you so much more credibility when you talk about the people things.
There is a belief that HR people are sort of fluffy bunnies, and they're all about feelings, and they don't really understand. And there are many of us in HR that either have law degrees or MBAs. But that's still not good enough. You still have to learn your business.
It’s hard to be a people leader.
My second piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. This is a really hard profession. It's hard for a lot of reasons. It's hard because you have to do a lot of influencing without authority.
You see a lot of the sadness and the problems with employees. And you can't share what you're seeing or learning with too many people. So it's not like you can go to lunch with one of the other people on the executive step and say, “Oh, my gosh! Let me tell you what happened today.”
HR is really hard, so be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break and realize that you're doing a good job.
About Ellen Raim
Ellen Raim, Founder of People Matter, has passionately navigated the world of HR, becoming a beacon of transformative solutions. With a background in law, behavioral economics and organizational design, Ellen is uniquely positioned to fuse human behavior with business needs. From her early days as an employment lawyer to spearheading global HR teams, Ellen’s journey is a testament to her dedication. Through People Matter, Ellen is transforming HR from administrative to strategic, by designing systems and cultures that drive growth.
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