Human Resources officers have a tough job; these individuals are responsible for dealing with intra-office conflict, talent management, benefits issues, and much more, but in many offices HR officers are known more by their reputation than their contributions to the office. After all, the misconception goes, isn’t HR where you get sent when there’s a disciplinary action being taken against you or if you’re about to be fired? No, HR’s role in the office is far more nuanced than that and, though it’s frequently the case, your HR officers aren’t always the bearers of bad news.
It’s due time we threw open the doors on the HR department and dispelled some myths. If your company has an HR officer, here’s what you should know about their role.
Myth #1: You won’t be sent to HR unless you’re in trouble
Even though many people think that their careers end in HR, and that if they do things right they can avoid a trip to that looming office, the evolving role of HR is such that many careers actually begin there. Today, many HR officials are experts in issues like recruitment and talent retention, and when you’re being considered for a new position or a promotion, you may be sent to human resources so that they can assess your skills and determine if you’re a good fit for the role.
Yes, you may be sent to HR if you’re in trouble, but it’s best to keep your composure until you find out what’s really going on. It could turn out that you’ll be receiving some good news.
Myth #2: We Aren’t Your Personal Defender
Those who don’t view HR as a constantly encroaching threat to their employment have a terrible habit of believing that they can complain to the department about any small slight and that HR will come to their defense. The reality is that your HR officer isn’t your advocate. If your cubicle neighbor eats tuna fish and you don’t like the smell, they are going to ask you to address the problem yourself like the adult you are. HR’s job is to deal with potential legal issues within the company such as harassment, to warn employees about poor performance, and otherwise address relevant work issues.
That being said, your HR officer knows company policies inside and out and may be able to help if you’re having a serious problem that’s compromising your work. If you’re struggling with illicit drug use, for example, your HR department may be able to help you take a leave of absence to undergo treatment so that you can recover from addiction and return to work.
Myth #3: HR Doesn’t Know Anything About Business
Because the majority of what people know about HR focuses on issues of interpersonal conflict and job performance – even though these aren’t the core of what HR does – many believe that such staff members are essentially corporate counselors who don’t really know what the company does. This couldn’t be further from the truth; since HR is so involved in talent management, we know a lot about your business, including what skills it takes to be successful, what the budget looks like, and what it takes to maintain a positive public image.
Don’t underestimate the power and wisdom of your HR department; they probably know more about your job than you do. That being said, companies function best when we let HR officers handle real concerns and don’t waste their time arguing about the dress code or how long your lunch break is. Make use of their wisdom, but don’t waste their time.