“Dirty Jobs” in HR

by Michael Haberman on February 3, 2011 · 1 comment


If you watch TV in the United States you have seen the ubiquitous host of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe. (In addition to hosting Dirty Jobs he also does ads for jeans and cars.) Mike has the philosophy that “nobody ever got hurt by getting dirty.”

Well that got me to thinking, would Mike Rowe ever visit an HR department? Are there enough things that have to be done in HR to qualify it for being a “dirty job”? Of course part of that (channeling my best Bill Clinton) “depends on what the definition of ‘dirty’ is.” Do you actually get physically dirty, messy, wet, gooey, or nasty doing HR. Generally not, but there may be some situations where this occurs. But I was thinking more of “dirty” meaning doing the things that others do not want to do. These may include:

  • Telling the employee with four kids and a sick wife that his job has been eliminated because of the economy;
  • Telling the single mother with three kids, that despite her good work she is just not there enough to meet even the laxest attendance policy and thus she is being terminated;
  • Hassling supervisors because they are not timely with their performance evaluations;
  • Having to deal with mounds of paperwork;
  • Having to deal with an attorney who is suing on behalf of an employee who deserved to be terminated;
  • Having to deal with government inspectors just because you happen to be in a targeted industry;
  • Having to answer that benefits question for the umteenth time even though you have a benefit portal;
  • Having to deal with an executive who thinks that HR should still be responsible for planning the company picnic.

What else can you think of that would qualify as one of HR’s dirty jobs? What can we make Mike Rowe do that would gross him out? Let me know.

Mike Rowe does have a great line that I think everyone should think about. It is “If you are willing to get dirty you can write your own ticket.” Think about it.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laurie February 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

What an interesting perspective on “dirty” jobs! I love the show, where the host gets really dirty (physically), so you caught my attention with your comments. Having done that (good job, by the way!), I can see where you are coming from and you make a lot of sense. Except for the initial hiring, and hopefully occasional pay raises, most of HR’s jobs do qualify as “dirty”. Why do you think this is? Are there things that HR officers could do to make their jobs less dirty and more attractive? I’ve been doing some readings that suggest the HR duties be spread across various managers to create a more horizontal structure, with HR personnel serving as consultants…does this seem viable to you?

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