An article posted yesterday in the SHRM HR Daily Newsletter, took a stand that in HR matters, “Consistency Might Not Be Worth the Cost.” Although I understand that no two situations are exactly the same, and careful consideration of all the factors should drive reasonable outcomes, taking out the need for consistency seems a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
For literally decades, employment attorneys have been driving into the heads of HR professionals that consistent compliance is everything. Why? Because defending a discrimination, harassment or retaliation claim is extremely difficult when there is no fair and consistent process in place. How can you prove that treatment is unbiased? And liability protection is a big part of the HR function. But I agree, it is not everything.
The dangers of having a culture where it’s okay to decide on an individual basis what is acceptable or allowed and what is not, are more about the impact on culture than about liability. HR professionals and managers are human. And quite frankly, the concern is about leaving the door open to favoritism and unconscious biased based decisions.
The good news is, in this case, you can have it all! You can implement a consistent compliant process that uses organizational beliefs, core values and standards as measurables to determine outcomes. It’s about implementing a consistent, transparent process that is the right fit for your culture and can clearly define and document why and how decisions are made. It doesn’t have to mean the same decision every time. But it does have to mean using the same process to come to the right decision every time, and documenting how that is done.
The benefits of using a consistent, complaint and compassionate process
A consistent, compliant process for handling and/or investigating a situation or incident allows employees to see that:
- the organization cares about how all people are treated in the workplace.
- A predictable and transparent process means that employees will be treated fairly and with respect, no matter what the outcome.
- their voices matter and there are means to begin conversations on things that are not working before they become big issues.
Once employees understand and trust the consistent processes, they will use them earlier and more frequently to resolve issues resulting in:
- quicker and more respectful resolution to problems large and small.
- increase in team work efficiencies and enjoyment.
- peer to peer resolution through more open communication.
- reduction in fear of bringing issues to the forefront.
Let’s face it, employees who feel they are treated fairly in opportunities, valued in their contribution, and respected in communication and treatment thrive in the work environment. It is okay to be creative, open to new ideas and practices, but we don’t need to lose consistency in order to do it.