Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Human Resource Managers: Secret Weapon for Workplace Safety? Nah.

This is a bit bizarre. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that “In only two years, the number of employees who say feeling safe at work is a priority to their job satisfaction has jumped 28 percent..”

So far so good. Why do we think this is?
"Terrorist warnings in the US and the wars in the Middle East have put employees' concerns for safety at the forefront," said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM.


"With the increased prospect of terrorism in the United States, it's no surprise that employees are very concerned about feeling safe in the workplace," said Ken Jautz, executive vice president and general manager of CNN Business News. "Employers and their HR professionals must continually assess what makes employees feel safe at their organizations and implement programs that address these issues."
So workers’ concerns about workplace safety are all about terrorism? And what the hell do H.R. professionals have to do with making the workplace safe? Oh, wait, read that quote again: “HR professionals must continually assess what makes employees feel safe.:

I haven’t checked what colleges require HR majors to take, but I have a feeling there aren’t many industrial hygiene courses required. Maybe that’s why there’s not one mention in the press release about any other workplace conditions that workers might actually be concerned with.

Why am I so hard on these poor HR managers? There whole goal in life is to make employees feel happy. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? Happy employees are productive employees. And if you can make employees feel happy without actually doing anything, what could be better?

Maybe I’m so bitter because SHRM was a leading opponent of the Clinton administration’s ergonomics standard, joining the Chamber of Commerce in a lawsuit against the standard and organizing a massive fax campaign by human resource managers who were justifiably terrified that if the ergonomics standard was issued, they might actually have to do something other than give employees personality tests and play other games to make employees feel safe and happy.

I find it kind of hard to take them seriously.