Human resources (HR), or people management, is sometimes referred to as a "soft" management practice.
Traditionally, it was taken that management of a business required hard management skills to allow leaders to discipline subordinates, close down non-performing activities and move people from job to job.
Employees that work under this sort of authority typically find their workplace experience intimidating.
This style of management has more recently fallen out of favour and modern organisations that operate this autocratic leadership style are likely to be accused of being companies with bad HR practices.
Good and bad HR practices
No two businesses are the same. Each business will require a combination of soft and hard management, depending on the make-up of its workforce. This is how they work:
- Soft management: Based on the philosophy that the better you treat your employees, the more productive they will be.
- Hard management: Focuses more on the quality of the decisions taken by leaders, the processes, methods and technologies used and making sure employees comply with orders.
Businesses need to be sure they're not using bad HR practices that afford employees either too much or too little latitude.
Your business may be process-driven and require hard leadership and hard HR practices.
On the other side of the coin, businesses that need to attract new customers will likely need to find ways to encourage employees to work together to come up with creative ways to find more clients.
The trick is to find the right balance for your business.
So what is an example of a bad HR practice?
One of the most high-profile examples of poor human resource management in recent years was Ryanair’s pilots’ strike that resulted in cancelled flights and unhappy customers when the airline mismanaged its pilots’ annual leave.
When Ryanair changed its holiday year-end from 31st March to 31st December, more annual leave was allocated to pilots during a shorter timeframe in September and October. The logjam of leave requests had a huge impact on operations and forced Ryanair to enter into talks with the pilots’ union to agree to new terms and conditions of employment.
This is a good example of how hard HR management skills relating to processes failed.
On the other hand, the following bad HR practices are examples of HR areas that can affect any organisation:
- Failure to put good workforce planning in place. Are there younger employees to replace ageing employees for instance?
- Staff are unaware of the standards of behaviour expected of them. Bullying and harassment risks must be addressed through strong policies, training and procedures for example.
- Staff that process personal client data are unaware of their data protection obligations.
- Failure to comply with employment laws surrounding the duty to provide minimum terms of employment in writing.
- Failure to comply with employer duties to protect employee health and wellbeing under health & safety legislation?
So HR practices must first comply with employment laws and second be appropriate for the type of business you run.
If either of these two requirements are missing from your HR efforts, you could be operating with bad HR practices that put your business at risk of suffering from employee unrest or worse still claims in the Workplace Relations Commission.
Need more information?
So as you can see, bad HR practices can lead to serious business problems.
If you would like further complimentary advice from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night.