Workplace Police or Workplace Connector?


By Erica Pinsky, CHRP

Last fall I read a piece in called The Turnover Plague by Kyla Nicholson. The article focused on new research showing that job embeddedness—“how people fit and interpersonal connection to jobs and community”—is significantly related to turnover.

The focus of my work is in supporting workplace practices that create respectful, cohesive communities that employees want to become, and remain, a part of.  By definition, a cohesive workplace community is relationship based.  These days, relationships are formed in a whole host of ways: personal connection, technology and social media.  As I read Nicholson’s piece, I started thinking about HR’s role in creating that kind of connected workplace community.

What could HR do? I decided to contact some HR professionals within my client base to get their perspective on this issue. And, I got my answer when someone I spoke to said, “We get the terrible reputation for being the workplace police. We point out what you can’t do.”

That really resonated with me.  One of the reasons I wrote Road to Respect: Path to Profit was to encourage a shift from a reactive to a proactive approach when dealing with disrespectful, destructive power-based behaviours like bullying and harassment.  The HR professionals I interviewed had  uniformly  adopted a proactive approach, one that focuses on supporting and building relationship across functional, hierarchical and geographical divisions.

What is the first thing you think about when you hear the term workplace police?  It makes me think about power as expressed in command and control leadership. It makes me think about someone whose job it is to enforce the rules and go after those that don’t.  It makes me think about someone that remains separate from society at large, because relationships might jeopardize one’s effectiveness on the job.

Alternatively, what comes to mind when you think about a workplace connector? I think about someone who is out there, talking, getting to know people, and discovering ways to support the kinds of empowered relationships that build strong, resilient partnerships and teams.

Do I really need to ask which one you would prefer to emulate?

Erica Pinsky will be presenting Workplace Police or Workplace Connector: Facilitate Change with Personal Power at BC HRMA’s 50th Annual Conference and Tradeshow in Vancouver on April 25-27, 2012. For more information, please visit

Erica Pinsky M.Sc, CHRP, is a respectful workplace solutions expert and author of the highly acclaimed book Road to Respect: Path to Profit (How to Become an Employer of Choice by Building a Respectful Workplace Culture). A provocative and inspirational speaker, trainer, author and consultant she works with business to build respectful workplace cultures that attract and retain top talent in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and destructive conflict. Contact her at 604-266-1267,, or

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