The words "human resources" will likely get a mixed response from employees in most workspaces. Many are scared of the HR departments in their offices - any time they need to meet with their HR representatives, they assume the worst. Questions start racing through their heads: Am I fired? Am I not getting a paycheck this week? Is my health insurance changing again?
Communicating with HR doesn't always have to be an ordeal, though. In fact, in some workplace endeavors, it's a fundamental part of the job. Facilities management is one area where being able to communicate effectively with HR will go a long way.
FMs and HR executives have a lot in common. For example, both departments have the ultimate goal of making the workforce as productive as possible - they're just examining the challenge from two different angles. For a facilities manager, it's a matter of coming up with optimal ways to manage space so that all workers will be effective, whereas in HR, it's a matter of interpersonal relations and workplace conditions.
HR blogger Kayla Porter understands that working with human resources leaders can be a bit daunting at first. She acknowledges that people are generally averse to meeting with the HR reps in their offices.
"It should be no secret to anyone who has worked in HR for a month that it has a stigma amongst employees of all levels as the place for time out, the naughty corner, a dungeon of doom, kiss of death - a most horrid place you want to stay away from like the plague, the kind some people never return to their work area from," Porter said.
Those are strong words, but in facilities management, you need to be able to talk to HR, engage with them and encourage them to listen to your ideas. Together, you and the HR department can make your office and the people in it more productive.
Blair Bedford of Madame Noire has a few words of advice on how to communicate effectively with HR leaders. The most important rule of all is to remain professional. Remember, one role of an HR department in any office is to set certain levels of decency and ethical behavior. If you're disgruntled about the way your office is using its facilities, it's reasonable to express your frustration, but if you begin using inappropriate language or personal attacks, you're bound to start a firestorm of HR trouble. HR executives require a certain level of professionalism, and you'd best play by their rules.
Avoiding gossip circles
Workers love to spread gossip in their offices, whether it's about their co-workers, supervisors or employers. When you're among your peers in your own department, this is probably commonplace. With HR, not so much. Gossiping to your HR representative is bound to create internal conflicts, as HR's role is to maintain civil, professional relationships among co-workers. If you violate social norms in a professional setting, it might lead to interpersonal problems.
Keeping HR in the loop
As a facilities manager, you no doubt know all about the importance of collecting data. You're probably monitoring real-time information about your office, supply room and mailroom on a daily basis. HR executives are no different - they want to constantly have the ability to monitor up-to-date information about their offices. Therefore, it's best to keep them in the loop, updating them as often as you can about the productivity of the office. Communication is key.
Communicating with HR isn't fun for most employees. But in facilities management, it's a must. Developing this facility management skill with help you better ensure that your office stays productive for the long haul.
How HR and Facilities Management Can Begin Building a Bond
HR and FM leaders are busy people. Both professionals bear the tremendous burden of keeping the workforce happy, healthy, engaged and productive. Finding time to collaborate on processes can seem nearly impossible, but taking the time to do so can eliminate future headaches for both teams. One of the benefits of a facility management software is making collaboration easy.
The best way to kick off the relationship is with respect and empathy. Here are three things facilities leaders can do to forge a bond with HR:
- Start by highlighting a few common goals and shared challenges.
- Make an effort to share trends and insights you’ve gleaned from data you’ve collected.
- Keep them in the loop on any decisions you’re making about the facility that will impact the workforce.
A facilities management software can help with the above by providing a platform that helps optimize accessibility and productivity.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.