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HR Shifts Gears As Workplaces Get More Casual

How the shift to more casual work environments is impacting HR teams

As workplaces become more casual, the role of HR is shifting from “fun police” to “office good guy,” says G&A Partners HR manager Amy Turner.

Amy Turner, an HR manager in G&A Partners' Utah office
Amy Turner, SPHR

Many employers around the country seem to have taken a collective “chill pill” when it comes to certain aspects of their workplaces. The result? A much more relaxed office culture that has permeated everything from dress codes to when and how employees communicate.

In an interview with HR Dive, Amy Turner, an HR manager in G&A Partners’ Salt Lake City, Utah office, recently shared how the “casualization” of corporate culture has created an opportunity for many HR professionals to redefine their roles within their organization.

How HR is adjusting to more casual cultures

“We’ve had to swing so far from being the police to being the advocate in the last 15 years,” she said. “Even our VP calls himself our co-worker. You have to break through those barriers, and I think the casual environment has helped that.”

In her interview with HR Dive, Turner highlights two office norms she driving the trend toward casualness at work: dress codes and scheduling.

  • On dress codes: “‘While I think it is generational, people are able to express themselves at work now,’ said Turner. She added that allowing employees to incorporate their personal sense of style (within reason) into their work wardrobe can help them feel more comfortable and enable them to do their best work.”
  • On employee schedules: “Turner said her company has some people who have a loose 9-to-5 schedule, essentially getting their eight hours of work in at times that work best for them. A few years ago, ‘you would never see that,’ she noted, but with new collaborative technologies, workers can easily be kept accountable. ‘When I do that, it just creates this partnership and trust,’ she said.”

While some might view the “casual revolution” today’s workplaces are experiencing as a potential nightmare for HR professionals, Turner instead sees it as an “opportunity to take on a role as the office good guy, rather than the fun police.”

Indeed, now that HR professionals can spend less time worrying about dress code violations and employees coming in five minutes late, they are now able to redirect that time and energy to more strategic HR functions like recruiting talent, creating succession plans, and minimizing employee turnover.

Curious about exactly how much of a time suck tedious administrative HR tasks are? Check out our infographic: HR’s Time-Consuming Toll On Your Company.”

“We have to know our collective strengths and we have to understand our CEO’s vision and where we want to go,” Turner said. “If we don’t know the people and understand our needs…we cannot be effective HR people.”

Read the full article on the HR Dive website for more insights from Amy and other HR pros: “As the workplace ditches formality, HR finds its new function.”

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