HR Nitty-Gritty: “Employee Engagement is a big company luxury”

by Duncan

This is the first in our ‘HR Nitty-Gritty’ series where we speak to HR practitioners and Experts. In this interview, we speak to Paul Murray of Paul Murray HR Consultant Ltd. Paul is based in the UK.

1. How has HR changed since you first entered the sector?
It hasn't really changed all that much.The expression Employee Engagement" is merely the current fashion, it used to be called "Employee Ownership" before that it was "Empowerment" and before that something else. It's mostly a luxury enjoyed by the larger business where the HR senior has "sold" it to senior management. It has its place of course, but it really has to be a fit with the company ethos, it's not a "plug-in" Small businesses have had employee engagement forever; they just didn't know it had a name! worker A would know if he didn't pull his weight, then his mate worker B would suffer, and they both knew that they wouldn't let boss/owner Bert down, as they'd known him since school, and their jobs depended on the success/survival of the business.

2. How are HR departments managing / promoting employee engagement, in your experience? It all depends on the size of the organisation, most that I've come across have tended to see it as yet another burden to be given lip service, whilst they get on with the real work with which they are already so busy.

3. What's the most common HR mistake you see?
Failing to accept / recognise that the HR function is part of the profit/loss balance sheet of the business, it is not meant to be a philanthropic activity.

4. What's the future for the HR department, what does HR's role look like in 10-15 years?
I’ve found that pretty much what I'm doing today, is not much different that which I was doing 10-15 years ago, in its activity or its expected outcomes, all that's changed is the technology and the jargon. (HR? I used to be a personnel manager). I cannot envisage that it will change all that much.

5. What are some of your favorite websites for HR news?
I’ve always found both HR Magazine & Personnel Today (online) to be most informative.

6. What does your company specialize in?
At Paul Murray HR Consultant Ltd. I provide down to earth real world advice, i.e. practical solutions to real problems; I'm the "Personnel Manager" who happens to work from home! See for more.

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