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Wanted: A Miracle Worker?

March 13, 2012

Not that long ago I ran across a job posting for the position of “Recruitment & Engagement Specialist” with a retail entity.  The job posting, fairly hum drum and uninspiring, outlined responsibilities including:

  • handling recruiting and staffing activities for multiple locations
  • ensuring compliance with HR’ish things like EEO, ADAAA, FMLA, FLSA, etc etc
  • conducting orientation for new employees
  • processing employee relations issues including performance discussions and terminations, AND
  • managing employee engagement across all locations

The posting requested that candidates have at least 1 year work experience, preferably in retail. Human Resources experience and/or a degree in HR was a plus but not necessary.



Now HR experience is most definitely not the be-all and end-all.  In a position with responsibility for recruiting, an individual with actual-on-the-job experience will, more than likely, have a bit more to offer when it comes to finding the right kind of people to come to work.  And, during new employee orientation, someone who has been-there-done-that will probably be more credible as a trainer/facilitator than a nice middle-aged HR lady in a classic suit and sensible closed-toe pumps.

But taking this same person and making them responsible for HR compliance and the management of employee relations?  Makes my teeth itch.   That’s like grabbing me and putting me in charge of the SAS 70 audit. 

And how, I ask for the sake of all that is holy, can it be conceivable that this individual they are seeking will have the ability to “manage employee engagement?”


I highly doubt I shock a single person reading this when I point out that employee engagement does not rest with the nice folks in the HR department.  Neither I, nor a single one of my HR peers, can ensure employees are engaged nor can we manage their engagement.

Manage:  “to direct or control the use of; handle;” “to exert control over;” “to make submissive to one’s authority, discipline, or persuasion;” “to direct the affairs or interests of; “to succeed in accomplishing or achieving, especially with difficulty; contrive or arrange.”

HR professionals and organizational leaders can work to create a workplace culture where engagement (happiness, joy-in-work, just plain not being annoyed) can occur.  But no one can wave their magic HR wand and manage engagement.  Nor, dare I say, is it likely that an entry level Recruitment & Engagement Specialist will be able to end any toxic behaviors that exist and set the organizational wide strategy that would need to accompany enterprise-wide efforts focused on ‘increasing engagement.’


I feel a little sorry for the person brought on board for this.  Oh sure, on the one hand it’s a great opportunity for someone to go in and make their mark, create an awesome employment experience and rock the crap outta this job.  But on the other hand, I fear this person is being set up to fail; how is someone, at this level (I would estimate a hiring range in the low $30ks), going to hit-all-the-marks in this job?  

Is it another case of searching for a miracle worker?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2012 7:42 am

    Robin, I bet you knew I would comment when you posted this!

    Holy Cow! I couldn’t agree more! Employee Engagement rests primarily with leadership, not some poor bugger tasked to manage EEO compliance and on-boarding (maybe that is a stretch using that word too?). And even leadership should know that EE should not rest solely in HR, but I am sure many think it does.

    … so many to teach, so many to hear the word about becoming the employer of choice through employee engagement… and how to get there. Thanks for bringing light to my favorite topic to teach and preach about!

    See you in New Orleans!


  2. Bonita Martin permalink
    March 13, 2012 8:43 am

    My guess is that manage “employee engagement activities” is secret code for “organizes and ships holiday gifts” or maybe even “manages budget for local company picnics”.

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