Annie from Detroit

make hr cry

My story is sad, hire me.

I recently gave a short presentation to our local SHRM chapter about all the fun I had at #SHRMleg this year and the amazing job that SHRM did with the speakers and concurrent sessions. I seriously learned some great stuff at the conference and I was pretty impressed with the speakers for the general sessions. As timing would have it, right before we left for the conference SHRM shared an announcement that the USDOL Secretary would do our closing general session. This announcement was not far behind President Obama’s announcement of making a point to change the exempt/non-exempt standards, so of course HR was hopeful that we would get some insight from DOL Secretary Perez on this issue, (because that was kind of the spin SHRM put on the announcement).  So at the end of the presentation for our NASHRM group when I took questions a handful of them were actually directed at Secretary Perez’s remarks and my previous blog post on Annie from Detroit. My opinion was made somewhat obvious in that blog post that I can’t bleed for every story that comes my way in HR. I can do my best to take care of my people and I can do my best to find the best talent for my organization, but I cannot hire based on someones sad story of long-term unemployment. This is not my opinion it’s actually a real lesson I learned early on in my staffing days-everyone has a story and we are not hiring “a story.” All that to say that I found out today who Annie from Detroit is. I obviously don’t know her life, but she sure doesn’t seem like she’s been unemployed anytime since, well-since I’ve been alive. Here (video below) Perez mentions Andra Rush and I only recognize that Andra is “Annie from Detroit” because he mentions some of the same key points, she manufactures a console for a truck and she’s the sole supplier for that particular part. She didn’t seem like a poor soul in this story like she did the first time I heard him mention her.

To be clear I’m not saying shame on Annie from Detroit for anything. I think it’s great that she has a business in (and has had since 1984) and she wants to employ people and all the other things she wants. I’m saying shame on you Thomas Perez for misrepresenting her story. I’m saying shame on you Thomas Perez for telling less than half of her story and acting like her long-term unemployment struggle was recent. Shame on you for twisting facts to make an impact on people to sway them to think the way you want. Oh wait, just kidding…this is politics. politicians lie

I know, I know-To be fair we all tell a story or two and leave out a detail or embellish in a way to get our point across. The point isn’t to shame Perez, even though he should be ashamed. The point is to challenge you to be involved. Get involved with HR advocacy. Get face to face with the truth and be a part of the solutions for your industry. If you don’t get involved with HR advocacy someone else is going to tell HR’s story for you, and they may not get it right and who is to blame then?



HR under fire

Scrolling around through some social media sites recently I watched HR take some heat for the large number of unemployed, from the unemployed. I read through several conversations that were happening before I gave up on trying to understand the nonsense and just power down. I kept thinking later that it would’ve done the profession zero good for me to try to engage in conversation to clear up some obvious misunderstandings. This group of people seemed to have made their mind up and probably would’ve argued with anyone about anything, and that’s a shame, right?

i hate hr

Let me back up to a week ago. The closing general session of the SHRM legislative conference was the Secretary of Labor from the U.S. Department of Labor, Thomas Perez. He was a wonderful speaker, very charismatic and he took charge of the room like a pro! He had stories too. Stories that would make the hardest of hearts soften. As I listened to him tell the tales of the single mother who couldn’t turn her heat up because she was many months unemployed and struggling to find a job so she bundled up and rationed her food to stay within budget, I looked around the room full of HR professionals. I looked to see who was engaged, who was tweeting and who was truly heart-broken. Then I thought of the worst employee I ever had and how relieved we were when she was no longer employed with us. What if the lady he was telling the story about was her? The employee that had a problem with every holiday we took. The employee that had a problem with every supervisor who asked her to do anything. The employee who was offended by the candy in the vending machine. We’ve all had those employees, right? What if that long-term unemployed person really is that employee?

What blows my mind is that SHRM was very involved in the efforts for the “Ready to Work” initiative, so speaking for the HR community, they care about those long-term unemployed. I also didn’t think it was a secret that HR does NOT own the hiring process, but to read the comments I read it must be a secret still. Hey public, HR doesn’t own the hiring process (and they shouldn’t).

So back to the conversations my computer screen was flooded with, what if those people are that employee? Can we help them? Do we do anything for them? Is it HRs responsibility to get them back on track? Is there really a skills gap in the country or is there an attitude gap? Or better yet, an entitlement gap? Something to chew on this Monday morning, I’d love to hear your thoughts.