Can We Trust H.R.? Can We Trust Anyone?

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“You know you’re in trouble when you get called into the boss’s office and someone from H.R. is already there.”

“The only thing the H.R. people care about is diversity training.”

“The H.R. police were all at the sales kick-off meeting in Vegas. It was no fun.”

“Every memo from H.R. basically says NO! I am going to start calling everyone in H.R. Dr. No.”

Comments like these are real ones that I have heard recently regarding the Human Resource professional. The comments are not so good for the perception of the people who are there to create a thriving workplace.  In addition, the way the movies and TV shows portray the H.R. rep is always the clueless, goofy woman (always a woman) who is heard saying, “you know the ruuuuules!”

Now a recent article in TechCrunch by Danny Chrichton documents the rise and fall of H.R. people.

But before we throw the H.R. people under the bus, let’s look more closely at the role and the complexity the people in that role face.  First, it’s not just H.R. people. The Edelman Trust Barometer, has found that a majority of workers don’t trust their company’s leadership. Worse, less than a quarter believe that their CEO is ethical. As trust has declined, the role of H.R. has grown more complicated.

The employee manual always exists on the credenza or in the bottom drawer but surely does not cover all the issues of the workplace. Show me a manual with #metoo in it. Show me a manual that addresses playing hooky when the local team wins the championship. Yet, H.R. is the interpreter of all acceptable or not acceptable behaviors.

The big question that employees and H.R. wrestles with is: Is H.R. an advocate for employees and the builder of a healthy and happy culture or, are they there to keep the Company out of legal hot water? An effective H.R. person is probably both but, based on the surveys, employees are of the belief that H.R. is there to protect management. The result is that now people are turning to alternatives and not going to H.R. at all. Alternatives in the form of a bevy of apps now allow employees to protect themselves like never before. And lots of places, especially the world of small companies have not H.R. at all. The apps can really help.

Maybe we are asking too much of H.R. Maybe with the right set of tools and a management team that does the right thing and can be trusted, the perception will change. But the workplace continues to evolve quickly and only the best organizations and H.R. people will evolve with it.

Can we trust H.R.? The answer to the question should be yes and I hope it is in your workplace. Can we trust leadership? It would be a lot easier if some of them would stop doing stupid things.

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