When dinosaurs roamed the earth, this now employee retention speaker and employee retention author was an HR leader is a variety of different industries. I realized that one of the key roles I had was to “be there for your people.” I can’ t imagine that an HR leader would not be there when you are about to furlough several people from a department. A person this employee recruitment expert was talking to the grocery store related their story of being furloughed to me. Yes…I talk to people about employee retention wherever I go. That’s how I hear all the bizarre things I do. This particular person was now working at the grocery store because they had been “furloughed” from their primary employer. They were now picking up extra hours at their part-time job at the grocery store. They then went on to explain to me how the furlough was handled. There was clearly anger in the person’s voice.
This person had been working remote but due to the continued lack of business, the organization decided to put them on “furlough.” What amazed me was that the discussion that took place with the person. The furlough was handled by the manager and HR was not even involved in the event though a wide array of benefits and conditions around the employment relationship were discussed. All of these things should have been covered by HR due to their importance but also so that the employee knows that if there are questions, HR was “there for them.” Instead, HR was conspicuous by their absence on the call! This sends the entirely wrong message to the employee. It says that you are not important enough as a person/employee to have HR spend their time and energy to be on the call. That is the role of HR…HR is about people! Also, when the employee had questions on benefits, etc. that HR could easily have answered, HR was not there to answer them, and the manager had to try their best to deal with it.
From an employee retention strategies perspective, this was a horrible way to handle the situation. Businesses have struggled to attract and retain talent until the Covid-19 virus hit. When things turn around, those same challenges will return. Depending on how the person in this case feels, there is a real possibility the person will opt to look for a new job and not return. The message being sent by the organization is one that the person doesn’t matter enough for HR to take the time to be on the call. This is totally inconsistent with the philosophy of “Give Your Employees .C.R.A.P.®” philosophy (Caring, Respect, Appreciation and Praise). Actions like this are the type of actions that leave a sour taste in an employee’s mouth and drive them away from an organization! When people are in situations like this they shouldn’t be asking, “Where’s HR?”