Why HR Should Not Treat Everyone The Same

I know it sounds crazy. I know it goes against everything we’re taught about HR. But I believe HR really shouldn’t treat everyone exactly the same. Treating everyone similarly can actually do us more harm than good — and it actually causes a lot of the issues that people find most frustrating about HR. The reason why?

Because everyone is different and has different needs.

Everyone Has Different Needs 

Different people have different needs — and nowhere is this more true than in the workplace. Imagine a company that encourages employees to take more time off and work fewer hours in the interest of work-life balance. That would be amazing for the people who feel burned out and like they need more time off.

But consider the perspective of an employee who’s highly focused on their career at this stage of their life. They love their job and thrive on chasing after bigger achievements — and they’re more than happy to work overtime to get things done. If you push them to limit themselves to 40 hours a week, they might get frustrated and choose to work somewhere else.

One team member might thrive in an informal work environment with frequent social interaction. Another team member might find this distracting and draining. One team member might be eager to learn new skills and grow with lunch-and-learns. Another might find it an expensive waste of time if it doesn’t fit their learning style. For example, they might prefer to go through an online course on their own time or even read a book on the subject.

The list goes on.

Treat People Differently — But Assess Everyone Equally

Since people have different needs, it’s important that HR works to understand these differences and accommodate people accordingly. If you treated all the people listed above identically, it would be no surprise if some of them left for a new opportunity. This is where the “danger” of treating people the same comes in. If we’re treating everyone the same, we’re inevitably ignoring our team’s unique needs and wants by just giving them what’s most convenient for us.

Time and time again businesses offer blanket solutions for challenges like engagement, turnover, culture and morale — and end up wasting a lot of time and resources in the process. It’s important to treat our people fairly. That’s why I have to emphasize that we should assess everyone equally.

We should provide each team member with the same opportunities as the next. Likewise, every employee should be judged by objective metrics when it’s time to offer raises, promotions and so forth. The same goes for candidates. From a legal, morale and company culture perspective, we have to assess people equally.

Ask Questions And Encourage Leaders To Do The Same 

Understanding what team leaders’ needs are is difficult. It can be hard to know where to start and how we can best serve our team members once we move past blanket solutions. The best thing you can do today is to ask questions. Strive to learn more about your team members as individuals. Coach leaders across the organization on how they can do the same.

Leaders should seek to understand what their team members want not just out of work, but out of their lives in general. If we know our team members’ personal goals and ambitions, we can support them in helping them become a better version of themselves. In doing so, we can retain high performers and inspire them to achieve more — and we can do it far more effectively than we ever could with company-wide initiatives.

People Are Different — Act Accordingly 

People are different. Try as we might, we can’t get around that fact. The larger your organization is, the harder it can be to treat people differently according to their needs. However, the rewards are truly worth it.


You might also like

Comments are closed.