HR Neutrality

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 on how to treat net neutrality.  If regulators find in favor of ISPs 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’. 

It’s a basic concept.  Everyone should be treated equal. 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.  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.  We attempt to treat everyone equally.  In many ways this is good. Male/female, old/young, black/white, we have an obligation to treat our employees the same.  But we take it to 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 and treat all employees the same.  If I treat everyone the same, no one can complain they were treated differently.  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 you treat Timmy the same as you treat them.  They want to be treated differently than Timmy.  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?  Our leadership doesn’t like either.  Remember, your leaders are leaders because they were once your best employees.  They hate 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.

8 thoughts on “HR Neutrality

  1. @john hollen. I noticed your reply came in pretty early in my parts this morning, so no harm no foul. But I think you’re attributing statements to the wrong folks. Follow the arrow down to see who wrote what. “I” stated that HR utilizes neutrality to help the company they work for avoid litigation since that seems to be one of their primary objectives.

    Besides, I would never advocate joining a union. They served their purpose 100 years ago but so did the horse and buggy. Both are fairly irrelevent today.

  2. I love “jasen”‘s comment, particularly when he writes that “If the employee wants better representation…they should join a union.”

    That’s a wonderful perspective, and exactly the kind of short-sighted thinking that drives employees to want to join a union in the first place.

    Yes, of course HR is part of management and represents the company, but I believe that HR’s credibility problems started the day that they quit worrying about the care and feeding of workers (our “most important resource,” as so many executives put it), and started taking the kind of nutty tough guy stance that “jasen” seems to advocate.

  3. We often confuse basic concepts in HR (and to be fair in other disciplines as well), but it would certainly be good for HR folks to bone up on the difference between Equity and Equality. It makes all the difference!

  4. Why is HR Neutrality so prevalent? Lawsuits. While I believe in the importance of HR, I often feel its primary objective is to prevent the company from litigation.

  5. Because you have a comment section and it’s “live” I assume you want us to comment on your posts.

    While I agree with your comments on treating people differently.

    Comparing the way we treat people and internet speed isn’t a very compelling analogy….at all.

    Actually…it’s really a bad one. One that doesn’t really make sense if you think about it at all.

    HR should not be neutral. They represent the company. They represent the goals, objectives, vision of the company. Not the employee. If the employee wants better representation…they should join a union.

    Keep trying Tim.

    • I’m assuming this is why most bloggers stopped having a ‘live’ comment section. Thanks for pointing this out.


  6. Very interesting concept. I love having a name to put with it, a new buzzword to throw around at board meetings. HR Neutrality, it has a nice ring. I recently had an employee extremely upset because the owner treats his assistant better/differently than the rest of the admin staff. My point to her was this: do you want her job? Do you want to stay here until 8:00 three nights a week while he finishes seeing “just one more patient” before going home? Do you want to bear the brunt of his anger when he’s frustrated, even when it has nothing to do with you? Do you want to speak to over 200 patients a day and baby the whiny ones because that’s how he likes his practice run? No, you don’t. These are the things she deals with to get those perks. Yes, he buys her a bottle of wine every week. Yes, he takes her to dinner when he takes his NP. You’re right, I let her sleep in on the days he’s not in the office. I’m not treating her differently, I’m preventing burnout. It’s been my experience that most employees’ perceptions of favoritism are unfounded because those employees are not willing to do what the favorites do. HR people should treat them differently. The ones who bust their asses to get everything done should be trusted to leave early here and there. The ones who can’t be trusted, and who have documented activities that prove that, should be held on a tighter leash. And have Facebook blocked from their workstations. It seems to me that some HR people hide behind this Neutrality concept to avoid dealing with the problem children or coming up with ways to acknowledge the stars. They have a MO for handling all employees, they’re comfortable with it, and they don’t see any reason to think outside it.

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