Leaders say people are important. They’re core to the business. In the next breath we’re outsourcing HR. I find this perplexing.

If your people deliver your customer experience, can we really outsource their employee experience? Where does that leave us?

Good HR is about supporting leaders to create great employee experiences that translate into great customer experiences. Great customer experiences with purpose. Customer experiences that build the business.

Experiences are about relationships. With employees. With leaders. With customers. With internal and external stakeholders (funders, sector bodies, suppliers, partner organisations).

Relationships are hard because good relationships take effort. You know what though? It’s the things we have to work at that are often the most rewarding. Yep. It’s going to take work. If you were looking for a quick fix or a 6 step program it might be time to stop reading.

Further newsflash. Work based relationships are different to personal relationships. There are a few extra rules and regulations you have in a workplace. I mean, no one at home is going to slap you with a work health and safety non-compliance notice because you used a wobbly chair to reach the top shelf of the pantry.

What causes me despair is the way HR often aims to mitigate risk for an organisation.

  1. A focus on compliance, rules and regulations. People can’t scratch themselves without permission. Underpinning these rules is administrative busy work that doesn’t add value to anything. No one can tell you why you have to do it, other than saying “we’ve always done it this way”. Please. Stop. With. The. Forms.
  2. A focus on fear and how terrible it’s going to be if YOU GET IT WRONG. Yes, there are rules in the workplace. Yes there are consequences for getting it wrong. It could be a call from a union, a claim, a lawsuit, or a visit from a government department.  You know what though? Most matters that end up in a claim end up there because the leader was either too afraid or didn’t feel they had the skills (or permission) to have a respectful, open, honest conversation with the people involved when the issue first came up and still had the chance to be resolved

If you’re in a service based industry, people are your service. People set the standard for your brand, consumer engagement and customer experiences. They have a huge impact on whether your organisation reaches its vision, strategies, and goals. How can you outsource management of a core part of your business?

Please don’t outsource HR. Develop the people capability you need in your organisation to reach your vision. Focus on relationship building. Not because it’s warm and fuzzy, because relationship building is a core capability that has a positive impact on the bottom line.

By all means utilise external expertise. Networks, coaching, and consultants absolutely have value. As long as they are partnering with you to build internal people capability for both your HR people and your organisational leaders. If they set themselves up as a crutch for your business or they’re telling you it’s all too hard and you should just let them do it for you, it might be time to re-evaluate the relationship. Are they there for your business or for their own?

Let’s raise the bar on employee experience.  Because employee experience equals customer experience squared. And that’s great business.

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