The role of a human resources team is to ensure that employees are properly onboarded, fairly treated, and heard — and to protect companies that employ these workers. HR professionals are in charge of ensuring that employees know and understand the values and goals of the company, as well as the challenges a company faces. But, most importantly, it's up to HR to make sure that everyone — each individual employee and every single leader — understands and practices company policies, follows employment laws and meets company standards.
Unfortunately, however, there are a lot of misconceptions about HR departments, and employees don't always know the whole truth. That's why HR managers and professionals have opened up to share the lies about their HR teams that have deceived employees. Here's what they admitted.
The reality is that, while HR is there to protect you and the company, HR is not necessarily your friend. Sure, maybe you have a great relationship with the employees in the HR department, but remember to treat everyone like professionals.
“If you have a question, come to my office," an HR professional at a mid-sized firm in North Carolina told the Reader's Digest. "Don’t corner me in the bathroom."
It's also key to remember that HR has responsibilities of their own that may not always serve your best interests, even if you are close.
"HR's responsibility is to the collective organization” Ken Fee, the head of organizational development and HR, for Sense Scotland told People HR. "I’m always mindful of being fair to individuals, but I must also be mindful to the needs of other people in that organization — people who may not be in the room."
If you're wondering whose side HR is on then, Fee adds that "HR serves the organization," which includes everybody. Instead of acting as a mediator between the company vs. the people, HR is meant to serve everyone, from the CEO and managers down to each individual employee.
While it's nice to believe that Big Brother isn't watching your every move at the office, the truth is that, in many companies, HR really does keep a record of your calls, messages, emails, and more.
"You’re right to be paranoid," Laurie Reuttimann, an HR consultant and speaker in Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Reader's Digest. "The company is always watching you, and there’s a record of everything you do: every phone call, every text, every tweet and instant message. At most companies, they save that data forever."
Others agreed, adding that the research begins before employees even start working.
"I know a lot more about you when you walk in the door than you realize," a senior HR executive in New York City told the outlet. "I’ll search for you on the web and often use my own personal network to do a pre-interview reference check."
"Don’t shoot the messenger," writes Deb Muller of HR Acuity. "Very often, human resources professionals get the brunt of negative attitudes, even if we aren’t the ones who made the policies or decisions. Payscale revealed that 87% of employees don’t trust their bosses. And therein lies the rub; we’re all smart enough to know that HR isn’t the decision-maker for the policies they enforce, but we’re all smart enough to not take it out on the people we have to work with every day. And often, that’s not HR."
It's important that all policies and standards are clearly communicated and written down so that all leaders are on the same page and HR "ceases to be the scapegoat," Muller adds.
Unfortunately, discrimination — whether subtle or overt — happens all the time in the hiring process. While this discrimination doesn't always stem from HR, HR professionals are often asked to making hiring decisions that are discriminatory.
"I was asked by one CEO to hire the long-legged girl with the long dark hair even though she didn’t have the right skills," Cynthia Shapiro told the Reader's Digest. "Another time, I was instructed not to hire anyone with children because the company had too many people leaving for soccer games. That kind of thing happens all the time."
Sometimes, HR doesn't get the final say. Even if an HR professional agrees that a situation seems like a doozy, they can't argue with the law or facts.
"Sometimes situations that employees deem unfair are within the boundaries of defined, acceptable workplace behaviors, meaning the end result makes everyone a little upset," Muller writes for HR Acuity. "Different working styles, personality clashes, budgetary issues, changing economic conditions can most definitely trigger risk, and even the most sympathetic HR professional cannot change the hard-line facts. Eight percent of US workers claiming to hate their jobs, and complaints can roll into HR pretty frequently. Unfortunately, there is no HR Fairy to fix these issues."
Sure, if you work hard, it'll pay off in many respects. Your company will likely (hopefully) notice your dedication and commitment to your job and, if you perform well, that recognition could earn you a raise. But it's not all about working hard. Sometimes, for example, you have to be a louder cheerleader for yourself.
"Many people think, ‘If I work extra hard, I’m going to get noticed,’" Michael Slade, HR director at Eric Mower and Associates, told the Reader's Digest. "But it doesn’t work that way. If you want to advance, some of the responsibility falls on you to toot your own horn. Make sure your supervisor and your supervisor’s supervisor are well aware of what you’re contributing."
Other times, whether or not you get the raise may have nothing to do with your work output and everything to do with timing.
"Some companies do everybody’s raises on their anniversary dates," Suzanne Lucas told the outlet. "I’m not a fan of that because, if the budget comes out in January, those poor people hired in December get, ‘Oh sorry, we’d like to give you more but we gave a huge increase to Bob so you’re just going to get two percent.'"
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.
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