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.