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2 HR Mistakes that Make HR Initiatives Unpopular

HR programs can provide tremendous value to an organization. But at the same time, HR’s initiatives aren’t always popular with employees, managers, or other key stakeholders.

This can be bad. Unpopular HR initiatives aren’t anywhere near as effective. They might even create new problems of their own.

Fortunately, researchers are beginning to understand more about why some HR initiatives succeed, while others fail. And they have identified 2 key HR mistakes to avoid.

HR Mistake #1: Explaining an initiative, rather than the intended benefits

This is a surprisingly common HR mistake.

Research has shown that even the best high-performance HR strategies don’t add much value when employees don’t think that they’re valuable. What makes employees think an HR initiative isn’t valuable?

This often happens because people get fixated on the initiative itself. The substance. Maybe you’re introducing new classes and training materials, maybe it’s a survey, or maybe it’s some new rules, regulations, policies, or guidelines. If you leave it at that, these things just sound like more work. They seem like a burden.

It’s just as important to describe the intended benefits of your initiative.

Are there useful knowledge, skills, and abilities to be gained? Are you trying to increase motivation? Improve workplace culture? Promote fairness? Increase productivity? If you don’t say it, people will stay fixated on the first part. Sounds like work. Seems like a burden.

HR initiatives don’t really seem all that valuable unless you can get people to think about the intended benefits.

HR Mistake #2: Moving too quickly

This HR mistake is less obvious than the first.

If you have a valuable new HR initiative, why not start right now? Research has shown that employees think very differently about HR initiatives, depending on when they are expected to happen. If it’s happening soon, people will be more fixated on their own potential difficulties or inconveniences.

As a result, they tend to become less supportive of the initiative. If it’s happening farther in the future, people are much more likely to see the “big picture” (especially the larger or longer-term benefits). As a result, they become more supportive of the initiative.

If you want more acceptance of an HR initiative, schedule it for some time in the future. Give your people some time to think big first.