“The ‘HR Police’ Are Coming!” & Other Common Misconceptions About The Role Of HR
Although human resources is by no means a new profession or business function, many employees are still unclear about what exactly the role of their HR department is – friend, or foe?
As is so often the case, that uncertainty leads to mistrust, which leads to misconceptions. Below are four common misconceptions people have about HR:
- The “HR Police”
“Better not let HR hear you say that.” Anyone who's ever worked in a corporate or office setting has likely heard someone jokingly use this expression or something similar after another employee has finished recounting a not-quite “work appropriate” story. Because HR is often integrally involved in disciplinary actions and terminations, some employees only think of their HR department as the people who enforce the dress code or other regulations, existing solely to ruin employees’ fun.
In actuality, the men and women in the HR department are people and employees just like everyone else. Even if HR professionals wanted to police every office interaction (and they don’t), they don’t have the time to catch every infraction or off-color joke. HR pros aren’t company “watch-dogs” or enforcers – they’re the bridge between executives and employees.
- HR is just management’s mouthpiece
A 2012 poll conducted by CareerBliss.com found that 72 percent of people surveyed viewed their HR department as the “puppet” of the executive team. While it’s true that one of the HR department’s vital roles is to communicate important information from management to employees, that communication is not meant to be one-way.
HR professionals also help management gauge the mood of employees and serve as a point of contact for employees who are experiencing work-related conflicts or problems. If there is an issue affecting employee engagement or productivity, or a new policy is not sitting well amongst the staff, the HR department can serve as an advocate for employees and convey their thoughts to upper management.
- Anything said to an HR rep is kept confidential
Another widely held misconception is that your company’s HR professionals are employee confidants. While HR representatives are happy to talk with an employee regarding a problem or concern, they are not under the same constraints as a doctor or lawyer – there is no HR professional-employee privilege.
In fact, as Alison Green of U.S. News writes, an HR manager may be obligated to share an employee’s concerns and follow up on complaints with management in order to address a larger problem. In some situations, such as harassment and discrimination claims or other illegal behavior, an HR rep may actually be required by law to report the incident.
All of this isn’t to say that an HR department can’t have their employees' backs. If a worker is experiencing a problem, oftentimes the best person with whom to discuss these concerns is likely the HR manager, as they may be the person best equipped to help them find a solution.
- HR controls employees' career trajectories
Many people also believe that their HR department controls their career trajectory. In virtually every company, HR exists to support management, not the other way around. While HR is normally instrumental in the recruitment, hiring, training and discipline of employees, they usually are not the only ones making the final decision on whether or not someone will qualify for a raise or promotion – that responsibility rests with the employee's own supervisor or manager and other higher-ups.
The relationship HR has with the company’s employees is a reflection of the overall relationship between an employer and its workforce. If the HR department is seen as something to be feared or even as laughably inefficient, that’s likely how employees see their employer as well.
In order for their efforts to be effective, HR has to be seen as a vital part of a company’s overall business strategy, with enough authority and trust from management to enact real change. Once management buys in to the idea of HR as a strategic business unit, the general employee population will as well. Then, and only then, can HR focus on functions that can make a big difference in the overall performance of the business.
When it comes to HR, not every company is on even playing field. While some companies have the resources to hire an entire staff of highly qualified HR professionals, most companies are lucky to even have an HR professional on staff. Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to expand your HR team’s capabilities without blowing your company’s budget?
G&A Partners helps companies do just that. As a leader in the human resources outsourcing industry, G&A Partners knows a thing or two about how to effectively manage a business’ human capital needs. With more than 85,000 employees from 750 client companies depending on us for top-notch HR and administrative services like payroll and employee benefits, our HR experts have the skills and experience companies need to grow and thrive. Call 1-866-634-6713 or schedule a free business consultation with a G&A Partners Business Advisor to learn how G&A can help you grow your business, take better care of your employees and enjoy a higher quality of life.