I’ve been in HR for my children’s entire lives. They’ve been to my various offices (when I had one) and listened to some conversations. I never really knew how much they understood until my youngest explained to someone when I switched jobs that “Mom used to hire people, now she just fires them.” Which, let’s be honest, is probably what most people think HR does.
There’s a lot more to Human Resources than that, so I’d like to dispel a few myths that persist around this much-maligned part of your organization.
HR only hires and fires employees
This is one of those half-truths. Human Resources does oversee the process of hiring and firing. But we much prefer hiring folks to firing them! As Tiffini Smith says, “We like passing out jobs, not taking them away!”
We help find the right people for the positions in our organization – not to be confused with an outside recruiter, who is there to help you find a job. Most corporate recruiters aren’t able to help with that – not because they don’t want to, but because they are likely working to fill a lot of different positions at the same time.
HR likes to catch employees doing something wrong
A lot of folks also think Human Resources is just like the Principal’s office at school, and sometimes it is. HR is where supervisors go to discipline employees. HR also enforces rules and policies that a lot of times seem, and may actually be, too punitive. There’s more than one HR pro who has a story about a policy that was put into place because one person found a loophole.
For the most part, however, HR wants to be your partner. We want to help create a positive, productive working environment. Unfortunately, sometimes this also means we need to enforce rules, policies, or regulations to make sure our office stays safe and productive. Most HR pros aren’t just sitting in their office trying to catch you, or make you trip up on something just so we can discipline or fire you.
HR doesn’t understand the business
A good HR professional will try to learn about the business, will be out talking to staff to understand their day-to-day work. This is what helps us to create policies and processes that actually work for the staff and not just ones that will meet the regulations.
However, as Tom Schin shared: “Just as we don’t fully understand everything about your role, please appreciate that you don’t know everything about HR.” As HR pros reach out to learn more about your day-to-day work, spend some time asking about what they do, what priorities they have. You’ll likely be surprised to find that our ultimate goals are very similar.
HR doesn’t care if I understand my pay and benefits
We really do want to help you understand your pay, your benefits. We know you aren’t doing this for free. I was told by Tina Marie Wohlfeld once that, “HR is here as a resource to support and assist you at every step of your employment experience, in good times and bad not just hiring, payroll, benefits, and termination.” We can answer your questions or help you find the answers to get you what you need. There’s a lot that goes into your benefit package and we also know that the more time we spend with you during the open enrollment, hopefully, the fewer questions you will have when you need them.
Catherine Pierce shared that HR can help beyond the workplace. “Please don’t be afraid to come to talk to us. HR people are here to help. If you’re having life challenges, even non-work-related, we may have resources or creative solutions that can help you.”
There are many unscrupulous professionals in the HR world, just like in every other profession. There are some who just want to maintain the status quo and won’t rock the boat. This is where HR really gets a bad reputation. However, for the most part, most HR professionals are there to help you, the employee, and want to do the right thing.
Any society needs rules of the road and you need someone who can help to administer those rules. And that is Human Resources. We need to be sure the work environment is fair, equitable and safe for all employees – not just those in charge – and for HR as well. HR has to follow all the same rules that every other employee does. It might be challenging, and they might frequently feel pedantic, but remember – we’re all part of the same team!