Is There a Black Cloud Hanging Over the HR Office?

hr department picture

Is HR the Most Hated Department?

HR Sucks. Well, that’s the prevailing sentiment right? If raises are low- HR was stingy this year. Or how about when a Supervisor has to discipline an employee-guess who “made them” do it? Yep, HR. When summer time hits, HR turns into the dress code police. What?! Your direct deposit didn’t start yet? Guess who’s to blame.

Sound familiar? I don’t think there is a department in the corporate structure more vilified than Human Resources. I bet if someone tripped and fell, somehow it would be blamed on HR. In networking with others in the HR community, this seems to be an issue in some companies. One friend mentioned that he really tries to go above and beyond in assisting his employee population, but he finds the “Evil HR” title a bit hard to swallow.

Some of us are fortunate to work in organizations where HR is a valued part of the corporate structure.  However, according to some of my colleagues, it’s not like this everywhere. Based on their feedback, this Dilbert cartoon sums up the prevailing sentiment pretty well.

Catbert  is a wildly popular character as the “Evil HR Director”. An excerpt from Catbert’s official Wikipedia profile states the following:

“With the help of his “random policy generator”, he comes up with sadistic, illogical and often evil policies to enforce on the employees, such as permanently branding employees, banning coffee drinking in the office, requiring employees to schedule sick time before they actually get sick, replacing the health plan with GOOGLE, and making time spent in the bathroom count as “vacation.” He also has the help of his “Life Suck 3000” (to suck the life force out of employees faster than normal), and his library of HR binders that give strategies on downsizing and hiring of morons specifically.”

Is this how HR is perceived?

In some organizations, HR is a convenient scapegoat, but it needs to be understood that we Do NOT call all of the shots. True, HR helps develop policy, but they have to work under the direction of company executives, and have a huge amount of restrictions. There is no way this is an easy job. It’s takes a lot of work and dedication to draft policies and make decisions that are in the best interest of the company, as well as its employees. You can’t please everyone all of the time, but a little appreciation once in a while wouldn’t hurt would it?

Alas, but instead, some HR professionals are the brunt of jokes. I’ve heard tales of people lowering their voices to whispers when a HR rep walks by, and one guy even said he tends to eat lunch alone at his desk! He is generally a nice guy, but blames his lunchtime loneliness on the stench of his title. It tends to keep people farther away than if he had body odor.  Another seasoned HR pro said she thinks that people feel afraid to say the wrong thing to the HR manager and receive a reprimand for what may have been just a joke. Her exact comment was- “FYI, I am human too. I like a good laugh just as much as the next gal”.

Also, some employees have complaints about lack of feedback from HR or long turn around times. But, when it comes to following up on employee issues and concerns, HR is only as good as the other departments in the company. For example, while we follow up on payroll issues, it’s usually accounting or payroll that forgot to process a raise or bonus. But of course, the HR department is the one available for the staff to vent to.

As far as merit increases go, a close friend said “I wish she could scream “I don’t make the budget!” at the top of her lungs some days. She was sick of being harassed about low salary increases. There is a prevailing idea that HR is tight fisted, which is a misrepresentation. We are given a budget, just like any other department and are tasked with staying within its parameters. But for some reason, some employees think we get a kick out of seeing how much blood we can squeeze from a rock. I think the cartoon below illustrates this point perfectly.

Need I say more?

Also in some organizations, when it comes to managing complaints, there is this strange expectation that all an HR rep has to do is wave their wand, and their request is our command. That is NOT reality. However, forget trying to explain to an employee why their idea is not financially feasible, in addition to the fact that it doesn’t make much sense. It would be wonderful to give everyone unlimited time off, but a company that took that suggestion would soon go bankrupt. I laughed out loud when someone told me one of their employees suggested this and couldn’t understand why they didn’t jump at the suggestion. Hmmm.

Every idea, new process, and employee benefit implemented requires exhaustive research, documentation, and implementation, which can be a huge task. From the feedback I’m hearing from HR folks, I don’t think most people have a clue what goes on behinds the scenes.

Another touchy subject is layoffs. Truth be told, we have almost nothing to do with downsizing, except being the “grim reaper” message bearers. If a company is planning layoffs, it’s usually the result of a slow economy, internal waste or overspending, lack of employee productivity, or a reduced market for the product or services a company provides. But none of that matters when you’re sitting across from someone and telling them they have seven days to pack their things. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think any HR person enjoys letting someone go, but for some reason, many people don’t believe that.

Another sensitive area is enforcing legal and compliance issues. Many people don’t understand that without order, rules, and guidelines, all heck would break loose. It seems that some people do not want to hear about the rules when they are the violator, but if their rights or space are violated, who’s the first one in your office? Exactly.

I know many HR professionals who truly love their job. However, they wish they were more accepted by the employee base, eliminating the “us vs. them” mentality. It has to be hard to continue in a job if you don’t feel appreciated by the very people you are serving.

This has made me wonder more how HR is perceived in different companies.

What about you? Do you think there is a dark cloud hanging over the HR office?

Share your thoughts.

Amit Bhagria
This Aint Your Daddy’s HR Do I have your attention? Good, because we are in the mist of an HR revolution. It’s either join up, or be left in the dust. What do I mean by this? Well, gone are the days of Human Resources representing the company’s interests solely. The new age HR Manager is an inclusive individual, serving the collective needs of both employer and employee. In the new “collaborative” workplace, an HR Manager wears many more hats than in years past. It can be debated as to whether this is a result of a disgruntled workforce staging a collective mutiny, or the evolution of HR professionals. Either way, the time has come. Join me on the other side. Subscribe to my Newsletter to get updates from the world of Human Resource Management.
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria

Comments

  1. John Dean says

    Good day,

    I work in an organisation whereby HR is seen as hardly relevant by the people we serve, it is demotivating at times but i truly love and appreciate my job. I think the lack of appreciation is as a result of the lack of understanding of what we do in HR, management on the other hand does not inform their people and shifts the blame on HR, if something goes wrong in their respective organisations.

  2. Tim says

    HR does suck. They are only there to protect the management from lawsuits and the public.

    I’m sure you think otherwise, because HR people will never give up the game.

    They exist to give good potential applicants the run-around again and again. Management is afraid of confronting employees head on with issues about their performance and benefits, so they just hire HR people to make up policies and procedures that will avoid any productive discussion from happening.

    The fact that most HR people are women is another thing nobody talks about. I’ve met girls who just get paid $20/hour or more to take phone calls from people who want jobs, and they tell everyone to apply online or they just make up stories about how the company isn’t hiring. The reason HR survives is because people don’t raise their voices to women. No one will ever call a woman on her bullshit, and HR people are no exception. If anyone ever dares to get loud with a woman, I see all the other employees (who are trying to get laid, usually) come to the rescue.

    The entire reason so many people are out of work is not because of a lack of talent. It’s because they think HR people are legitimate and honest, and they get burned as a result. Companies have ruined people’s careers and their lives because they have hired HR departments. People have wasted 1000s of hours on resumes and online applications to HR departments for nothing. It would never make sense to have HR anytime in history except now, when lawsuits are all the rage.

    Just to give you a background on why HR sucks:
    * I’ve filled out applications that never got to management – and HR never even read them! They just file them and smile to have you leave.

    * I’ve seen HR people tell people that there was a hiring freeze – when I saw insiders (people who knew people) got hired!

    * I even had the experience of going to management directly in a company I wanted to work for in Manhattan again and again. I’m talking about full days when I walked into the company dressed up, ready, and willing to work. I wanted to get the job badly. I was qualified, and I knew it. But every single secretary told me to apply online or call HR. The HR department never, ever, ever did a thing with my resume, and I filled out applications asking for everything from my social security number to salary history for those worthless people’s amusement. Finally, I got my break and met with one of the administrators, got an informational interview (I don’t like to ask for a job, I ask for info on the job, then push myself as a candidate). The administrator took my resume, talked to the management, and I got 2 calls the next day. I interviewed with the right people, and finally was hired.

    And it was all because I knew HR was full of shit. If I trusted them, like all the other guys there, I would never, ever have been hired.

  3. Indiren says

    In fact,the general impression is that HR does suck and is the protector of Top Management. However, I firmly believe that its a question of How HR people value themselves.Where HR managers walk their talk, where they can play their role as a strategic partner and at the same time as an employee champion,they will be trusted by both Management and employees.

  4. Andy says

    HRs full of shit. I see them as a barrier I you somehow need to side step in order to get employed.
    So many times my resume just falls into the black hole of HR, I don’t know why I even bother, its just like a lottery. Out of maybe 10 applications 2 or 3 might get a generic reply saying sorry your aplication hasn’t progressed, usually with some patronising bullshit about how “you are an applicant of great caibre [but we shaft you anyway]”. The rest nothing.
    The thing is I know my resumes good. I have an extra qualification and a few years of work experience over any other prospective Engineering Vac Work student I know.
    Its well laid out, like all the guides say but the killer is: Every time I’ve been able to hand it to an actual professional on the floor directly or through a friend they usually prick up on my extra qual and give me at least some intrest, often an interview. This is how I’ve scored my last two jobs.
    I don’t know what the hell HR thinks its doing!
    Are they judging my resume because it doesn’t have pretty pictures?
    Have I used the wrong colour? The wrong freaking font?
    I made some sort of tiny punctuation mistake in the cover letter?
    There obvisously not reading my actual credentials or work history, which I would guess is what they are meant to be doing.
    They simply seem like an impenitrable wall.
    Maybe thats thier startergy. defend off the masses with HR and let the guys with a bit of nouse find the back door.
    I would hope that thats a ridiculuos assertion, but honestly, Its what it feels like and I wonder how many other talented individuals they are shying away from their company.
    Then of corse you finally get a job and they take ages to do any simple task.
    The HR departments I deal with are a bunch of retards.
    Hopefully the next generation using this forum are not so stuck in the old ways.

  5. says

    Hi,

    I think the expereinces of people with the HR department are not welcoming. I will not totally disagree with any of your comments…however there are certain people who are helping people to shape their careers.

    Amit

  6. Dave says

    What I love is that HR constitutes an amateurism buffer between myself (a chef) and a job/applicant. How can a desk jockey possibly even understand what goes into a commercial kitchen?

    They can’t. And that’s why cheffing is a word of mouth business, largely to get around a bunch of useless empty suit MBA types that can’t possibly fathom what goes into a real trade because they don’t work it.

    How can they possibly be qualified to sort out candidates by what’s on paper alone? And yet, woe betide the poor cook or chef that doesn’t cross every t or dot every i properly on that online form…boom, circular filed. I mean, in culinary school, I took a class on career management…it was taught by an experienced HR person. It was mostly about how to market yourself to the HR person, it hardly even cared about the part where you market yourself to a chef. The class even had a mock interview…with a suit who knew nothing about cooking.

    HR is about middlemen, often middlemen without a miniscule amount of knowledge, interjecting their amateurism into the process and making it harder on everyone. They shouldn’t be involved in the process of hiring professionals.

  7. Mark Hernandez says

    I agree with Amit. I will not hinder people for venting their ire to their HR reps. But HR plays a vital role in the entire organization as your link to the top management.

  8. says

    Definitely HR these days is becoming an extended arm of the top leadership in the organization. They are also involved in the strategic decision part as well.

    Way to go for HR :)

  9. says

    company job only maneging director or vp or Genarel manger HR Maneger reletive appointment all mnc larg company and meddiam company same rule very big problem please solve

  10. Adhitya says

    Guys, I think that as employees or prospective employees we can only see one side of the company we’re in or trying to get into. Remember HR sees both sides. The internal politics, the favouritism of Top Management and the sometimes the hypocracy and double standards of hiring managers. HR does not make decisions or calls the shots. They are merely there to ensure some sort balance is found when operating in a business. If your resume has not found itself on a shortlisted pile on the Directors desk then maybe that Director has already earmarked someone for his position. It is HR’s role to convince the Director that the role has to be advertised and that we open the hiring process to all in a fair manner.
    I just think that maybe we could cut HR some slack, coz if we left everything to top leadership I think we’d be worse off.

  11. James Esagala says

    Over 90% of the decisions taken concerning staff are based on the advice given by the HR department. It is true HR does not take the final decision but given their position in all organisations,(fully responsible for the hiring), they stand out to be the ”police” that ensures all comply with the organisation. It is vital that HR is always fair when giving advice to top management. Top management will in most cases base on the decision/ advice given by the HR department. Otherwise, we need to appreciate the good work done by the HR teams. They help an organisation style up.

  12. Alan says

    Don’t be crazy, hr giving advice to management.. whahahaha, WTF would “Human Rubbish” know about a business.. I have been on all sides of this, from recruitment, to Director level “Human Rubbish”, then luckily managed to get myself a real career as a VP in the Professional Services industry. So, believe me, the corruption, lies and absolutely lowest level of integrity is solidly retained in the “Human Rubbish” department. Get this, when I was with my current firm for over 3 years, I counseled, advised and politically assassinated the whole “Human Rubbish” department here.. it is no more, and, I can tell you 7 years on, the Company is booming, the people are hard working, dedicated, involved and very happy.. the Company has doubled in size and quadrupled its revenues. Moral is superb without having to support and pay for “Human Rubbish” to supposedly help the Company and its people. Simply put, “Human Rubbish” department is NOT needed, it is an unnecessary cost that only increases while effectively decreasing Company performance, personnel morale and reputation of a business.. Phase it out, and you will be successful..

  13. Resh says

    Well,the 90% of comments here shows clearly that there is a Black Cloud Hanging Around The ENTIRE HR. I wonder,how easily HR and their efforts are being rubbished off.How easily people judge and throw off HR as a bad guy(s)!!Just because the HR/or the entire department of a particular organization was corrupted,how can someone generalize ? And instead of cursing and blaming HR,why not try vesting some trust in HR,it will result in miracles!

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