The HR Director (actually “Personnel” in those dark days) stood up to make a keynote speech, looked slowly around the room, and began with the thought: “The first thing this organisation needs to do is get rid of all the dead wood in senior management”.

A true tale, witnessed by one of our Paycare clients, but sadly names cannot be added, and some of the HR fails we draw to your attention here will also be subject to some degree of anonymity, if only to protect the health of our solicitors!

We’ll also leave you to draw your own conclusions about the effects such actions might have had and any staff well-being ideas you might garner from them. You might think some are minor points, but consider the effect they might have…

• One company sacked an employee for posting an Instagram picture of his pay-check. Their reasoning was that he shared confidential information, yet the only confidence he broke was surely his own! The HR department appears also to have forgotten that they were presenting a heavy-handed and unflattering story to the world of social media!

• About ten years ago, a high-end fashion company sacked a female employee for wearing a hijab (you may have heard of similar cases). Their reasoning was given as “a violation of company look”. It took another seven years for this policy to be changed, the obvious fact that policy cannot violate the law seeming eventually to make its presence felt!

• The company who laid off a large number of employees including the person responsible for their social media output. Unfortunately, “change all social media passwords” had not been added to the HR to-do list – with obvious results!

Practical examples of HR mistakes

Such stories, often seemingly minor before all the implications are realised, can be entertaining (unless they happen to you) and provide food-for-thought. However, it’s often the neglect of practical actions that can lead to a failure in the delivery of performance for any organisation. Here are seven questions to ask, to assess whether your HR policies might fail you, at least to some degree:

• Are all individual goals clearly linked to those of the company?

• Do you have processes in place to measure how HR activity impacts on the bottom line, in comparison to the costs expended?

• Have you failed to put effective staff motivation and retention policies in place?

• Are you fully in control of your recruitment strategies, rather than allowing individual piecemeal actions?

• Do you fairly and frequently measure all employees’ performance?

• Are your HR practices acceptable within the law as it stands at this moment?

• Do you keep all legally-required documentation?

An epic HR fail

If you have any examples you could share with readers of our Paycare blog – anonymously if preferred – please let us know. We also tried to think of an epic historical fail to end with. We suddenly remembered this grand old guy who apparently marched ten thousand men up to the top of a hill, then promptly marched them all back down again. He obviously lacked the professional HR help needed to make best use of his resources!