Fake news from the HR department…or is it a case of blame HR for everything?

It’s been my experience across the past few years that Google page 1, in trying to be helpful, is actually causing untold problems in our society. Have you found that everyone is becoming ever more lazy at checking the facts or digging into the detail? Books have already gone ‘audible’ so we don’t even have to open our eyes to ‘read’ any more, but no doubt soon we won’t have to even listen as we’ll just be presented with the opening para and final chapter and…job done! Who needs a whole book anyway?


And the laziness and inattention to detail we are all being consumed by is pervasive… if Google page 1 isn’t to hand, why not make it up and, if you speak authoritatively enough, most people will believe what you say.


I had an interesting chat with a checkout operator at Waitrose last week. Lovely to have someone chatty, but a shame it was mostly a load of nonsense that came out of her mouth. It started when I asked about why they hadn’t upped their £50 cash back option for as many years as I can remember. She told me that she’d been told by HR that the £50 limit is set by law. Codswallop. Then she told me that HR told her that the only reason they offer cash back is that it’s law that every supermarket that doesn’t have a cash point has to offer cash back. Bunkum.


Then at the weekend I was at the O2 behind a couple trying to enter the arena. ‘I need to remove the bottle tops of your water’ the door usher was telling them…’it’s a H&S risk when people throw bottle caps onto the stage’ We’re talking those little blue plastic caps right?…So the couple challenged her…’oh no I’m right’ she said ‘it was in our HR induction.’


Shame it wasn’t in her induction to tell everyone who’d spent a fortune on bottled water only to have the caps removed that they could have just asked for tap water and saved themselves a small fortune as well as a heap of plastic caps going into landfill…


And finally, there was the guy earlier this month who was selling us some office equipment. We decided to do a Company check at Companies house. ‘In administration’ was the information provided. So, I emailed, politely reminding them it was illegal to continue trading whilst in administration. ‘oh, you’ve got it wrong’ said the salesman ‘that’s an entirely different company, nothing to do with us. Just similar names.’  So, I went back and double checked the details on the proposal and the details at Companies House. Nope! Slight change to company name but same directors, same address, same products. Pinocchio! So, I called him on it. Huge apologies followed with a final big sigh and the words ‘I know nuffin’ really, it was HR that told me to say that.’


As I said before ‘bunkum’!


A more worrying instance of fake news recently was when we were supporting a client with an ongoing employee health issue. They appointed an OH (occupational health) business to assess the employee’s fitness to work. In their report they commented that it was unlawful for the company to have issued a medical questionnaire when the employee started work. They said only occupational health providers can ask about health issues. FAKE NEWS! On our advice, most of our clients get all their new staff to complete a form at the start of their employment (post offer of employment). This is perfectly acceptable in law. Ignore any fake news OH providers who would tell you different in order to drum up more business.



So, is HR disseminating fake news or is HR being blamed for misinformation that has nothing to do with it?


I suspect HR is in fact quite often the easy whipping boy when things go wrong. But not always the innocent and it would do HR no harm to be a bit more challenging at times when tasked with communicating and educating staff about specific issues.


It could also take these three simple steps to combat the HR fake news epidemic…

  1. Make sure that nobody in your HR or training function doesn’t just mindlessly roll out assumed knowledge or a load of bunkum. If no one in the HR is good at asking ‘exactly where does it say that in the legislation or guidance?’ or ‘is that exactly what s/he said’, then you may well have a problem. Facts needs quality checking just as much as products and services do!
  2. Don’t let managers blame their idiotic rules or decisions on HR. HR is tarnished enough without it being needlessly blamed. Take them to task on it.
  3. Reward everyone who asks why. ‘Why’ askers are often verbally ‘abused’ for holding up decision making, making meetings longer or being irritating, but if you need more people who ask ‘why’, take the time to thank and reward those who do, in order to encourage more of the same.

Fake news very often makes you look stupid…so don’t let your HR department be a part of it.

This is a personal blog written by Helen Jamieson. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Jaluch Ltd. The views and opinions posted in response to this blog are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Helen Jamieson or Jaluch Ltd. Jaluch Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of the information within this blog.

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