Further Reflections on HR and Fake News
I read with guarded optimism HRE's June 2017 HR Leadership column "HR and Fake News," and I will admit the title drew pre-conceived thoughts of disappointment, since the term "fake news" has been widely popularized over the last year. However, once I read the entire article, my attitude quickly changed, and I realized this article was spot-on. Ms. Susan R. Meisinger did a great job with this article.
In today's digital- and technology-driven society, everyone wants to rush to a computer, call an expert or talk with someone to resolve their issue immediately. HR professionals are no different in this regard. Instead of researching via scholarly articles, journals or textbooks, untrained human resource practitioners now turn to blogs, unverified online sources and data that has not been evaluated and substantiated. This is the equivalent of "fake news" in our industry, and it has the potential to land an organization in deep trouble. Using information found online can be helpful, but it should not be the only source of research if you are a resource partner to your organization. It seems as though accuracy has gone out the window!
I get it: Everyone wants to be the first to break the next big story to people -- the keepers of the information that society covets -- earning them the power and instant gratification, without verification, mind you, as a result. Likewise, when problems arise and a solution needs to be found quickly, people often use the first bit information found in their Google or Bing search, and conclude their research. This often proves to be inaccurate, as truth and facts often take time to research and confirm.
News flash -- HR is not a race! I know everyone's time is limited. We have obligations outside of our work schedules. There are times when we don't have the energy to complete an assignment and try to cut corners. We've all been there; we are human, after all. However, it is imperative to verify and be precise rather than being hasty and inaccurate. Genuine leaders gather information from multiple sources, take time to reflect and then determine an appropriate course of action. As HR professionals, we need to be those genuine leaders.
So my advice to my fellow HR professionals: read, research, reflect and really dig. You can't judge a book by its cover and you surely can't trust "fake news."
Matthew B. Mitchell, SPHR