In the classes that I teach on the HR I talk about the importance of understanding that HR is not a set of discrete programs, such at the comp program, the training program, the recruiting program, etc., rather is is an interactive system where activity in one aspect of the system may have, or most likely have, an effect somewhere else in the system. Sometimes these effects are intended, but sometimes they are not.
As reported on Wallet Pop the desire to help the families of workers who have committed suicide while on the job may have had the unintended consequence of actually promoting suicide. Using a number of different sources blogger Aaron Crowe reports that the families of workers receive the equivalent of 10 years worth of the worker’s wages if the worker commits suicide. This was meant to help the families, but instead it appears that in 13 cases it may have actually lead to the suicide. Caught in a deadend job and trying to help aging parents workers may see this as an opportunity to repay ol’ mom and dad. (Not exactly well thought out, but.. who knows.)
It does make you stop and think however. What unintended consequences do our decisions in HR have downstream somewhere else in the system of HR? What compensation decision has affected morale in a way unthought of? What recruitment decision has affected the ability to attract talent? and so on and so on…
Just food for thought.
Tell me about unintended consequences that you have seen in the past. If I collect enough examples perhaps I will repost them.