HR Strange But True!
February 04, 2003
We all know that HR is never boring. But sometimes it can get downright strange...

Spotlight turned on HR

HR professionals came off looking a little strange themselves in a recent Wall Street Journal article headlined, "An Anthropological Look At Human-Resources Pros." Staff Reporter Jared Sandberg wrote that while you just can't live without HR pros, "you can't live with them, either. When did simple English slip away from them? And who came up with all those goofy orientation games that have new employees hugging trees, and each other, in a wooded retreat?"

Sandberg answers the first question this way:

"Today's linguistic obfuscation started in the 1960s, when HR became more of a compliance arm, ensuring the company wasn't straying from equal opportunity and occupational-safety laws, among others, says Patrick Wright, professor of HR studies at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Suddenly, lawyers and insurance companies, understanding it's easier to argue with someone who doesn't understand a word you're saying, began writing benefits plans for HR.

"The HR's argot is so impenetrable that when Prof. Wright had to change his benefits, even he was stumped: 'I teach HR and I had to go down to our HR person and have her help me fill out my benefit-enrollment forms!'"

Apparently, benefit administrators make themselves the least understood of HR pros. "You can't say out loud half of what most benefits people write," Steve Crescenzo, a consultant who helps companies cut jargon, told the Journal. "It wouldn't shock me to find out these people are from a different planet."

Source: Wall Street Journal article, via

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