Last month I was working with a group of HR Managers. In the middle of a workshop I made an observation about how they approach a particular element of their work: I have worked with a wide range of NHS organisations over the last decade and it was the first time that I had seen this practice.
Their response was interesting: they worked through all the risks associated with their current practice in comparision to that in other organisations, making reference to relevant legislation where appropriate. In the end they decided that although what they do is different to other Trusts, they saw no reason or benefit for changing their practice. And I agreed with them.
But what impressed me most about this discussion was their approach: their knowledge of legislation is current and embedded into their every day practice. This group of managers regularly get involved in ETs and I began to wonder if this had an impact on their approach?
To give another example: sometime last year, I worked with a Trust which was very proud of the fact that they had not a single employee submit an ET claim for 10 years. But when I worked with the HR Managers, I discovered that they had limited understanding of best practice, current legislation or national guidance. These managers had not had their practice challenged in court and so they and their organisation had allowed the quality of their work to slip.
The comparisons are easy to make, but in an ideal world we (as HR professionals) shouldn’t have to go invest a disproportionate amount of time working on ETs to make us good practitioners. There are ways to ensure that we are maintaining our understanding, embedding it in our every day conversations without having to defend our manager’s actions in court. The Trust with poor HR practice also demonstrated a lack of challenge and accountability with the HR Team, which no doubt contributed to their limited knowledge and understanding of their profession.
I’m not saying that regularly fighting ETs is the only way to stay sharp, but it certain helps.