HR Neutrality: Everybody Seems to Hate It – Except, of Course, HR

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There has been a ton of press around “Net Neutrality” lately.

Net neutrality is the concept that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.

Companies like Comcast stand to make a lot of money based on how federal regulators decide how to treat net neutrality. If regulators find in favor of ISPs (Internet service providers) they can start charging more for faster Internet access, basically creating the haves and the have nots of the Internet – or the “fast lane” and the “slow lane.”

HR Pros take neutrality to heart

It’s a basic concept. Everyone should be treated equally — both big powerful companies and small powerless people. Or should they?

First and foremost, I’m a capitalist. I like to pay more and sit in better seats at sporting events. I pay high taxes so I can live in a better neighborhood and police will actually come to my house when I call.

So, if I want my Internet to come through a firehose instead of a garden hose, I’ll pay for it!

I get it, though. The American Dream is now a “dream” more than ever for most people simply because they’ll never make it a reality. We are a nation of haves and have nots, but mostly of have nots.

The concept of neutrality is also something HR Pros take to heart.

The best employees don’t want HR neutrality

We attempt to treat everyone equally. In many ways this is good. Male/female, old/young, black/white; we have an obligation to treat all our employees the same. But we take it too far.

Net neutrality doesn’t say some will get the Internet and some will not. It says some will get the Internet faster because they paid to have it faster. Those who are upset over this issue are upset because they’ll be treated differently.

It’s the same reason HR Pros tend to try to treat all employees the same. If I treat everyone the same, no one can complain they were treated differently. And, therein lies the problem — your best employees don’t want HR Neutrality!

Your best employees want to be treated differently. They see Timmy slacking off and not pulling his weight, and they HATE that you treat Timmy the same as you treat them.

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They want to be treated differently than Timmy, and they want faster Internet. They feel they deserve it. They feel they deserve to be treated better than you treat your average and below average employees.

So, this begs the question: why is HR Neutrality so prevalent in our industry?

A concept that nobody outside HR seems to like

Our leadership doesn’t like it either. Remember, your leaders are leaders because they were once your best employees. They hate that you treat everyone equally as well.

Our employees hate HR Neutrality. Our leadership hates HR Neutrality. Yet, we continue to profess HR Neutrality.

Is HR morally better than the rest of our organization? Or, are we afraid that eliminating HR Neutrality will shine a bigger light upon our own shortcomings as a function?

Either way, I want the faster Internet.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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1 Comment on “HR Neutrality: Everybody Seems to Hate It – Except, of Course, HR

  1. The key in HR, leadership and really everywhere in life is to treat people respectfully at all levels, but still treat those who put in the effort, who show merit, better. Give that harder worker a pat on the back. Don’t just reprimand the below average employee, give out the gold stars to those who are great at what they do. It doesn’t always have to be monetarily. It could be in other ways. Allow their supervisor to put them in so that they can take an hour off early on a Friday. Give the a nice lunch. Heck, even saying to them “You’re doing a fantastic job.”
    If you don’t, your great employee’s will lose morale and they may simply not work as hard because it’s obvious to them that there isn’t any consideration for their performance. They may still work for that promotion, but give them a carrot at the end of their stick. They’re making the company money, and forgetting that can lead to the downfall of a company.

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