Sadly, some of it is justified, but there’s also a lot to appreciate about HR. For example:
- We know more than you think. I’m not talking about best practices, workplace trends, or breaking employment law-related news, I’m talking about important stuff, like who in the company does a great job and who’s a problem in the making—waaaaaay before the manager wants to admit it. (I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s all in the new-hire paperwork. Whoever’s wildly irresponsible with the paperwork is most likely a disorganized hot mess or an entitled jerk, and in time the work will tell. The opposite is true for those who diligently and completely return their stuff. Honest.)
- We’d take a bullet for you. Metaphorically, that is. In 2011, SHRM reported that nearly 31.4 percent of HR professionals had been bullied at work. Sixty percent said they experienced bullying behavior on a daily basis. One reason? According to study author Theresa Daniel, HR professionals often stayed in a bad situation because they were serving as the “ ‘organizational shock absorbers’—they cared about the employees so much that they felt if they exited their role there would be nobody there to protect the other employees.” I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
- We’re getting better. A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a retired HR pro who expressed her opinion that handbooks should be as bare bones as possible—you know, so an employee can never “prove” a company isn’t following its policies. Geez Louise. Thank you for your service and goodbye! I can’t imagine any forward thinking HR practitioner harboring this attitude. (At least none of the ones I associate with think this way.) I believe that means we deserve some credit for evolving. Don’t you?
- We make it look easy. Has everyone been paid the right amount and are all payroll deductions correct? Check. No EEOC complaints this year, last year, or the year before? Check. Is the new time and attendance system in place and is everyone trained in its use? Check. Are all positions filled and all new hires on board with the (aforementioned) paperwork complete? Check, check, check. It’s not as effortless as it looks, folks. Not even boring old payroll. (Well, I actually like payroll, but I know everyone doesn’t.)
- We keep your secrets. Whether they’re financial, medical, or marital HR keeps your secrets. What’s more, you can sit in our chair and call your boss an incompetent, narcissistic douche-bag, and we’ll never tell. And when your boss says she’d love to fire you, but her boss won’t allow it, we won’t tell that either. You call it two-faced, we call it doing our job.