4 Lessons We Can Learn From Human Resource Management Scandals

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Human resource management professionals are no strangers to scandal. From sexual harassment to interoffice politics, HR managers are in the thick of solving complex issues.

Human Resource Management to the Rescue

When a scandal breaks at an organization, it’s not just the public relations officer that jumps into action, most likely the HR manager is already working on solutions.

Scandals happen, and the human resource management department is often there to help pick up the pieces and re-center their organization to recover from the fall out.

In recent years, there have been quite a few scandals that could challenge even the most seasoned HR professional.

Here are four scandals human resource managers can learn from.

Harassment Ailes at Fox News

The founding chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes was ousted after numerous sexual harassment, discrimination and unprofessional behavior complaints were filed against him, including complaints from anchor Megyn Kelly. The accusers felt that Fox News’ culture did not offer a safe haven to report harassment without it affecting their careers. One accuser, in a lawsuit, claimed that she did report the harassment to human resources to no avail. Fox News hired a new human resources chief to help course-correct a corporate culture that propagates fear of repercussion for reporting sexual harassment.

Human resource managers are the first-responders for harassment and with that comes great responsibility. As a steward of a positive corporate culture, human resource managers must exhibit strong leadership in times of turbulence and navigate conflict among leadership. Opinions among leadership will differ on how to handle a situation, the human resource manager must be willing to exhibit thei9r expertise and pull from other cases to help their organization understand how harassment negatively impacts their organization’s bottom-line.

Uber Sexual Harassment

It took 215 complaints to human resources to finally address rampant sexual harassment at Uber. A former Uber engineer and whistleblower uncovered that Uber’s human resources team had been systematically ignoring sexual harassment claims. Her explosive allegations posted online spurred an internal probe and the firing of over 20 Uber employees. Subsequently, Uber has hired a new SVP of leadership and strategy to foster a more positive corporate culture.

Once Uber’s new team of HR managers is able to diagnose how it happened in the first place, they will be informed on now only what not to do, but what issues need to be addressed. The incoming HR managers can take advantage of the organization’s willingness and need to change and put policies into place that will create a more positive corporate culture that combats fear of retribution for reporting harassment.

A toxic workplace equals loss of talent, so it’s essential that human resources management pros address corporate culture early and often or the ripple will cause not only the loss of talent, but make it harder to recruit top talent if the organization has a negative reputation for it’s corporate culture.

Miami Dolphins’ Big Bully

Bullies aren’t just in the schoolyard, they can also be in the office or out in the field. This was the case for one Miami Dolphins player who was consistently bullied by a fellow team mate.  Intimidation techniques perpetrated by another player included leaving racist voicemails and pressuring the victim into spending their personal money on team-related activities.

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t rare in the workplace, survey’s report that 35% of workers have experienced bullying at their organizations. And the worst part is there are no regulations that outlaw this type of behavior, leaving human resources managers without legal support to shut it down. 65% of employers don’t even have an anti-bullying workplace policy.

What’s an HR manager to do in this situation? First, HR managers have to get buy-in from their leadership team to address bullying as a determinate to their organization. Then, HR managers can put together a policy that includes preventive measures like training, complaint procedures, investigation procedures, assurances and enforcement.

Over-Sharing on Social Media

Employers have a basic assumption that their employees will not disparage them on social media. But today, this behavior has run rampant, as current and recently fired employees share not-so flattering information about their current and former employers.

Accidental tweets sent out on corporate accounts meant for personal accounts has caused many firings, but one social media manager took it to the next level by live-tweeting a massive layoff at their organization. Because of the public nature of social media, quite often these scandals receive media coverage and reflect badly on the organization.

While HR managers are experienced with the already difficult task of firing employees, now these procedures have become even more complicated thanks to social media. The days of only having to calling security to oversee an employee’s exit are over, now HR managers must work with their IT, public relations and marketing team to preemptively reset passwords on corporate social media accounts and terminate cell phone service on company phones.

HR managers now must blend their organization’s HR policies with their IT and social media policies as well as work with their marketing and public relations team to be able to quickly respond to negative social media content posted by current or recently fired employees.

There’s a lot human resource managers can learn from today’s headlines, but there are also other trends to stay on top of, like managing a global workforce and incorporating new technologies into onboarding new employees. Check out our whitepaper on 6 Trends in Human Resources.

Master's in Human Resources Management

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I’m a self-proclaimed marketing nerd whose primary role at Florida Tech is to support our enrollment marketing efforts. When I’m not inundated with inspiration from our stellar faculty, students and staff, you’ll find me getting my crafting skills on with my daughter or awkwardly dancing at a concert.

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