Pain of Playing

In behavioral economics we study a phenomenon known as the pain of paying.

Essentially, why some purchases hurt more than others. Make it easy to pay and sales increase. Make it harder, people resist.

You can test this at home. Spending too much lately? Convert to a cash-only mode and watch your expense rate decline.

Google Dan Ariely, late of MIT and currently at the fine Duke University for more.

I've been thinking about an extrapolation of this rule for business. What about the pain of playing, say, with the HR department?

Having worked, consulted with and visited many teams over the years I've seen a range in approach here. Something drives us to one end of the spectrum or the other vis a vis ease of use.

Should HR be difficult to play with?

Do you have “office hours” and a you-come-see-us attitude? You are increasing the pain of playing. HR staff take all the traditional holidays while operations and sales (think retail and manufacturing) are on full schedule? Difficult to play with you. Hold day-long off-sites for the HR team to develop engagement ideas while no one answers phone calls or returns emails? You're not easy to play with.

When people finally do see you is your first response “you can find that on the web/handbook/policy manual”? Yes, your people know that: they just want a human touch. If remote workers have to navigate a phone tree that makes them blanch when calling in for HR services you are not playing nice.

You see the point.

There are many models of offering HR services around the world. There isn't a single best approach to be employed. What I'm asking is that you to reflect on this question:

Do you like the pain of playing in your organization?

At its core Human Resources finds, develops and retains talent. That's what we do. If that talent – the people around you – find you difficult to play with long-term, they stop doing so.

If our primary purpose is enabling people to drive the business and those very same people don't find us easy to partner with… that cannot be good.

For us.

Or them.

Think about how easy it is to play with your HR team.

And if you don't like it the answer change the rules of the game.



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