Are Your HR Practices Brain-Friendly?

HR practitioners are too much like the barber-surgeons of the Middle Ages. Reason enough for HR to be “blown to smithereens,” let alone disrupted.

That’s the intriguing opening of Rahila Narejo’s talk to a — appropriately enough — DisruptHR audience in Karachi Pakistan. The CEO of NarejoHR, she makes the case that too many HR practices are not driven by enough science and specifically, brain science.

“If we don’t look at what drives human behavior — which is basically the brain — we are changing at a loss,” says Narejo. “Much of HR practices today are not brain friendly. In fact, they trigger a strong threat response in our brains.”

Before you dismiss that thesis, consider that you may joke about being the HR police, but in many workplaces employees see HR just that way. Being called to the HR office is the grown-up version of being called to the principal’s office.

Narejo’s point is that employees perform better in the absence of threats. She advocates adopting the SCARF model of management and development. [The initials stand for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. This article explains them.]

In the 5 minutes DisruptHR speakers are allotted, Narejo only has time to offer it as a blueprint for HR to analyze its practices with the objective “to minimize threat and maximize reward in our organizations.”

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And if you’re wondering just how HR is like the barber-surgeon, you’ll have to watch the video to find out.

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